Brave New World??

Well here we are. The world has changed because of Covid 19. I have been distance teaching for 3 weeks, and it’s exhausting. Yes, I love working in my PJs, but staring at a screen for hours on end is not fun. But I do have to say we are fortunate in that we have all this technology to help us teach and learn in these days of social distancing and quarantines.

I have been using Google Classroom to create and post assignments. I’ve been assigning creative writing and poetry so far. We are not supposed to give the students more than 30 minutes of work per day, per teacher. Some students have to babysit younger siblings, and many of my students are stressed out. I feel especially sorry for my seniors. There are so many milestones which they will not experience–prom, graduation. . . . Many of my students are finding it tough to get motivated. Some can’t seem to focus. So with that in mind, I keep my assignments minimal. I will not be assigning any novel studies because I just don’t think they’ll have the sustained focus. Most of my students are working hard on their assignments.

Another platform I’ve started using is Padlet. It’s like a virtual bulletin board. One week I asked students to take a picture of themselves reading a book. They posted their photos on Padlet. It was a good way for them to see each other too. Many posted photos of them reading to a family pet. One student even posted a photo of himself reading to a fox!

I’ve also learned how to record my screen using Screencastify. It’s been helpful for me to create short tutorials showing the students how to use technology. This week my assignment asked students to a poem by clicking and dragging text boxes. One student didn’t know how to do this so I created a short tutorial video with my voice and the video showing my laptop screen. Easy!

I have set up a YouTube channel just in case I need to record short videos, but so far I haven’t had the need for it.

Many of my colleagues are using Zoom to set up live meetings with their students, but Zoom has gotten a lot of bad press lately because of “Zoombombing.” Apparently bad actors have been gaining access to Zoom meetings and showing pornography and spouting racial hatred. Zoom is currently involved in a lawsuit because apparently they’ve been selling users’ data to FB and others. And the FBI even issued a warning about Zoombombing, so needless to say, I will not be hosting any Zoom meetings.

I’m excited to learn more about HyperDocs. These are created using Google Slides, for example. You create an assignment and embed hyperlinks to whatever it is you want the students to do. It may be a link to a YouTube video or an online poem. Then there are other embedded links that direct students to post their work. I think I’ll be creating choice boards in the coming weeks using HyperDoc templates.

So far my school will be distance teaching until May 1. We’re not sure if the governor will declare that we’re done for the year or not. We usually finish our school year in mid-June.

Time will tell. For now, I’m just trying to take things one day at a time.

Stay well, everyone!

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