Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Remote Learning - Reflections

It's been over 2 months since I last stepped into my classroom, since I physically saw my students, since the world as we knew it changed.

If I could go back to March 13 knowing what I know now, I would change so many things.  I would not have spent time reviewing for a test, I would have just enjoyed sharing the same space with my students without fear and anxiety of one of us contracting an illness from proximity.

But that world is gone for now.  I don't know what the future holds, but I think it's safe to say that in August, my classroom will look different than it ever has before.  I am hopeful that we will be able to return like a typical August, but I also think that will be a short-lived experience.  so many logistal issues... how to handle the hallways?  lunchtime?  Do I sanitize my classroom between every hour?  How do I fit 30+ students in my room?  How will my pedagogy change if I can't have students working in groups?  How will we screen thousands of kids every day? 

It's overwhelming.  

But I also know I can't stick my head in the sand and pretend it's not happening.  We have to prepare for several contingency plans and every day, when we leave our classrooms, the thought will be, "Did I grab everything I need in case we are teaching from home tomorrow?"

So with that thought, yesterday I posted a tweet and holy moly, the responses are STILL pouring in.

Read the entire thread here

From the thread, I'm really eager to learn about some of the technologies that people shared, but I wanted to answer the question as well.  I personally had two pieces of edTech that I found useful:

Most Valuable Program - Desmos
To be honest, Desmos totally saved the day for me with Remote Learning.  Because I could embed images and videos, ask formative assessment questions, do card sorts, ask for and give feedback, Desmos truly became the Remote Learning Platform of choice.

Student response re: Desmos Learning

As the weeks progressed, I explored more self-checking aspects and how to use computational layer (CL), the Desmos programming code.  Desmos allowed me to keep a lot of the same feel as I have in the face-to-face classroom but move it online.  I loved the Desmos Starter Screens and developed some of mine own to mix it up a bit.

In the face-to-face classroom, I can see Desmos being used a lot for formative assessment and my traditional card sorts

Honorable Mention - Google Quizzes
I used Google Quizzes mainly with my AP students as a way to submit their Free Response practice and give them feedback

Each week, I would send out a link to the Google Quiz and students would submit a photo of their work.  I would split my monitor into two browser windows - one to display the photos and one for me to type in the feedback.  In later weeks, there was also a small notepad document on the right where I could copy/paste common feedback comments.  I was able to give detailed feedback and scoring much quicker than if I were grading by hand, but it still took several hours in general.  

In the face to face classroom, I see myself using this a lot with a QR code on the screen for students to use their phones to quickly submit photos of their work for feedback while still being able to retain a copy for themselves instead of waiting for me to return a paper.

Looking to the Future
Who knows what next year might bring.  I know it will look different, but I don't know *how* different, and I need to use this summer to think through some of those possibilities.  What I do know is that the past 6 weeks were not how I hoped to end the year, but I learned a ton about various tech tools and how to utilize them in a variety of structures.  I've had time to explore tools because it fit a need versus "hey, here's a cool idea!"  I think this pandemic will shift our educational system but it will also shift edTech by requiring programs to really dig into the pedagogy and practicality rather than to be flashy tools that look cool.