I have been thinking a lot about virtual learning, remote learning, distance learning or whatever you want to call it. Whatever term you decide to use, it is online learning. 

As I watched my grandkids learning online...ballet...second grade skills, and myself tutoring online as well as  and my daughter teaching viola virtually, a television show came to mind that I remember watching as a young child. That show was Romper Room. The teacher on the show would use a magnify glass and say, "I see bobby and Joanie and Teddy!"  She would wave to each child and say, "Hi, you look happy today or or let me see that smile."   

Each child felt so special as they watched her perform and enact all her lessons or activities for the morning.  

Let's imagine that you are teaching online or in your classroom and you are ready to share a book...you gather all your students online or on the rug...they are all sitting "crisscross applesauce" or their eyes peeled to the computer screen ready to begin the story...just waiting for you to start...all eyes on you, smiles gleaming.   They are so excited they can hardly contain their emotions. All directions have been announced and modeled.  Well... it may not be this perfect but you get the idea!

They know that they will have such a "fun"tastic time interacting and taking part in Shared Reading! They are ready!!!

Let's Get Interactive: 3 Great Tips for Interactive Shared Reading...a great ideas to involve your students in your shared reading! You will love all 3 tips!!                                        I remember those days...great memories and now that I am retired...I want all of you to have this same experience! YES...YOU! You can use these ideas teaching on your computer or in your classroom (socially distancing of course with masks on) You can do this with these tried and true tips in school or online!

I have had a few principals, get so involved when they observed, that THEY even began to participate...and said,

I wish my elementary reading experiences were like this!

So...drumroll please....Here you go:

3 Great Tips for Interactive Shared Reading online or in your classroom!!!

1.  Get your students thinking about the books you use for shared reading:  

Plan ahead and see which parts of the story you want to share that can be integrated with participation in the story.  If you feel that the story will work, then definitely assign your students predetermined "Thinking Partners" for shared reading that can change every so often.  

If you are teaching virtually, then you will give your students a thinking minute to think about the different parts of the story as you read.

Sticky note parts of the story that your students  can make predictions and inferences, think metacognitively and parts where your students can think about questions they might have at the beginning, middle and ending of the text.  If you have done the work beforehand, your experience will run so much more smoothly!

So...now...when you gather children onto the carpet make sure you have spots around the room or on the carpet that are 6 feet apart, ask them to sit near their "Thinking Partner" and to be ready to Think, Pair, Share, (from a distance) which of course you have already modeled several times...I hope!! (Simply have children face their partner and chat about the parts of the text as directed by YOU!) 

OR Virtually explain that you are going to stop every so often and give them time to think about the story. I usually "Give a thinking minute, which is really a bit more than one minute!)

Now...these partners are ready to go...masks on, 6 feet a part...Don't they look happy?

2.  Use visual props to support reading Comprehension:  

This tip piggybacks to #1.

In a small basket next to your reading chair or your computer, have visuals to support Reading Comprehension Strategies; such as, Visualizing, Cause and Effect, Questioning or what you might be wondering about right now and Making Predictions.  

Then as you ask the question or want your students to share with their "Thinking Partners" or when you give them a "Thinking Minute"you simply hold up the sign that matches the strategy you want them to use.  

While reading, you can also give each child a different part to play: The prediction Maker and they have the wand, The visualizer with the fake glasses or a pair of dollar store glasses, the Thinker, etc. 
Even better, sent a copy of these props home, through an e-mail, and have your students make them to be ready for shred reading online. (optional)

Later you will see students using the clouds and props on their own while partner reading or even reading to self!!! 

Here are some samples of some of the props I used with my kiddos.  You can find them HERE along with some other related Reading Comprehension resources.

              Making Predictions:                                                  Visualizing:



                        Cause and Effect:                                  Explain your Thinking or Metacognitive

Questioning or I Wonder: 

These props can be used with ANY Book!

3.  Using actual props from the text: Say What?  

I LOVE dong this and so do children.  It can even be fun to do at home with a story when reading with your own children or in a homeschool setting or virtually.  So let me explain:  

Take a book like If you Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff or actually any book in her series of similar texts.  

