As you try to figure out at-home learning amidst the COVID-19 crisis, here’s an idea to consider. How about creating a class project to work on? Each student can do their own small part, and when you all get back together, you can put it all together as a way to reconnect and celebrate being back in school.
A note to parents: If you’re structuring learning at home for your children, you might try taking on one of these projects as a family. Each adult and kid in the family could do this work and put it all together in the end!
Here are a few potential benefits of this kind of project:
- It’s flexible. Students may work on it a bit or a lot, depending on how much time they have, what their home environment is like, and how excited they get.
- It’s independent. Students can do most of this on their own.
- It’s differentiated. Students can all work at their own levels of understanding and skills.
- It doesn’t require tons of teacher-time. You might check in via phone calls or emails, but if you wait until you get back together in school to put it all together, you won’t need to do lots of conferring, correcting, or troubleshooting.
- You’ll have a great reunion activity. Think of the fun you’ll all have when you get back to school and finish up your project for the final showcase!
- It taps into many intrinsic motivators. Students have some autonomy as they create their contribution. There’s purpose—they’re helping create a project. There’s belonging—their individual work is part of a class-wide effort.
Before we consider some ways to facilitate this, here are some ideas of projects you might tackle:
Create a class anthology of writing. Students could draft short stories, poetry, journal reflections, letters, etc. When you return, students choose which ones to bring to a final draft, and you could publish the COVID Collection: Writing from Our Days at Home.
- Create a class math puzzle book. Students could each create their own math puzzles (with solutions). When you rejoin, polish them up and put together a book of puzzles you can use the rest of the year.
- Conduct mini-research projects. Each student can choose something to learn about. When you get back to school, give everyone a few days to prepare to share what they learned with others.
- Take on a reading challenge. Have students read books and make some simple projects to share with others. When you get back, take a few days to polish them up and have a museum-walk where students can view each others’ projects.
- Create games to play. Students might create board games, gameshow style quiz games, or any other kind of game. Make the requirement that they connect with content you’ve been learning about during the school year (or semester or last few weeks). When you return, you can all play the games together!
So, how might you coordinate and orchestrate this from home?
Consider breaking the project down into smaller chunks:
- Step One: Share the challenge with students. Whether you do this through an online platform or by email or phone calls, generate a sense of excitement with students.
- Step Two: Share some examples/ideas to get students’ thinking going. You might offer a list of kinds of writing to try or show a few sample math problems to create (playing off the ideas above).
- Step Three: Create a basic timeline for students. If you’re going to be out for three weeks, try breaking the project up into one-week segments. Set a goal for each week.
- Step Four: Set up a communication system with your students. When is your designated check-in time with them? How will they reach you if they need help? Can they help each other? If so, how will this work?
- Step Five: Check in. Stick to your communication plans. Consider reaching out to some students (who will likely need more support) more frequently.
- Step Six: Save the tough stuff for when you get back to school. Don’t overload yourself with crazy assessments and conferring work. You can work on this as a team with your students when you get back to school.
What are some other projects you might try? What other suggestions do you have for how to structure this work so it feels manageable for teachers and students? Share your ideas in the comments section below!
For more ideas about supporting at-home learning, check out this post!