Reflections on online teaching: positives (2)

This morning I ran across a website created by a teacher named Sam Kary: The New EdTech Classroom. He created a resource called ‘How to Teach Remotely: The Ultimate Guide’ which includes ten things that can be done to enhance your online/remote teaching. I browsed through this list and I was happy to see I had done six or seven of the items:

1. Set Up Well-Organized Digital Classrooms
2. Teach Synchronously with Digital Conferencing
3. Provide Instruction Asynchronously with Prerecorded Tutorials
4. Use Hyperdocs to Create Dynamic Independent Studies
6. Make Student Thinking Visible
9. Provide Meaningful Feedback
10. Build Better Connections with Families

Let me explain, quickly, how I did these things. Then I’ll list the things I didn’t do which will serve as a gateway for my next post on negatives.

I used Google Classroom. I made sure that the work was clearly definite by two categories: Classwork and Homework. In the Classwork Stream I organized assignments by their due dates and made sure that their descriptions were the same as they were in our school’s online hub that connects with the Registrar’s Office.

I used Google Meet. I said a bit about this yesterday.

For ‘Homework’, I recorded short instructional videos for each assignment. I would open a Google Meet by myself, record it, and allow that recording to land in my Google Drive. Then I’d share it along with the relevant assignment in Google Classroom.

I’ve been using HyperDocs for over a year. I used Google Docs. As I mentioned yesterday, I require students complete guided notes (I call them ‘Course Guides’). This allows me to link to any videos and/or articles found elsewhere on the web.

Side note: I don’t show videos over Google Meet (and don’t recommend it for Zoom) because it’s too choppy. So, I make sure they have access to the video on YouTube, and then ask them to play it from the Slides/Doc I share with them. I still play the video, muted, so they can see it in Presentation Mode, and get a sense that the class is watching the video ‘together’, but avoids the irritation of trying to watch a video that sounds and looks like it’s skipping.

As concerns ‘making students think visibly’ I had them build things like Solomon’s Temple from household items, video record themselves answering questions, draw comics, create memes, etc.

In spite of having a class of thirty students, and in spite of it being a crash course, I was able to give quick feedback because I had an Assistant Teacher. But I feel confident that when my classes are back down in number, and assignments aren’t due multiple times daily, grading with solid feedback should be easy.

Finally, I sent an email to families multiple times and I used Google Classroom’s option to send a report to guardians about once a week on average. This helped parents keep up with their students work assignments but also helped students see what they had done, not done, and what grades they had received recently.

Ok, to the things I didn’t do:
5. Use Personalized Learning and Engagement Platforms
7. Use Creativity Apps for Authentic Learning Experiences
8. Publish Work to Foster Class Community

I’ll say a bit about this, and some other areas that weren’t successful, next time.

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