As we moved quickly online last spring, teaching math in the online environment was a scary idea to me. I remember panicking over not having my in-class resources such as my whiteboards, document camera, and manipulatives. In fact, I went out and purchased some so that I could still use them. They were my comfort in the time of school closures, and I felt reassured that I could still at least use them for instruction. What I missed was the point that yes, I could use them, but I did not have enough to send to every one of my 96 students.
My school worked diligently to get every student a Chromebook, and internet access for those that needed it. We worked tirelessly to get all staff and students in Google Classroom in a matter of 3 days. Despite the quick turnaround, we were lucky that our students were online and engaged. They hadn’t skipped a beat since our building had closed. That made my teacher's heart happy. I found that it was my mindset that needed to change- my students were adapting so effortlessly that I wanted to make sure to meet their needs as if we were still together in the brick and mortar building.
I developed a set of best practices employing a blended learning model in order to deliver quality instruction. I want to share them with other educators in the hope they will be useful to you as you continue to teach either remotely or in a hybrid classroom:
In order to give my students agency and autonomy over their work, I did some digging on ways that I could revamp my newly shortened class time while still delivering instructional content. I began using the flipped classroom model to have students engage in and view the content prior to coming to our Zoom class time. This allowed for students to bring to class any questions they had about that day's content and to be able to explore their understanding using manipulatives, chatting with peers, and expanding their knowledge. I created some of my own instructional videos, using Screencast-O-Matic, a free screencasting tool that allows up to 15 minute videos. I also used Educreations, a tool that allowed me to write on my iPad to showcase mathematical concepts and thinking. I was able to share these videos with my students all on Google Classroom.
Taking time for office hours & late work (yes, late work!)
I used Calendly to schedule check-ins with parents and students. I would share the link with them in a weekly “what to look for” email, and parents and students were able to schedule blocks of time that I partitioned off on my calendar.
I had several students who stayed with other relatives during the pandemic because their immediate family worked in health care or other essential jobs. I allowed late work- you read that right! I knew my students wouldn’t always be able to be synchronous and that was O.K. I gave them a Google Form link that was housed in their materials on Google Classroom. They would fill out the link if they went back and re-did an assignment or if they were just completing it for the first time outside of it’s assigned date. They would tell me on what date they were turning in work, and I was able to immediately go to the assignment and update their grade book.
In addition, I’ve included some of my favorite tools that allowed me to engage my students and made them feel empowered during remote learning.
|Screencastify is a screen recording tool! With the free version you can record <5 minute videos that are saved to your Google Drive. The premium version allows you to edit your videos. Great for instructional video creation.
|EdPuzzle is a tool that allows you to take videos (one you created or one you found online) and embed questions throughout. Awesome tool to do checks for understanding, even asynchronously.
|This great find has a ton of free virtual manipulatives ranging from unifix cubes to fraction tiles. Great for students to still get that concrete/pictorial practice.
|Educreations is a tool that allows you to create instructional videos/presentations. I love this tool because I can add students to my platform and they can see the instructional videos that I created on my iPad. They have different kinds of paper to use as the background, which helps with graphing.
|Whiteboard.fi is a free virtual whiteboard that allows you to pose a question to your students and they respond on their individual whiteboard in real time. You can even showcase individual student responses!
|Wizer.me is a free interactive worksheet creator. You can upload/link videos and ask a wide array of questions- anywhere from graphing to matching. The $3/month premium version links to your Google Classroom seamlessly!
|Pear Deck is a Google Slides add-on that makes Google Slides presentations interactive! Great way to ask questions during a lesson to assess understanding as well as social-emotional checks. They have a wide array of pre-made math templates. The opportunities are endless!
|Quizalize is my favorite online assessment tool for formative assessments! Set up like a fan-favorite, Kahoot, Quizalize gives you differentiated data broken down for you after the game. You can make informed decisions about small groups and even reteaching opportunities.
|Edulastic is my favorite summative assessment tool! You have access to tons of pre-made assessments from other educators, and can also make your own, linking it to Common Core Standards for Mathematics (and others). You give students a login and they are immediately taken to the assessment. Edulastic also seamlessly links to Google Classroom.
|I created this Flipped Classrooms hyperdoc to do a deeper dive into the world of flipped instruction!
|I LOVE Flipgrid because it allows students to create videos- completely FREE! I had my students explain their rationale for problem solving (they often forget that yes, we do write and explain our reasoning in math) or for error analysis problems.
|LINC Digital Toolbox
|Our LINC Digital Toolbox has a ton of resources broken down by PAACC learning (tools for personalization, agency, authenticity, connectivity, and creativity) and also broken down by subject.
I’d love to hear from you about any strategies or tools that are working well for you in math instruction this year! Please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com or follow me on Twitter @PurpleEducator.