Our governor here in New Mexico has extended the statewide school closure through the end of the semester. She made the announcement while we were on spring break, and we spent last week scrambling to figure out how to teach remotely. Today is our first day in our virtual classrooms.
The first challenge we had to overcome was making sure everybody had access to the lessons every day. Some of our kids have computers but no internet service. Some have internet service but no computer. We’re trying to plug those gaps, but in the meantime, we’ve had to find workarounds.
Everybody in my building is approaching this challenge a little differently, but as a Douglas Adams fan, I am capitalizing on the fact that my kids all have smartphones. Here is how I am taking advantage of this technology:
1. I revived my old classroom blog, which I set up in 2008 so kids who missed class could find their makeup work easily. To be counted present for the day, the kids have to leave a comment on the blog when they get online to check for assignments. Anybody who hasn’t commented by the end of the day will get a call or text from me.
2. I use a lot of online resources anyway, but this week, I’ve reworked my lesson plans to rely exclusively on stuff I can find for free on the internet. There are a few books I’ll miss teaching, but I’ve discovered several whizbang resources I’ll be using again when I’m back in my physical classroom.
3. I ask the kids who don’t have computers to do their lessons with pen and paper and text me a picture of their work when they finish.
4. I’ve asked the kids to install the Zoom app on their phones. We’ll be doing a newspaper staff meeting via Zoom later this morning, so I’ll see how that goes.