As fears of the Coronavirus sweep the nation, educators everywhere are planning for what will most certainly be here soon - virtual education.
At Evolved, we have been working virtually with families for years and we have some tips which can make this process successful.
Online education is not the same as in-person education.
When you teach someone on the other side of a computer, it is important to create opportunities for engagement and ongoing assessment. A teacher must deliver learning opportunities and get students to be active as soon as possible. A danger of many online courses or programs is that there can be too much delivered inactively - meaning a student has to listen or absorb information more of the time than when they are in-person learning. It is essential that instructors limit the delivery of content in a passive manner to students - especially in an online format.
Some great ideas for online learning include:
- Have students delve into a math concept - such as multiplication of fractions. Ask them to create their own instruction or game to demonstrate their mastery of the concept and skill. Provide them with various ways to practice the skill - on apps, on worksheets and using manipulatives.
- Have students read a book and provide annotations or speech to text notes about what they read. Use google docs to share content and have students type in their ideas along with others in the class.
- For history -. ask students to research information using approved sites. They can conduct a scavenger hunt to locate the information you've found online. Then, have them create a 3D project demonstrating their understanding of an event and its effects socially, economically and politically.
- For a foreign language- students can use online platforms to speak and write sentences.
The Plan As and the Plan Bs are key to success when teaching online.
It WILL happen. The Internet will crash. The connection will be blurry. Students will have questions and there will not be time to answer them.
You will need a Plan B to go with Plan A for all of those what-ifs. For me, when I do online tutoring, I always tape myself teaching the concepts I know we need to cover. That way, if there is a connection issue, the student and I can share that video over text. We also have a menu of options for what they can do if we "cut out".
Every online course must have an accountability piece.
This may seem obvious, but it is often overlooked. Do not assume that your students are attending to what you are talking about - this is why having them DO is better than having them LISTEN or WATCH. You need to construct a way to hold your students accountable for learning the concepts you are presenting.
You might partner with the adults in the home to help you with this. Parents can sign off that various tasks were completed.
For older students, I am a huge fan of a collaborative contract. I present them with non-negotiables and negotiables and allow them to say HOW they will accomplish certain non-negotiable tasks or learning objectives.
Students with special needs will need additional support with this mode of instruction.
For students with learning differences, online learning can be particularly important to personalize. Students may need support with having extra time to work through learning modules. They might need re-teaching or scaffolds.
Videotaping lessons on Zoom or other formats could be very helpful. Providing students with condensed notes, process or executive functioning support, and/or opportunities to learn using multi-sensory tools (even those found at home) can be very helpful.
Computers are tools and are not a substitute for carefully crafted learning opportunities.
Lessons are particularly meaningful when they begin with a learning objective in mind which has a SMART goal.
Then, it is helpful to brainstorm HOW to help a student to learn that goal when you are not in the same location. What are the ways you might be able to learn?
As we approach what may seem like the inevitable break from school and a virtual schooling format - it is essential to put tools in your toolbox to support strong learning for students.
To learn more about Evolved Education and the support we have for schools and students as they implement virtual learning options, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.