The Battle Over Cameras During Distance Learning

By Alexis Buschert
@SrtaBuschert

My large public-school district outside of Portland, Oregon started the school year with 100% comprehensive distance learning, and for now it will continue through at least February. From the beginning, I knew there would be a constant battle with students about using their cameras, so I decided I would not require them during class. I was aware, though, that many teachers would disagree with me. Indeed, there are many teachers who voice concerns over the absence of student faces on their screens, and I understand why teachers feel this way. But the battle over cameras is not worth fighting.

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4 Hybrid Teaching Strategies to Engage Your Students in School or at Home

By Elena Spathis
@elenaspathis


My district, like so many others, opted for a hybrid model this fall, combining in-person classes in the mornings with online classes in the afternoons. As you can imagine, I realized quickly that I had to rethink my methods, get creative, and be innovative. 

My Spanish classes have always been communicative and collaborative. I want my students to immerse themselves in the language by using it with each other because what’s the sense in me talking at them and them zoning out? So, I have always focused on interactive paired or group tasks that make my classes flow. But due to the current restrictions limiting student group size and mandating social distancing, accomplishing this became more challenging. I knew I had to think differently about how I could truly engage my students in person and online. Fortunately, I found four ways to meet the needs of classroom-based and online student groups. 

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4 ideas for Back to School Night-pandemic style

By Elena Spathis

@elenaspathis

It has been such a whirlwind of a year, especially as educators; we have been forced to revamp and rethink our methods in this unprecedented time. After scrambling to teach virtually last spring, many of us returned to our classrooms in a hybrid format this fall, while others are still teaching completely online. Our profession as we know it changed in what seemed like the span of a single day.

We are all familiar with back-to-school nights at the start of the year. Typically, they are opportunities to share basic information about our classes and meet our students’ families. This year, just like everything else, it’s going to look a bit different. Here are four ideas to help make your virtual event as engaging as possible.

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5 technology tools to try in the 2020-2021 school year

By Maureen Lamb
@latintechtools

Many teachers are beginning the year with some or all of their students participating in class virtually. What are some technology tools that can help teachers create virtual tasks for students that will provide them with the best experience possible this year?

Caveat: Try out these tools to see if they work for you and your students and if they work for what you would like to accomplish. If a tool is not working for you or your students, it will not help them to acquire knowledge. If the tool does not help students to achieve their goals, then they will not have a meaningful experience. Also, if you are not comfortable trying a tool out on your class but you would like to try it, work on it on your own or with a friend over video conferencing. Youtube is a great resource for videos on how to use many of these tools, and many of the websites for these tools have great instructional materials.

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The unexpected benefits of distance learning

By Alexis Buschert
@SrtaBuschert

We all know the challenges that we faced (and often overcame) with distance learning last spring.  Our social media accounts are full of memes and articles about all of the problems and struggles that we had. 

But I have yet to read an article or blog celebrating some of the unexpected benefits that came along with distance learning!  There were some aspects of distance learning that I LOVED even as a public high school teacher with a huge caseload of students.  I experimented with different techniques and technologies and I learned some valuable lessons along the way that will help me be a better teacher in the future.

Here are some of the successes that I had or helpful lessons that I learned during my time as an online Spanish teacher during the spring of 2020:

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We will never be the same educators (hopefully)

By Diego Ojeda
www.srojeda.com
@DiegoOjeda66

Although it has not been easy for anyone to endure the months under COVID-19, it’s been especially difficult for all those involved in education. Students, teachers, and administrators have found themselves facing an unknown, unexpected, and uncertain reality.

As we try to close the school year in the best possible way, we begin to think about the challenges and uncertainties that lie ahead as we think of returning to school this fall, and about how we build up from this experience of almost three months of distance education.  We find hypothetical solutions that allow us to have peace of mind during the summer feeling that we are prepared to assume a hybrid virtual and in-person teaching experience.

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Remote learning: Opening new doors to planning, tools, strategies, and more

By Jennifer Cornell
Specialist for Digital Innovation and Instructional Technology

I am in awe at the work teachers do every day. I am especially amazed at all that teachers have done these past few months adjusting to remote learning. There has been so much newness and change that has happened during these unsettling times. Moving from a face-to- face environment to one that is completely online, they had to do more than ever before at an incredibly fast pace and with varying tools, resources, and training.  

While we are in a time of unique change and difficulty, change can also bring new possibilities and open doors of opportunity.  This may include exploring new pedagogical practices, connecting with more students, varying instructional strategies, experimenting with new tools and resources, as well as engaging in practices of reflection to positively impact learning and instruction.

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End-of-year rituals in the virtual classroom

By Catalina Bohorquez 
@CatalinaTeacher

This has been a year full of unprecedented events for students, parents, and teachers. Teachers and students were asked to move their active learning from the traditional brick and mortar classroom to a virtual environment. As a seasoned virtual educator, my work life was not altered very much; however, I had the opportunity to look from afar and truly admire and embrace the flexibility and the innovation that sparked across the virtual classrooms of teachers around the globe. 

I believe that we must celebrate the accomplishments of all of our students. In Spanish, we would say “es importante cerrar con broche de oro” which would loosely translate into “it is important to close with a golden brooch or pin.” Think of it as ending on a high note, celebrating the uniqueness of each of your students and the way they individually shined this year. How can we celebrate students in the virtual setting? Here are the Top 5 ways to Celebrate students virtually:

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Songs & activities for Spanish learners

We just created a new library of activities related to Spanish songs for your mid- to intermediate-high Spanish learners. They are designed to be posted via a discussion forum like the Wayside Learning Site Classroom Forum or Google Classroom.  Activities for each song can be posted all at once for students to complete at their own pace, or posted daily for completion as a class exercise.

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10 tips for providing comprehensible input when teaching remotely

By Helen Small
Curriculum Coordinator

As a former comprehensible input (CI) German teacher, I’ve been thinking lately about how to provide adequate comprehensible input in an online environment. After 18 years of more or less traditional teaching, I switched to CI teaching for my last five years in the classroom before pursuing world language administrative positions. Now, as a curriculum coordinator at Wayside, my goal in working with our French and German authors is to create proficiency-based, CI-friendly resources that promote the use of the target language for teaching and learning. 

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