The Piper Team has been so humbled and impressed by the work of educators around the world to continue supporting student learning despite school closures. It’s inspiring to see former colleagues, teacher friends, and Piper educators tackle this challenge head-on. Many of you are searching for ideas to manage the transition to teaching digitally. Here are 5 big ideas to make digital learning impactful for your students:
1. Digital learning doesn’t have to mean direct instruction
Students can still learn interactively and collaboratively. Are you teaching Science or Math? Utilize online simulations so that you can still run labs or inquiry with your students. To make it more collaborative, you can put students in groups and have them video chat using a free resource like Google Hangouts to complete the lab assignment. To reflect and formatively assess, you can run small group discussions for 10-15 minutes with each group to simulate a class period or “hour” of science!
2. Engage with “Clicker Style” questions
Whether you’re doing a live full class video learning session or you’re recording yourself and providing video for students to watch, make their “learning by watching” more interactive. Create a formative assessment that students can complete while they are watching or listening to your content. There are lots of free resources available to assess student understanding and keep them engaged during instruction. We’ve listed our favorites below in the Resources section!
3. Ensure students are doing more then just completing assignments
Although it is important for students to still do their work, we want to ensure they are learning and not just completing. LMS’s are great at tracking student work completion, but adding exit tickets and student polls following at home assignments will help you make sure students are gaining the intended enduring understanding from their work. Did students just complete a reading assignment or watch a YouTube tutorial? Have them reflect on the content they read or watched. Did you assign them an inquiry activity? Have them reflect on what they did and their takeaways from the assignment. There are some great digital tools for both summatively and formatively assessing student understanding listed below, but Google Forms or email work as well.
4. Continue assigning projects but with more support
Project-based learning is a method many of us are very familiar with and have seen great gains with in teaching. Although it might seem challenging to implement this practice remotely, project-based learning allows students to find meaning in their work and keeps learning student-centered.
To ensure students don’t get overwhelmed by a big project or task, make sure to scaffold projects and large assignments. Want students to do a research project on ecosystems? Give them initial assignments that help them to define an ecosystem and the vocabulary associated with this concept. Have them read about another ecosystem before they begin their research. Outline each step of the research process and make the learning goals very clear. Ensure students understand how each lesson contributes to their larger student artifact by having the smaller assignments culminate in their overall project creation.
5. Use students’ families as teaching and learning allies
Since many parents/guardians/siblings are at home with students, this is a great time to involve family in students’ learning. Have an assignment where you usually ask students to think, pair, and share? Have them do this with a family member instead. Want students to make a video presentation? Have someone they live with film it for them! If you normally have students conduct discussions in small groups or pairs and then share out, you can instead have students discuss with members of their household and share their key points on a discussion board on your LMS (don’t have one? Check out suggestions in the resources section below). Like in the classroom, having families work with students leads to deeper learning and more discussion about the concepts and content.
Here are some FREE resources that might help you along the way:
- If you’re new to LMS’s and digital learning, check out these videos from the Curiosity Foundation
- Best Math Websites for the Classroom
- Simulations to keep learning more “hands-on”
- Great place to find learning content
- Recommended student-polling/assessment tools:
- Interactive slide deck creation tools:
- Recording interactive video content: Edpuzzle
- Group brainstorm or class discussion tool: Padlet
- Classroom discussion tool for “webchatting”:
- Formative Assessment during completion of student work: Classkick
- An amazing tool for live group assignments: MimioMobile
- Collaboration tool for group projects: Scrible
Most importantly, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Your well-being is your students’ well-being. Here’s a great read to help you check in with yourself. If you need any one-on-one support, we are offering support through coaching sessions – use this link to sign up!
Thank you for all that you do!
Are there other questions you want answered? Let us know in the comments below!