Saturday, September 12, 2020

A Whole New World


We returned to in-person hybrid instruction this week after 4 weeks of all online learning to start the school year.

It was my first time teaching students in the school building since March 12, 2020.  It's definitely very different.

(sanitizing shoe mats)

After all of the planning, discussion, changing of plans, and worry, I have to say that the first week went pretty smoothly.

About 1/3 of our students have remained completely online, and the remaining students are split into two groups that alternate attendance days.  So, instead of 1600 students in the building every day, there are more like 600 on any given day.

This certainly made maintaining physical distance easier.  My classes have between 6 and 12 students in them, which allows everyone to be well spread out.  

We have block scheduling, so that plus the hybrid schedule meant that it took all 4 days of the week before I met all of my in person students.  It was like 4 first days of school!  Needless to say, everyone was exhausted by Friday.

But students have generally been cooperative about mask wearing and physical distancing in the classroom.  

It's difficult, though, to figure out how best to help a student from 6 feet away and how to continue to work with my online students when I have students in the classroom.  I'm using a flipped classroom model, which is not how I chose to teach BCE (before COVID era), but it seems to me the best option in the CE (COVID era).  Many things just aren't ideal right now.

The first few days just felt weird, but by Friday I did feel like I was starting to get a little more comfortable.  It's just a very different school world now, and I think it will be for some time to come.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Ready, set...

I went in to school on Friday to make sure my room is ready for a hybrid return to in person instruction on Tuesday.

I've got 16 desks, spaced 6 feet apart,

my required CDC posters,

spray cleaner and paper towels (instead of books) on the bookshelf,

and the schedule on the board so hopefully we know who is supposed to be where.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Contact-free Bathroom Signout


People who have been reading my blog for a while know that mid-class requests to use the bathroom are the bane of my teaching existence.  

I thought I had solved that issue once and for all with my bathroom flowchart.  COVID-19 now laughs in the face of my naivety.

In preparation for a return to in person classes after Labor Day, I spent yesterday afternoon pondering a way to keep track of student bathroom use for contact tracing while not using a pass or a paper signout sheet.  

The solution: a Google Doc Contact Free bathroom signout.  

From the Course Resources page on Canvas, students click on the Restroom Signout button,

which takes them to a Google Doc which they can all write on.

Students will sign themselves in and out and will be able to check if they need to wait because a classmate is in the restroom without my involvementHallelujah! 

Because 2020.

Need one for your German class?  Contact-free German Bathroom Signout Form

Monday, August 31, 2020

MTBoS Blaugust Report


Today is the final day of MTBos Blaugust!  This will be my 15th post for the month, which I am very pleased with, especially considering that I only blogged 17 times during the entire 2019-2020 school year.  

Many thanks to Sarah Carter ( and Druin ( for inspiring me to join in.  

We've made it through the first month of the 2020-21 school year!

Friday, August 28, 2020

Back to School


After starting the school year on August 12 with all students online, our school board voted on Tuesday to return to in-person learning on September 8.

We'll be moving into Phase Yellow, with elementary students attending 5 days a week and secondary students on a hybrid schedule.  Here's the secondary hybrid schedule:

Bloomington North is the only school in the district with block scheduling, and our hybrid schedule now looks like this:

Phew!  It's taken me about 7 years to adjust to block scheduling, and now this maroon maroon gold gold alternating maroon/gold makes my brain hurt!  I will definitely need to write everything down very deliberately.

Our community positivity rate has dropped to about 2%, which is quite good.  The big concern is that we are a university town, and 40,000 Indiana University students just returned to campus and started classes Monday. 

I just hope that we don't get everyone adjusted to being back in school, only to have to return to online learning a few weeks later.  Fingers crossed, and working to be 

Sunday, August 23, 2020

It's β is not ß season

I think you have to have a healthy level of year to year amnesia to be a teacher.  Otherwise, no one would do it more than one year.  Case in point:

β is not ß season

There's always a phase about a week or two into the school year where my German 1 students struggle with typing German special characters, most especially ß.  

I give them a menu of options to chose from:  

But an ess-tset does look a lot like a Greek beta, so more than a few students type that instead of ß, and their answer is marked wrong even though it looks right.

It's especially intense this year since I have 3 full classes of German 1, which makes about 90 students.  

It's also harder to get the word out during remote learning.  In a classroom, once I notice it happening, I make multiple loud announcements, and this catches about 95% of the students.  

There really isn't an equivalent to a loud classroom announcement in remote learning.  I've put an announcement on our LMS, and I'm going through assignments to try to catch the students making this mistake.  And of course I'm replying to emails and Canvas messages asking "Why is my answer wrong?"  It definitely felt like that was all I did on Friday.

Sigh.  This too shall pass.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

I need bells!

Me and Pavlov's dogs, I guess!

I've learned during the first few days of online learning just how dependent I am on bells.

This is our schedule:

It pretty much mirrors our in person schedule, though live classes are now only an hour (instead of 80 minutes), and there's a live instructional support / independent work time block to start the day which we don't have in person.  

But because I'm not in the school building, there are of course no bells.  And apparently I really need bells to help me not lose track of what class period it is.  

So, this morning I got smart and set timers on my computer to ring to remind me when a period is almost over.  (I tried my cell phone alarm first, but it kept startling me.)

It's a really good reminder to get up from the computer, stretch, and maybe get a little fresh air.  If you're teaching remotely, I highly recommend it!