A few weeks ago, I wrote about change. Oh my goodness! I had no idea of what was looming in the immediate future!
Just two weeks back, I was making book fair plans. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, schools were closed, packets were made, devices were issued, and teachers across the country are now delivering digital content to online learners. We are truly in uncharted territory as we move to 100% digital learning.
Supporting our stakeholders
We play a multifaceted role in the smoothest of times. Now my immediate concerns are ways to support:
My district uses Power School Learning (PSL). Thank goodness I already had a PSL page up and running, because that allowed me to help teachers with the technical issues of pulling their pages together. In between checking out devices this past week, however, questions about creativity of delivery started to fill my inboxes.
What might work
I was anxious to start helping, but the priority was checking devices out to students. This turned out to be a good thing because that allowed me some time to listen and observe.
One of the most requested items from my staff has to do with keeping learning personal! How can we teach online and still have lots of face-to-face time?
Lots of teachers asked about Zoom, which is a wonderful product. Like Google Hangouts, Zoom allows multiple people into a room where they can talk. We use it for video conferencing at NCSLMA, and it is amazing. For librarians, it would work nicely for teacher meetings or parent help sessions, but I overheard a teacher explaining that her child couldn’t access it through a district-issued Chromebook. That’s a problem. If the kids can’t get to it, then it’s not really an option for instruction.
What we do have as a district that turned out to be remarkably easy to use is YouTube Live via webcam. I tried to use YouTube Live in the past, but it was just too complicated. No more! It’s easy to use. It lacks the video conferencing aspects (that I know of), but it has a chat on the side that can be utilized that makes it somewhat interactive.
My district also purchased a subscription to WeVideo. I like it. As a Mac user, I found it similar to iMovie in many ways, but I find it rather time consuming for what I normally want to do. I really like to make a video and spend a minimal amount of time editing it. My impatience is showing! And while I know I have to spend more time to become comfortable with WeVideo, I don’t have that time right now.
Which brings me to my favorite screen capture software, Screencastify. With Screencastify, it’s easy to grab your screen, your screen and embedded webcam, or just the webcam. It has really easy editing tools for the simple things. I’ve been know to completely forget where the stop button is even though it’s easily locatable on the screen! I can just cut that extra bit of stray video off and publish it. Then I can download it to put in my PSL class, or upload it right to YouTube.
Trying some old favorites in new ways
Many of our online platforms are experiencing technical difficulties due to high demands on their resources as district after district launches online learning. This was obviously a surprise for them too! So, we may have to think of different ways to push out content.
Do you use S’more for newsletters and other communications? I’m embarrassed to say that I never thought about it for content delivery (even with the Educator Hive button), but it’s really set up nicely for that. This is the same lesson that I’d already created on PSL, but now, on S’more, I can push it out through Class Dojo directly to the classes. It doesn’t have all the same features, but it is a great alternative!
PSL has some built-in activities for student participation–assignments, discussion boards, polls, quizzes, etc. These features are nice because they automatically grade many things, but they aren’t very exciting! There has to be something more engaging!
In addition, we often have another issue in the library. We want students engaged and learning, but we aren’t always part of the grading process, so I’ve been experimenting with some other ways for students to show growth and mastery. I’ve become intrigued with using digital interactive notebooks over the last couple of years.
- New Google Sites. third, fourth, and fifth grades have been working on building Google sites for research. Moving to an interactive notebook should be easy enough for them. Lessons can involve adding new pages or working with different features in addition to adding their own content.
- Google slides. I really like this idea for the younger grades because it will be incredibly easy to incorporate more structure. There are lots of free templates too. I also like that content on a slide doesn’t shift up or down. Another helpful feature for our youngest learners.
- Google docs. Easier still!
Oh the possibilities!
We’ve just begun to scratch the surface of online possibilities. My mind is so full of ideas coming from a myriad of sources that, if I don’t write them down, they’ll be lost as soon as the next idea catches hold.
Please share what you are trying. How are teachers and students responding? What have you been able to take online with just a few adjustments? Are you already an expert in online delivery? We want to hear from you to help us shorten our learning curves!
I look forward to hearing from you!
Author: Bitsy Griffin
Bitsy Griffin is the school librarian for Chatham Grove ES in Chapel Hill NC. She has 25+ years experience in elementary, middle, and high schools as a math teacher and librarian. She is active in AASL and the North Carolina School Library Media Association. Find her blog at http://www.bitsygriffin.com .