I just finished remotely teaching two one-week courses for rising 9th graders in which at least half the class was brand new to the school. Each group met for 3 hours every morning for a week and I had the luxury of creating my own curriculum that didn't have to cover any particular topics, but did need to be fun, engaging for students with a variety of math backgrounds, introduce new students to how we teach math at my school and how to learn math remotely, and most importantly, foster a sense of community.
Fortunately, Michael Pershan shared some words of wisdom about the need to build student-student connections over student-teacher connections in a remote space and this helped me rethink my original plan for each week.
Teachers have been worrying what online learning would look like when you don't have relationships with students. What I'm seeing in my camp teaching is the much bigger issue is kids not having relationships with each other.— Michael Pershan (@mpershan) July 16, 2020
Based on his experiences with a virtual math camp this summer, I did a few things that I think helped students get to know each other and feel safer sharing and discussing than they would have otherwise. Here are some things that seemed to go well (at the end, I'll post some things that didn't go as well, not to worry).