#50. Automate Tasks
From email and "Letter of Recommendation" templates, to video curation triggers and clipboard favorites, automating tasks during online learning was essential for not only my efficiency as a teacher, but my sanity as a human. If This, Then That (IFTTT), a service that connects various applications inputs and outputs was verh helpful, as well as the Chrome extension Clipboard History Pro for easy access to commonly used phrased, links, and misc. text.
#49. Play Music
Music is a HUGE part of my life. I play bass in a band, I met my wife through playing music, I spend most of my social time going to shows...simply put, music is a driving force in my life. That being said, I have always been hesitant to share music with my students. During Zoom teaching I began curating a playlist (via Spotify) of songs requested by students, and then playing the songs while students entered each day. A magical way to start class. I plan on continuing this as face-to-face teaching begins.
#48. Batch Grade
Grading has always been my achilles heel as an educator. Whether I am trying to grade too many things, burnout trying to provide quality feedback to each student, or the myriad of other complexities associated with meaningful assessment, grading is hard. I have found allocating 1-2 days a week of 30 minute grading spurts to be much more meaningful in the long run. Whatever I get done, I get done, and I get it done well. The rest can wait. Yes, the "test" wasn't returned the next day, but whatever...
#47. Lesson Plan Early
The need to simultaneously assist my own children with school, while also teaching my classes, stripped me of my. traditional "prep period", and forced me to see my available time for lesson planning differently. Subsequently, I began to rise early and do all my lesson planning before school. As distance learning progressed, my lessons, albeit virtual, began to grow in complexity, creativity, and overall efficiency. I attribute much of this to engaging in the lesson planning process when my brain was still fresh, and not torn to shreds after a day of Zoom.
#46. Leverage Google Forms
Although I am slowly beginning to shed my tendency during distance learning to assess everything, during the heart of pandemic teaching Google Forms provided an essential method for feedback, data, exit tickets, warm up solutions, review game responses, and the myriad of the other pieces of information collected when students are not sitting in the same geographical location. Although my Google Form use was overkill during distance learning, the time only underscored what a truly P O W E R F U L it is.
#45. Use Bookmarks in Google Docs
Simplicity was key for me during pandemic teaching. The use of one Google Document to facilitate each lesson for an entire year of teaching, and house all links supplementary materials was the absolute heart of this simplicity. Keeping this in mind, the document can become cluttered very quickly, transforming into a cluttered resource, rather than the "one-stop-shop" it was intended to be. Leveraging the bookmark feature in Google Docs was essential for maximizing the simplicity that use of one document offers.
#44. Frame Projects as "Hackathons".
When I began to brand standard classroom challenges as a "Hackathons", for some peculiar reason, student engagement increased. For example, rather than saying: "This week's challenge is to leverage MakeyMakey to design a computer interface for an individual with Cerebral Palsy." I would say: "The challenge for this week's Hackathon is to..." I am not sure why this simple swap worked, especially since I am using the term "Hackathon" incorrectly, but it did! I found this resource to be very helpful.
#43. Make Animated GIFs for Instructions
I found recording video screencasts, rather than creating written instructions, to be incredibly helpful during distance learning. Whether it was demonstrating how to use a specific online simulation, or describing the format for completing an assessment, video tutorials were powerful. However, for short tutorials involving a sequence of steps (e.g., changing sharing settings on a Google Doc, exporting a specific file format, etc.) creating animated GIFS simplified the process and expanded the mediums for which the tutorial could shared.
#42. Use One Google Doc for All
#41. Lesson Plan in Cycles
By lesson planning in "Cycles", I am referring to viewing lesson planning through a lens of an inquiry cycle, rather than a single day approach. Click here for an example of a document I am using to build my lesson plans for my Honors Chemistry course according to a "1. Explore, 2. Explain, 3. Extend, 4. Evaluate" cycle, with the "Engage" phase collapsed into step 1. By lesson planning according to a cycle, I am decreasing my daily workload why simultaneously assuring that I reflect on the sequence of content release in a way that builds curiosity.
#40. Limit Use of Zoom Breakout Rooms
#39. Limit Choice
#38. Less is More
#37. Systems Thinking is Essential
#36. Use Templates
#35. Cameras Do Not Equal Collaboration
#34. Make Quick Word Clouds
#33. Hack Zoom
#32. Simplify Assessment Structures
#31. Streamline Assessment Methods
#30. Make Trusting Students Default
#29. Treat Cycles Like Stories
#28. Read Richard Feynman Constantly
#27. Pretend Like Zoom is a Phone
#26. Leverage Time Lapse Video Functions
#25. Focus on Health
#24. Padlet, Padlet, Padlet
#23. Drastically Streamline Technology
#22. Be Casual With Tight Parameters
#21. Redefine Yourself Constantly
#20. Use Google Doc Sharing Privileges Strategically
#19. Provide Instructions by Trimming Videos
#18. Screencasting is An Endlessly Useful Tool
#17. Develop a Technology Mission Statement
#16. Build a Public Audience
#15. The Kitchen is a Science Laboratory
#14. Don't Hover
#13. Limit Social Media
#12. Explain Your Pedagogy to Students
#11. The Mistake Game Works
#10. Leverage Backchannels
#9. Use Mote for Google Doc Commenting
#8. Scratch Can Be Leveraged In Unique Ways
#7. Study Kindergarten Teachers
#6. Start Class Immediately
#5. Focus on Presentation Skills
#4. Integrate Coding
#3. Some Tech is Worth the Money
#2. Case Study Analysis Works Across Disciplines
#1. Delay Direct Instruction
My "Engineering for Social Good" class just completed a three-week design cycle leveraging the MakeyMakey in the 100% distance learning setting. I have written about similar projects before, and I am, yet again, amazed by the power of the the "shelf" feature in Padlet for student public showcase, collaboration, and tracking of the design cycle. See embed the entire cycle below.
1. This Victor Wooten video got me thinking about how inquiry learning/curiosity can be applied to all learning mediums.
2. This is how I will be organizing my lessons as students begin to come back to class in our hybrid model. Some students will be at school and some students will be home via Zoom.
3. Leveraging "What if" thought experiments continues to be a powerful strategy for distance learning.
4. Using the "bookshelf" feature in Padlet to organize design cycles in my engineering class continues to be a powerful way to organize student work.
5. Keeping #1 in mind, I cannot get this Victor Wooten quote out of my head. Implications for learning and instruction are HUGE: "We accept their way of learning knowing they will learn our way later."
I recently discovered this amazing YouTube channel that proposes, WELL PRODUCED, video scenarios about perplexing "What if..." scenarios and then animates/describes what would occur? For example: "What if the oxygen disappeared from the world for 5 seconds?" or "What if the moon exploded?", etc.
Keeping "What if" in mind, I have been struggling with hands-on labs during distance learning, and have recently been experimenting with leveraging the scenarios described in on the channel to empower "Thought Experiments" rather than forcing distance learning labs while student are not in class. I did two "What if" thought experiments this week, one in my Chemistry class, and one in my Biology class. Students LOVED THEM!
The went like this:
Use "What if" thought experiments to spark curiosity about an upcoming unit (as I did above prior to a unit on Cellular Respiration), or challenge student's ability to apply learned content to a new, hypothetical situation. Either way, "What if" thought experiments have transformed engagement in my online classes this week.