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How to Boost Classroom Community During Digital Learning

How to Boost Classroom Community During Digital Learning

If you clicked on this post, you're probably planning for or in the middle of digital learning or at home learning! Digital learning tools have become NECESSARY while I'm writing this, as we're amid the Coronavirus quarantine. Whether you are required to have digital learning plans mapped out for your class during extended school closures or not, checking in with your students will help ease everyone's tension and keep you all connected outside of the classroom. These are my favorite ways to boost your classroom community during digital learning without being in your school building! 

Connect with your students during your digital learning experience.

Digital Learning Morning Meeting

If you know me, you know how vital Morning Meeting is to my daily classroom routine. It is the most significant way to boost your classroom community, and my students and I genuinely miss it when school is closed. The good news is that you can hold video morning meetings as a digital learning strategy!

Zoom is my favorite tool for video conferencing, and it is the perfect digital learning platform for your digital morning meetings! You can create a free account that includes sessions up to 40 minutes (during this extended quarantine, they waived the time limit) with up to 100 people. Here is a FREE guide for your students on how to use Zoom from The Techie Teacher!

So, how do you use Zoom for your digital morning meeting? This is what my digital learning class meeting looks like:
  • Send Zoom link, time, and directions in Google Classroom AND Remind (send it out any platform your school uses)
  • Start call about 5 minutes early, so I'm there when the students are.
  • When everyone logs on, give them a few minutes to chat freely and catch up.
  • Mute all, and welcome all; before starting, give some guidelines (ex: hand signals, raise your hand to speak, one person speaks at a time, stay focused, etc.)
  • Do a feelings check-in (show on your face how you're feeling, call on 2-3 students to expand on their feelings)
  • Greetings: air high fives or tens, air hug, air fist bump, etc.
  • Share: Question for them to answer, raise hands to respond, call on a few students.
  • Activity: exercises, mindful breathing, dance break, drawing challenge (have students get pencil and paper and draw something in 30 seconds and then hold it up to show everyone)
  • Message: before class, write a message and share it through your screen or on a whiteboard you hold up.
  • Action Plan: share what they should be working on that day, what to do if they have questions, etc.
  • Closing: everyone can chat for a few minutes before signing off
To make things easier for you, I recommend using my paperless Morning Meeting slides during your digital learning class meetings! Then you can share your screen, and your students can see the slides, just like usual in class! They keep everyone on task, and the social-emotional support will help your students as they work through their big feelings.

Morning Meeting Slides for your digital learning video morning meeting.

There are LOTS of Zoom tips and tricks to make these digital class meetings even more successful. Ashley (@itssimplyelementary) has a highlight on her Instagram of suggestions, so I recommend checking that out, or searching online 

Building Relationships when Digital Learning

Building relationships with your students is one of the most crucial parts of being a teacher, along with fostering relationships between students. It is harder to do during digital learning days, primarily if your students differ in their access to technology. Here are my digital learning solutions for continuing to build relationships and checking in on your students.

Snail Mail Chain

Who doesn't love snail mail?! Everyone loves getting fun things in the mail, so let's start a snail mail chain when your students are learning from home! This will make your students' digital learning experience brighter. Get enough envelopes and stamps, so you have four for each student in your class. Preferably, find one larger envelope and three smaller ones per student. 

Then, write to each of your students! You can make your own, or print these free cards from The Creative Classroom. At the end of your note, tell your students to PASS IT ON! Make three cards for friends, classmates, or family members, and use the stamps to mail them! Once you've finished the cards, put them in the bigger envelopes with three small envelopes, three pieces of paper, and three stamps inside. Use the fourth stamp on the outside to mail them off! 

Your students will be so excited and will cherish those sweet notes when they're missing you! You can also do this during the summer or Christmas break. It's always a good idea to send some love to others, whether you are digital learning or not!

Mail letters to your students during extended breaks, like when you are digital learning

Google Check-Ins

I'm all about checking in with our students to see how they're REALLY feeling and support them. Halee has a BRILLIANT plan to do this in and outside of the classroom! She has created Google Check-Ins. She uses Google Forms to ask her students a couple of questions every day, and then she is able to see their responses immediately. I love this because it's private and it's quick and easy. You need to check out her blog post about Google Check-Ins and get the template for FREE!

