Ms. Thodiyil's Grade 6 Math Class Sets the Stage for Online Learning

Ms. Thodiyil’s first, virtual, grade 6 math class involved ongoing dialogues about gratitude, online learning with kindness and academic integrity, making the most of our technology tools, and curriculum. Together, they established a perfect foundation for moving forward and continuing to learn as a group. 

First, they each said "good morning" and shared something for which they are grateful. Their responses included the following: 

  • “I’m grateful for my dog because she’s acting normal so it makes the rest of the world seem more normal.”
  • “I’m grateful for our school.”
  • “I’m grateful for FaceTime, because of it, I can talk to my grandma everyday.”
  • “I’m grateful for all of the doctors working so hard.”
  • “I’m grateful that even though we’re stuck at home, we’re stuck with people we love.”
  • “I’m grateful for my brother and that he’s not sick because I have someone to play with and otherwise I wouldn’t have anyone to play with.”
  • “I’m grateful to have this Google meet so that I can see my friends.”
  • “I’m grateful to all the people who are buying from the restaurants to support restaurants who can’t serve people right now.”
  • “I’m grateful for WiFi.”
  • “I’m grateful for all the communities. Even though we can’t be together, we’re still all there for each other, like the people in Italy singing for each other.”
  • “I’m grateful that everyone in my family is taking really big precautions.”
  • “I’m grateful for H Mart and my cat.”
  • “I’m grateful for the nurses and doctors and the health care workers who are all working really hard right now.” 
  • “I’m grateful that everyone is pitching into this and taking precautions and helping out.”
  • “I’m grateful that this has given me the chance to realize how much my parents do for my family.”
  • “I’m grateful for the teachers who are still working even though it’s hard.”

Second, they discussed the importance of maintaining the same values and principles that are honored at school. While considering the questions, “What does academic integrity with online learning mean to you?" and "What classroom rules should we remember to keep in mind?” Ms. Thodiyil and the students came up the following helpful guidelines: 

  • "Before you speak remember to think: Is it kind? Is it necessary?" 
  • "Remember the Golden Rule." 
  • "Come on time, come prepared." 
  • “Keep up with the work and do your best even though we’re on computers.”
  • “Always listen and ask questions. If there’s something you don’t understand, be honest."
  • “Since you’re on a computer, fight the temptation to look up an answer. Be trustworthy. Be sure you’re doing what you can and if you can’t do it on your own, ask your teacher for help.” 
  • “It’s still school. Even though we’re in a different setting, we can still learn.”

Third, Ms. Thodiyil formally introduced the process and tools that will be used for online learning in her math class, and she responded to questions from the students. 

  • There will be a ‘Do Now’ problem every day. It will be posted each morning, about an hour before the lesson. Students will take a picture of their completed work and share their answers in Google Classroom.
  • There will be a new, challenging problem every week. Ms. Thodiyil said, “It is optional but I think we should all have a bite into it." 
  • They will begin by reviewing previously learned concepts to ensure mastery. Ms. Thodiyil explained, “To start, the concepts will be really easy for you. You will all be able to get 100, and then we add onto that.” 
  • Homework will be sent on Khan Academy and most communication will be done via Google Classroom.

Through their questions and comments, the sixth graders expressed strong eagerness and readiness to continue learning as usual. They asked when they would resume ratios and proportions and how soon they would be able to move onto more advanced concepts. Which concepts would come next? Ms. Thodiyil responded, “I want you to get comfortable, to feel confident, and ease into this gently, then we will build upon that. The most important thing right now is that you are happy and that you are safe.”