RBOSchooling- Virtual Covid edition

  • DC2 says there are ~60 kids in hir online 4th grade class (20 in hir “small group” meetings) and that number can change every grading period.  There are only 36 slots for parent teacher conferences so… I’m guessing the actual number is closer to 40.
  • They started with only a little bit of synchronous learning, but that has increased recently.  Now there are 5 days of 8am meetings.  Then new meetings every day for math and for language arts.  There are “small group” meetings 2x/week, one for math and one for English.  GT (gifted and talented pullout) has also increased from 2x/week to 3x/week (including Enrichment which just started).

  • Right now in math DC2 is doing multiple-step word problems. They’re doing the thing where they have to draw boxes and put a little ? where the answer they’re trying to get is. (So like, the total adds up to the boxes on the top row, then you fill in the boxes on the bottom row and put an ? in the one you can’t fill in, then you know what to add or multiply and what to subtract.)
  • They started the year with place value which seems pretty standard to me.
  • DC2 had to pick a tribe that was native to our state before the settlers came and make a powerpoint about them for Social Studies (in Spanish).  They had to answer specific questions about where in the state they lived, what they ate, what they wore, etc.
  • For science they’ve been exploring states of matter and learning about density– they watch videos the teacher has made doing things to various objects and fill out a form about whether they float, how much they weigh, etc.
  • For English they have been exploring the elements of a short story, the different kinds of short stories, and they’ve been taking short stories and fables and changing them up.  So they watched an oscar winning cartoon about a piper bird and had to write a comic strip changing it to being set in the Rain Forest.  Then they took a fairy tale and changed 3 things about it (DC2 had all three wolves being eaten by a bear…) Then they took a fable about a wolf and a goat and changed it to being set in the arctic.
  • Zie has a separate art teacher once a week and music teacher once a week and PE teacher once a week.  Also “computers”.
  • The PE teacher is basically just giving a set of 9 optional activities and announcing what the “sport” is for the week.  No videos or anything.  So this week is Soccer and last week was basketball and so on, and if you don’t have the specific kind of ball, use a balloon or balled up socks.  There’s nothing to turn in.
  • Computers is similar to PE– there will be a video to watch on password safety or typing practice to do, but not much more.
  • The music teacher has been doing these fantastic 20-25 min videos where there’s learning, interaction, and listening, all around a theme.  So they did a rhythm week and played a rhythm game.  Then she asks a specific question in chat for everyone to listen to.  I believe she’s working from home for ADA reasons.  Apparently at the next break she’ll just be doing 4th grade and she’ll have an additional teacher working with her.  I’m not sure what is going on there.
  • The GT teacher has 2 GT pullouts and one enrichment pullout (which DC2 says is like GT but easier and has more kids).  She’s doing all of this from home, so the kids in school are pulled out and sit in a classroom with laptops and an aide.  At the beginning of the semester the GT teacher was very focused on behavior and being able to see everyone and DC2 was disappointed because they weren’t doing anything hard, but a month in they started getting back to normal.  Zie is still disappointed that there’s no chocolate involved with GT this year… one of the benefits of pullout in years prior was they often did projects involving mnms or oreos.
  • The art teacher has mostly been doing powerpoints with (well-chosen) videos from youtube embedded in them, but there’s also assignments each week.  There’s no way to upload them, but DC2 has been really enjoying doing the projects.  Each week they focus on something specific like lines or dots and she talks about how lines can generate movement or make you feel calm or make someone seem imposing depending on if they are diagonal/horizontal/vertical.  The week before last was about space.  This week was about bringing everything together to make a city-scape in the style of one of her favorite painters.  Then she talks about an artist (usually modern) who did a lot of art with whatever the focus is that week.  Way better than my elementary school art classes where we mostly just did crafts… more like my high school art history class.
  • DC2’s Spanish has gotten WAY better this year… like so much better.  Which I do not understand at all because there were 3 years of what was supposed to be complete immersion, and now via virtual schooling zie is able to be chatty in Spanish?
  • DC2 is still able to handle most of English week stuff on hir own, but needs more help on Spanish weeks.
  • DC2 is really enjoying prodigy.  Not enjoying the typing program for computers so much.  Though maybe as zie is getting better… Tuesday night zie stayed up late with the prospecting game.
  • We had our parent teacher conference for DC2 earlier this week, which was a well-deserved mutual admiration society (because she is great and DC2 is great).  Of note, DC2 tested at 7th grade math.  I’m not sure how impressive that actually is, but we’ll definitely need to have hir test out of 5th grade math this summer (testing out of 5th grade math is pretty standard for kids planning to do Calculus in high school).  I’m not sure the teacher knows that DC2 is grade-skipped, but I guess she doesn’t need to know?
  • DC1 has been having to do ridiculous art projects again.  It’s like we’re back in middle-school!  Even worse, they have to be dropped off at the high school.  We can’t just take a picture and upload it.

