Offering students rich and personalized online learning during this period of uncertainty is a challenge for many of us. Luckily, in this age of technology, there are plenty of tools educators can leverage to keep learning meaningful, engaging, and joyful. Below is the Online Learning Planner for my summer course, Pandemics, Plagues, and People, an example of how I carefully crafted an online #blended learning experience for middle school students curious about how disease has shaped our history.
Some of the things I considered were how to establish and maintain connections with students I’ve never taught before, how to keep the content fresh and engaging, and how to give time for students to complete the work.
I establish connections by:
- A welcome page with a personalized video introducing myself and the course
- A welcome zoom introducing myself and the course
- Scheduled zooms 3x per week with an agenda posted in DX on the lesson pages
- FlipGrid introductions & discussion posts for students to engage with each other
- Asynchronous lesson Loom videos + Agenda in DX so that students still get to see me and hear my voice explaining what to do for the day
I create fresh and engaging content by:
- Using related media images at the top of every page
- Including resources banks, shared docs, FlipGrid, short videos, and Edpuzzles
- Creating Quizlets and KAHOOT! for formative assessment and gamification
- Using Covid-19 as an exemplar (current info and the most recent pandemic)
I give time to complete the work by:
- Having asynchronous lessons where students can work at their own pace (2x per week)
- Intentionally using Zooms as a platform for collaboration, rather than simply disseminating information (ain’t no sage on the stage here!)
- Have 2 “light” days to execute tasks that build towards their final project
- Helping students organize their time by creating a suggested agenda for asynchronous days
I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on online learning (thank you GOA!) but always have room for growth and improvement. Primarily, I want to work on small activities throughout the course that build community in my class. One idea is to have a collaborative playlist for each section using Spotify, taking a moment to celebrate student achievements and share news, and maybe starting class once a week with a few jokes – we can’t bee so serious allllllllll the time, can we?
In terms of technology and planning, this year my goal is to leverage DX as much as possible. This means having all lessons, content, quizzes, and assignments, both face-to-face and online lessons, created and posted in DX so that students don’t have to flip between multiple platforms such as OneNote, DX, Blogs, etc. With the exception of Parlay – this is my new favourite tool apart from Loom – yes Clint, I’m STILL pro-Loom #loom4life! If you don’t know how to use Parlay, or what it is, here is a LOOM video I made last year for MS teachers – it was done on the fly, so forgive me! (new one coming soon!) I think for this to be successful, we need to create content together as a grade level, and this will offer much more consistency in our department to facilitate lesson sharing. For this, I’ll need my team’s support, but they’re awesome and open to new ideas, so I feel good about this!!!