It’s crazy to think that we are approaching two months of school and most of our province being closed. What’s even crazier to me is that three months ago to the day I was flying into Orlando for my first Disney World experience. As this was my first experience with Disney, I don’t think I as prepared for the amount of people that attend those parks on a daily basis. Can you imagine how long the queue line would be for the Avatar if you had to socially distance? Wow! I wonder how a place like that is going to look going forward.
When I think back to when school first closed, I remember making a prediction that school would re-open after the May long weekend. With word coming last week that school will be closed for the rest of the year, it turns out that my prediction wasn’t very good. With this week’s blog post focused on technology use on a daily basis, it was a great time for me to reflect on how much technology I am currently using. I know for a fact that I am spending way too much time in front of a screen. Here’s how I’ve been using technology to support me during online supplemental learning.
Professional Technology Use
When we shifted into online supplementary learning, I felt very lucky to be in the position I was in regarding technology and teaching. I am part of Regina Catholic School’s Connected Educator program. This program has given me the opportunity to teach in a 1:1 laptop to student ratio in the classroom. Most of the digital tools I have been using for online supplementary learning were already being used in the classroom, which made the transition relatively smooth. I didn’t have to spend a lot of my time teaching students how to use these programs as they had already experienced them in school. In saying that, there are definitely challenges when it comes to this online supplementary learning model.
If I was restricted to one tool in my teaching practice, I would definitely choose Seesaw. Not only has it been extremely valuable during the Covid pandemic, it is very beneficial during regular teaching times. As Seesaw has many different tools embedded in the program, I use it in many different ways with my students and parents.
Seesaw is my main source of communication to parents. At the start of each week, I have been sending out a learning schedule to parents. This communication tool also allows you to attach documents to your message. For me, this has been beneficial as I can snip an image of my schedule and include it in my message to the parents.
I also like the fact that parents can send me messages directly on the app and I have the ability to see who has read the message. I enjoy when most of my parents have read my communication.
I have also been using Seesaw to create and assign a variety of activities for my students to complete. These activities are pushed out to their Seesaw accounts and they have a variety of ways in which they can complete their work. They are submitted in the activity folder which makes it really easy to see who has completed their assignments.
Overall, I think that Seesaw is a great educational tool because it’s one central location for many different features. I think this is also helpful to parents as it allows them to focus their attention and energy on one application. In a time where there are countless educational tools and apps, I think Seesaw does a good job of many different things.
I have been using Microsoft Teams as the main way to connect with my students. Through this program, I am able to hold live class meetings and lessons with all of the students that I teach. This tool also allows students to ask me questions through the chat feature.
In terms of the live class meetings, I like that I am able to share my screen with the students to follow along as I go through a lesson or meeting. This has been very beneficial when teaching live math classes, as I’ve been sharing PowerPoints and OneNote pages with them when teaching. Also, this feature has allowed me to do some fun activities with my students such as BINGO, Quizziz, and Kahoot.
I’m also a member of various other teams that allow me to connect with students I teach in other classes. This teams feature also gives me the opportunity to collaborate with my colleagues.
I have been using Microsoft OneNote to distribute the bulk of the assignments to my students. I was already using OneNote in my classroom so I just continued using this for supplemental learning. I like OneNote as it essentially serves as an online binder or notebook for my students. OneNote is beneficial because I can embed links, images, documents, and anything else needed for the assignment. These assignments are pushed out to the students and they can often complete them right in their notebook.
Those are the three main tools I am using for supplemental learning. Some other tools I have been using along the way include:
Flipgrid – Great to build classroom community and connect online.
Sora – Online library for students to read and listen to books.
Epic Books – Another good online reading resource.
Code.org – Free coding website for students.
News-O-Matic – Current events article written for students.