Virtual Learning - What is That? <br> A Guide to Virtual Learning for K-5 from a Current Elementary School Teacher

Apr 06 , 2020

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Megan McDaniel

Virtual Learning - What is That?
A Guide to Virtual Learning for K-5 from a Current Elementary School Teacher

By: Morgan Wolfer

By now more than 90% of the United States is on mandatory lockdown requirements.  Parents are working from home and children are learning at home. You may be asking things like “What does this mean?”  “What should this look like?” “How much time should I be spending my child(ren) on schoolwork?” or simply “Help!”

Keep Students Connected to their Education Through Virtual Learning

General Tips for At-Home Learning

  • Set up some kind of dedicated learning space.  Your child needs a desk, a kitchen table, or an area of the house now designated for “learning”. 
  • Have technology accessible for your child if possible.  Not everyone has this capability, but many assignments and interactions will take place on a computer or tablet. 
  • Communication!  Now is the time, more than ever, to carefully read teacher emails/texts.  Teachers are not trying to overwhelm families, so chances are if we are emailing then it is valuable information, intended to be helpful! 
  • Create some kind of schedule or structure.  Students crave this because it mimics their “regular” life as it would normally run while attending school. So, let them know that each day, during certain hours, it will be “school time”.  This often cuts down on arguing and it sets the expectation!
  • Give space if needed but also be there for if/when your child needs help.  I know much of the material is so foreign to so many people, but reading up on the lessons your child has to complete gives you a general “gist” of what they should be working on.


Let’s Get Realistic Y’all!

As an elementary teacher that is now forced to teach from home and manage the schooling of my own children, we have to be realistic.  I start each day with the best of intentions, but if my child is getting overwhelmed with work and I am getting frustrated then we simply walk away.  We may go back to work on it later that day or pick it back up the next day. It is okay to quit something and try something else too. One day you may do more work than another, one day you may lounge on the couch and just spend time as a family, one day you may be dealing with connectivity issues all day.  Take a deep breath and realize that there is no perfect plan for teaching at home. Be flexible and know that you are not alone!

*Many school systems are working on a plan for the teacher to begin virtual teaching your child in weeks to come and that should alleviate some of the pressure parents are currently feeling to do this all on your own.  So definitely keep checking back with your district for updates!


Be Flexible with Student's Learning During COVID

Breaking it Down by Grade

Kindergarten through fifth grade will have different expectations.  Teachers like to give suggestions of Must Do’s but remember it is okay to take a day off, change up the schedule, try something different, and get creative.  If you are spending time with your child, then chances are you giving them exactly what they need in all of this!

Kindergarten:

    • Fine motor skills:  cutting, coloring, play-doh play, using clothespins to clip on things.
    • Academic: Letter/number identification, writing/tracing letters (in sand, shaving cream, in a workbook, etc.), read to your child or have an older sibling read to them, let them listen to reading on the computer or tablet, count items (food when cooking, pieces to a game, toys when cleaning up, etc.), have them tell you what is happening in a story by retelling the pictures. 
    • Creative play:  dress up, kitchen play, cooking with mom or dad, Lego play, games, sing songs (months of the year, days of the week) etc.
    • Time:  Take frequent breaks at this age because it is hard for them to sit still, but as you can see above many of the experiences can be broken up to different times during the day.  This is a great age because they are taking in every part of their day.

1st Grade:

    • Fine motor skills:  cutting, coloring, play-doh play, using clothespins to clip on things.
    • Academic: Consonant Vowel Consonant (CVC) word patterns / number identification, writing/tracing letters (in sand, shaving cream, in a workbook, etc.), read to your child or have an older sibling read to them, let them listen to reading on the computer or tablet, basic addition facts (use things around the house to practice), have them tell you what is happening in a story by retelling the pictures and ask them questions about a book, practice recognizing sight words and listen to them read.  BOB books are great for beginning readers!
    • Creative play: draw with sidewalk chalk, play with magnets, do puzzles, sing songs, play board games, get exercise!
    • Time:  At this age, students will need to break up work with a brain break using Go-Noodle or run around the yard. 

2nd Grade:

    • Creative:  play board games, read to a sibling, cook with mom or dad to practice measurement and reading functional text like a recipe, write letters to a friend, do a puzzle, play with Legos.
    • Academic: READ!  READ! READ!  The most important thing to do is read.  Read to self, read to a sibling, read to a parent, take a video of him or herself reading and send it to the teacher. Retell the text with a summary.  Write reading responses and friendly letters! Additionally, now is the time to master all basic +- math facts, review telling time, counting money, telling temperature/read a calendar, double digit adding and subtracting. They can also read about Famous Americans and habitats/animals in nonfiction texts.
    • Time:  At this age, students should be able to work for 30-45 minutes.  They may even take a break and want to come back to finish work. One hour a day is plenty of a variety of work.

3rd Grade:

    • Creative:  play board games, read to a sibling, cook with mom or dad to practice measurement and reading functional text like a recipe, write letters to a friend, do a puzzle, play with Legos.
    • Academic:  READ!  READ! READ!  The most important thing to do is read.  Write summaries of the text, describe the most important event in the fiction text, and what the author is trying to teach you.  In nonfiction, list nonfiction text features and tell how they help the reader, recall the main idea and details of the text. Additionally, students should practice multiplication/division facts, review fractions, and for history read about ancient civilizations and habitats/animals in nonfiction texts.
    • Time:  At this age, students should be able to work for 35-45 minutes.  They may even take a break and want to come back to finish work. One hour to an hour and a half a day is plenty of time to work on school material.

4th Grade:
    • Creative:  play board games, read to a sibling, cook with mom or dad to practice measurement, help a younger sibling with their schoolwork.
    • Academic: READ!  READ! READ!  The most important thing to do is read.  Write open responses to both fiction and nonfiction text.  Write what reading strategies helped them as they tackled the text.  Create a book report on paper or on Google slide to recapture important story elements of a text. Students should practice multiplication/division, double digit, fractions/decimals, word problem solving, reading charts/data. And for history, read state history and solar system nonfiction texts.
    • Time:  At this age, students should be able to work for an hour or more.

5th Grade:
    • Creative:  make a board game to recall a math skill, make a Google slide on a topic of their interest to teach another about that topic, passion projects or creating their own research project based on personal interest.
    • Academic:  READ!  READ! READ!  The most important thing to do is read.  Write open responses to both fiction and nonfiction text.  Revise and edit work they have written. Write poetry, stories, informative and opinion paragraphs. Create “book club” style questions on a book that was read. For math have your son/daughter work multiplication/division double digit, fractions/decimals, word problem solving, reading charts/data, percentages, basic algebra. Then, read American history, photosynthesis, and organic life nonfiction texts. Do a simple fun science experiment at home.
    • Time:  At this age, students should be able to work for an hour or more.

Helpful Websites (Linked, Simply Click on the Name)


Math


Science/Social Studies


General

About the Author

Morgan Wolfer is a second grade teacher at New Castle Elementary School in Virginia Beach, Virginia.  She's taught for a total 15 years and all at the same school. Her husband, Chris, is a Commander in the USCG and is essential so still going to work each day during this national crisis.  Together, they have an 8 year old third grader named Jake, and a four year old preschooler named Graham. Wolfer is currently virtually teaching from home, momming 24/7, teaching her own boys at home, and of course taking it one day at a time!


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