With recent spikes in COVID cases, my district is moving back into remote learning for the next two weeks. If your district is doing the same, this article will share some ideas I am using for this short term hiatus from in-person instruction to ensure learning continues.
Suggestion #1: Be specific with what you want to achieve.
If you don’t use your state learning standards to guide your instruction, now is a great time to start. Textbooks and curriculums are great resources, but now is not the time for overly robust experiences, designed for the classroom, that may not land as desired in the remote learning.
Instead, I recommend you look at the learning objective(s) for that topic in your state standards. Focus on finding that “performance verb” such as “analyze,” “categorize,” or “evaluate.” This word will help you as you modify or create an assignment that still meets the objective in a remote setting.
Suggestion #2: Use data and feedback to gauge lesson effectiveness.
Teachers are able to ascertain much informal information about student understanding through body language and interaction with students. The dynamic of a remote learning setting mostly removes these options. Thus, we need to consider how we can evaluate the success of student understanding.
Over many years, the move toward practice and feedback cycles help me see gaps and successes in my lessons. Google Forms is my main tool for assessing student knowledge as it provides both students and myself valuable feedback. Through the use of automated and immediate feedback, students are able to identify their own misconceptions and potentially seek to remedy them on their own. Teachers can also use the student responses to determine if additional instruction is needed on major or minor topics.
During times when initial acquisition of information may not be as high as in a traditional classroom, being able to create targeted intervention and support will ensure that little to nothing is lost during the change in environments.
Suggestion #3: Integrate social and group opportunities.
Even with the required social-distancing measures in classrooms, there are still opportunities for social and group work while in person. Keeping these opportunities is essential, but the dynamics of a “zoom classroom” are more difficult to navigate.
One approach I will use more these two weeks is to integrate breakout rooms more effectively for implementing small group activities. Some ideas I am exploring are station rotation lessons, small group activities, and peer feedback discussions on project drafts.
Conclusion: Continuity is King
While I hope you consider the ideas shared above, something to consider is trying to ensure that your students feel that they know how to be successful. My district, and many others like it, were able to implement in-person learning for quite some time and will hopefully return to that soon.
Making sure these two weeks are set up for student success is important in keeping the cultural integrity of your classroom. That way, regardless of what future weeks look like, students feel comfortable and supporting while being in your classroom.