THOUGHTS ON THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR – 2020

First of all, most of the courses I teach are fully online, and most of my students are graduate students who ‘attend’ our university while juggling their full-time jobs as teachers and about half are parents too.  Expecting them to place my courses as their highest priority every day is unrealistic

Most of these K-12 teachers are teaching remotely; I differentiate remote learning from fully online as the former is at least partly synchronous. That is, the instructor and the students are together, though not in the same space.  This is usually done via Zoom or other teleconferencing system. Fully online, in most cases, is asynchronous and requires a learning management system such as D2L Brightspace, Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle, etc.

Like you, since March 2020 I’ve been bombarded with ‘tips’ regarding online and remote learning.  Some of these are clearly advertisements from companies/organizations urging us to try their system which they promise will alleviate some of the drudgery of teaching remotely/online, shorten the learning curve for the teachers and, more importantly, increase(?) the learning.  Other (mostly) organizations are acting as repositories of the ‘best’ ideas regarding online/remote learning; some written by researchers and others written by practicing teachers.

I can’t keep up, and I’ve stopped trying to read all of them.  I suspect many of you have too.  I’ve tried, somewhat unsuccessfully, to only read those from prominent organizations that have the internal resources to ‘vet’ documents, articles, etc. and only offer the ‘best’.  I’m not reading any that come from companies trying to sell me something, and so I won’t ‘sign-up’ to receive free information.  I’m sure I’m missing some ‘good stuff’, but it’s a small price to pay to maintain a reasonable reading list and, more importantly, my sanity. 

Here are my two suggestions.

I suggest the following.  NCTM’s “100 Days of Professional Learning” at https://www.nctm.org/online-learning

These 100 webinars, which began April 1,2020 are not necessarily focused on online/remote learning strategies, but most are focused on instructional ideas that will enhance our instruction and children’s learning.  I haven’t been able to participate in all of them, but they’ve been recorded and can be accessed by non-NCTM members until mid October (I think?), but by NCTM members forever (?).

For example, the October 13, 2020 webinar/description is:

Impacting Learning for Black and Latinx Youth through Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies

What does culturally sustaining mean? How does it connect to the teaching and learning of rigorous mathematics or align with the mathematics practices? Come to this session and find out! In this session, participants will engage in tasks that promote culturally sustainability for Black and Latinx youth while teaching concepts from 6-8 curricula.

My other ‘go-to’ source for ideas related to remote/online learning and, in fact, all thing related to academic technology is ISTE (the International Society for Technology in Education).  They have a great number of resources such as professional events, resources (journals, magazine, blog, etc.), and a professional community with multiple networks (depending on your interests) in which teachers and experts can interact in a professional setting.  Visit: https://www.iste.org/about/about-iste

to get started. Two examples from the ISTE: on Sept 21, 2020 they sponsored the following Twitter chat: “Crises to Choices: Educating in a Pandemic”. And, ISTE published an article, “10 strategies for online learning during a coronavirus outbreak” on March 16, 2020 – very early in this pandemic.

What are your sources for information at this critical time?  How do you drink from the firehose of information filling you email and social media sites?

Let us know by commenting below.

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