DESIGNING MEANINGFUL

(AT HOME) LEARNING EXPERIENCES

This is a difficult time as we all work toward figuring this out. I've often shared the 3 Es with educators when we talk about designing meaningful learning experiences. I think these might possibly work for remote learning experiences as well. I have tried to include high-tech, low-tech, and no-tech options. The idea is to choose one thing from each piece to design a weekly experience. It may not seem like much but if done with purpose, it might be much more meaningful than completing several worksheets.

I believe with everything in me that we need to SIMPLIFY right now. We will not be able to recreate every aspect of school into the at-home learning experience. What we can do is help our learners make AUTHENTIC connections regardless of their situation. This is not the time to raise our expectations but instead it is an opportunity for our learners to make connections to what they learned this year. It's important to be realistic, flexible, and empathetic during this time. I hope that this helps in some small way. Thank you for the work that you are doing! We really are all in this together and you are ENOUGH!

One of the best things about designing experiences this way is that it makes sense for remote learning and BEYOND. As we begin to think about our "new normal", it's important to understand that this can be woven right into a summer school experience and and blended learning model as we begin to head back into our classrooms. Be sure to check out Beyond Remote Learning to find out what this might look like and how the 3 Es can play a big role in the learning experiences that lie ahead.

Thanks so much to Kari Espin for collaborating and helping me make sense of it all.

Planning Resource

It's so important for everyone involved to understand this process and what you expect from their learners. Most parents aren't teachers. They shouldn't have to figure out lesson plans or find innovative ways to make learning happen. Instead, we should be clear about expectations and give our learners ownership while asking parents to support and encourage.

Please feel free to use these slides as a way to simplify what is being sent home. You can add text to the slides and send as an email or if your district is not doing anything digitally, you could print it out and share. You can provide all digital resources, all non-digital resources (think about things they have access to around them at home that can be used to learn), or a variety of both. There is a slide addressed to parents and one addressed to students for older learners.

*As with anything we are doing right now, this could become overwhelming for learners with 7 or 8 different teachers. Instead of every teacher sharing, it's a good idea to collaborate in groups and design experiences that will connect several content areas together. Cross-curricular experiences can be extremely meaningful and help learners make important connections that will result in real learning.

Engage

Share a video - Find a video on YouTube, The Literacy Shed, or John Spencer's YouTube Channel to use as a springboard for the learning. (Tip: Use a tool like ViewPure to eliminate ads or unnecessary content. If students need to access the video via their mobile devices, share a QR code.)

Ask a question - Ask your learners a question on Flipgrid or any other way that you are able to communicate that will cause them to consider what they are about to learn and respond with their thoughts.

Share a photo - Find a photo prompt using WritingPrompts.tumblr.com or any image that are able to find that connects to the learning. Encourage conversation around what is going to be learned through inferencing or observation.

Spoiler Alert - Share what your students will be able to do once they learned the content and see if they can guess what they will be learning. (Example: Record yourself pretending to measure out a garden area and see if your students make the connection to area/perimeter)

Cultivate Curiosity - Encourage students to share what they wonder around a big idea that connects to the content, concept, or idea that will be learned. Then ask them to be intentional about finding the answer to their wonder in the learning experience.

Experience

Read to Learn - Share the content via an online article. Tools like Wonderopolis, DogoNews, and NewsELA are great places to start.

Maker Experience - Design an opportunity to make something with what they have at home. Ask them to use specific skills that connect to what they are learning.

Teach through Video - There's absolutely nothing wrong with direct teach through video! Just keep it clear and concise. Tools like Flipgrid, Zoom, and Google Meet make this easy to do.

Guided Scavenger Hunt - Create a FlipHunt or scavenger hunt for students to do around their home that will give opportunities to learn the content. (Example: Have students look for different types of plants outside and identify their different parts.)

Collection of Learning Opportunities - Use a Hyperdoc, choice board, or Topic Resources in Flipgrid to give students a variety of ways to dive into and learn the content.

Empower

Connections Scavenger Hunt - Ask students to complete a scavenger hunt that connects to what they've learned. Rather than you telling them what to look for, allow them to make those connections as they find and share. Again, you could create a Fliphunt or basic scavenger hunt to make this happen.

Photo Challenge - Ask students to share photos of how they are using what they've learned. (Example: They may share a picture of measuring cups that they are using to cook if they've just learned about fractions.)

Protege Effect - Give students the opportunity to teach someone else. They can teach their teddy bears, a sibling, or another student using Flipgrid, Google Meet, or Zoom. Just be sure that if they are using a technology tool, that they have permission and an adult is present.

Reflection Opportunity - Provide a reflection question that students must answer as they reflect on what was learned this week and how they will be able to use it beyond the walls of their home when this is all over.

Creativity Connection - Ask students to write a book using BookCreator, design a video game on Scratch, paint a picture, write a song, or anything else creative to demonstrate what they've learned.

Documentation of Learning

It's not a bad idea to set this entire process up in Flipgrid. Most students have access to a mobile device. Create a grid for each week and a topic for each piece (Engage, Experience, and Empower). You can share all of your resources and your students can share their learning in one central location. See the images below as an example of how to set it up. Please consider the following:

  • Make sure you add a weekly overview as one of the topics to introduce this week's Focus and give a weekly welcome.

  • In addition to the Engage, Experience, and Empower pieces, you might also provide an enrichment piece for students to do if they have extra time or need something extra.

  • Adding a HELPgrid in for students to access if they have questions or need help is a good idea.

  • Below is an example of the grid that I created for my daughter. I considered the content that needed to be learned and was able to weave in Science, Social Studies, Math, and ELAR. I also gave the opportunity to create in the enrichment piece.

  • Designing this took me approximately one hour and now she has her work for the week. That being said, as an educator, I can now spend time checking in, giving feedback on videos as they are submitting, and preparing additional content for weeks to come.

You could also set this up in Wakelet or Google Classroom. Below is an example that Mrs. Jalland shared on Twitter of the learning experience that she designed using Wakelet.

Additional Thoughts

  • Because most of the strategies give students ownership and choice, there will be some level of natural differentiation.

  • The best part of using this model for learning is that it can be turned around and used immediately when you are able to return to the classroom. Instead of weekly, you would use the daily 3E model to design meaningful learning experiences for your students.

  • Provide choice by giving your students options. Don't always decide for them which task is appropriate.

  • Use this as a springboard for your own ideas. Add to the list and share your ideas with others on your campus or in your district. Feel free to share them with me as well and I will add them to the website! Ask your students for feedback.

  • There are many opportunities within these ideas for learning to be documented. Be creative in how students can show what they've learned and how you will document that learning.

  • Remember, every single child in your classroom is experiencing something different right now. To expect them to have similar schedules and support systems just isn't the current reality.

  • Make it a priority to weave life-ready skills and social emotional opportunities into what you ask your students to do. This is easy to do and makes the learning even more authentic.

  • Please remember that we are not at home for the sake of being at home. Fear, anxiety, and uncertainty are all probably present in our own homes as well as the homes of our students. Take time for yourself and make self-care a priority. This isn't school and it's hard.

  • Give yourself and your learners grace. Find strength in knowing that there will be a day when you will return to your classroom, hug your colleagues, and experience a new appreciation for the work that you are blessed to do each and every day.

Additional At Home Resources

I share have started sharing through webinars every Monday at 8:00 pm CST. Please check out past webinars and upcoming topics at andimcnair.com/athomelearning.

If you have any questions or need suggestions on how to make any of these ideas work, please feel free to reach out through email. You can connect on my website, andimcnair.com or email directly at mcnairandi@gmail.com.