Now that we’re completing this unusual year, it’s important to reflect on the challenges and successes and celebrate what our schools managed to accomplish.
We anticipate saying good riddance to many of the pandemic protocols next year, but much of what teachers and administrators learned this year will continue into the future.
As students and teachers adapted to learning during a pandemic this school year, some students struggled more than others. At the same time, others who struggled with traditional learning started to thrive and learn beyond their typical in-person classroom learning.
Moving forward in education after COVID
It’s time to look forward to what happens next.
At Janice Levitan’s recent professional development class, ATT teachers discussed interesting findings to help them plan for future teaching and learning. She explored the use of Google Classroom and other online resources that teachers used successfully during the past year. She also offered suggestions on how they can be used in today’s new learning environment.
Google Classroom was a key tool in this year’s new learning environment. Whether students were in school or at home, Google Classroom ensured they always had access to their assignments and work. Those schools that adopted Google Classroom will likely continue using it in future learning.
Key benefits to Google classroom include:
- Students in school and at home can see all the work and materials.
- A teacher can post videos, Docs, Slides, Sheets and Forms and can choose to differentiate work with ease and privacy.
- Teachers can view work in progress and make comments in real time.
- Grade books exist to track student progress.
- Paperless assignments are cost effective and environmentally friendly.
Google features for better education
Using Google Docs in the classroom allows for open-ended questions that are easily modified for student needs. Questions can be scaffolded and assignments are able to be tailored to student needs. Teachers can also provide different prompts or rubrics for different students.
Google Slides is great for interactive work and fill-in-the-blank assignments. Teachers are able to differentiate learning while using Google Slides. Simple worksheets can become interactive ones and add-ons like Peardeck and Nearpod can help teachers explain content.
Teachers can use Google Forms to take quick assessments of learning. Forms is self-grading, gives immediate feedback and is a great tool for quizzes. Like many Google classroom tools, it’s very user-friendly.
Using Google Sheets is an effective tool to look at data. When you create a Google Form, you’ll be able to see all the data collected in a Google Sheet.
Teachers and students can keep track of assignments with Google Calendar. It can also be used to schedule appointments with students and parents.
Virtual learning tools
Several virtual learning tools help teachers with review and instruction especially for absent and at-home learners. These include:
- Loom records quick videos of your screen. Teachers can walk students through an exercise or show them how to use virtual learning software.
- EdPuzzle a teaching tool used to place interactive content into pre-existing videos from a variety of sources, such as TED, YouTube or into teacher-made videos
- Kahoot! is a game-based learning platform that can be used as educational technology in schools and other educational institutions. Its learning games, “kahoots,” are user-generated multiple-choice quizzes that can be accessed via a web browser or the Kahoot app.
Ways for students to share work include:
- Flipgrid is a website that allows teachers to create “grids” to facilitate video discussions. Each grid is like a message board where teachers can pose questions and students can post video responses that appear in a tiled grid display.
- Screencastify, a free screen recorder for Google Chrome. No download required. This allows teachers to record, edit and share videos in seconds. Screencastify is the number one free screen recorder for Chrome.
- Padlet is a digital tool that can help teachers and students in class and beyond by offering a single place for a notice board.
Other online educational resources that will continue to prove useful for student learning:
- TeacherMade allows quick creation of online worksheets and more.
- LiveWorksheets is an interactive worksheets maker for all languages and subjects. Teachermade and LiveWorksheets are very similar, so teachers can decide which one suits them best.
- Khan Academy provides individualized instruction for students and is most well-known for math support.
- Go Formative allows for testing and evaluation of student work.
- Anchor is a website to create, distribute and host podcasts.
- Vocaroo is the simplest audio recorder on the web.
When the pandemic restrictions are officially over in schools, there is still a benefit to using these tools because they allow for individualized instruction and differentiation that is often challenging to execute in the classroom. Additionally, these resources provide a central location for materials and a calendar to keep track.
These resources also allow for hybrid learning and enhance creativity in both teachers and students alike. Learning about these new strategies and tools can help teachers as they navigate the constantly changing learning environment.