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Inspired Ideas

How to Engage Your Students During School Closures with Remote Learning

By Errica Dotson-Hooper, Manager of the Teaching and Learning Center, HCDE

In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, school districts are working diligently with local, state, and federal government agencies to ensure the health and well-being of their students and staff are at the forefront of all decision making. Without prompting, many businesses have made the decision to allow staff to work from home, with colleges and universities following suit, moving instruction to online platforms to prevent the continued rapid spread of this incurable virus.

However, for K-12, closing schools for an extended period time at this point in the year is unchartered territory, as principals grapple with how they will continue the learning while the doors are closed.

At this point in the year, students should be able to synthesize and analyze the content they’ve learned from August until now. It is just a matter of deciding what are the intended outcomes and how will success be measured. However, once this is clearly outlined, teachers can plan to implement innovative practices to engage and grow their students, whether it be short term or long term.

Here are a few ideas that teachers can utilize to create digital learning experiences:

  • Teachers can use apps like Kahoot for do-nows or review
  • Edmodo, PearDec, and Nearpod for interactive lessons
  • Teachers can use also Facebook Live or Periscope via Twitter to deliver content and engage with students in real-time
  • Google Classroom can be used to disseminate information, review key concepts
  • One challenge that principals are faced with is the lack of technology and internet service in homes of students and families.

Cell Phones

If the internet is a problem, students can utilize cell phones. Using a cell phone, teachers can share information using text alerts from:

  • Poll Everywhere or Quia to capture real-time responses to assessment questions
  • Free Conference Call lines to communicate with groups of students or to facilitate collaboration
  • Voice Recorder or the Video Camera to submit feedback or to demonstrate learning

Written Options

  • Math: Real word math problems ranging from the impact of the coronavirus on the stock market to having students create math assessments covering information that they have learned as a teach-back opportunity
  • ELA: Novel Studies, assembling writing portfolios or acting as reporters covering a current issue, complete with interviews, pictures, and related articles
  • Science: Creating a recipe book or science project of the students’ choosing that would demonstrate comprehension
  • Social Studies: Creating a monopoly-style board game that covers a major movement or a specific time period, highlighting key dates and individuals

This list is not exhaustible but highlights the endless possibilities that exist when educators think outside of the box, release control of the learning environment, and actually allow students to own their learning experiences by demonstrating their understanding.

Errica Dotson-Hooper is the Manager of Teaching & Learning for Harris County Department of Education. A native of Los Angeles, California, she is a graduate of Howard University (BA), Stephen F. Austin State University (MEd) and Dallas Theological Seminary (CGS-Christian Education). The Teach for America alum (Houston ’02) has worked in education for over 17 years in a variety of capacities serving staff and students in HISD, CEP, KIPP New Orleans and KIPP Houston. She is also church and organizational leadership strategist. She is a loving wife and a mother to a 5-year-old daughter.

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