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  • Writer's pictureKeshia McIntosh

The Good, the Bad, and the Wonderful

Updated: Jul 19, 2021


*Read to the end for Activities to use in your Virtual Classrooms!


Wherever you are in the world, you’ve been affected by the BIG changes that the past year has brought. For many of us, that has meant pivoting to online learning on more than one occasion. We’ve been back online in Ontario since late April and while it’s been an adjustment, the January pivot hit me harder, and for a number of reasons.


Everyone’s situation is different and unique. For myself, it meant being a mom of two with my husband at work as an essential worker, and also putting my teacher hat on and showing up every day for 19 other kids who also needed me. Some days, I rocked it. Other days, one aspect of my life or another suffered.


Let’s get real. Parenting is hard under the best of circumstances.

Let’s get real. Teaching is hard under the best of circumstances.

Now, I’m being expected to do BOTH with all of these protocols in place and massive changes to my programming in the classroom.


So, what did I do? I showed up. I adapted. I cried. I dusted myself off. And I pushed on.


Back in January, I was up late every single night just planning and organizing and uploading and assigning things….FOR THE NEXT DAY. I was exhausted. I was stressed because I couldn’t work when my kids were around, so then I worked when they were asleep and stayed up late. I was exhausted in the morning but still had to teach all of this stuff I planned for us. It was not sustainable and I went back to school at the end of it already burnt out.


Now, I’m back online for the 3rd time and to be honest, it’s getting easier and easier. The kids have learned to stop unmuting themselves, I’ve learned to keep the chat disabled (you can only handle so many “i’s” in “hi” and random emoji faces), and I took a good HARD look at what wasn’t working from January and made the necessary changes in both my planning and my delivery - which benefited both me AND the students.


The point I’m trying to make is this: This is HARD. It doesn’t matter if you’re new, or experienced, or tech-savvy or not. This. Is. Hard. So if you’re really struggling with Virtual Learning (heck, even in-person learning) right now, narrow down what’s working and not. But, also look at what you’re doing right!


At the end of the day, here’s what you’ve accomplished:

  • You pulled yourself out of bed, threw on a nice top and obviously put joggers on

  • You showed up for your students - giving them routine and consistency amidst all the chaos

  • And, you (probably) did it with a smile on your face

 

SWITCH IT UP, MAKE IT FUN

Changing up the way I planned my week was a huge help. I made themed days to make it fun and to make sure I was scheduling in more engaging tasks. For example: Monday - Read Aloud, Tuesday - Directed Drawing, Wednesday - French Video, Thursday - Boom Learning, Friday - Friday Fun (this changes depending on what resources I find online!).


Additionally, here are some websites and resources that I've relied on this time around to help keep it fun and/or to save my sanity so that I'm not planning late into the evenings anymore.


GOOGLE SLIDES DIGITAL ACTIVITIES

Thank goodness for Teachers Pay Teachers, Boom Learning, and the rise of digital activities in the wake of Virtual Learning. I would NOT survive without these. Even as a seller myself, I rely heavily on the resources of other sellers to really make it fun, engaging and relevant for my students. Below are a few of my favourite activities that I am CURRENTLY using with my students online.


DIGITAL DINOSAUR MISSION

This Mission: Dinosaure resource is a personal favourite of mine. I had purchased the clipart for my READ & WRITE series but knew I needed to do something exclusive with it! This resource could easily last you a full week since it's jam-packed with Reading, Writing and Word Work activities that your students can complete. It also includes a Word Bank built into the student copy, and includes a PDF Teacher Book that contains only the information pages and not the activities which is great for "Present Mode" and shared reading activities! It's also available in a Printable version.



DIGITAL WRITING MATS

These are a resource I created myself a few years back, and knew I needed the digital version when we pivoted last Spring. There's a ton of different themes so I can either attach them to other videos and drawings to make an entire themed week, or just use them as a one-time writing activity.


Every Writing Mat also includes a Word Bank right on the page so that the students can choose from thematic words to help write their stories. It also includes a blank template so that you can create your own to fit whatever theme you're learning!

 

EARLY FINISHER ACTIVITIES

The Early Finisher Activities from French Frenzy are part of a Growing Bundle and includes 10 different activities for Google Slides. Read about them HERE! If you sign up for her mailing list, you can get a sample pack of each activity - but, I know that once you see them you'll need them too!!


These are the activities that I'm using weekly in my Choice Board (see below), but I also use some of them as whole-class activities. For example, we do the Trouve les différences together every Tuesday!

 

CHOICE BOARDS

Thanks to Boom Learning, Directed Drawing, and my dear friend French Frenzy, I have been making these Choice Activity Boards for my students for their asynchronous learning blocks! They've been a big hit and the students love the variety of activities. They're super easy to make, just make sure to change your share settings in Google and make a force copy!

 

If you haven't already checked out this website, it's a must-see. The free account allows you to create fun and engaging activities for your students. I've used this site anywhere from French Oral Communication activities all the way to Comprehension Questions following a read-aloud I've done!


The Wheel of Questions is one that the kids ask for and LOVE.

They all get to take a turn answering a questions on the wheel. If the same question keeps showing up, I just rem


ove it from the wheel. I also use this as an opportunity to practice answering in complete sentences. Example: Quel est ton jeu préféré? "Mon jeu préféré est _____ parce que..."

 

The Maze Chase one was also a big hit!! I read the book Léon le caméléon and then created some follow-up questions that the students had to answer. This can be used with ANY book. It's a PacMan style game, so the students have to avoid the "bad guys" to get to the right answer to the question. So. Much. Fun. I'll be creating more of these for sure!

 

Monsieur Steve has gotten us through many days this year. It started off as a fun Friday field trip as we learned about Living & Working in Ontario for Social Studies, and then we ended up following along with every video that he released. Since we've been virtual, I show the videos every Wednesday and have follow-up questions to check for comprehension (and whether they were listening, really).

He has full-French videos for older French Immersion kiddos, but also has some really great beginner ones as well with a mix of French and English dialogue. Regardless of your students' level of French, Monsieur Steve makes sure to introduce new vocabulary and have the students repeat along with him so that they hear it more than once!

 

I hope that some of these ideas and resources help you make it to the end of the year! Many of us are sharing ideas on End-of-Year activities and resources that we're using or creating so be sure to follow me (and my amazing French TpT Seller friends) on Instagram so that you know what we're up to!





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