Many schools around the world will be going back to school with distance learning. This was a huge learning curve for many teachers. This summer I was fortunate to have the opportunity to teach summer school for incoming 4th graders.
During summer school, I built connections with students, taught whole group lessons live, recorded instruction, and lead daily small groups for reading. I learned a lot along the way, and the summer course was very successful, students regularly tuned in for Google Meets morning meetings and their small groups. One of the biggest factors in that success was through building digital routines with my students.
Why Have Digital Learning Routines?
Just like with in-person teaching, distance learning requires routines for students to be successful. Students do best when there is a predictability to the way they access their learning. It helps students and parents know where to look when they need help and helps distance learning to be manageable for children. Some things to think about when making distance learning routines are:
- How often do you want to go live with your students?
- How many pre-recorded lessons do you want to post a day?
- What apps or websites do you want students to use?
- How do you want to organize student assignments?
- What will you be assigning grades to, and how would you like students to see help on those assignments.
Step 1) Make a distance learning schedule
Plan to deliver instruction to your students at the same time every day. For example, I went live through Google meets with my students every morning at 9:00 am. We called it Morning Meeting and spent a large chunk of time reviewing the students’ independent work tasks for that day/week.
We met every day at the same time even if some days we spent most of our time chatting with each other about our favorite books we were reading.
If you do not plan on going live daily, you should plan on releasing some type of pre-recorded lesson each day. That way students will know what to look for every day.
I do not recommend skipping days. It may not be hard for you to remember, but for families interacting with different teachers on different grade levels, it can be an organizational nightmare.
If you do not plan on going live daily, you should plan on releasing some type of pre-recorded lesson each day. Click To Tweet
Step 2) Decide Which Apps & Programs You Plan to Utilize
I found it best to have students get used to using 1 or 2 apps or websites at a time. Just like when going back to face-to-face instruction you would gradually add choices to a student’s day distance learning is no exception.
For distance learning, I used Google Classroom, so for the first week, my students’ assignments involved them answering questions natively. I also began adding a morning check-in Google Form for each day of the week for students to complete. That was enough to get students started.
The next week I added Nearpod to our assignments. That program has a bit more of a learning curve for students starting out, so it was a couple more weeks before we added in additional websites and apps. I was always adding 1 or 2 apps or programs at a time, and giving students time to learn them before adding others.
Step 3) Decide Which Distance Learning Assignments to Grade
During distance learning, I “graded” every assignment in some way. This was to give students feedback on their quality of work, track student progress, and monitor students who may be falling through the cracks. Not all grades were “real”, and no grade was below 70% if the work was completed.
Ask yourself what you want to use for progress monitoring your students, or for giving detailed feedback on. Anything else is just for practice and can be assigned together.
In my Google Classroom, any progress monitoring assignments were labeled “Must Do” and assigned individually. All of the practice assignments were linked into one assignment using a Google Slides template from this website: https://slidesmania.com/ The templates are really easy to use and helped organize all my practice activities such as videos to watch and Boom Cards practice decks.
Once you organize your practice assignments into that slide presentation assign them also as one “Must Do” Assignment.
Generally speaking, my students received 2 progress monitoring assignments per week, 1 practice assignment per week that included slides, and links for 6 other assignments.
You can do this!
Digital learning routines not only help students, but they help teachers too! Knowing what types of lessons you plan to use each week helps you to plan ahead, re-use or improve lesson directions, and save time wondering what to do next. # YouGotThis
Share these best practices for building digital learning routines for back to school. Be ready for Distance learning with this easy to follow method for setting up your Google Classroom routines and procedures.