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COVID-19 Quick View: Remote Learning Guidance & Resources

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Today’s One Thing for Teachers: Curating Content

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Bianca Dávila

The Learning Accelerator

Figuring out how to translate in-person teaching plans to remote learning is a big task – particularly as it relates to the development and curation of digital content. Many educators are looking at their existing instructional materials in new ways, asking questions like, “Can I use this resource that worked well in the classroom in a digital format? How will students access it? Do I need to deliver this directly, or can students use it independently?” As they seek to add in resources and fill gaps, they’re wondering if they need to create resources on their own (e.g., “Should I be making a video?”) or if they can identify and adapt content from elsewhere (e.g., “Where can I start to find resources? How do I know if this tool is actually any good?”). Given how critical materials are for supporting learning, it’s incredibly important to figure out how to create a high-quality, rigorous learning experience without getting overwhelmed or turning to low-quality resources.

This week, the big question we’re asking is: How can educators flip existing content or curate online content to personalize and engage students with high levels of rigor?

Through this piece, we are going to share resources and strategies around ways to design, curate, and deliver content within the remote learning space.

Flipping your content: How can you move your existing high-quality materials into the remote world?

So, what is “flipping” your content? Traditionally, flipping your content would mean that students are being introduced to the material via online learning at home and then go deeper and apply that knowledge within a classroom setting. With remote learning, this takes on a slightly different meaning. When thinking about how to “flip” and/or repurpose your existing materials, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t be starting over. Instead, build on the great materials you already have. If you have a unit that has been effective when teaching “in person,” think about how that would look in the remote space. For example, for a chemistry teacher, this might mean having students complete a lab using an interactive PhET lab, followed up by a Zoom discussion on the findings, and then directing an interactive small-group lab to write up their learnings using Google Docs.

Just because you are moving to the remote space doesn’t mean you need to cut lessons and experiences; now is the time to reimagine them in a new way. Consider the following ideas and resources to help you flip your content to your virtual classroom:

(One important note: make sure you have permission to repurpose, copy, scan, or modify an existing resource.)

Curating: What are you creating yourself and what can you find elsewhere?

When beginning content curation, you should first ask yourself two questions: What do I already have through my school or district? Where are there high-quality, vetted resource banks? What can I leverage from another teacher or find for free online? There is no reason to reinvent the wheel when there is rigorous, high-quality content being offered online for free!

The next thing you should think about is how to integrate differentiation and choice-making opportunities (as appropriate) through offering a variety of content. Curating content should be thought of like selecting a menu of resources, and you should consider how additional materials complement and support the high-quality ones you have. If all of the resources are “appetizers” (only hitting on the basics, for example), then students aren’t able to go deeper, so providing a variety of content levels allows students to further their thinking based on where they are. On the same note, it is important to offer a variety of experiences for students (e.g., videos, readings, interactive applications, worksheets). Building in opportunities and choices for students provides the ability to personalize the content at hand in meaningful ways. This type of flexibility can ensure that pivots can be made, gaps can be filled, and students are challenged.

  • As you curate resources against learning standards, try to provide options around learning experiences.
    • Align around your objective – what do you hope students will be able to know or do by the end of the lesson? Options should rigorously support those objectives, individually or as a unit (i.e., via a playlist).
    • Remember that OER can be personalized to meet the needs of your specific students.
    • Have students create a video to track and assess their learning. These could be quick response videos where students answer a specific question (much like an exit ticket) or a how-to video where a student explains the steps of a procedure.
    • Assign students to read (or observe) and reflect on an article, text, or image by creating a video, written response, or a visual piece of art.
    • Leverage online learning platforms that track student learning, such as Imagine Math or Khan Academy, that allow for personalized learning experiences while inserting student choice.
    • To boost engagement, incorporate areas of student interest. Curate lessons around topics they’re invested in, such as something current in pop culture, or allow them to choose the output of the lesson.

Delivering content: When, how, and where are you planning to engage your students with content?

Now that you have curated content that is both rigorous and flexible, you need to think about how to best deliver that content to your students. Your approach can vary based on the content and specific needs of your students. For example, you could post playlists on your Google Site so students can begin exploring a new unit and then follow up with a face-to-face video call to clarify misunderstandings and begin the application process. You could also think about the remote space as a large station rotation and allow students to rotate through each piece (e.g., independent time [solo online learning], direct instruction [small group time over video], and collaborative work [collaborative activities using tools like Google Docs]).

The big thing to think about here is your goal for each piece of the station rotation. Deliver your content in a way that allows you to meet that goal. One of the benefits of teaching in a remote space is that the world is your classroom – by leveraging the flexibility remote learning provides, you can move from feeling limited to limitless!

  • If your school has an approved platform such as a website, LMS, or social media page, post your video or lesson there for students and their families to interact with on their own time.
  • Consider hosting a live virtual kick-off for different lessons via video calls. These synchronous learning times will allow students to ask questions in real time and will help you to check for understanding before releasing students to work independently.
  • Ensure students and their families understand your expectations for engagement and have a clear path to access all required materials.
    • Do they know where to go to find uploaded content and lessons?
    • Do they know when new lessons and assignments will be uploaded?
  • Create systems for help-seeking. Make sure students and parents know how to ask for help and get their questions answered. You could provide this support during office hours or over chat platforms and discussion pages on your LMS.
  • Don’t just target students as your audience! Families can use your screencasts or model lessons to help provide at-home support for your students.

We hope you’ve found these resources helpful! Check in with us each week to learn about more vetted resources for remote learning. You can also follow #TLAOneThing on Twitter to track all of our tips in the coming weeks.

Looking for more help? TLA has partnered with GetSetUp.io to help teachers access free group-based online training on screencasting and video tools.

We would love to hear your feedback on this series – or your requests for additional help! If you haven’t yet, we would love for you to fill out this survey so we can better understand how to support you. Also, feel free to reach out to us at bianca.davila@learningaccelerator.org to share your thoughts and questions.

Bianca Davila

Bianca Dávila

The Learning Accelerator

Bianca Dávila is Chief of Staff at The Learning Accelerator. She blends her expertise and passion for educational leadership, team culture, process innovation, and organizational management to support the TLA team.