Distance Learning

bit.ly/learningdistance

Welcome to this distance learning website. This is an ongoing project to curate examples of quality distance learning tools and lessons to serve as inspiration to teachers during school closures.

You are not alone in this! Please reach out to the following Teacher Support Specialists and Ed Tech Specialist for clarification and support:

In New Mexico, our schools and districts are putting together Continuous Learning Plans. You should receive guidance from your leadership on what this looks like for your community. Read the FAQs from NMPED about our school closures here.

Below is an important piece of information directly from the FAQ. It is important to note that you will not have the same instructional hours with your students and will need to prioritize standards.

*Be flexible in your time expectations with students. Just like a typical classroom, some students will need more support or have difficulty focusing for more than 30 minutes at a time. We do not want to add stress to our families' lives. Our goal is to maintain essential skills, not teach new content.

Where do I start?

Know that this is a process and that we will all make mistakes. Be brave: your students need to see adults innovating courageously right now. Embrace Failure: own mistakes, correct them, and move forward. Celebrate success: you and your students deserve each small and big victory right now - you amaze us!

Content Standards

To begin, consider which standards you will focus on for the remainder of the year. Focus on the standards students absolutely must know to start the next academic year.

For example, in 2nd grade math there are over 25 standards. In order to start 3rd grade, a 2nd grader must be able to structure numbers within 1000 and apply the skill to addition and subtraction problems. This is the area you will spend the most time on in 2nd grade mathematics moving forward.

Talk to other teachers in your grade level and content area to hone in on essential standards together. Please reach out if you need help with this.

Now that you have your focus for your standards, determine what this looks like for the students in your class. You have students at varying levels who need to make progress on this standard while away from school. Continuously consider: how does this content need to be differentiated for your students?

Ideas for differentiation:

  • Open-ended tasks with a low floor and high ceiling offer students the opportunity to be successful in your lessons

  • Choice boards allow students the ability to choose an activity at their comfort level (see examples on the "Tips & Tricks" Page)

  • Video response allows students to elaborate verbally and can help students who struggle with written language

  • Record lessons so students can replay and pause as necessary

Delivering Content

There are numerous resources on the internet that you can deliver to students... but how will you deliver the content? Which virtual container is the right container for your families?

You should start by assessing what technology is available to your students. You can call families or send a survey you create using Google Forms to parent e-mails. Your school might send a messenger to all families letting them know

  • If smart phones (or tablets) are the primary technology in your students' lives, apps available on all phones and websites are your best bet. However, not all families are comfortable downloading apps. In this case, you could create a Google Site with links to each day's lesson. This doesn't require families to download an app, and they can bookmark the website for future use. You will need to try all links out on a phone to make sure they function correctly.

  • If students have access to a computer, more websites are available for your students to use. You will need to ensure the site works in multiple browsers (i.e. no Chrome only websites).

  • If students in your class have zero reliable access to technology, they will need lessons on paper that are in a familiar format. You will need to coordinate with families to get them hard copies. Potentially, you could put together a weekly packet which has familiar curriculum and activities.

  • Another low tech option to utilize is the Distance Learning lessons available on NMPBS M-F starting April 6th. This could work if students can watch their lessons on a TV. You will need to talk to families to determine if this is possible.


Ways to Learn @ Home

For families with access to a smart phone, tablets, or computers, you will need to choose the vehicle to deliver content to families. Make a choice based on what seems most functional and familiar to your community. These options include a website (like this Google Site) or an app-based system which is also accessible as a website such as Seesaw, Class Dojo, or Google Classroom. To choose the best container, consider: how will students show you what they are working on? If students are already familiar with one of the tools, use that!

If you are starting from scratch with technology, we recommend a combination of a Google Site and Flipgrid for Distance Learning. The following four tools are all you need to roll out your tech-based lessons. Click on the how-to videos for a guide to get started with each. Reach out if you have additional questions about the tool.

Google Sites How-To

Tip: Keep it simple and add to it over time.

Flipgrid How-To

Tip: Include a video of yourself answering each prompt to encourage students to be brave.

Screencastify How-To

Tip: When recording video, put your phone on silent, have an outline to follow, and don't be afraid to make a mistake - it's just like real life.

Google Forms How-To

Tip: Google Forms are great formative assessment and for checking in with students after each lesson.

Distance Learning Terminology

Synchronously

Students are working at the same time in their homes on the same learning activity. This can be accomplished through a teacher-led video conference where students are "joining" the virtual classroom at the same time.

Asynchronously

Students are working at different times to accomplish tasks assigned by the teacher. Students are not working at the same time on the same task. The teacher films themselves or finds videos on the internet which teach students the lesson.

We recommend asynchronous learning activities. It allows for greater flexibility for a family and students can rewatch a video as many times as they need to learn a concept. However, students lose the opportunity to "meet" with their classmates and feel immersed in their classroom community as they might in synchronous activities. You might balance the two approaches with a weekly "check-in" where everyone, if they are able, joins a video conference (or even small groups of students). You can also set up individual lesson times with each student on a weekly basis so that they have face-to-face time with you.

Meaningful Connections

Students need to feel connected to you and each other right now. On the "Example Classroom Website" we provide a few example for how you can build in a connection with your students.

  • When using Screencastify to create instructional videos, include your face. Your students absolutely miss seeing and hearing you.

  • Include a daily check-in form so students can share how they are doing on a daily basis.

  • Make a time to conference with students throughout the week. If you are a secondary educator with many students, meet with groups of students or have open office hours when students can "drop-in."

  • Flipgrid is a fantastic response tool because students get to see and hear each other. This has SEL benefits for all students.

Other ideas: phone calls, posting images and shoutouts to Class Dojo/Seesaw/Google Classroom, create a page on your Google Sites for WOW work, have a challenge of the day that is not strictly academic (i.e. take a picture of yourself reading to a furry friend). We would love to see any other ideas you come up with, tweet ideas to us @HallwayRenegade.