Whether we’re in the middle of a pandemic or just off a day or two for the weather, knowing how to navigate e-learning can be tricky! Just because we are not physically in school, doesn’t mean we want the learning to stop. But can we do everything on an e-learning day that we typically can do? Unfortunately no. The important thing is to remember to keep it basic and keep the students reading! We don’t want to overwhelm our students nor our families when they could be dealing with other situations we are unaware of. I would be happy if I simply knew all of my students were reading a book that they wanted to read. And if I have the opportunity to connect with them digitally during e-learning, I have some great ideas to share with you on how to keep the reading instruction going!
Before any type of learning can take place on an e-learning day, it’s important to always check in with your students. Especially if the e-learning day(s) came as a surprise and is for an extended amount of time. How are they doing physically, mentally, and emotionally? You can do this simply by reaching out to each individual student or taking a quick poll when meeting virtually.
When it comes to e-learning academics, just remember to keep it basic. E-Learning days aren’t typically meant for new learning. And in my opinion, reading is the top priority (especially for elementary grades). On an e-learning day(s), I want all of my students to read as much as they can. So let them simply read and read what they want! Allow them to keep track of what they read in fun and unique ways. If you’re logging on to meet digitally, you can use simple comprehension questions as a way of taking attendance. Or even posting the comprehension question onto your e-learning platform (Google Classroom, SeeSaw, etc) and having students answer as a way of ‘checking in’ for the day. There are loads of ideas!
But if you’re wanting to assign something a bit more rigorous and specific than just reading, using digital materials can be helpful! I’ve created a 6-week digital spiral review that includes reading comprehension, math, writing, language arts, and even science and social studies. It’s super easy to use for parents and students. You can assign it through Google Classroom, share through Google Slides, or even just send through email! What’s even better is you can delete the slides you don’t want personalize the material for your classroom.
This would be a great file to have on hand to use for any type of e-learning situation! Whether you’re out and have a sub, or you’re out for the weather – this would be one of the easiest files to have on hand to give your students for a meaningful review!
The point is that reading is a top priority these days and we need to give our students the freedom and flexibility in the uncertain time that is e-learning. However, if you DO get the chance to meet digitally and are able to hold a class together, there are lots of fun ideas you can try to keep the learning going while online together!
Holding a Reading Based Digital E-Learning Class
When meeting digitally, please note that your students’ attention spans are far less than they typically are in the classroom. You have maybe 2-3 minutes to be able to talk at the students before they begin to check out. So how should you use this time? In my opinion, this time is a great time to model some comprehension thinking out loud for your students. You’ve taken time to check in with your students and now you’re starting the ‘lesson’. Don’t spend this time reading an entire picture book or lecturing to your students. They won’t be able to pay attention the whole time. Instead, be very strategic about the time you have and use it wisely.
During my ‘lesson’ time, I would be using a small section of a familiar read aloud to model some critical thinking that relates to the activity I’m about to do with my students. This 2-3 minute modeling can help continue the teaching I was doing in the classroom and/or review important reading concepts I’ve taught in the past.
This 2-3 minutes will go fast, so be prepared as to which section of the picture book you’re wanting to read, how you’re modeling your thinking, and what objecting you’re focusing on. Then when it comes time for your students to get involved, you’ve set a solid expectation of the thinking that needs to take place for the activity.
Then when it’s time for the students to participate, there are tons of fun and engaging ideas you can try. I’ve come up with 16 fun ideas that all help students interact with the teacher and focus on reading comprehension! And since you’re allowing your students to read whatever they want, each student can bring his/her own book they’ve recently read. They can use that as a way to practice the activity you have planned! Let’s walk through some of them!
- Play the game “I See A…” – Have one student share what they visualized at one point in their story. Others draw and share to compare to the main student’s illustrations in the book. This activity is interactive for everyone and allows students to individually practice visualizing their story. Teachers can even give one on one feedback as they play!
- Play the game “Match ‘Em Up” – Have students hold up their book they are reading. One at a time, have a student try to find a genre book match by picking two books they think are the same genre. Discuss and repeat! Again, this activity gets everyone involved and reviews an important skill without any prep from the teacher! All you need is for each student to bring his or her book to the meeting!
- Play the game “The Trait Train” – Have a student share a strong trait for the main character. Other students then try to make a ‘train’ by sharing whether their character also shares that trait. How long of a train can you make? This one is one of my favorites because it really gets the students to think deeply about the characters in the books they are reading and making connections!
- Play the game “To Be or Not To Be” – Have a student share an event from their book. Others must guess whether the event is important or not important. The main student then provides the answer and proves with evidence. Students can use the title of the book and front illustrations to go off of but that’s it!
If you love these ideas and want to print out the whole list of all 16, just enter your info below and I’ll email it right to you!
E-learning is definitely some new to many of us. It’s uncharted waters, making no one an expert. So I’m simply sharing ideas that I hope are helpful in any way possible. So whether you’re out for one day or you are missing a week of school, just remember to keep it to the basics and let your students read! You can catch them up on what they missed after they returned. It’s better for everyone to save the new learning for later!
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