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.

Join me as we leverage the benefits of technology and explore ideas for planning, tools, strategies, reflection and more to open new doors, expand our classrooms, and bridge gaps between content, instruction, and technology. 

Planning an Online course 

As world language teachers we not only teach a language, but we help students believe that they can learn a new language. We inspire our students to take risks and empower them to think critically about knowing themselves, their community, and what they learn about the world around them. All of this requires planning. Research shows a strong connection to planning and the direct impact it has on our instruction and engaging students in learning. In planning and designing an online course, let’s always remember to start with the end in mind and what we want students to be able to achieve. In planning, I rely on the model of Community Inquiry as seen below to drive learning that will set students on the path to proficiency and have access to educational experiences.  

This framework connects the social, the cognitive, and the teaching presence so that teachers can create experiential learning experiences. By focusing on how online learners will interact and engage with course content and with each other, placing focus on the social-emotional aspects of online learning, and how the teacher is a designer and developer of online learning as well as a facilitator of instruction, we can create meaningful digital learning environments and experiences that engage and support learners. 

What about planning class flow and planning templates? 

Planning, whether in a face to face or digital environment will directly impact instruction and the overall class flow. Thinking through activities to support learning targets, transitions, assessments, and reflection can make a difference in learning experiences. According to Quality Matters, a global organization leading quality assurance in online and innovative digital teaching and learning environments, planning active learning opportunities and using tools to meaningfully facilitate learning interaction for active learning is key.  

Some things to include in your lesson planning include: 

  • Essential Questions 
  • Unit Goals 
  • Communicative & Intercultural Can-Do Statements 
  • Vocabulary content and language functions to support proficiency skills 
  • Performance Tasks and Assessments that align to proficiency targets 
  • Materials and Technology 
  • World Readiness Standards 
  • ISTE Standards 
  • Reflection 

Tools, resources, and strategies 

When I think of tools, resources, and strategies for the classroom, I think of what my students need most, the personal touches and the relationship building, the skills I am trying to grow within my students, the tools I have within access, and the methods I will use to ensure student success along their learning journey. With so many different tools available to use within remote instruction, it’s important to be mindful of selected tools and ensure they serve a practical intentional purpose within the classroom. So, you might be wondering which tools, platforms and models should be used within the classroom? 

The technology integration model such as SAMR (substitution, augmentation, modification, redefinition) and the TPACK (technological pedagogical content knowledge) can have the abilities to help us as educators reach benchmark targets and enhance, or even transform, our face to face or remote classrooms. These models, tied with intentional planning and appropriate resources, as well as training can have positive impacts to learning.  

Platforms such as Learning Management Systems (LMS) have enabled classrooms to transform what students and teachers can do as designers and learners for remote instruction. Educational technology platforms can expand classrooms, help increase student engagement, and allow differentiation to be at the forefront with student voice and choice. Access to online tools and different applications allow teachers and students to interact, explore, collaborate, and ensure personalization. Different Learning Management Sytems such as Canvas, Schoology, Google Classroom, or Edmodo, have truly helped make the shift to remote learning. Within these platforms, there are wonderful supports for teachers and students.

By searching your Learning Management System for added Apps or External Tools already available to you within your district, you will find a large bank of resources that can be included within your online courses.  

Always check with your district about approved use of technology and think about accommodations that will need to be made for any students needing non- technology-based lesson plans. When it comes to using technology, you might find that your students have varying needs. Design lessons that allow students to engage with content in multiple ways to show what they can do based on unit goals.  I like to pick strategies and tools that that will instill growth across modes of communication, build community, engage learners in multiple skills, provide multiple means of representation, make connections to the global world, and serve a distinct purpose within the classroom. Here are some of my favorites educational technology tools that work well as stand-alone resources or, have the possibility of integrating within your district Learning Management System. I have categorized the following tools for easy identification:  

Collaborating and Presenting  
Padlet 
Sketch noting Paper by WeTransfer 
Dotstorming 
Jamboard 
Menti 
Loom 
Buncee 

Making Global and Intercultural Connections 
Skype Classrooms 
Google Tour Creator 
Goose Chase 
Happy World Global Connect 
Thinglink 
Flip Grid #GridPals 
The Mixxer 
NearPod VR 
Level Up Village 
Empatico 
Peace Corps WorldWise Schools 
Digital Promise My 360 

Building Interpretive Mode 
Kami 
FluentKey 
EdPuzzle 
WeVideo 
WordSift 
PearDeck 

Building Interpersonal Mode 
WheelDecide 
FlipGrid 
Parlay 

Building Presentational Mode 
Smore 
Sway 
Future Me 
Canva 
Google Voice 
Blabberize 
Genially 

Adapting Learning and Personalizing 
Lingco 
Duolingo 
Zzish 

Monitoring Real-Time Assessment 
Flubaroo 
Formative 
InsertLearning 

Showing Student Thinking 
Mind Meister 
Lucid Chart 
Popplet 
Spiderscribe 

Ensuring Equity and Access 
Equity Maps 
Grackle Docs 
WAVE 
Universal Design for Learning Guidelines  

Reflections 

Consistently reflecting on teaching practices has so many advantages to enhancing instructional practices and growth. Having students reflect on learning also invites students to think critically about their work and retention of concepts.  In what ways have you had students share their learning? Some of my favorite ways of engaging in reflection as an educator and for my students has been using a digital portfolio, creating a digital year in review or time capsule, or, by sharing thoughts with a future version of our self.  One tool I have used both with teachers and students is writing an email to my future self. This can be in paper format or online using www.futureme.org. Students and teachers love getting an email in the future sharing something they have learned from the past and the advice they gave to grow. 

Another tool is using an online portfolio. Digital portfolios empower all of us to connect and interactive in a way that is purposeful and meaningful. With reflection we can engage in conversation that is focused on learning, growth, and personalization.

Let’s continue to empower ourselves and our students and open new doors together. Check out links below for even more resources and feel free to comment below and let us know what you are doing in the classroom to expand walls and chart new paths.  

Want to learn more? Explore the links below: 

ISTE Lesson Template 

ACTFL Unit and Lesson Planner App 

Quality Matters Remote Learning Checklist 

SAMR Model for Technology Integration 

Cultural Responsive Teaching for Distance Learning 

Catalyst E-Portfolio for Teacher 

Connect With Languages Teaching Through Technology 

Jen Cornell works as a Specialist for Digital Innovation and Instructional Technology for Wayside Publishing and resides outside of Baltimore, Maryland with her husband and two kids. She has experience as a former Spanish teacher and  District Specialist for world languages. She is also the owner of the website Connect With Languages and is an Author for Wayside Publishing EntreCulturas 3. 

Join us for a Proficiency Talks Live event on Facebook June 4, at 4:30 p.m., to hear Jen talk about what’s next for remote teaching and learning.

Other useful resources mentioned during the live event:

Fall 2020 Scenario Plan 2020

Readiness Assessment

Distance Learning Resources 

ISTE Online Learning Sampler

Professional Development Distance Learning: https://www.getsetup.io/remotelearning and https://summerlearningacademy.iste.org/ 

Student Voice/Choice Activities

Tech Tools:  

Happy World Foundation

Connect with Languages

Genially Escape Rooms

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