March 25, 2020 | #EarlyLang

Emergency Distance Learning
from March 25, 2020

It’s amazing how life can change in such a brief period of time.  One day, everyone is going to school as usual.  The next, schools are closed and teachers are scrambling to figure out how to teach remotely.  To that end, on March 25, language teachers from grades K-8, and beyond, met for the biweekly EarlyLang chat. Participants discussed navigating the new normal brought about by COVID-19, including priorities for planning, digital resources for #earlylang learners at home and how to help those students with limited access to digital resources.

Q1:In the face of COVID-19, what expectations and guidance have you gotten from the leadership above you?

Several schools were on spring break as closures began.  Some teachers had virtual meetings to outline plans for remote learning; leadership has stressed the importance of continuing to build connections with students and to make online lessons low stress and a review of prior learning. Most participants were also asked to prepare lessons for each grade level and to hold office hours as additional support for students.

Q2: When planning for #earlylang learners during this period, what are you prioritizing?

Two main themes emerged–connection and equity.  Participants agreed that connecting with students again and ensuring their well-being is the main priority. Lessons should be fun and low stress, something that students can accomplish on their own if necessary. The other concern is access to technology.  Most students have online logins, but their families may not have internet access or they may have to share a device with siblings.

Q3: What does it look like for an #earlylang teacher to create and share a lesson with families at home?

Some participants mentioned creating live lessons, but scheduling can be difficult. Families might want a “screen free” day or another family member might need to use the device. Pre-recorded classes can be more convenient for some families. Other strategies included Google slides presentations, short videos or screencasts with non-tech options for comprehension checks and extension opportunities, and office hours with the option for video chats. For the younger students, many schools are sending home paper packets or lessons through the classroom teachers.  Older students, who can work more independently, access their lessons through Google Classrooms or other online learning portals.

Q4: What digital resources and lessons are you sharing with your #earlylang learners at home?

Many students, even young learners, are already very tech savvy and are familiar with online learning sites and apps. Most participants agreed they would stick to what the students already know.  Many plan to continue use of sites such as Google Classroom, Seesaw, Duolingo, Rockalingua, Kahoot, and some others. Some teachers use Class Dojo because it also allows for communication with parents and caregivers. Several teachers also mentioned YouTube, however some districts block access for students and there are occasionally inappropriate comments or ads.  To get around such obstacles, one teacher suggested to use Safeshare or download the videos prior to assigning them to students.

Q5:  How can we help our #earlylang learners with limited access to digital resources?

@Sra_Barnett, “ I LOVE this question! It’s our responsibility to reach ALL students. In my district, we made copies of all the activities posted and created a pamphlet for students and mailed it to them. additional resources will also be mailed to them.

@nathanlutz, “I worry about this one too and wonder what people are doing. We did a tech survey and sent home devices and ensured WiFi and printers. I see Comcast and others have offered free packages.”

@Sra_Kennedy, “I think giving simple activities. Draw a picture of your family and label it. Organize the pantry and count the different foods in Spanish and say if you like or don’t like them. I can’t grade them or know if they did them but it gives them something concrete to do.”

@sindycitysenora, “I think this is where sending a choice board via email to parents can be valuable–drawing, labeling activities at home.”

@SenoritaBasom, “In our lower grades, we prefer that the kids aren’t continually accessing digital resources. We sent home packets & books. Children can do their work by hand, some parents take a picture of their work or make a video & email it. Whatever works for the family!”

@doriecp, “And when you look at not just my district, but at my state as a whole, the inequities are glaring. I know it’s the same across the country. I think this whole situation is putting a spotlight on educational equity and forcing us to ask tough questions.”

@teachmerussian, “we didn’t have any chance to see our kiddos before closing but our district has been trying their best to reach out and distribute Chromebooks to kids who need them. We are in “transition “ now, not sure if papers will go home moving forward…?”

Reflaction: Stay healthy and hopeful!  What does that look like for you now as and #earlylang educator?

In this period of uncertainty, it is vital to remain positive and provide fun activities for students and ourselves. Spend time in nature, take things a day at a time, and don’t worry about students completing all the work.

Thank you to all who participated in this #EarlyLang chat! Thank you to our lead moderator, Valerie Shull (@windycitysenora), and our co-moderator, Mundo de Pepita (@@MundodePepita) for helping to guide the conversation. Thanks also to the #earlylang team who helps put these chats together:  @nathanlutz, @doriecp, @MundodePepita@SECottrell, @MaCristinaRV, @JL_Delf

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