11 Responses to “RBOSchooling- Virtual Covid edition”

  1. Anonymath Says:

    We’ve just started our second nine-week grading period for 1st grade. Parents had the option to switch from online to face-to-face, so DS’s online classes went from 28 students to 11. He’s loving the increased attention and interaction. We had four synchronous meeting each day in the first nine weeks, and they’re now starting to split into small groups by ability for reading. Art (once per week) and PE (three times per week) and music (once per week) all have a synchronous class once every other week and otherwise it’s pre-recorded videos. Given his new class size, he’s getting more attention than he would get in a regular face to face class of 20 students, and his teacher has just figured out he’s well ahead in math. Let’s see if she does anything about it. Art class yesterday decided they’ll be making Holiday cards to deliver to a local children’s hospital, but “holiday” apparently just means Christmas. We’re trying to scheme up an appropriate non-religious picture, but one without snow as it doesn’t snow down here.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Wow! That’s a huge drop! And awesome to be getting that much personalized attention!

      One of the things I have been super-impressed by with both our kids is how much they’ve grown in terms of independence since this has started. Not only are they taking charge of their own schedules and learning, but that new-found independence seems to have spilled over into other areas as well. I’m having to yell at them to do chores way less, for example. We’ve stopped having to tell DC1 to contact teachers when zie doesn’t understand something and we no longer have to hold hir hand (figuratively– as a 13 year old zie only accepts shoulder pats as physical affection) while zie is writing something. DC2 also has no problem asking for help on hir own.

  2. Chelsea Says:

    We are homeschooling because of high rates of transmission in our area and because my kids don’t sit in front of computer screens and pay attention well (TV on the other hand…). I have a question about a kid with mismatched skill levels. My DC2 just started K (will be 6 in Nov) and has very mismatched math and language levels. He’s a pretty normal Kindergartener as far as reading and writing goes (can write simple words but handwriting is terrible, can read sight words and is learning word families) but he has very good number sense and will probably be ready to start Singapore Math 2nd grade in a few weeks.

    I guess the question is… should I care or try to do anything about the mismatched skill level? Like back off on math time and push reading and writing more? Or just roll with it and figure that his reading skill will catch up? DC1 made huge strides in reading in 1st grade so I assume this will probably happen for DC2…

    Also, both of my kids are working ahead of their grade – at least for some things. DC1 is in 2nd grade and doing Winning With Writing and Growing With Grammar 3rd grade, etc. What should I do when they go back to school? Should I try to maintain what we’ve learned through homework (which is unappealing because they will have school homework, too)? Not really worry about it? I don’t think grade skipping is something that is done here, nor do I really think it’s what we want because I’m not sure they are ahead in every way (especially in maturity).

    Thoughts?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      It depends on what you want to DO after the pandemic is over and what your school makes easy to do. If there’s no chance of a grade skip in the future, then just keep your kid at least on level but don’t push further unless he shows interest or has so much energy that it needs an intellectual outlet (like Matilda… or my kids…). ALTHOUGH, reading is so much fun that it might be worth pushing phonics anyway. I *strongly* recommend the initial Leapfrog videos for memorizing sounds. (I think there are bits on youtube, but the whole story is fun, especially for kids who love videos) You will get The A says ah, the A says ah, every letter makes a sound the A says ah stuck in your head but it’s not unpleasant. Then when the brain is ready, with enough reading to them it just falls into place. (Not just with my kids!)

      I’ll ask the grumpies this, but not this week. I will have a much longer answer about things to think about. Ack, I have to get some things xeroxed before class.

      Sorry you were caught in spam!

  3. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    Our horrible 6th grade math teacher thought my kid was homeschooled! Right after my kid failed a test on integers due solely to not checking his work/reading the question. I want to make her do all the assignments on a school-assigned Chromebook, just once, so she can see how painful it is.

  4. Emma Says:

    Language learning takes a long time, so it makes sense from a language acquisition perspective that DC2 would only start to be chatty after 3 years–it’s likely not so much the switch to virtual schooling as the culmination of the previous years.

  5. revanche @ a gai shan life Says:

    This makes me want to hide under my desk, a little. Or a lot. So. Many logistics.

    Also language is such a funny thing when it finally clicks.

    PiC did the parent teacher conference for kinder thankfully, I don’t think I would have been able to keep the disgust off my face when she once again demonstrated utter cluelessness about how her emphasis on negativity (so *many* times in every class session) is affecting the kids.


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