So now that you’ve explored Digital Classrooms — what do you do with them?

If you are just getting started, check out this post.

We all know that people are pushing back from long hours, lots of extra work, etc., so you don’t want to just add to the noise.

Even as the school year is closing, lots of teachers are prepping an online “classroom” for what seems like the inevitable. And if not inevitable, at least we’ll be a little more prepared!

If you want to listen instead of read, check out my Podcast talking about the same stuff!

Start with the Basics

  • When you decorate your physical classroom, you don’t leave stuff all over the floor, so why would you do it in a digital room?
    – Don’t overwhelm your kids. The younger they are, the less links they need.
    – Your kids with special needs will thank you.
    – Your kids with ADHD will thank you.
    – The PARENTS will thank you.
    This is definitely a case of less is more. Your room shouldn’t be every item you find and throw in there. That’s not how we teach so why should we throw everything possible in the room right away?
  • Curate your links – instead of linking to every possible amazing activity, pick a few. Students, and their parents, or your sub, or if you link too many, you, will struggle to find the activity you are looking for. If you really want to build items ahead of time, make a ‘template’ room. Add an image, take out the background and get it ready to put in the digital room. Add the link, and when you are ready to use it, copy and paste the image into the correct Google Slides presentation. If you want to leave yourself a note about what is in the link, just add a text box next to it. Add as many slides as you need for your items, but they remain out of the kids’ room until you are ready to use it.
  • Create a main room with off-shoot rooms. Connect each of the sub rooms to the main room. This will allow you to have more items linked, but it will keep your main room uncluttered. And speaking of things you can link…
  • Make the room on a theme. A room for instruments, a room for melody, or rhythm, form, blues, composition, a holiday.
  • You do NOT have to link every page you have all at once. Use them during a unit and then unlink them until the next time you use them.
  • Learn cool things you can make your slides or Bitmoji do….

How do I…?

What to do with it

  • Give the kids instructions. If you really want to make it personal, record yourself. Use your webcam, or if you are on a Mac, use PhotoBooth to record a video of you talking to the kids. If you want to record the screen and not yourself, use Screen Record-Screen Recorder ($5.00 in the App Store) or Screen-Cast-O-Matic which has a Google Chrome extension. These both work great for a quick screen recording.
    – Bonus Tip! When you have the recording, link it to the bitmoji of yourself, or use the animated talking bitmoji tutorial above to record the whole thing and put yourself in a computer screen or TV.
  • Change
  • Use as a hub for for the links kids need for class. If you use sight reading factory, essential elements and google classroom, put a link to all of them on the one page so kids have ONE place they go to for all the links.
  • Use as a center station. Create a room that is just for interactive centers. Pull up the one virtual classroom on your devices when your kids are working in centers and then kids use that to that room to access the different sites.
  • Make one for a sub. Seriously.  Create posters on the wall with the grade levels or names. (Maybe make one sub room for each day of the week if you need to and link them to a main room). Drop a link to the Google classroom, the video, whatever things you leave for a sub in addition to the manipulatives/books/worksheets/etc. I ADORE my usual sub. She’s retired teacher (non-music but she understands it!), and mom of another staff member in my building. I want to make her life as easy as possible because she actually can rehearse my groups. I’m building one just for her so she only has to go to that site to get all her links.
  • Make one for recruitment for your incoming kids. It will work for band, orchestra, choir, and after school ensembles, so put one together to give them info and help them make informed decisions.

Make it more than collection of links

Links are great. But if you aren’t prompting a lesson, it just becomes another place to go see stuff and it becomes entertainment.

  • Assess. Gather data. Keep records. We aren’t entertainment or someone’s “prep coverage”. Don’t just throw dozens of links at the kids without gathering data. Have students submit something by linking to a Google Doc using Google Classroom, or linking to See Saw or Flipgrid. Even if it’s SHORT, have them show understanding.
  • Add an activity for each link. If you link to a read aloud, also link a Google Form so the kids can tell you what they thought of the book or what they learned. Responding to music is part of our standards, and this is a great way to include that. Ask kids to create an ostinato for a really important phrase in the book, or to describe the book. (Create)
  • Build in a Google Form where they have to do a matching activity using multiple choice. It doesn’t need to be complicated for you to know if they can identify.
  • Use this time to highlight the things that we sometimes skimp on because we are performance based. Respond to music, reflect on a performance, listen to something new, learn about instruments, or a new musician/composer.
  • Link to composing activities the kids can turn in: editable docs, see saw activities, moveable cards in Google Slides, or something like Paint Composer.
  • If you can’t TRULY assess learning by adding activities for kids to turn in, add a digital guestbook to at least keep track of what kids are doing. Have students turn in what they did and write a small refection or answer questions on it. Tutorial above!
  • No matter what, don’t just give a bunch of links with no guidance. 

Still looking for more?

Join this Facebook group dedicated just to Bitmoji/Virtual/Digital classrooms!

Looking for a great activity for your room?

Check out this Carnival of the Animals virtual art exhibit! Includes Google Form and worksheet assessments so you can use in person and online.

I hope this post has been helpful!

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