Distance Learning During COVID-19

I never expected to write this post. I never expected to get the phone call that our school would be closed for five weeks. The best way to describe the past week is surreal, and I know many of you are in the same situation.

Like many of you, our school has asked us to create a plan for students during this time of uncertainty. I'm writing this post to share my plan and resources for 7th grade ELA, a Narrative Writing Makerspace for Google Classroom, in the hopes that it might help you, too. Everything I share in this post can be downloaded for free, and if you need guidance along the way, we can share questions, ideas, and anything else in the comment section below. The best thing we can do as a professional community right now is join together.

An important note: depending on your school's directives, this teaching experience will not be the same as a typical classroom or even online teaching experience. Some of our students will be caring for younger siblings, overwhelmed with anxiety, or simply unable to complete the activities we send their way. This is a time to be gracious and empathetic. Nothing I share here should be assessed. I'm a huge believer that feedback is always more meaningful to our students than grades as a tool of learning anyway. This sentiment will be more true than ever in the coming weeks.

Something else to consider: our students' access to technology is not equitable. We can lessen this burden by providing print and computer options IF POSSIBLE. I will share ideas for sharing this study digitally in the first half of this post. I will share print options in the second half.

1. Digital Learning: Share a Narrative Writing Makerspace with your students using Google Classroom.

Share this free Narrative Writing Makerspace with your students using Google Classroom. When you download the makerspace to your drive, you get a folder full of all the materials in the makerspace and teacher directions. All you need to share with your students is the actual makerspace, labeled number one in the folder. The makerspace looks like this:

The makerspace is a Google Slides file. Students will click to the second slide that gives them directions for using the makerspace:

The slides within the makerspace have links to the checklists and graphic organizers students will use as tools to help them write their narrative. When students click on the link, it will force a copy so that students will now have a copy of each tool in their drive.

The forced copy screen will look like this:

It is important that students create a folder in Google Drive (as outlined in the student directions above) and share that file with you so it's easy to check on student work.

Once students enter the work of the makerspace, they will experience activities like the one pictured below. The makerspace quite literally walks students through the process of writing a narrative and includes all of the tools they need. Tabs along the top of the screen make the makerspace easy to navigate.

As students work, give as much feedback as possible. This will be a challenging time for all of us, so give yourself some space and grace, too. My goal is to connect with my students a few times each week.

More than anything, I'm hoping this is a time we can share stories that help us through. My students will be writing stories during an unprecedented time in history. Their stories will matter more than ever. They might choose to write about their experiences during this time, or they might write stories that provide the perfect escape. Either way, our stories will be a way to connect.

2. To implement a paper version, simply print.

To make a paper version, open all of the links within the makerspace and print the graphic organizers. Print two or three of the mentor texts OR instruct students to use any short story or novel as a mentor text. Combine the materials in one big packet and send it home with students who need the paper version. It's that simple.

I'm not sure if I will have the same opportunity to connect with students who use the paper version of the Narrative Makerspace, but we can look forward to sharing stories when we return to school!

Our students have stories to tell, especially now. I hope this makerspace helps to ease some of the anxieties we all feel. We're in this together. Here for you!

- Emily

Click on the image below to download your free makerspace.