Distance learning – one week in

Distance learning - one week in

So…we’ve been back for one whole week now! My district is doing distance learning for at least the first 9 weeks, and we were lucky enough to have leadership that made that decision back in early July – fairly early compared to most districts. I’ve heard horror stories from teachers who are going back this coming week and still aren’t sure exactly what the first day will look like. Since I had some advance warning, I was able to plan ahead a bit and think about how I wanted to arrange my classes.

While our classes are 90 minutes long – we are on a block schedule – we do not have to be on-camera and doing direct instruction the entire time. My plan is that I will use the first 30 minutes or so to do all of the instruction, then have the students do a practice activity at their tables for 10 minutes, then have everyone come back to the main group. I’ll spend 5-10 minutes to go over any questions and to look at the day’s independent practice, then most of the students will be allowed to leave the meeting to work on their practice.

Many of them have chosen to return to their small tables to work together. At this point, I will meet with one of the tables for 10 minutes or so for remediation and just conversation in French – each table has an assigned day. After our small meeting, I will return to the large group and be available for any student who needs help. I’ve found that so far, this is working pretty well.

My second year students are adapting quite well to distance learning and know what to do – most of them know each other and aren’t shy about speaking French in front of their classmates. My first year students are going to need a little time to get used to this. I tried using Nearpod this week for some interactivity during the instruction, and my students liked it. It gave them a chance to answer questions without anyone else seeing their answers and I was able to give them feedback in real time. One student commented that she really liked learning this way.

We also played a 10-minute round of Gimkit. Second year were vicious towards each other – because they’ve played the game before and want to win! First year got the hang of it pretty quickly and it wasn’t long before they started icing, subtracting and blurring each other. We also used the whiteboard feature and Nearpod’s new video feature. These are some very useful tools for distance learning and you should definitely check them out!

A word of warning – there is a bar that shows up at the bottom of the Nearpod video screen, so if there is text there, your students won’t be able to see it. The actual classes each day went by very quickly – but by the end of each day, I was exhausted. Typical first week back with students (distance learning didn’t change the usual first-week tiredness!), so we’ll see what happens next week. For all of you getting ready to go back, I wish you luck!

Need more tips on distance learning? You might like these posts.

Pandemic teaching - Microsoft OneNote
Distance learning tool - Microsoft Whiteboard
pandemic teaching - onenote template