Let me start by saying I have never been a remote learning teacher before. This is not something that I have taken a class on or claim to be an expert in. Teaching elementary age students in this setting is completely new territory for me like so many others. I am following the guidelines set forth by my school while working to teach my curriculum, support classroom teachers, and most importantly care for my students.
With that being said my school began using remote learning on Tuesday, March 17 with students from preschool through 12th grade.
A few things you might be wondering:
- I am the lower school librarian at a private school that serves about 300 students in preschool through fourth grade. There are also two other campuses that serve 5th through 8th grade and 9th through 12th grade.
- My school is 1:1 from kindergarten through 12th grade. Students were given their devices to take home. Kindergarten through 2nd-grade students have iPads. Third- through fifth-grade students have Chromebooks. In sixth through twelfth grade it is BYOD.
- Most students who attend my school have high-speed Internet access available to them at home. Those that do not have been working with the school on an individual basis.
- Most lessons have been given asynchronously. At the lower school level, anything that requires students to be available at a certain time is optional. For those students who cannot attend at a certain time, the teachers are working with them based on their needs.
- My school uses Canvas as our learning management system and all lessons and/or assignments are provided through this system.
- Zoom is being used for online meetings. Our IT department is continuing to provide us with information to make these meetings safe and reliable for students at all levels.
The expectations that have been set for my school library in this learning model include:
- Provide a weekly lesson related to the curriculum for preschool through fourth grade
- Provide opportunities to support reading for enjoyment
- Support teachers with projects and digital resources
This post will focus on providing weekly lessons related to the curriculum. Watch for future posts on the other two expectations.
My goal is to keep the library lessons simple. My students already have other core subjects they need to focus on. I do not want to overwhelm them or their families. Many of the activities, especially at the preschool and kindergarten level, require some adult support. So it has been important to keep the focus on developing purposeful activities that relate to the library and classroom curriculum.
Here is what I have come up with so far!
Each week I have given a lesson with an online read aloud. I have used resources like Storyline Online, Brightly Storytime, and recorded read-alouds with publisher permission. As a school, we are also conscious of how much time students are spending in front of a screen so each lesson has an element that is unplugged. Click here to see lesson examples for preschool.
The objective of the kindergarten lessons has been to have students identify the difference between fiction and nonfiction books. This would have been the same objective I would have been focusing on at this point in the school year. The lessons for this grade level have built off of each other from week-to-week. Click here to see lesson examples for kindergarten.
In 1st grade, the teachers and I usually collaborate on a large research project called “Passport around the World” at this time of the year. The students learn about the seven continents and chose a topic to research related to one of the continents. At this point, we have not had the students completing their research at home. Yet, I still wanted to have them looking for specific information in a reliable source. Using the lesson plans available through PebbleGo I was able to have students find the habitats of various animals around the world. They collected their information on the map provided in a modified lesson found in that resource. Click here to see the lesson example for 1st grade.
2nd and 3rd Grade
Before our school switched to remote learning I had been working with both the 2nd- and 3rd-grade teachers on collaborative projects. In an effort to continue with the objectives related to those projects the lessons for the first two weeks have connected to their social studies curriculum.
In 2nd grade, they were working to complete their government unit. My focus was to support their curriculum while having student practice using our databases. We have a subscription to PebbleGo, and students are able to access this database at home on their devices. Using the information about the U.S. Constitution found there the students collected facts about this important document and then share what they had learned in a discussion board.
In 3rd grade, they have been completing an immigration unit. We had planned for students to do a picture book study of books written about the immigrant experience. The unit is not possible as it was originally planned. Instead, a lesson was created that connected one of the picture books with a primary source from the Library of Congress. Using these resources, students were able to reflect on what an immigrant might have wished for when arriving in the United States.
Additionally, we have been working with 2nd and 3rd grade on concepts of reliable sources and why we have to cite our information. To incorporate these concepts in a remote learning setting I have used lessons from Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship Curriculum. I used Loom to record the mini-lesson with a video. Then to check student understanding they completed a Google Form.
The 4th grade was also working on a collaborative project before making the switch to remote learning. This project had them research using a biography about a person from 1900 to the present called “Person of Character.” Students have collected information about their person from both print and digital resources. To support this project students were using their information to create a program in Scratch that shared what they had learned.
To show students how to create their project I created a series of videos in Loom for them to watch. Here is an example video. The project directions and requirements were outlined for students on the library’s Canvas page.
The requirements for their project included:
- Include at least one sprite
- Include a background
- Create a program that has your sprite move and share information
- The name of your person of character
- What makes them famous
- What makes them a person of character or their character traits
- Two or three interesting facts about them
After saving your project
- In the instructions section, write one sentence about who your project is about and how someone can watch it.
- In the notes and credits section please cite what resources you used to find the information for your project.
Share your project
- Copy the URL for your project and paste in the submit an assignment tab.
Here is an example of a completed project.
Do you have any great lesson or project idea? What resources are you using to support remote learning? I would love to hear about them!
Author: Kelly Hincks
I am the librarian at Detroit Country Day Lower School in Bloomfield Hills, MI. I have worked as a librarian for the past eleven years. I was a classroom teacher for four years prior to that. I have worked in charter, public, and private schools. My favorite thing about being a librarian is the opportunities I have to work both with students and teachers. I love the co-teaching opportunities and connections I have been able to make! I have served on AASL committees as a member and chair. I currently serve as secretary of my state association, MAME.