One of the biggest challenges of distance learning during the current pandemic has been the ‘overnight’ transition to online instruction; little preparation time; lack of interaction with staff and colleagues; and mostly missing students. Reimagining education (a future #gtchat topic) is beginning to dawn on educators. Is it time to rethink how we educate our students? Do we really need standardized testing, hours ‘in class’, obsolete grading systems? With all the professional and work-related changes, everyone is still reeling from a life in quarantine and the uncertainty of what the future will look like after life resumes in the outside world.
Although e-learning has been around for some time, it was not always a necessary tool in the educator’s toolbox; especially at the elementary level. The switch to distance learning for virtually all students came without warning for most teachers. Professional development in the use of the latest tech tools is necessary for teachers who now must teach remotely. The era of #COVID19 requires a supportive approach for colleagues as they traverse a new technological landscape. Remote learning requires different tech than used in the classroom.
What strategies can be used to keep GT students learning at home? It is a struggle to meet the needs of students from such diverse circumstances and it requires a multi-faceted approach to teaching them where they are both academically and emotionally. It is important that students be allowed to create a flexible learning space that provides both a reflection of their personality as well as structure for learning. Teachers need to check-in with students daily, present clear expectations and directions, and reconnect throughout the day. Parents should remember the importance of daily play and provide their kids with ‘brain breaks’ when possible.
Connections are vital today; not just with students, but with their families. Consider having ‘office hours’ to address the concerns of parents who are struggling with at-home schooling. Depending on available tech, these programs aid in connecting: Slack, Microsoft Teams, Remind, Seesaw, ParentSquare, and Voxer. Chat options for connecting include Backchannelchat, Loop, VO Teach, and Padlet. Resources for making videos include Screencastify, Screen-o-Matic and Loom. Meetings can be conducted via Zoom and Facebook Live. Multimedia resources include Buncee, Flipgrid, Padlet, and Wakelet.
There seems to be endless resources for teachers new to distance learning! It’s more a matter of choice. For STEM: Discovery Education, NatGeo Kids, DK FindOut!, and Cool Math Games. Social studies resources include Brain Pop, Time for Kids, and the Smithsonian. Reading resources include Scholastic Learn-at-Home, Story Pirates, and Harry Potter-at-Home. Movement activities should not be forgotten; especially for times when kids can’t go outside to play. Some online resources include GoNoodle (YouTube) and Cosmic Kids Yoga.
All of the resources used for teachers can also be used by parents when appropriate. Work with your child to see what works best for them and take into account which apps are age-appropriate. Parents can discuss options with their child’s teacher. Options used in the classroom that work well at home include journaling and PBL (project-based learning). Apps like Audible are offering free audio books.
A transcript of this chat with many more resources than I could list can be found at Wakelet.
Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at Noon NZST/10 AM AEST/1 AM UK to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.
About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Unicorn Teacher: Free Resources for 7th and 8th Grade (Google Docs)
Consortium for School Networking (website)
Coppell ISD – CHS Speaks: The Flip Side of Online Learning (YouTube 6:21)
You Got This! A message of encouragement (YouTube 3:56)
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.