EC&I 833 Week 2 – Tools for distant and online education

Teaching during the global pandemic presented challenges for both the teacher (me) and students (my Grade 5 class). The concept of distant learning/online classes was met with apprehension and reluctance to move from face-to-face instruction to remote delivery. I asked myself, “how can I remotely teach a student that is my neighbor living 5 minutes away from me?”. As I explored the task of distant learning it was necessary to collaborate with teachers and plan remote delivery. This was the start of my transition from my behaviorist style of classroom instruction to the connectivist style.

I anticipated that using technology to deliver curriculum would require a new skill set and practice. I had not used much technology to deliver instruction previous to the global pandemic. Learning in my classroom was centered on the behaviorist and cognitive approaches. My students learned through interaction within the classroom environment and received information which they could store and later retrieve when needed. To make the transition to online learning required lots of organizational planning.

I advocated for equal opportunity for all students. I knew there would be challenges and barriers to deal with as we moved to distant learning. Ananga sums it up nicely when she stated, “when we consider distant learning we must also think of the learning environment of the learner” (Ananga, 2020, p.311). Collaboration with staff on which platforms/online tools to use was necessary to achieve continuity of established programming. We had Literacy, Math, Language, and Land Based programs that we set goals for school wide programming. The distant and online technology we utilized:

  • Zoom class – we scheduled core subjects per grade so there was no overlap of instructional time. Some households had children in multiple grades and had to share devices.
  • RazKids – our students were assessed with Levelled Literacy Intervention and we decidec to continue levelled reading.
  • Seesaw – used to supplement ELA and Math. Lesson work was assigned and students posted and uploaded work.
  • Mathletics – our Math teacher activated accounts and posted independent work for each students. Math teacher also taught Zoom class.

The staff met weekly, and we modified the distant learning model as these challenges and barriers surfaced:

  • We created homework packages and delivered to students because online attendance was minimal
  • student’s needed one-on-one instruction
  • Literacy Coach started to teach a Zoom class when we realized the inclusive education students wanted to be part of the regular online class.
  • Wifi devices were given to home that had not internet
  • We created chatrooms to communicate with each parent
  • We had monthly curbside drop off of completed homework packages
  • students were tired during online class
  • students needed social engagement so the Phys. Ed. teacher taught a zoom class and we had virtual spirit week

The success of my distant learning instruction was validated when students returned to 100% in class instruction. I continued with the technology tools and blended it with face-to-face, whole group instruction. Each student continued to use their Google Chromebook with RazKids, Mathletics and Seesaw.

The impact of online learning and using technological tools in the classroom has shifted my way of delivering instruction. As we gather to learn in my classroom, I make daily plans to blend traditional ways of teaching with technology.

Ekosi. Thank you for reading my blog.

Ramona

6 thoughts on “EC&I 833 Week 2 – Tools for distant and online education

  1. Hi Ramona, thanks for sharing your experiences with remote learning. Your quote from Anaga is very relevant. As educators, we sometimes think we know our students, their challenges, and what their home life is like. Remote learning brought forward many new learnings for all of us, including more empathy for students. Several students were at a disadvantage based solely on where they resided and not having stable or unlimited data. I am happy to hear that your school was able to provide WiFi devices for students to “level the playing field.” Perhaps remote learning was the nudge you needed to incorporate technology into the face-to-face classroom. So often we don’t think we can until we have to. Once we take a risk in our own learning as teachers, it often pays off in the long run!

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  2. Ramona,
    Thank you for sharing your experience during remote learning. It was a very hard transition for me as well. Something we never thought we would be thrown into. Collaboration was definitely key for myself as well. Staying connected to my colleagues is what got me through it. We learned so much together and were able to make it as enjoyable as we could for the circumstance.
    It is great to hear how your school adapted for each student with paper packages and making sure students had access to internet. I know that wasn’t the case for everyone.
    After learning about all the tools that made remote learning successful, I am glad you were able to continue to implement them into your classroom.
    Great post!
    Christina

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  3. Hi Ramona, Great post! We also did a lot of tech handout at school. I know that it’s a bit of a nightmare to track and distribute, then collect when we returned back to in person learning. I have thought about this for quite a while, and I think that once kids are in high school, maybe a portion of their fees goes to purchasing a laptop for their tenure at school. Each year they pay for it and when they graduate, it’s theirs. Along with all of their work and textbooks that were preloaded on them so that they don’t have to find these resources in addition to doing the work. This would certainly cut costs on buying physical texts that can be damaged, lost or quickly outdated. Thoughts?

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  4. Hello Ramona, thanks for sharing! I was impressed with the number of methods your school used to connect with students and families. We did some of the same things at my school, and I found myself constantly impressed and motivated by my team of colleagues who banned together to close many of the barriers. We are a SWPBIS school, which is stands for school-wide positive behavior in schools. To continue this remotely, we had school-wide assemblies where we acknowledged positive behaviours and had weekly draws. This helped keep normalcy and motivate students and families to stay connected. I think the success of remote learning for many schools was because of the extras many put in, and as you said, it made students excited and ready to come back to face-to-face instruction.

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  5. Hi Ramona, I think it’s such a great idea that your staff met weekly to discuss online learning and how it was going. It felt, oftentimes, that we were all on independent islands, trying to figure this out on our own. I know it’s difficult to make these types of meetings work with a large staff, but that collaboration can be so helpful and the feeling of being CONNECTED to others was so needed in the first few months of the pandemic.

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  6. Ramona, it sounds like your staff is really amazing. I liked how your school went above and beyond to get students engaged and participating in their learning. From homework packages to more teachers having zoom meetings in many different subject areas, all the way to incorporating a spirit week was really amazing. Like Janeen, I too think that not only the kiddos were missing social interactions, but the adults were too. I like the idea of having staff weekly meetings, as our school didn’t do that, and a lot of us felt disconnected. I can’t think of a better word than amazed, to sum up how your school tried to engage each student, their families, and the communities in such a weird time in the world, and even if you didn’t get the response you wanted, you were willing to try something new to get more people on board. It sounds like there is so much love and community in your school, where creating a sense of belonging is so important, and I think that’s unique as not every school can be like that. So thank you for everything that you have done and continue to do to help your kiddos be the best they can be! đŸ™‚

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