Teachers across the country are finding ways to interact, engage and motivate their students. From teacher parades (following social distance guidelines of course), to massive Zoom call recordings of teachers waving to their students, it is evident that we embrace those things that allow us to stay connected with our students in ways that increase our physical presence. This is a good time to collect and share some of those ideas…
- Districts are “boosting” wifi signals so students without home access can access the Internet from the parking lot. Adding wifi to buses and food delivery vehicles which provides a way for students to upload and download assignments quickly. Idaho districts have even gone so far as to order 400 hotspots so students can connect with cellular devices.
- Grades have become a bit of a sticky-wicket but states, districts and schools are considering multiple ways to create a system that is equitable and fair. Colleges are waiving entrance exam requirements.
- Districts are supporting online Professional Learning Networks to create a common space for teachers to gather and collaborate. Check out how North Carolina teachers are sharing their experiences and expertise on their Remote Learning Resources Hub. You can set up a hub at OER Commons. Also check out Remote Teaching and Learning with OER. If your school or district doesn’t have the resources for a complex portal, try sharing resources using Diigo – it’s simple and easy for everyone to use. Or start a simple shared Google Sheet.
- Teaching remotely for younger learners can be especially challenging. Commonsense media has created complete distance learning packets for grades K-2 on two topics; digital citizenship, and parents and families. They also just announced the opening of Wide Open School, a free collection of curated resources – good for teachers and families. The best part? No login required! Digital promise also has a repository of free Online Learning Resources.
- Take it easy on yourself and your students. This article by Rob Jenkins, Associate Professor at Georgia State Perimeter College illustrates precisely the message we should be conveying at this time of crisis in education: 2 Principles Guiding My Reluctant Online Conversion. First, students must be held harmless at all costs. This pandemic is not their fault and we would only add to the catastrophe if the results are lifelong damage because of it. The second, do not allow perfect to be the enemy of good, speaks to our acceptance that good may need to be good enough for now. We’ll get better, but now is not the time to try to live up to our ideals of perfection.
Some creative strategies for engaging your students…
- Record yourself completing tasks or projects and share this with students. (don’t forget to include print-based instructions for students without reliable access)
- Instead of posting videos in your LMS, think about creating a class YouTube channel where all of your video recordings can be easily accessed in one place.
- Create a class or school-wide challenge such as these: Cordova educators continue to challenge students during shutdown.
- Remote Learning Could be a Good Time for a Capstone Project
- Virtual field trips and scavenger hunts are structured ways in which to engage students.
- It’s hard to teach writing online provides some calm in the middle of this storm, as well as excellent tips from a veteran online teacher.
- The rules of copyright and fair use may be less clear when learning moves online. This article provides a good overview of the do’s and don’ts in sharing material with students through public digital spaces: Can Teachers Read Books Out Loud Online? Actually, Yes. Royalty free images are available on http://www.clker.com/.
One area that I’ve been involved in for quite a few years is technology supported project-based learning (PBL). PBL is a model of teaching that encourages student-centered instruction, that is focused on authentic hands-on activities and products. Collaboration is an important component, as is reaching out past the classroom into the larger community. PBL is a great way to dip your toe into online teaching strategies and methods while constructing a lesson using a tried and true method. Check out the PBL for Remote Learning resources from PBLWorks.
Beware… shameless plug coming… You might also be interested in checking out my summer course offering of EDTECH 542: Technology Supported Project-Based Learning (Section 4202; Class Number: 42192). This is a fun and joyful way to engage in timely lesson development following the tenets of PBL, while gaining a better understanding of the nuances of effective online teaching practices. Not sure about your technical skills? You can easily learn as you go – a template is provided for you using Google Sites. If that’s too much for you, a simple Google Doc will also get the job done!
This is a 10 week course offered from June 1 – Aug 9, 2020. Even better, the Boise State Graduate College is waiving the admissions fee until May 31, 2020! (search “Graduate College-Boise State University” on facebook.)