The Bubble within the Bubble

underlying principles Aug 04, 2020

Preparing for the new school year means paying more attention to your physical space and structures for student interaction than ever before. Each school has chosen a plan for physical distancing and now it’s your job to make that happen. All those great cooperative learning strategies you’ve been using will need some rethinking, too.

Can you do GLAD® in a physically distanced classroom?

There are many options for schools to bring students back safely. The CDC’s recommendation is a plan called the Bubble Strategy. This strategy limits exposure to an isolated population reducing the risk of transmission to the rest of the school.

The same group of students would stay together all day in the same classroom with the same teacher(s). They would eat lunch in the classroom and would forgo specials, like library and PE. One iteration of the Bubble Strategy even calls for students to isolate with this group for recess.



We have an idea to take the Bubble Strategy one step further to create an environment where you can still do pairing and teaming with modifications.

We call it The Bubble within the Bubble.

We recommend creating another bubble within that classroom bubble made up of 6-8 students. Still create teams of 3-4 students. Two teams create a bubble. This mini bubble would do all group activities together: 10/2 buddies, team tasks, small groups, science labs, perhaps even recess. 

Within this mini bubble you have more options how to mix and partner students safely. This 6-8 student bubble stays together for a longer period of time without changing the seating chart, perhaps a whole trimester or semester.


The pros: Limits exposure and transmission even further within a clustered population. 

The cons: Leveled reading groups and expert groups would require additional creativity as teachers can only pull students from 1-2 teams without having bubbles co-mingle. This could be solved with the use of plastic study carrels; co-teaching, where another teacher pulls additional groups at the same time; or teaching redundant smaller groups.


Cheering wildly for you!

Jody and Sara


Want more ideas for implementing GLAD® strategies and cooperative structures near, far, or 6 feet apart? We’re gearing up for the August launch of the Path to Proficiency; the most comprehensive online coaching program to support teachers with OCDE Project GLAD® implementation and language development. Each strategy lesson series includes extensions and applications for different grade levels and classroom situations. Click here for more information!


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