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.
As we embark on a year of uncertainty, we must consider equity and distance learning. This post discusses how to make virtual learning more equitable in 3 steps and comes with a downloadable cheat sheet.
Do you feel like you’re teaching in uncertain times? You’re not alone. But there are certain things that will always be certain. Like–your students need you to be there for them. Click through to find out how to do that with Culturally Responsive Teaching in Any Setting.
An occasional email from me to you about what’s new in secondary education…
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