Science during the COVID-19 pandemic has provided numerous challenges to classroom teachers. First and foremost is science requires first hand exploration of the world using physical objects (in many cases). So how do we as science processionals provide hands on learning opportunities in a way that upholds current social distancing practices and safety measures? Here's few thoughts.
The 2020 to 2021 school year has provided a boat load of challenges to teachers. All of our classroom management tools and experiences don’t necessarily fit the Hyflex learning environments that we are working in. With that understanding, I would like to provide some concepts that can help manage the workload, allow you to breathe and flourish in this highly stressful time. These are posted in no particular order, but will assist you in the management of your day to day teaching activities.
Post online assignments everyday, for every student. All students can complete online work. This saves time and efforts making two different types of lessons (one for online and one for face to face).
Have students submit in class work online. Yep, skip the paperwork. This ensures that all school work is going to the same place. No more piles of paper to grade or excuses on turning it in. Consider a program like Kami if you have PDF files and worksheets you would like your students to edit to turn in online.
Upload pictures and videos to help at home students with any in class assignments that need extra work. This is vital to your at home students. They need a greater degree of communication for their assignment, video fills the gap and helps provide important details about expectations. Use an online editing program like Screencast-O-Matic or just grab your phone and hit record. As an added benefit, it provides an extra set of instructions for your face to face students that makes reteaching super easy.
Have all your work posted for the week by Sunday night. This is an important step. It allows you to focus on the teaching portion of your class because the content is already there. This frees brain space to make a great bell ringer (like this TED talk on hand washing versus soap). Setting up safe lesson activities that are engaging and provide social distance.
Automate assignments: Some assignments require time to grade while others don’t. Be sure you are not packing your week with manually graded assignments. This is a guaranteed way to reach burn out in a hurry. With the added burdens of lesson planning, communicating with online kids, maintaining all our pandemic protocols, it's OK to build in some breathing room. I like to separate days with manually graded assignments with days that use autograded activities. Whether it's an ED Puzzle or Quizizz, these programs are enjoyable and provide rich learning opportunities for our students.
We've been updating our science process resources. Check out our page on Science Process. We have two great video clips that will make your first science lesson a hit. Walking through a sheet of paper and the story of Alexander Flemming. Click here for Teaching Science Lesson 1
Many teachers are facing a classroom landscape like no other. Hybrid schedules with half of your students one day, half your students another day then a portion of class completely online. This component of the COVID classroom makes planning extremely difficult unless you take a divide and conquer approach. In this post we will look at one some tips to deal with massive amount of plate spinning (multitasking) middle school teachers will need to do this fall.
Assignments, materials and activities must be equivalent in online and classroom use; they must be the same quality and same level of difficulty. Navigating the challenges of teaching to both in-person and online students, while also creating rich interactive learning experiences for students participating in the course asynchronously, is hard.
How do I deal with life and maintain some semblance of a life (Self care, call it what you will!)? The first step is extremely important.
Plan 100% of your course online. Every piece of graded work needs to be digital. This ensures that your online students and face to face students will always get similar materials. It also helps your streamline your workload so you aren't making three different assignments everyday (In class, online and flex students).
Be specific and over explain directions. The biggest challenge to kids working at home on a flex schedule is directions. They don't have extra teacher input, that means assignment prompts need to be well written and clear. Additionally, use video when ever possible. If you want them to describe a tree in the backyard, be sure to include examples and specific details you would expect in their written responses.
Reduce complexity. Build in success to help them gain skills as they begin to work through course materials. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. That means if you scare them away on day one, you'll have a hard time connecting through the school year.
Begin to think value added. What extra teacher driven activities, discussions or media will I use for those kids that will be in my class. These activities should support the curriculum you are teaching and easily explained online with a video or brief picture.
Best wishes as we work through the challenges of this ever changing classroom. Wishing you and your students well this fall.
As we journey into 2020, I am reflecting on the HyFlex teaching model. In higher ed, this concept is presented as a choice to a student. In our school district and many in our region, parents and students are choosing face to face or online instruction. With that in mind, here are some advantages of the HyFlex model.
After making it through this spring with COVID-19 many teachers are asking whats next. Unfortunately there is no clear answer other than we know things are changing. Every state, city and municipality has different factors influencing decisions about fall 2020. How do we as educators deal with these changing factors when much of it is out of our hands? Looking at the behaviors of colleges and universities will provide insights into what will happen in schools. After all, when many major universities began shutting down in the spring, this set the bar for everyone else. In light of all this, I would urge you to begin reading about the concept of a "Hy Flex" classroom. This instructional model has many of the elements of flipped and blended learning. The idea is a classroom can quickly convert from face to face to online instruction. In some instances a student would have the option to choose which method they want (Not sure what teacher on the planet Earth has time to plan for this one). This concept makes me wonder if schools will adopt a more proactive shutdown approach to illness. We have all been in classroom when the flu hits and half the kids are gone. Will this model be used as a method of flexible instruction if schools shutdown again? Only time will tell. Here's a few links to better understand this trend and what may be coming to your classroom.
Inside Higher Ed: Hy Flex Courses
Educause: 7 Things you should know about the high flex classroom.
Hybrid Flexible Course Design
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