One quick tip for digital learning I learned from her on Instagram is to make the google form an ungraded QUIZ because you can respond to their comments right on the form! It will give you opportunities to build those relationships and support them.

Digital Learning Journals

One of my favorite digital learning tools is a journal. Encouraging your students to keep a journal will not only help them to write each day and document your extended school closure, but it will also give them a space to get out all of their feelings, thoughts, and questions.

Obviously, they can write in a physical journal or notebook. But the students can also create a digital journal using Google Slides or a Google Doc. For this, create a template you want them to use, and share it with them in Google Classroom. When they make copies of their journals, they can share them with you, so you can read what they write! It will make digital learning for students even more impactful, as they're able to reflect on and process what they're learning and experiencing.

You can also give them a specific writing prompt if it's hard for them to come up with what to write. I love using these elementary writing prompts because there is such a variety of prompts! This resource comes with digital and printable writing prompts, and it differentiates the writing activities for different levels of students. You can assign a specific prompt each day or give them several to choose from. My students love getting to choose which prompt to write about!

Digital learning activities for writing in and outside of the classroom

Digital Learning Days Events

It's also fun for extended digital learning days especially, to hold a variety of events for your students! Special events are a great way to make them feel part of the community when they're stuck at home. These digital learning events are my favorites:

Spirit Days for Digital Learning

Several teachers and schools have encouraged Spirit Days for digital learning and teaching! Let the students know what the theme is for a specific day, and everyone comes to your video meeting dressed up! You could also have them take pictures or videos of themselves to upload to your digital learning platforms.

Here are some digital learning spirit day ideas: bring a stuffed animal, pajama day, dress like your teacher, rainbow day, superhero day, crazy hair day, fancy day, and so many more! Which one will you do with your students for your digital learning day?

Social Distancing Parade

Holding a teacher parade is super creative for those teachers and schools where all of their students live in the same neighborhoods! Announce that there will be a teacher parade in the community at a specific day/time with the route they'll be driving. 

At that time, you can drive through, and the kids can come out of the house and wave to you as you drive down their streets! You could even decorate your cars and beep the horn when you see your students!

This is an excellent idea for extended closures due to sickness because everyone will be home and needing some fun! Families can make signs for the teachers and staff to see too! Build that community!

Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt

Again, this activity would be best for schools with students in the same vicinity. For this digital learning activity, tell all of your students to make the same picture or shape and to put it in the front windows of their houses where those on the street can see them. (Example: everyone makes a rainbow, or your school mascot, or a heart)

For example, I might send out an announcement that everyone should make a rainbow and put it in the front window of their house for others to see by Friday at 9:00 am. Then, I would encourage families to take a walk around the neighborhood sometime on Friday after 9 am, and the kids would see how many rainbows they can find!

This digital learning experience gets families out of their houses, getting fresh air, and the kids have a mission. How many can they see?


I hope these ideas and activities for digital learning will help you as you work to boost your classroom community without the classroom! My goal is to help your digital learning experience be the best it can be! I would love to hear from you: how are you connecting with your students? How can I support you in digital learning and teaching?

Also, I created these free digital learning resources for teachers to give to families to encourage learning and practicing life skills! Parents can use them to spark conversations and activities that aren't academic but still have students learning tons!
Life Skills resources for kids while digital learning at home
BONUS! If your school is distance learning right now, check these out for more resources and digital learning strategies:
Find out what is the best platform to use during distance and digital learning!
Use this Preschool Visual Schedule for your littles during at home learning!
Here are some tips for how to teach online for home learning!
Get some distance learning support for gifted students here!
Need Math online learning resources for students?
Read The School Counselor's Guide to School Closures.

Keep on loving and supporting your students!! You're doing great things!

100th Day of School Activities for Upper Elementary

100th Day of School Activities for Upper Elementary

There are some affiliate links in this blog post. Clicking and buying from them doesn’t cost you anything more, but it helps me out! I get to keep being a missionary teacher abroad, thanks to your support!


