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A math community in the time of Covid 19

I am slowly coming to grips with trying to create a math community in a virtual classroom. Wow, is it challenging! My students have the option to turn on their cameras and microphones, but most of them want to communicate solely through the chat. While I don't want to force students to turn on cameras and microphones, it is challenging to make sure all of my students are participating. My first period of the day at 7:30 can be like pulling teeth to wake them up. During "regular" school, they got up, got ready for school, rode the bus to school, and then socialized with their friends on their way to the first period of the day. Now they are rolling out of bed 10 minutes before the start of the class. I have tried some different things so I don't jump right in with rigorous math right at the beginning. We have been doing some fun "Which One Doesn't Belong" at the beginning of class just to get their brains thinking. Now I am looking for ways to create interaction during class so it is not just 80 minutes of a lecture. A suggestion from our instructional coach was to set up breakout groups that students can move between during work time. Students choose which group meets their skills needs and can check out other groups if they choose. Could this be a management nightmare? I will let you know once I try it!!😮

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