5 ½ of my BEST Online Distance Learning Strategies and Tips
Along came COVID-19…
And within a matter of weeks, teachers scrambled to create lessons, units, routines, strategies and feverishly combed the internet for resources to support their online teaching. Looking back, there were a few nuggets that stood out as my BEST discoveries while embarking on this remote teaching journey.
The Epic! Journey
First off, I was thrilled to discover Epic! the online bookshelf. There are 1000’s of contemporary titles to choose from and free access for teachers and students until June 30, 2020. As such, I was able to continue my language arts program online. What blew my mind was the number of Indigenous, Inuit and Metis books Epic has available! Short stories such as: I AM NOT A NUMBER, Secret of the Dance, We are Grateful, My Heart Fills with Happiness, I am Raven, Raven and Loon, Tales From the Tundra, A Walk on the Shoreline, just to name a few. Let’s hope there’s free access in September!
fatty legs – An Online Game Changer
A “foundation” novel that all students should read is, fatty legs, written by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margret Pokiak – Fenton. And guess what?! It’s ALSO available on Epic! This well written true account, complimented with colourful, eye catching illustrations is appropriately written for the intended age range 9 - 12, depicting a shameful period in colonial history. After making this discovery on Epic, I immediately adapted my fatty legs Reading Response Unit for online learning; converting the student response booklet into Google Slides (and Microsoft PowerPoint.)
Pocket Full of Primary
I found the books. Now what? Well, I discovered a teacher, Michelle Ferre (A.K.A - A Pocket Full of Primary,) who makes video tutorials. The first one I watched was Getting Started with Google Classroom followed by How I Make My Google Slides for Teaching. The videos were amazing and taught me enough to get me excited about this new online learning adventure. I decided to set my class up in Google Classroom and began creating lessons based on the tutorials I just watched. The future was bright, and I was motivated! I created three online resources to get my program off and running. The first was an Online Etiquette Slide presentation, followed by Reading Strategy Response unit to use with any story, and afterwards, a Story Elements unit. (You can find these units by clicking in the title links.)
What’s Microsoft Teams???
After plotting a course using Google Classroom, I was informed that our school district was NOT supporting Google Classroom. All students and teachers were to use Microsoft Teams. ***ANGUISH! What was I to do with all my lessons on Google slides?!***
I looked up “how to” convert Google slides to PowerPoint and just like that, my imploding world was instantly fixed with a click of a button. Here’s the 3 minute video.
Converting PDF Work Sheets into PowerPoint or Google Slides
The other great trick I learned, was how to convert existing units and student response sheets into PowerPoint slides and Google Slides. Watch this video by Naomi Meredith (A.K.A. Marvelous Ms.M,) to learn how to do this!
We Came, we Dominated, and then we Crawled to the Finish Line
Educators, we a have come a long way! Exploring, learning, experimenting, collaborating and finally teaching (both students and parents!)online. You should feel proud about this accomplishment. It wasn’t easy!!
A piece of advice from a video from I watched by Mark Rober (another fantastic “go to” I liked to share with my students) was:
“Most successful people treat their trials and challenges as opportunities for growth.”
In my opinion, COVID-19 provides a mushroom cloud of growth opportunities.
Enjoy the summer! Enjoy the NOW! Who knows what September will bring…
(If you have other links or great pieces of survival information please a comment below)