Look through the story to what items you can collect around the house or purchase them at the dollar store.  Then give students or partners and item you have pre-purchased. As you read the story to your class, have those students rise every time you read their item.  Imagine the fun of listening until their part comes!  If you are teaching virtually, simply assign your students parts and have them create or make them at home or even find the object around the house.  You can assign more than one student for various props. 
After the story is read, see if your students can retell the story as a group using their props. 

One of my all time favorite books to encourage participation is: The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams

The kiddos LOVE this story and in fact one day, a few years back, I invited my principal in for our Halloween Party and shared this book on the rug. At the end she screamed out in unison with the class, when I asked them to scream out what they thought the little old lady would do with all the items that followed her home!  PS...I always ask the students to scream, whisper, speak like a robot, a mouse, a baby or other ways when I want a whole class answer and it is the BEST!
They can't wait to hear what voice I will ask for to answer the question!!!
So to in order to use props for this story, you will need, shoes, a pair of pants, a shirt, a pair of gloves, a hat and a Jack-o-Lantern...                                                                         If you separate the shoes and gloves, there are 8 different props to give out to your class or for the students to create etc.  You can also add doubles of each item so everyone has a props or assign partners to each item.                                                                                    As you read the story to the class, they have to act out the parts with their props.  For example:  when the part is read,"the shoes went CLOMP, CLOMP."  the students who have the shoes make them walk...CLOMP, CLOMP! Just imagine the listening and participation that will magically happen when you share a book in this manner!  Can you read every single book this way? Probably not, but pick and choose those books that you can use this way and make it a "FUN Friday" activity...learning and fun. What more can a teacher ask for?  

It has always been my philosophy to make learning educational and fun, so that each child will love learning, want to come to school, reach their potential and be their best self! 

There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Bat  With this story, you can have each child stand every single time their item is read in the story or YOU can be the OLD LADY! At the end everyone can YELL TRICK or TREAT!!!

Remember teaching online or in your classroom can be motivating and entertaining, which will encourage students to want to be online with you or come to school.  Whatever way you are teaching this year, make the best of it and make it one of your best years yet! You can do this!

Home and School communication is so important. Getting parents on your side and working together as a team can enhance all aspects of a child's education. One thing to remember is parents know their child better than we do in that they have been their child's teacher from the day their child was born. 
I always tell parents that they are the most important person in their child's life.  

So, with that being said, use parent's input about their child and work together!

Although this year may look a bit different. These 3 tips are ways that you can include parents in their child's education from day one and build positive relationships with students and their parents. 

Whether you are teaching virtually or in person this year, the following tips to work side by side with parents, will definitely promote and enhance student progress.

Start the Year off with a Positive Phone Call 

Try to make a positive phone call home
within the first 2 weeks of school. I know that this can be a difficult task with all that needs to be done, but this WILL make a difference! 

Think of yourself as a parent: you are nervous about your child going to first grade and just think how "little Jimmy or Doris" feels. 

Receiving a positive phone call and I emphasize phone call NOT e-mail can set the tone for the rest of the year and it will make it much easier when you have to call for other reasons. 

I also call to EACH child the night before the first day of school to say "hi" and welcome them to my classroom. I tell each child how excited I am to have him or her in my classroom and to make sure they bring their smile to school tomorrow! 

Say hello and express your excitement about having him or her in your classroom.  My video that I have posted below is an example of a phone call you might make if you are teaching in person, but it can easily be changed to represent a virtually classroom. Making each student in your class feel excited to come to your classroom, no matter where you are teaching, begins to build important connections with each child.  


Invite Parents into your Classroom or Virtual Classroom

If it is permitted in your district, invite parents to come into your classroom and share a favorite book or chat about their job or occupation. Our School always had a Guest Reader on Friday afternoons. I changed the day and time for working parents if necessary. Teaching Virtually? Invite a parent to read to your class through Zoom or any other platforms you may be using. Maybe ask parents to sit in on your lesson to see what his or her child is learning that week. 

Keep Parents in the Loop

Send a Monthly or Weekly Newsletter home sharing with parents special news and announcements that are special to your classroom. You can send these notes and announcements on your class homework sheet through your website or through google with a link to read these important messages. Attaching these to an e-mail works too! 

I hope these quick and easy ideas bring a bit of sunshine to start your year! Enjoy! 

Try your best to be your best this year even with the struggles we are all facing this school year!