The 100th Day of School is rapidly approaching...or it might actually already have come! Either way, it is a day for celebration and documenting the learning that has happened this year! It’s one of the only days in the school year where you can ask your students, “What have you learned in these 100 days of school?” and they’ll actually give you a decent answer! 

There are SO MANY ways to celebrate the 100th Day of School, but, to me, the most important thing is TO CELEBRATE! I know that you have mountains of grading, the looming observations, 10527 days of indoor recess, and an overflow of standards to teach before the dreaded standardized testing. But, you also have 30 kids who are still kids, and adding in some fun activities where they’re still learning is SO important, and it will make such a difference! So, here are my favorite 100th Day of School Activities for Upper Elementary.

100th Day of School Activity: Dressing Up

You may get some preteen eye rolls when you talk to your students about dressing up for the 100th Day. But know that really, they’re excited, especially when they find out that YOU’RE dressing up too!

Dress like you’re 100 years old!

I did this with my fourth graders, and we had a BLAST! Oh my goodness, I was blown away by their creativity! (And I was pretty excited for the challenge to draw on some wrinkles and gray my hair!) 


Students came in with hats, glasses, cardigans, walking sticks, collared shirts, baby powder in their hair, and it looked like I had a class of 100-year-olds instead of 10-year-olds! The student who took the cake though had his parents shave the top of his head, so it looked like he was balding!! HILARIOUS!!

Make a shirt with 100 things on it!

This is a 100th-day activity I did with my kindergarten classes, but the older kids would definitely have fun with it too! Task your students to add 100 of something to a shirt and wear it to school. I’ve had students cut 100 things out of magazines and attach them to the shirt. Others have poked 100 earrings into a shirt. It’s incredible to see the things they come up with!


Don’t forget to have a fashion show on the morning of your 100th day to show off their creations!

100th Day of School Activity: Morning Meeting

Morning Meeting is a must for me every day of the year, but I like to amp it up a little more on the 100th day! Here’s what I usually do for the 100th Day of School Morning Meeting:

Morning Meeting Greeting: If we’re all dressed like we’re 100 years old, we’ll act that way as we greet each other. Also, you can have students pass a greeting around the circle and say, “Happy 100th Day, (name)!” To make it even more fun, create a handshake like touching 1 finger, and then make a zero with your hand and bump hands twice, to make 100!

Morning Meeting Share: Make a list of things they have learned this 100 days of school or 100 fun memories. You can also have students share what they would like 100 of and what they would NOT like 100 of.

Morning Meeting Activity: You can prepare some 100-second challenges for students to complete (How many times can you jump rope in 100 seconds? How tall can you build a tower in 100 seconds? How many marshmallows can you stack in 100 seconds? etc.). Or you can put students into groups and give them 100 plastic cups, 100 blocks, or 100 strips of paper, and see what they can create! 

Morning Meeting Message: Here are some sample prompts you can use - choose one to write on the board and have students answer! 
If you were given $100,000, what would you do with it?
If you could travel to 100 places, where would you go?
Would you prefer to travel in time back 100 years or forward 100 years? Why?
What would you like to accomplish before you are 100 years old?


If you need help maximizing your Morning Meeting time or making it run smoothly, sign up for my free Morning Meeting training:

100th Day of School Activity: Centers

I have to say, after several years of planning and teaching on the 100th day of school, centers are my favorite part of the day! You can combine all of your favorite activities for the 100th day of school and make them engaging for your students. I have several different stations planned so students can rotate through them for a couple of hours. They can be reviewing concepts as well as having fun! These 100th day of school math activities, reading activities, and writing activities and more are low prep and easy to do independently.

100th Day of School Task Cards

Task cards make centers so much easier! They give the students exactly what they need to do while providing choices and adding a fun element. I created these 100th Day of School task cards for your classroom:


These task cards are broken up into eight categories, so you could have eight centers! I’ve included discussion prompts, place value tasks, operations tasks, measurement word problems, writing prompts, craft activities, ELA tasks, and 100-second challenges. They make your life easier by just having to prep the task cards, instead of trying to come up with your own centers!


