May 6, 2020 | #EarlyLang

Hindsight 20/20: What Remote Learning Taught Us and What We’ll Be Doing Next Year
from May 6, 2020

On May 6, language teachers from grades K-8, and beyond, met for the biweekly EarlyLang chat. Participants reflected on challenges related to school closings, solutions to those challenges, and how this time has impacted their plans for instruction in the future.

Q1:Reflect on emergency distance learning for you as a teacher and your #earlylang learners: what have been the biggest challenges?

Several teachers mentioned the lack of participation early on and the difficulty of connecting with young learners asynchronously as their biggest challenge. Access to learning was another challenge mentioned.  That includes ensuring comprehensible input.  To accommodate parents, some teachers used voice overs, lots of videos, and instructions in English so that they could help their children if needed. Other challenges to access included technology: some students have to share devices with siblings, some have trouble navigating online courses and parents may struggle with this, also. Finally, most teachers do not have experience with online teaching and everyone had to jump in, suddenly.  Giving ourselves grace and being flexible in what students do and our expectations helped in navigating this new way of teaching.

Q2: What kinds of solutions did you find/create?

@MundodePepita, “This has definitely been a challenge-I knew it intuitively, but the amount of scaffolding (from classroom walls, peers, myself, gestures, etc) that is no longer present is enormous. Going back to the basics has been a key strategy to help my kids feel successful.”

@SpanishTesorito, “I don’t know about you, but I have been non-stop learning and creating. This part is also not so new for FLES teachers.”

@Sra_Barnett, “Make no assumptions! Since we are not together, we can’t monitor the understanding of tasks. So we always include virtual boards of all vocabulary needed to complete each task. Scaffolding “old” voc has been a big plus.”

@nathanlutz, “@Seesaw has been an absolute godsend for us. Some Ts were skeptical at first and now they’re all flying. The Ss are empowered to take learning into their own hands. Their work has been amazing. Seriously, if I could marry @Seesaw, I would do it in a heartbeat.”

@MaestraAUbreyCT, “This has only reinforced my love for @Seesaw. I can provide modeling, and elicit responses from my students. I provide feedback and students use it moving forward. I am also loving @PearDeck.”

@rrrrrrrrrrrrosa, “Finding resources that lowered my workload @senorjordan‘s Mono series for 2nd graders, @supersimple‘s videos for kinders, rethinking my @OWLanguage circles into stories for 1st & 4th graders. I was & still am so overwhelmed but this reduces how much work Maestra has.”

@SECottrell, “as for @CalicoSpanish, making our Activity Sheets “interactive” had been on our radar for a long time, but if it weren’t for #coronavirus I don’t know when we’d have figured out how to do that using Google Slides for Google Classroom.”

Q3: What have you learned about connecting with children and families that you’ll carry forward?

Overall, participants have had positive interactions with families. With parents having to be so involved, most have had much more interaction and are seeking ways to continue that post-COVID. Some teachers use their online platforms as a way to suggest fun activities or share ideas. For those parents who are difficult to reach or who do not respond, participants suggest empathy. Parents may be struggling and overwhelmed by situations and events that are not evident to everyone else.


Q4: What tools for input will you be using as you move forward as a result of this challenging time?

Many schools already use technology for at least part of their instruction. Participants plan to continue using those tools they were using before the closings.  Some of these include: SeeSaw, Google classroom, Flipgrid, GoFormative, and Microsoft Teams. Some other ideas were to include videos of the teacher for students, PowerPoint video stories, and most importantly, being purposeful in selection and use of tools and scaffolds.

Q5:  What have you learned about activities, philosophy, or assessment that could change the way you operate in the future?

As always, being adaptable to change is part of teaching and that will not change.  Several participants agreed that online language learning must be intentional and take into consideration different organization and communication.  It can’t be thrown together as teachers have had to do for emergency teaching.  Language instruction, at its best, can incorporate technology but off screen activities are important, too. For in person and online instruction, the language should be compelling, engaging, and in context so that students are eager to learn. Finally, the use of scaffolding and keeping social emotional learning in mind are important for all students.


Reflaction= Reflect+action: Based on your experiences and what we’ve discussed in tonight’s chat, what are your intentions for moving your instruction forward in the future?

Most agreed that greater connection with students along with purposeful, meaningful, and engaging lessons are essential. Other suggestions included more use of student voice, portfolios, and flexibility in the event that schools have to incorporate social distancing, masking, and other preventative measures. Finally, a question, how can young learners get comprehensible input without a teacher nearby? Going into next school year, teachers must be prepared to fill in proficiency gaps and meet students where they are.

Thank you to all who participated in this #EarlyLang chat! Thank you to our lead moderator, Nathan Lutz (@nathanlutz) and our co-moderator Jenny Delfini (@JL_Delf),for helping to guide the conversation and for creating the chat image . Thanks also to the #earlylang team who helps put these chats together: @MaCristinaRV, @MundodePepita, and @SECottrell

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