This was not a post I had intended to write, but here we all are. Many schools across the nation are closing indefinitely–mine among them. My system is moving to remote learning. We are fortunately 1:1, but this is not the case for every school, and students everywhere don’t all have equal wifi access.
I’m going to make this a quick post, but I’ll share what I hope are helpful ideas. I’ll follow technology suggestions with workarounds when I can. None of them will be perfect, obviously. A device of some kind will be necessary, even without wifi. So we have to be flexible with due dates and understanding of our students’ limitations.
Tip 1: Establish a Line of Communication
I sent out an email blast through Infinite Campus to students and parents to let them know that they can email me at anytime. I also set up a permanent Google Meet Link that I shared with them and established office hours of Mon.-Fri. from 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM. It’s helpful that this is my system’s policy. My hope is that even if students cannot join the Meet, they will have access to email occasionally.
Since Google Meet and Google Hangouts have merged, it is no longer possible to create a permanent link to share within Meet, but there is a simple workaround:
1. Go to Google Calendars, and click on a date.
2. Select “Add Rooms, Locations, or Conferencing.”
3. Select “Add Conferencing.” Then select “Add Hangouts Meet.”
4. Click “More Options.”
5. Select “Repeat Weekly (Monday through Friday).
6. Change the date at the top for as long as you want the link to last.
7. Go to your Google Grid.
8. Select the Google Meet App.
9. Select “Use a Meeting Code.”
10. Copy and paste the URL from Calendars. Delete google.meet.com/. What’s left is your meeting code.
11. Students will follow the link and request to join. You will click to let them in.
A reminder about video chats. Ensure that your camera is turned off, and instruct your students to do the same. This is a FERPA issue.
Tip 2: Design Lessons with Simplicity in Mind
Make the learning targets clear, and pare them down to the bare minimum. Make the lessons easy to find and link or provide everything in one place. I put mine on the first page of our Learning Management System (LMS) platform. If your school doesn’t have one, you can email or make use of Google Classroom.
This is what my world history lesson for this week looks like:
Tip 3: Don’t Put Assessments Off
I’m giving short essay assessments while we are out. Google Classroom enables you to turn on an “Originality Report” option. I’m using a program in Blackboard (my system’s LMS) called Lockdown Browser to prevent copying and pasting.
Here’s a sample short essay question for US history:
Tip 4: Accept Handwritten Assignments When Students Return
If students do not have internet access and you are 1:1, instruct them to set their Google Drive to enable working offline. If their parents have email at work or can access email on their phone, share assignments that way. If worse comes to worse, students can complete the assignments on paper and turn it in when they return. I am not adding zeros during this time.
If you have a textbook, find alternate assignments for what you are doing in there. Get the assignments to your students when you can.
Here is how to enable your Google Drive to work offline.
Teaching during the pandemic taught us a lot. I’ve been reflecting on that and this series, Reclaiming Education: What to Lose and What to Keep after the Pandemic is the result of those reflections. In this post, I discuss a way to lose Cookie-Cutter Learning in favor of a workable style of Personalized Learning and the importance of keeping deadlines. Don’t forget to download the templates from my free resource library to help you implement this approach!
Inquiry-based lessons have been around for a while. But hear me out–I think they’re the key to making learning meaningful for our post-pandemic students. When we were going through all of the quarantining and hybrid learning that Covid brought, I remember the anxiety the most. Change was happening so quickly. We had to twist, turn,
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An occasional email from me to you about what’s new in secondary education…
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