Emergency Distance Learning: How are we doing now that we’re a few weeks in?
from April 8, 2020
As the school year draws to a close, many schools have closed for the year, prompting a turn to online teaching and learning. On April 8, language teachers from grades K-8, and beyond, met for the biweekly EarlyLang chat. Participants discussed strategies for planning and distributing lessons, useful tools, and self care tips.
Q1:Considering emergency distance learning for #earlylang, how have your expectations changed as the situation develops?
Flexibility, connection, and simplicity were the main theme. Most agreed that maintaining flexibility in curriculum expectations is a key, in part due to lack of participation and asynchronous classes. Learning a language relies on having the group together; many teachers are focusing on maintenance instead of growth. Others mentioned the importance of maintaining connections with students and keeping “lessons” simple and fun so that students maintain interest and continue to participate.
Q2: What has helped you in the planning and distribution process for your #earlylang lessons?
Several participants stated that their schools already employ digital days for weather closures which helped in their transition to remote learning. Many others use technology in their classrooms, so students are familiar with the platforms. They use those platforms as the basis for their online lessons. Creating the same type of activities for each day of the week can help students get into a routine of learning. Finally, providing support to parents via instructions on how to use technology can help with successful completion of lessons.
Q3: What tools are you turning toward the most for distance lessons?
Most teachers agree that Google Classroom is the standard for distance learning, many also use Zoom for synchronous lessons. Several participants mentioned that they use Screencastify (Screencastify.com) to create videos from Google Slides. Others use Kahoot, Flipgrid, EdPuzzle, SeeSaw, and YouTube videos. Other tools suggested include BookCreatorApp, SeeSaw Choice Boards, Scavenger Hunts, More Scavenger Hunts, and PuppetMaster App to encourage creativity.
Q4: How are you addressing equity – online vs hard copy, screen time (either by choice or force)?
@MundodePepita, “I’m not sure it is possible to mitigate all equity issues, but I am trying to provide a variety of activities to try & have something for everyone. Our district sent home Ipads & hot spot thingys, but even so, internet is not always reliable here.”
@isobelowen3, “- I don’t think I am addressing it really. I do try to show kindness if a stressed out parent or child reaches out, and think first of their wellbeing before anything Spanish related.”
@MMoMarroquin, “to bolster participation, I run virtual challenges – super fun and keeps the connection via #Flipgrid”
@ProfeOLeary, “I’ve done a few check-ins with my Ss in 5-8 and the majority say that they are stressed and feel like they can’t get all of their work done. I do what I can to give them meaningful input while also delegating some of our “Class time” as “catch up.”
@Spanish Tesorito, “You would be surprised in affluent households even there are many issues that could affect the learning. Wi-Fi, technical skills, device specific issues, multiple children in the house, lack of parent support, anxiety, illness. Staff included.”
@glendadehoyos, “At this point & under these circumstances my approach is to be flexible with my expectations, be available, be present, make lessons that can reach my students where they are & provide extensions to students that are craving +. Also, not put + pressure on myself.”
@vgilbertTEACH, “Our school inventoried family needs- gave out loaners as needed. But since we went out 2 days be4 break many families just stayed away so things might be different. #earlylang I think it’s harder on staff who don’t necessarily have home offices or enough space.”
Q5: How are you navigating your own self care and life at home?
Daily physical activity and doing something enjoyable were among the top suggestions. Several participants mentioned having difficulty making time for themselves, this is not unusual with educators who are so used to taking care of everyone else first. Still, everyone acknowledged that, given the circumstances, it is even more crucial to take a break at times. Other participants mentioned learning new skills, like creating TikToks, and lessening news consumption.
Reflaction: What’s one thing you will do to simplify / improve your experience going forward?
Connecting with others as a source of motivation and support, establishing a schedule that includes self care, and considering the student’s perspective were among the reflactions.
Thank you to all who participated in this #EarlyLang chat! Thank you to our lead moderator, Jenny Delfini (@JL_Delf), and our co-moderator,M Cristina Rdz-Villa, (@MaCristinaRV) for helping to guide the conversation and for creating the chat image . Thanks also to the #earlylang team who helps put these chats together: @nathanlutz, @doriecp, @MundodePepita, @SECottrell, @MaCristinaRV, @JL_Delf
Want to vote for our upcoming #Earlylang topics? https://t.co/l1VbHqzLU1