Hi friends. This week, I’m continuing my series on setting up for success by chatting about student setups. Your office space is important as we talked about last week (Click here if you missed it), but it's not the only space that needs attention. Student spaces are sometimes even more important for their success in acquiring concepts and skills. The first thing to keep in mind as you help your students set up their learning space is to keep it simple. This will especially help students who have difficulty managing their materials and environment.
I like to keep students’ materials to a minimum. You have to always think about the struggles of your students and their families. They might live in an environment where a ton of materials may not always make their way to teaching sessions. Again, keep it simple. My recipe for success.
I think that, as online teachers, we sometimes forget that students can still use simple tools for their lessons. Here are some hands-on tools that you can have them set up in their space to use for online learning:
Markers and Pencils: Have students organize them as they would for in-person learning. This will make them easily accessible to use during activities and games. Don’t have them keep too many nearby. They become a distraction. One or two are plenty.
Index Cards: These are handy for playing vocabulary games and making sight words. It’s less of a distraction than a whiteboard and wireless markers.
My preference is that my students have headphones. It allows them to hear the words correctly that I say to them. It also keeps background noise to a minimum, especially when their home is kind of loud that day. Without headphones, students could hear something wrong and this could also affect their evaluations. Again, I want to assess them on their abilities in the best environment possible. I don’t have one specific headphone set that I like better, but I always tell families to purchase one for their child if they do not already have one.
Having a device that uses mark-up tools is ideal for their child to engage in their lessons. For student-device selection, I prefer the iPad. Almost all homes have them, and they are particularly easy to use. They provide students with a touch screen that raises engagement levels and makes lessons so much easier to do. An additional plus, I can always FaceTime with my students if we have a technology glitch. I have a whole blog post coming on the most popular glitches that online teachers encounter and the best way to fix them quickly.
The Parent's Role
This may be hard for a parent to hear, especially the supportive ones, but they need to not be part of their child’s learning space. I’ll explain more on this topic on a future blog. (Sign-up for the Read to Rewire Newsletter to be the first to hear about it)
Give advice to parents though, they’ll appreciate it, by suggesting that they keep their child’s learning spot the same each day. Explain to them that a table or desk is the preferred spot. I tell my families that the need for this is because I need their child to show up as if they are in a classroom. When I assess my students, I want them to have the best possible outcomes, and they can't achieve their best lying in bed with their iPad. There are plenty of moments that I let my students “get comfy”. It’s important to take breaks and have fun. That’s why I use multi-sensory lessons and incorporate movement into their learning. When parents still can’t understand why their child shouldn’t be on their bunk bed with a laptop, I ask them if they want that environment to be the place where their child is assessed on their performance and skill comprehension. After this question, almost all parents “get it”.
Multi-sensory experiences are important to help support student learning. It is a fun way to extend the way they learn concepts and skills. It is especially important for students with dyslexia. I have my students keep a minimum of two items they can easily grab for multi-sensory experiences. By having them close by, we can participate in impromptu lessons.
Here are two of my favorite multi-sensory items I like my students to have close by:
Container with lid to hold rice: This is so much fun for letter writing! Parents can even tint it the student’s favorite color to make it even more appealing for them to use. A gel bag is another option that can later be used as a fun toy.
Letter boards: These are ideal for a quick drill or to build phonetic words. If we’re being realistic, we all know that students sometimes come unprepared for class. They will forget, or have lost, their B or G that day. So, a letter board works great for these think-on-your-feet moments. 😉 Here is my IGTV video so you can see how I use the letter board in game format.
I hope this provides guidance for you to help your students create a learning environment that is ready for their success! Comment below with any tips or materials that you prefer your students to have in their learning space.
Come back next week for more tips and strategies to help you successfully teach your struggling students.
Have a great week!
Michelle @Read to Rewire