The task cards review several 4th and 5th grade standards that they will need to know for the state tests soon. But they can be used for third and sixth grade too! If you need to add or change any of the task cards, I’ve also included editable task cards. All you need to do is type in your tasks and print them like normal!


Instead of using the task cards for different centers, you can also use them for a game like Jenga, where they pick a block that’s a certain color and then pick a task card of that color to complete.

100th Day STEM Challenges

All kids love building and making things, and the 100th day is a great time to let them do that! I love adding in a couple of centers that challenge students to think creatively and work together to make something.

The classic is giving students 100 plastic cups to create something using all of them, and I can tell you from experience that the older students love this as much as the younger ones do! 

Give your students 100 dominoes and see if they can create a chain reaction! This also became a favorite indoor recess activity for my students! You can also challenge students to create a structure out of 100 blocks, popsicle sticks, legos, etc. Basically, whatever you have lying around can become a STEM challenge!

100th Day Writing Projects

There are so many fun writing projects you can assign to your students. One of our favorites in fourth grade was taking a picture with the Oldify app, and then writing about what life will be like when we are 100 years old!


You can also have students use 100 words exactly to write a letter to someone or write about the 100 places they want to visit. You can also give them the prompt of what would life be like if we lived 100 years ago or who would you bring for dinner if you could bring 100 people, dead or alive?!


A fun extension of the writing is having the students record themselves reading their writing as a video in Chatterpix or another app. It adds a technology piece to the project and keeps them engaged in their writing longer!

Other 100th Day of School Activities

Here are some other great ideas that you may find useful:

What are you planning for your 100th day? Don’t forget to pin this image to reference year after year so you can repeat your favorite 100th day of school activities! Happy 100th Day of School!!


The Journey up the Mountain

I’ll be honest…this post is unlike most of the other’s you’ll read on my blog. It’s very candid- as if we were sitting down at a coffeehouse together. It’s time that I share this part of my life with you. I was scrolling through pictures from 2018, and I happened on one that stopped me in my tracks. It’s a selfie from a year ago, and it’s got me all up in my feelings. Here’s the story behind the picture…


The Journey to the Foothills

Ever since I was a little girl, doctors’ offices had been a very familiar place for me. I’m not going to get into it all here, but one of the doctors I was seeing was an eye doctor because I was born with something called Dwayne Syndrome.

Dwayne Syndrome looks different for different people, but for me, my right eye could never track over to the right. The muscles didn’t work quite right, and even when I tried, the eyeball wouldn’t budge past the center. It never bothered me as a kid, but it was always there.

As I got into my teens, whenever I would get really stressed, the eye would basically scream I NEED REST by pulling in to the center of my face. The muscles would get so tired that they would give up and I could feel my eyeball out of place. It was uncomfortable and I felt self-conscious about it. The only way to reset it was sleep. And, of course, this would happen at the most inopportune times. My doctor said that whenever I felt like I needed it, we could try surgery to pull the eye back to center, but there were no guarantees it would stay that way.

The Start of the Climb

Fast forward to my twenties and, in a series of about five years, the muscles of my eye got tighter and pulled the eyeball in more and more. Again, I had no control over this, and it became a constant. I had to turn my head to feel like I was looking at you straight on (even though I wasn’t aware of this). I had to switch from contacts to glasses because my eye wouldn’t even function with something in it. And it kept pulling closer and closer into the inner corner.

At one point, around two years ago, we (my parents and I) decided to pursue surgery. I was starting to have double-vision with my glasses (found out it was because of a too-strong prescription) and I had a hard time feeling “normal” or confident because my eye was such an “eyesore”.

Where the Rubber Meets the Rocks

If you were around on Instagram for that part of the story, you know how it went. If not, the cliff notes version is that I saw 3 doctors in 3 months over the summer when I was back in the US. And…everyone said something different. My doctor of 20 years didn’t recommend surgery because I wasn’t having double vision (why fix it when I could still see straight?). Another doctor in Omaha recommended surgery on BOTH eyes and said the good eye would pull the other eye back to center (Uhm, NO THANK YOU! What if we mess up my good eye?!). 

