This is very important to me and I take pride in being a major player in the lives of my 1st graders. Here are some of my tips for keeping them engaged... from home:
1. Use your Twitter account to build engagement and activate interest.
I may sound like a broken record at this point but Twitter is a POWERFUL learning tool. I am learning via my professional account (@lbrightedu) and my students are learning via our classroom account (@mrsbrightmcdole). Twitter is also a great way to engage students in learning when school is not in session.
Here are a few tweets that I used to get my kids thinking about our upcoming week:
2. Send Special Messages
Allow your students (with parent permission) to send you special messages... then write back!
Giving your students the ability to access you will remind them that you are a real person that lives and breaths outside of school. I want them thinking and wondering all of the time. If I can help with that... awesome!
3. Create a Classroom Email Account
Create an e-mail account for your classroom that is kid friendly. Many of my students have the same apps on their home devices as we have on our school devices. They are experimenting and exploring these apps at home. Allow them to send you what they are working on!
I frequently receive ScreenChomps from my students with math examples and more.
As far as a management piece for teachers, a class email address keeps your teacher account less cluttered.
4. Surprise Learning Projects and Outings
Snow Days, School Breaks and Classroom Outings can lead to amazing learning opportunities.
On the occasional snow day, challenge your students to try something new or send you a picture that will answer a specific question. Here is our 1st "Cold Day" Challenge:
5. Participate and Celebrate
Participate in what you ask your children to do.
If I ask them to blog from home on a "Cold Day". I'd better do it too!
Celebrate when they participate in self directed learning.
If one of your students takes the effort to bring in something that correlates with something you are learning, make a big deal about it. Our students are pulled in a thousand different directions when they return home. For them to find something amazing that connects back to their academic day, is truly a wonderful thing.
This sweet little girl found this article in her home magazine while we were studying Jane Goodall. She bounded into school that morning to share. Believe me when I say we made a really big deal about it.
Yes, this takes time. Yes, social media is important here. However, our jobs are SO important. My students only get to experience 1st grade once. Any day that I am not at my best is a missed opportunity. Any chance I can to extend their learning and engagement, I will take.
Something to think about:
Is there something from this list that you are willing to try?
How do you extend engagement?