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As we all deal with the wide spread effects of school closures during this COVID 19 coronavirus outbreak, educators are looking for what is truly best for their students at this time. Many people may panic at the idea of missed instructional time and a possible decline in academic achievement. I believe the more pressing need is to maintain a connection to and among our students. I’ve got 5 ways I’m trying to show up for my students while school is closed.
I record a short video (3 minutes or less) each day. I emphasize that we are all at home, but we can still connect. I try to give one idea or piece of information for the day (an online library resource, activity idea, a joke). I know you may be camera shy, or unsure about your technical abilities. But your students need to SEE you! Once you get the hang of it, it doesn’t take very long. Here’s what I do:
- I use my phone or iPad to record a short (3 minutes or less) video each day.
- I upload it to YouTube as an unlisted video for kids.
- I share the link on my Library Facebook page and my Clever page. I share at the same time each morning (8:30, when our morning bell would be ringing).
- You can also share it in Class Dojo, FlipGrid, Teams, Google Classroom, etc.
Your students are most likely missing your read aloud times! A video of you reading a fun book will be most welcome right now. My wonderful library partner and I recorded ourselves reading three different Elephant and Piggie books the last day we were together in the school building. I uploaded these videos to YouTube using the steps detailed above and I also link to these videos on our Facebook page and the library Clever page. As you may already know, many children’s book authors and publishers have some relaxed guidelines for online read-alouds for use during school closures. If you upload your video to a closed school network and delete it at the end of the school year, you are most likely in compliance. School Library Journal has an extensive list of publisher guidelines in their article Publishers Adapt Policies to Help Educators.
Even though I have my own library classes in Microsoft Teams, my students are not accustomed to accessing them. My teachers have been inviting me into their classes in Teams, Class Dojo, Bloomz, and FlipGrid. I can interact with students and be present to them in the spaces where they are already interacting with their classroom teachers and one another. Whether your school used Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, Class Dojo, or Schoology, the point is to go where they are already meeting with their classroom teachers if you can.
Make a Place for Students to Contribute
I used Flip Grid to set up a place where students can share about good books they are reading. I’ve had students from all grade levels contribute and comment on one another’s videos. Flip Grid is easy and fun to use and it’s a great place for students to interact and feel part of their school community. You can set up the similar types of sharing opportunities in Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom as well.
Write a Letter
Just a few days into our school closure I received a card in the mail from my second grade granddaughter. It was truly the bright spot in my week!! This made me think that perhaps my students and colleagues would enjoy some “snail mail” too. I’m trying to write one or two short notes per day and I look forward to my walk to the mailbox! Don’t know where to start because there are hundreds of students in your school? How about your library helpers or students in book clubs? Each note you write will brighten up someone’s day.
The Time to Connect is Now!
No matter how you decide to connect with your students, the most important thing is that you do it! It’s true that it can seem overwhelming with so many classes and so many students. But it’s important to show up for your students – they need to hear from us! Let me know how you are showing up for your students today!
Join our Facebook Group
Trapped! Outside the Library is a group of school librarians who share ideas for connecting with their students and supporting their school communities during the school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When you subscribe to my weekly newsletter, you will receive an invitation the next Sunday!
Be the light!