No one could have predicted what countries would face with the pandemic of the CoronaVirus (Covid-19). As a result many school systems have been chosen to close for weeks and have been trying to prevent learning loss through remote teaching and learning. Here in Colorado, we are one of the many states significantly affected. However our school district began discussions about remote learning about a week ago, it now is our reality.
So, I am not claiming to be an expert, but I realized that given the right tools we can be successful as educators with remote learning and will continue to refine these. During this time I know I will learn a great deal, but also realized that we have the tools to be successful and likely already utilize many of them in our classrooms with students. So rather than stress on what to do, embrace the tools we have and put them to work. Additionally, these challenges will allow us to think broader about how to continue learning when our students have to stay at home due to weather and other emergencies.
Below I have compiled tools that can be used by all K-12 educators for delivering content, communication, and resources for planning and lessons. For those who specifically Science, like me, I have made a list of on-line science resources for you too. At the end of this post I also put together some information from the steps my school examined last week to plan and prepare for remote e-learning. I hope this helps everyone with their e-learning endeavors. And if you have additional ideas please feel free to place this in the comments at the end of the post. We are all in this together.
General E-Learning & Communication Tools
- Google Classroom: This is an easy way to deliver announcements and assignments in a variety of formats (Google Doc, Slides, Forms, etc). Students can access through their phone with apps.
- Zoom: Using the website you are able to host a virtual class meeting with your students from home through features of virtual conferencing, web conferencing, and even group collaboration.
- Google Hangout: This is a collaborative tool where you and your students can host a video chat conversation. You can send students questions ahead to prep for the conversation or have it in the moment. And students can access from their phone with the app.
- Go To Meeting: This tool was built for e-learning and has a variety of communication options from video chat in real time, recording and distributing and much more. It as also built for schools to use. And they currently are offering 3 months free due to coronavirus for educators. At other times you get a 2 week trial.
General Digital Actitivities & Ideas:
- Hyperdocs: creating hyperdocs allows you to design assignments using web resources to learn content in a unique ways.
- Digital Escape Classrooms: Digital escape rooms is a great way to have students work with content as practice, review, and much more. To create your own or find ones already created click on the link from experts.
- Digital Notebooks: Just like any student notebook they would normally write in, these can be transformed digitally in Google Slides. You can likely find already created ones on Teachers Pay Teachers or create your own easily.
General E-learning Resources and Lessons:
- Edpuzzle: Edpuzzle is an amazing resource and it can be used for Free. Once you create your teacher account you have access to thousands of video based lessons with embedded questions. You can choose to create your own if you choose or search for those already created.
- Nearpod: this tool allows educators to find already made lessons or create their own. Additionally it is very versatile and allows students to interact in a variety of ways and for teachers to collaboratively work together. It also integrates with apps students can access on a variety of devices from phone, tablets, laptops, etc.
- NeoK12: this educational resource is not free, but very affordable. Here you will find a variety of resources that were created for education so they are 100% safe. NeoK12 includes videos across all content, interactive diagrams, quiz games, flow charts, vocabulary activities, puzzles, brain games and ways to create your own digital presentation on-line.
- Kahoot: this competitive game allows students to practice what they were learning in a fun way. You can easily search the Kahoot library and find one that matches your content or you can create your own. Students can then participate individually or they can join together and have fun competing with each other. Super fun and engaging.
Science Specific Resources for E-Learning:
- PheT Simulations: Put together by the University of Boulder, Colorado, these simulations serve a variety of science and math topics. Additionally, included are descriptions for lessons and already made student handouts. You can easily take these handouts and format them for google docs for your students.
- Glencoe Virtual Labs: these are great and simple labs you can use for your classroom. They do require Flash in order to use them. I usually create a digital google doc for students to record their answers in and have them submit it.
- HHMI Biointeractive: this site is amazing and takes real world science, from real scientists and includes real data that was used to create interactive and engaging lessons. They are geared toward middle school and high school students. My favorite is Rock Pocket Mice for natural selection and genetics.
- Virtual Dissections: this site allows you select a virtual dissection for a variety of living organisms. Just search for what you are looking for.
- Simpop: has a variety of simple simulations that students can explore science concepts at different levels.
- NASA Science Simulations: this site contains a variety of science interactives for elementary, middle and high school.
Planning and Implementing Remote Learning
Like many of you, I was told on that I would begin remote teaching on Friday and had to begin the following Monday. Not much time to prepare. My best advice is you that your plans for what to teach is not going to change, only the method for delivering the lesson and receiving it might look differently.
- ACCESS: Students will need a way to access your lesson and you will need a way to communicate and access these.
- Google Classroom: as described earlier this is free and you can easily create your own classroom if you you don’t have one already
- Schoology: this is another digital platform that some schools districts are using and can continue to be utilized.
- Email: Even if you don’t have a method at your school, you can email assignments
2. DIGITAL DOCUMENTS: The best is t o use digital documents if at all possible, otherwise packets will need to be sent to students or printed at home.
- Google Slides: This is perhaps one of the best tools. You can create an entire slide deck for the day or week for your students. It can have directions, embedded videos, links and so much more.
- Google Docs: You can create single assignments for students to complete and submit.
- Google Forms: You can create task cards, quizzes, surveys and many other ways to collect data from your students.
3. PLANNING: You will plan mostly like you have in the past for your classroom (What content, how students will practice, how you will assess).
First you should decide on how students will access their assignments and digital format(s) you want to you use. Once you have decided that then your are ready to plan.
- Plan your first day as a lesson on what remote learning will look like for your students. Let them know that things could change as we all learn together. (Example: Let’s say you decide to use Google Classroom–either find a short video online already or make one to walk your students through) If you are feeling ambitious then you can start with a Zoom class meeting and do it with them–sharing your screen as a way to walk them through.
- Go Slow to go fast like it is the first week of school. This is new and you need to give yourself and your students time to adjust.
- If you can, make yourself a schedule. I highly recommend this or you will find yourself spending 7 hours straight at your computer–like I did my first day. Your schedule can include when your doing Zoom lessons (face to face), when students should be working, and when you can answer questions. But this will evolve based on if your are elementary, middle or high school.
- Try to stay as routine as possible. What I mean is continue with the types of lessons students are familiar with. The biggest difference is they are now digital and may require a little more direction than before. (Example: Maybe student get a Google Slide Show and the questions you would normally have on a document or paper is now embedded in the slide show).
- Know that it won’t be perfect and will evolve over time. That is OK.
I know there is still much more I will learn and that you are learning around e-learning. But I think if we put our best foot forward we will find that strategies that work and allow us to continue to teach effectively and our students to learn while away from school. So if you have any other ideas, resources, and learning tools to share please feel free to put in the comments. Thanks to all educators doing their best to help our students!