Desmos is one of my favorite digital platforms for math instruction because their classroom activities, linked here, are rooted in problem solving and inquiry approaches. I have loved using Desmos for several years, but more recently as the need for virtual learning platforms has grown, I started to think about what makes Desmos lessons so effective. Nick Corley, a Desmos fellow, shared a blog post with me describing the pedagogy behind Desmos lessons and I love how it explained the importance of developing conceptual knowledge prior to learning a procedure. Their lessons and activities do this in several unique ways.
By Kelly Harmon
I was talking to my 8th grade nephew a few weeks ago about his experience with virtual learning. He said Google Meet was better than sitting in the same class all day long, spaced six feet apart. He likes being at home, able to get something to eat or drink anytime he wanted. When I asked him if he turned his camera on and participated in class discussions, he said no because "no one else does." He said he'd do it if others did.
This got me thinking about how to build an online community of learners who feel safe to share their cameras and speak up during discussions. How can we give students a reason to turn on the camera? How can we help students see that they have commonalities with each other? It really boils down to starting each session with the social and emotional connections and then moving into the lesson content.
The tech tool Padlet might be a great fit for silent discussions. Padlet is an online bulletin board that can be used in many different ways. It is free to sign up; however, you can only make three Padlets before you need to upgrade to a monthly or yearly subscription. Teachers can get a 30-day free trial before upgrading to the monthly or annual plan.I definitely think it's worth the monthly subscription. I use it to streamline communications with learners.
By Ashley Taplin
Jamboard: Google Jamboard is a great tool to use both synchronously and asynchronously to enable students to display their thinking and foster collaboration. The board includes virtual pens and highlighters, text boxes, sticky notes, and uploading images/gifs.
I recently attended a virtual session on Visible Learning with Dr. John Hattie. He talked about what works best in order to cause dramatic increases in student learning during face to face and virtual instruction. Turns out, just about everything we do as educators causes students to learn. However, he said there's no evidence that teaching more results in more learning. In fact, through his vast meta-research, there is evidence that highly impactful teachers don't focus so much on what they or the students will do. Instead, they focus on their impact on student learning. According to Dr. Hattie, it's how we think, not what they do, that has the most impact on student learning.
Team roles are a really important component of well-functioning learning community. My friend, Ashley Taplin, created these team roles for zoom meetings, specifically to use during breakout rooms.
During the first weeks of school, we are building our learning community. Doing this in a virtual setting presents new challenges. Here are 3 tips for setting up your class community.
Music has the ability to change the brain. In the mornings on the way to school, I throw myself a "personal pep rally" to get my mind and attitude positive for my students and colleagues. We can do this for students as they walk through the door or come into our classroom or Zoom session. When you share a screen in Zoom, be sure to check the box on the share screen that says "Share Computer Sound." This allows you to mute, but the music plays through to students.
With many school systems starting off the fall semester with virtual learning, we wanted to provide you with ideas for making virtual learning smooth and interactive!
This year, more than ever, we as educators have to address our student's mental health. No matter if we are in person or virtual, we must discuss how students are feeling, coping, and provide opportunities for socialization (in a socially distanced world). Here are some ideas I will be implementing with my students this fall.
Have you been bitten by the Bitmoji craze? Thanks to the Facebook group Bitmoji Craze for Educators, I've been creating virtual classroom spaces and lessons using Google Slides and the Bitmoji app for the last few weeks. Teachers in this group generously share creations. You can make a copy and save to your Google Drive. I created a Bitmoji folder and have made a folder for my Bitmoji images. I think students and teachers alike will find Bitmoji classrooms novel and interesting.
I have always been a big proponent of giving students experiences! Research says we remember what we experience (Dale, 1969). How do we get students to have experiences when our instruction is virtual? I loved this idea from Caitlin Tucker, offline instruction can incorporate interests, choice, and experiences. I've also been blogging for several months about enrichment experiences for students grades K-12. Give students a choice of experiences to choose from for the week. The experiences are tied to the content area of study. Students choose an experience and then read, talk, and write about their learning through that experience.
Distance learning has become a household word in the year 2020. Whether you are a parent trying to figure out how to "homeschool" or support your child or an educator trying to create meaningful learning experiences, we are all trying to navigate a just-right "distance learning" model. Will we be engaging in distance learning in the 2020-2021 school year? Maybe? In any case, we should begin thinking about ways we can use technology as an integrated part of our instructional model.