Keep learning, keep teaching – Part 4: Educators detail COVID-19 adjustments

Katie Pasternak models how to convert fractions to decimals via Google Meet.
Elementary Education major Katie Pasternak models how to convert fractions to decimals via Google Meet.

Katie Pasternak is maintaining a face-to-face connection with her students, even during the challenging separation of COVID-19.

At 9 a.m. Monday through Thursday, the senior Elementary Education major from Yorkville sits in front of her computer’s camera to teach math – live via the Internet – on Google Meet.

“This gets the students started on the right track by sharing the assignments and expectations for the virtual school day. It also creates that social piece for students to share any questions or concerns with their teachers they may be feeling about eLearning,” says Pasternak, who is student-teaching in a fifth-grade classroom at Cortland Elementary School.

“Immediately following the morning meeting, the students stay online, and we screen-record us teaching math in Google Meet. This allows the students to have real-time interaction with their teachers as the math lesson is presented,” she adds. “Once we are done recording the math lesson for the day, we post the video to Google Classroom.”

Students are logging in, Pasternak says, even though they always can watch the videos later during their own time.

“Once they realized there was that social piece,” she says, “they became motivated to attend the morning meetings to be part of the recorded math lesson for the day.”

Pasternak and her cooperating teacher also hold online office hours for the fifth-graders, offering one-on-one tutoring in subjects such as math, writing and science through Google Meet. It provides opportunities to model those skills, which is “critical for their overall comprehension.”

“Math seems to be our most popular request for office hours,” Pasternak says. “In Google Meet, the students can present the math problems they see on their screen. This allows my cooperating teacher and I to work with the student to guide them to success!”

Katie Pasternak taught in Houston during the January 2019 Educate U.S. trip.
Pasternak taught in Houston during the January 2019 Educate U.S. trip.

Children who complete all of their work for the week are invited to a 15-minute “fun lunch” with Pasternak, her cooperating teacher and some of their peers.

“During this 15-minute hangout, we play an interactive game together as a class. A fan favorite has been Mad Libs. I will have the students take turns sharing plural nouns, verbs, adjectives and other silly words to create a fun story,” she says.

“We then present these funny stories in the class-wide Google Meet,” she adds. “This motivates our students who were not part of the ‘fun lunch’ to work harder as weeks progress to join in on the fun with their teachers.”

We want to know what our teacher-licensure students and educator-alums and are doing to “keep teaching.” Please complete our Educators in Action online form to tell us how you’re promoting eLearning with your students during the COVID-19 situation!

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