This post is sponsored by Logitech. All opinions are my own.
Virtual Learning Update!
I’m approaching the second month of full-time virtual teaching and I’ve got to tell you, it’s going pretty well! I’ve had time to work out quite a few kinks with technology, our schedule is tight, and… get this: I now have days where I sit to open my email and messages…and there are none! That was unimaginable when I first got started. It used to feel like round the clock customer service with some teaching sprinkled in…but I’m thrilled to report that most of the families that I serve are comfortable, happy, and showing up regularly to class!
I wanted to share a few tips that have made virtual learning easier because….it’s a whole new world!
1. Engagement- scoring points
I am typically a low-frills educator. By that, I mean that you usually won’t find me decorating the classroom, wearing costumes, using puppets, etc… I’m not knocking any of those strategies, but I am saying that I usually don’t go for them as an engagement strategy. Virtual teaching has changed that up quite a bit! I do find that I have more engagement when I wear a fun headband or outfit. The key is to keep them guessing! If they log on with expectancy, they are more likely to get excited about what they are doing! I’m always asking myself how I can get the students excited to log on. We have a classroom mascot, Piper Puppy, that the students LOVE. Piper comes on to greet the students daily and they enjoy seeing him dance to fun puppy songs found on GoNoodle! While I do not subscribe to the idea of trying to police students in their own homes, I do have a set of encouraged expectations that I would like for them to follow. I ask that they sit up straight, have eyes on the screen, and use their voice so my special “teacher ears” can hear them. Side note: teacher ears are what we use when they are on mute but we can still hear them!
I’ve had more time to experiment with technology that has been extremely helpful. I teach from a smartboard but I find myself feeling the need to yell so that they can hear me. I ended up getting a few options to help with this! I alternate between a Logitech’s Snowball iCE Microphone and a wireless headset. I find the Snowball Microphone to be extremely helpful for picking up my voice without yelling when I’m teaching whole group lessons. When I’m doing small group or individual lessons at my desk, I find a headset to be more appropriate. Hearing and speaking are so critical- I want to be sure I can make the most of our lessons with awesome technology! Another awesome tool that has been helpful has been the Logitech Crayon. I love the Logitech Crayon because when I need to write or draw with a more precise tool (because it’s typically my finger) then this is perfect! I love that you don’t have to pair it or download an app to use it. You just need to use a device that’s compatible and it’ll automatically work! You can vary the depth of the line by changing the angle which is so great for writing workshop. I found this video extremely helpful when I first tried it out! I love having technology options to make virtual learning easier!
3. Lip Reading
I’m proud to report that I’m now a professional lipreader. Ok…not really, but I’m getting better. Remember… I teach 40 students. One hour a day, we are all on together. I want the students to feel like their teacher can really see and hear all of them, so I try to be strategic when I ask questions. I have a checklist that I always have during our zoom meetings. When I ask a question, I look at a name on the chart and find that student. If I can read their lips for the answer, then I’ll praise that by calling out their name and saying, “Oh my gosh, yes Lilly you nailed that!” If they didn’t answer, I’ll be sure to ask them to either provide a guess or I’ll ask someone to come and help before they have to give an answer. So, I don’t let students opt out- even virtually. Lip reading gets the job done for most of the questions that I ask! Outside of that, we use lots of whiteboards and fingers to provide answers and I LOVE how much information I’ve been able to collect!
Hopefully, you will find these tips and ideas helpful. I’m so thankful to partner with Logitech for this content!