Informing Practice Through Observation
As we rounded the corner for the home stretch of this course we narrowed our focus onto schools and libraries. In this module we looked at different ways we could help colleagues and students with virtual learning. We then networked, through posts, and share our findings. We then moved on to doing virtual visits to libraries in order to examine effective methods being used to promote virtual and digital resources with other libraries. With so much being done out there we are blessed coming into the field knowing there are so many resources to help inspire our own thoughts and creativity to help make our own learning commons stay ahead of the curve when it comes to virtual and digital learning.
The pandemic has brought trying times to our schools. We had to expand, create, and improvise how we teach in order to meet the changing times. Traditional classroom teaching was no longer an option. Thankfully, in our district google classrooms was already being used widely so the transition to a virtual classroom already had some traction. The first obstacle we had to face was ensuring all students had access to the technology needed (chromebooks) so that all students had an equal opportunity to continue their education. That was a massive undertaking where teachers made phone calls and coordinated with administration to ensure all students had a computer to partake in the process. Once that was set we were given an option of using Google Classrooms or Microsoft Teams as our platform for a virtual classroom.
I chose Microsoft Teams as my platform. The site was a great site to set up a classroom, add assignments, create interactive pages, and have assignments handed in and handed back on. We were given a week to familiarize ourselves with the platform and come up with a game plan. Fortunately we were given the option to team teach. A colleague and I set up virtual classrooms for small groups throughout the week and broke the students into 6 groups. Groups 1-3 worked with me on Mondays and Wednesdays and Groups 4-6 worked with me on Tuesdays and Thursdays. With Dan Groups 4-6 coordinated with him on Mondays and Wednesdays and groups 1-3 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Fridays we set up for one on one office hours. Students were also given the option to message either of us or call in to do a one on one any other time they need extra help. The platform gave us the opportunity to record lessons, add assignments, set deadline reminders, and have students turn in all their work on the platform itself and to keep track of what they completed and still had due. It was a very smooth transition and made assessment and delivery of the information very easy. I personally found some of my students who struggled in the classroom begin to excel as they were able to approach me one on one for support without their peers knowing. I quite enjoyed the experience but it did have its drawbacks as it was hard to keep all students engaged.
Khan Academy for math.
We were given the freedom to adapt, improvise, and create lessons to meet our students’ needs as we saw fit. One size does not fit all. I found myself using YouTube to help me deliver lessons or to enhance the lessons I was introducing. This helped kids see different perspectives and gave other kids an opportunity to watch the lesson before scheduled class times so that lessons went a little smoother. I often put up links to Khan Academy lessons. They provided great video lessons on all sorts of topics for all grades which made it easy to find things that coincided with what I was teaching. I found students who perused the video before the scheduled lesson were well prepared and were able to breeze through the assignments. The lessons walk through concepts and then give examples for kids to work through. I would post the links to the videos every Sunday, on Microsoft Teams, so students had access to all the lessons leading up to their classes. It is something I would use again and add to google classrooms moving forward to help parents, students and EA’s in being able to access extra support throughout the year.
EA’s and Teachers
This year we still don’t have all the students back in classes. To start the year our district hired online teachers. For our school we have two teachers available Monday to Friday who work with students and provide virtual classrooms for students to attend. I talked with Bruce, one of our online teachers, and he said it has been a challenge. He is using Google Classrooms as his platform and is available regular hours Monday-Friday. His biggest challenge has been regular attendance. He said he has found it impossible to gain any momentum as attendance is sporadic. He has reached out numerous times to myself the TL to coordinate checking our literature for the students who wish to access books for leisure reading, novel studies, and non-fiction for projects. To help Bruce EA’s have been assigned students as well and they log in during school hours and work one on one with students to help students work through any challenges they face. Talking with the EA’s they feel the one on one online has given them a chance to work with students more closely as the students are willing to get help online, because they don’t feel embarrassed to ask for help, as opposed to in a classroom among their peers. The biggest challenge the EA’s have said they face is consistency with access to laptop and ensuring wireless is working (We have had many challenges with our wireless network going down this year).
The links above was my part in adding a virtual component to our learning commons destiny Discover homepage. Their is a wide array of options. Students can access research pages, online texts, typing club and much more. My favourite link is Surrey schools’ One Place. It provides access to resources and activities for students, parents and teachers. Great one stop shop for virtual learning. I would love our district to create such an extensive collection of resources but am thankful Surrey has done the work where we can just add the link to our own homepages. Strongly suggest everyone take a look at how much is available with that link. The links above are meant to provide students learning from school or home an opportunity to access a wide range of resources through a virtual setting. Gives everyone access to endless resources to create books, comics, make videos, research historical events, explore space, learn French, practice math and hone their skills. So many virtual tools available in one place.
Virtual learning is here to stay. It is amazing what is out there for free and how much more is out there for a cost. Purchasing things like What in The World or access to MineCraft or one of the many other platforms may become an integral part of the learning commons’ budget as we transition into a virtual world. I feel excited to be a part of the grassroots transition into virtual learning however I am curious to see how much will become Virtual and how much will traditional learning will need to evolve to meet the needs of our dynamic student populations.
The final component of this module had us visit some library websites in order to help inspire us and gain direction in the virtual library programs would like to develop for our own learning commons. I chose to explore the Greater Victoria Public Library website. I have posted my findings down below.