Distance learning has come with a bit of a learning curve for everyone, but our teachers have spent hours on end to shift the learning from the classroom to online.
Although most teachers wish they could see their students in person, technologies like Zoom, Google Hangouts and Canvas still make it possible to see their smiling faces again.
Anna Kendall, a science teacher at Bonneville Junior High, has been using Google Classroom. “It was a big adjustment, but my family is in it together,” she said. Mrs. Kendall is able to see digital learning from a parent perspective, as her child is currently learning online and her husband is also a teacher.
For two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon Mrs. Kendall is available to answer questions via video chat. Understanding that not everyone can be on at the same time, Mrs. Kendall adjusts her schedule to make sure she is available to answer her students’ questions.
Every morning at 7:30 a.m. she hops on and sends a good morning message to her students, and receives a constant stream of student messages throughout the day. At the end of the day she also sends an end of the day message.
“One of the biggest things is to be available. Students have different schedules balancing classes from distance,” she said.
Even with the change, students continue to be their sweet selves. “After the earthquake multiple students reached out to me to ask if I was okay,” Mrs. Kendall said. “It is so important to keep in contact with teachers. Email, email, email.”
Maren Singleton, a math teacher at Cyprus High, knows that her students all have different ways of learning. Her notes are all available on OneNote, however she also records video podcasts of her filling out notes. Students are able to follow along if they are not understanding the content being taught.
Mrs. Singleton explains the process so that if her students need help or are lost they can refer to the video, but don’t have to watch if they already understand the content. Students have a two-day window to complete the assignment using the textbook and worksheets.
Knowing that everyone has different schedules, she gives students the flexibility to complete an assignment when the time is best for them.
Mrs. Singleton works closely with her math team to make sure that students are getting the same content and quality across the board. They share content and take turns making videos.
Some resources she suggests and has found to be helpful are Big Ideas, Khan Academy and Purple Math.
One resource that Mrs. Singleton has set up is a discussion post for questions. She is able to give in-depth answers and everyone else in the class is able to see the responses, in case they have the same question.
She sets out time via Zoom where students can contact her and ask any questions and get a walk-through explanation if needed.
A question she is continuing to ask herself is, “What can I do to have the same effect that I do in class?”
“We are a strong community– the culture doesn’t change,” she said.
In the future she likes the idea of recording instruction while teaching classes and posting those to Canvas for students who were absent or did not understand the content and need to watch a specific part again.
“It is important to remember we are not on a break from school, it is just a different way of learning,” she said.
This new way of learning it is a process for everyone. All the work doesn’t need to be done at once; it is important to break up the assignments.
Knowing that in some cases students are taking care of their younger siblings, students are able to complete the assignment in a way that works best for them.
“Our culture of learning doesn’t change,” said Mrs. Singleton. “It is important that I recorded the video just like I would be teaching my class.”
Kristen Logan, a teacher at Calvin Smith Elementary, makes sure to keep the schedule as regular as it is in the classroom. Even being a tech-savvy teacher, shifting to online learning was a shock.
“Structure is so important. We have daily specials at the same time as well as math, social studies and science,” Mrs. Logan said.
Her thought process has been asking herself, “how can I still provide support to my students from home? What resources can I provide?”
“Emotionally, Zoom has been great; being able to see their animals and siblings that they have talked about in class is great, I love seeing their faces” she said.