By Mark Whipple
As an Instructional Technology Specialist in a suburban middle school south of Boston, MA, I was curious about the ways teachers might begin to use technology in our new and suddenly-online learning environment. The expectations coming from states, school systems and individual schools vary widely, and teachers’ level of experience and comfort with technology varies just as much. What techniques for in-person classroom teaching can be applied, and what new methods are needed? What are some approaches to meeting the needs of students when not physically with them? What do teachers need to do in terms of self-care to be present for their students?
Continue reading “Perspectives From the Field: Teachers Teaching Online”
By Bridget Vaughan, an ELA and Literacy District Coordinator and teacher advocate
Recently my job has changed. I now support teachers with remote learning. As a part-time online educator in higher education for the past 16 years, and a full-time middle school teacher and administrator for over 20, I thought I had this figured out. I transitioned to teaching online classes many years ago. Back then, college students opted to take these classes and paid for them, so they were eager to learn. For many years, much of this was about helping students learn the technology. But after time, I built in every question or piece of content that was unclear, and students got more tech savvy. Of course, it never replaced face-to-face instruction, but it was pretty much smooth sailing.
Continue reading “The Connection is What Matters Most”
By Kathryn Nieves, a special education teacher at Sparta Middle School in New Jersey
When my school district called me on a Thursday evening, I did not have to answer to know what the message said. I knew it meant we were going into remote learning. As a special education teacher, I worried about IEPs, accommodations, modifications, and, in short, just supporting the emotional needs of my students. Although my students have 1:1 Chromebook devices and experience using them, I knew we still faced many obstacles. The following are tips for supporting all learners that I have discovered throughout my journey (so far) in this uncharted area of education.
Stick with the technology they know first
As an advocate of educational technology and a Google Trainer, I’m the first person to dive into using a new tool. Even though I was getting almost hourly updates from different edtech companies offering free accounts or trials, I knew this was not the time for me to try out all these tools with my students. For the first few weeks, I kept it consistent. I used tools where my students had a level of comfort and familiarity. Since moving into a fully online platform was new for them, I did not want to add more novelty to the pile until they felt more comfortable.
Continue reading “Supporting All Learners During Remote Learning”
By Kristen Hawley Turner and Lauren Zucker
On the last day of school before the COVID-19 shutdown, Kristen asked her seventh-grade twins whether their teacher had given them copies of the class novel they were going to be reading.
“No, there weren’t enough for the entire grade, so we are going to have to read it online,” her daughter said.
“Yeah, how is that going to work?” replied her son.
The rapid shift from face-to-face to emergency remote teaching has upended educational systems everywhere. How is it going to work to read a full-class text? How will teachers assess individual students’ thinking? How will students engage critically with their reading? How will redesigned instruction be equitable when synchronous access isn’t ubiquitous?
Continue reading “Taking Annotation Digital: A Strategy for Online Teaching & Learning”
Over the last several weeks, many K-12 educators have pivoted, with little warning and minimal training, to teaching in a fully online setting. The challenge of transforming an established face-to-face learning situation into an online one in the midst of a global crisis is new, even for teachers who have planned and delivered digital curricula in the past.
On Friday, March 13th, I told my eighth- and ninth-grade students that school would likely be suspended for a couple of weeks. On Wednesday, March 18th, I convened online classes which, though I didn’t know it then, would stretch at least until the end of April. Between then and now, I have developed a rapidly-evolving repertoire of practices, guided by Jay Wiggins’ and Grant McTighe’s classic dictum of curriculum planning: begin with the end in mind, only with a twist.
Continue reading “Digital Classroom Routines: or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Teaching Online”
To be honest, I was apprehensive about transitioning from classroom teaching to delivering instruction entirely online. How would I connect with my kids? How would I accurately assess their learning? How would I deliver the content and still make meaningful connections with them? These questions and others plagued me as COVID-19 threatened to take more and more time away from the classroom.
So, where to begin? Fortunately, I’ve had some experience with teaching digitally, so when COVID-19 forced the closure of my district, I was already familiar with some technology that could deliver instruction to my students remotely. The following are some practical tips I have used in my transition.
Continue reading “Tech Tips for a Smoother Telecommuting School Day”
When John F. Kennedy was on the campaign trail, he was fond of pointing out that the Chinese symbol for crisis is a combination of the words for danger and opportunity. In reflecting on the coronavirus crisis and its impact of American public education, let’s first honor the flood of complicated feelings that educators themselves are experiencing and perhaps feeling overwhelmed by: fear, sadness, anger, helplessness, distractibility, and most of all, uncertainty.
In juggling family needs and work expectations, everyone is feeling the anxiety that comes from a most unusual emergency. Nothing is the same as it was. Our relationships with family, friends, co-workers and students have all been disrupted by the self-isolation that is occurring around the country and around the world. The climbing infection and death rates can’t help but make everyone more than a little edgy, depressed, and fearful. As many states move public education online, there’s never been a greater learning curve for educators and school leaders who now must embrace a full-fledged focus on online learning.
Continue reading “Teaching Online During a Crisis: Danger and Opportunity Ahead”