But the final doctor I saw (at the Mayo Clinic) gave me hope of having a straight eye with little to no double vision without having to operate on both eyes, and I felt like it was time to go that route and have him perform surgery. He was very knowledgeable and had done a lot of research on Dwayne Syndrome. He made me feel heard and positive about what surgery could do for me.


At this point, the plan was to have surgery in December. During the Fall, I tried to get insurance coverage for this out-of-state surgery, to no avail. Another roadblock; and I was BUMMED. But, as a final attempt, we went back to my original doctor, told him about what the 3rd doc said (turns out they know each other), and he said he’d be willing to give it a shot.

But he has a more realistic and conservative outlook, and he made sure I knew what I was getting myself into. He wanted me to try something to gauge how my eyes would do with surgery because he thought that I would end up with double-vision for months because my eyes wouldn’t be able to readjust. He had the prism seen in the picture put on my eyeglass to mimic how my eye would see post-surgery. #mindblown #thankGodformodernmedicine He told me to wear it as much as possible over the next month, and then I could make the decision whether or not to have surgery based on how my eye felt and adapted.

Let me tell you, I was NOT excited about this! First of all, all of this work could end in a big fat nothing, if my brain wouldn’t be able to adapt. Second, I felt like I looked like a robot, and looking through the prism for the first couple of weeks was really hard. My mom was with me at this appointment, and afterward, we went and got Starbucks and sat in the massage chairs at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for an hour and cried. I can look back on this moment now and laugh about it, but I was not happy then.

But the wing 3 of my 2 personality (comment below with your Enneagram number! I love talking about it!) wanted to do this 110%. I wore that thing all day long. Even when I felt self-conscious. Even when I wanted to pull it off. Even when I couldn’t see very well. And…it got better! My vision adapted, and by the end, I could see pretty well out of it. I knew that surgery was not a sure 100% win, but I felt God saying, “Do you trust me?”

The Hardest Part of the Climb

So, five weeks later, I went into surgery. It was scary, but I knew that God had led me to this at this time. I knew that I could end up with double-vision for months. But I trusted that my Healer would work through the doctors’ hands. And, HE DID.

The Summit

Recovery wasn’t easy at first. My eye was swollen shut for a good week. And then, almost two weeks in, I had this crazy pain on the outside of my eye one morning…I couldn’t even open it. It turned out to be a suture that got loose. But it allowed me to go in to see my doctor a couple days early for my two-week post-op. I got to tell him that, less than TWO WEEKS after having this surgery, I had almost NO double vision. WHAAATTTT. And, friend, can I tell you, it was SUCH a testament to God’s divine healing power. My doctor, who we had never in 20+ years of seeing him mention anything about God, said, “Hallelujah! Praise God!” when I told him! He was expecting months of double-vision, if not a lifetime of it.

And, things continued to heal just as expected, if not better. I haven’t had double-vision since February, and my eye is still where it should be. God is SO good and gets ALL the glory!!! Sometimes God heals in a moment, other times it takes years. Sometimes it’s through a touch, other’s it’s through the meticulous hands of a doctor. Friend, if you are waiting for your miracle, know this: IT’S COMING.

If you couldn’t tell, this journey to the summit of this mountain was HARDDD. Probably as hard as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro…in a lot longer time! In the moments of confusion, the unknown, and sadness, I didn’t know why I had to climb the mountain this way. I wondered why there had been so many roadblocks and obstacles to find a way around. There were times when I was unsure that I could reach the summit. But, this trek sure did strengthen my trust and relationship with my Father. And, although I have faith that my eye won’t have any further complications, I know that there’s a possibility of Him calling me to a higher peak. 

We only see a tiny speck of the big picture- what’s right in front of us. It looks like rocks and dirt and sky. God gives us a small task and says, “Trust me.” And when we do our part and keep on holding His hand and take those baby steps one-foot-in-front-of-the-other, He does His and moves mountains. I believe that my testimony of His miraculous healing power and goodness isn’t just for me, it’s for my doctor and so many others too.