On January 5, the Adams 12 Five Star School District provided its staff with professional development focusing on distance learning. The keynote speaker, Nancy Frey, is also one of the authors of the book, The Distance Learning Playbook: Teaching for Engagement & Impact in Any Setting. She spoke about several various strategies to keep students engaged while teaching remotely while also connecting it to teaching in a brick & mortar classroom. A few points that she touched on include:
- Ensuring social and emotional learning is at the forefront of teaching/learning. Banking time is a great example of this, having time with one student or a small group of students and giving them the opportunity to share/talk outside of schoolwork. This helps build a relationship with trust between a student and an adult in a safe space. During distance learning this can mean small group Zoom calls or individual chats.
- Examples of checking for understanding: having students type in the chat box and send their answers at the same time or showing white boards and screen shots of the screen so you can check back later.
- Being selective in the assignments, problems, instruction we give. More is not necessarily better. Choose the problems that will truly show understanding, filler work is not helpful or necessary, especially in remote learning.
Nancy Frey also shared several various studies and an abundance of data to help explain how students learn and engage in both in-person learning and distance learning.
The follow up of the incredible keynote presentation included small group conversations and diving more into the reading of The Distance Learning Playbook. It was encouraging to be able to connect with various educators around the district. We were able to comfort one another because of the understanding of the hardships this year brings, but also encourage one another with new ideas. Although I cannot speak for everyone, I believe many left feeling rejuvenated and ready to conquer the second semester.
Follow this link to access The Distance Learning Playbook.