Monday, August 24, 2020

Build Community with Student Names - In Class or Remotely!

There's a very real urgency about building a classroom community at back to school time. To move forward into teaching and learning, there have to be some basic bonds of mutual respect and understanding.

One very basic way that students show each other (and you!) respect is by using each others' names in speaking to each other. Have you had students who referred to classmates as "that boy" or "the girl over there"? Or a child who called you "Teacher" for... umm, way too long?

What do you do to help your students learn each others' names? And what new techniques will you try in view of the unique challenges that 2020 brings?

Here's a project that I loved doing with my first grade literacy intervention class for many years. It helped them remember each others' names and thereby build classroom community.  As they made these and using the finished products, it also...

* Gave them practice in writing their own names
* Developed letter-sound match as they wrote the name of a classmate
* Practiced letter formation as they wrote
* Practiced one-to-one matching and return sweep as they used pointers to read the finished display
* Built control of early sight words (I, here is, am, and my, etc.) with frequent rereading
* Helped them see themselves as readers and writers
* Built pride in their writing when the display was taken down and made into one of the first of our many class books.

Can you think of more benefits? I'll bet you can!

The description and download of this free resource will give you a variety of writing templates in addition to tips for doing the project with your students!

I've been thinking about so many of you who are or will be teaching your students online this year.  It may be even more of a challenge to build community via Zoom's novel, it's fun, but it's definitely harder to keep students focused! And learning lots of new names definitely takes focused attention.

Is there a way that you could adapt this project to use in distance teaching?

For ideas, I turned to my newsletter subscribers, who had some great ideas for using this project when teaching remotely. Here are two of their suggestions.

From Amy K:  "How about if you put it on a Google Slide and we could copy and paste pics we take on Google meet and make an online class book?"

Do you know that it's actually pretty easy to put any page onto a Google slide? Just use your snipping tool to create a JPEG and pop it right into the slide.  Here's what my handy little snipping tool looks like on my screen.

From Sandra C:   "I think this would work into Grade 3, too. Just add a line ... he likes to/she likes to... or we like to ...together. Or make it an interactive question and response activity - where the children have their photos set in 2s and the first person asks a question of the second person ... who will respond online remotely? Maybe allowing for space for the 2nd student to add a photo of him/her doing the activity..."

I love the interactive aspect of this idea. Maybe brainstorming a list of questions together in your Zoom meeting could help get the ball rolling on this.

Thanks for your help, Amy and Sandra!

How about you, readers?  Do you have another idea about turning this into a virtual project? Please share in the comments below!

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