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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Decluttering your curriculum

By Jennifer Carson
Curriculum Coordinator

Last semester’s transition to virtual teaching was abrupt and left many of us feeling like we were catching up to learn new technologies instead of focusing on communicating content to students. Now, as we look forward to next year, which appears to be an amorphous hybrid of virtual and limited face-to-face instruction, our worries turn to what students missed this past semester and how we can catch them up. Part I of this series focused on decluttering the mind, which is the necessary first step. With a mind freed from constraints, you can now turn your focus to decluttering another messy place, your curriculum.

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Decluttering your mind

By Michelle Olah
Instructional Strategist

The 2019-2020 school year is in the books. It was unprecedented to be sure! It’s time to let go of 2019-2020 and take some time to relax and practice self-care, before starting to think about and plan for next school year. Unfortunately, right now there are still more questions than answers about what the 2020-2021 school year might look like. One thing is for sure, no matter what our classrooms and schools look like next fall, there are going to be challenges that all teachers will have to address, such as curriculum planning.

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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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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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Supporting your colleagues, supporting yourself

By Elena Spathis
@ElenaSpathis

In what seemed like a span of a few hours, teachers needed to frantically shift to virtual instruction. All schoolwide events and extracurricular activities were suddenly cancelled. Feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and disappointment slowly settled in and took charge.

Like many other professionals, teachers’ roles changed overnight. Rather than being on stage all day in their classrooms, teachers would now be delivering instruction through their computer screens.

I immediately felt a pang of worry as I started to create online activities for my new virtual Spanish classes: Would my students truly learn this way? Would I be able to maintain a sense of community with them? What would my assessments look like?

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Who and Why before What and How: Planning in the time of Coronavirus

By Michelle Olah
@michelleolah
Instructional Strategist

These are crazy days indeed. Teachers all over the country (and world!) are being asked to switch from in-person teaching to some variety of online teaching and learning in a matter of weeks. The question that is on many teachers’ mind is How do I effectively plan instruction during these unique circumstances? There are a lot of people and companies out there giving teachers all kinds of opinions on what to teach, what not to teach, and how best to teach it. In this blog post I am not going to give you any answers. Instead, I want to offer some questions to consider that can help guide your instructional choices in whatever situation you find yourself.

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Tips for synchronous & asynchronous teaching

By Jennifer Carson
@jncar4
Curriculum Coordinator

During this time of uncertainty and school closures, many teachers have had to jump into teaching remotely without a moment’s notice. I have worked for several years as adjunct faculty at a local university, which has forced me to become familiar with teaching both synchronously online (broadcasting on a platform like WebEx, GoToMeeting, or Zoom to students at a scheduled time) and asynchronously (distributing lessons that are accessed during a range of time much like a webinar).

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Online learning: The new normal

By Diego Ojeda
www.srojeda.com
@DiegoOjeda66

Just a little over a week ago I was saying goodbye to my students without knowing when I would see them again. This was a rather strange, and above all, sad experience, as I described it in a blog post.

By now I have already met a couple of times online with each one of my classes and to be honest, it has been one of the longest weeks of my life. In addition to the idea of having to be confined at home, the pressure of preparing classes in a format that we are not used to can be a very big challenge.

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4 Learning Site tools for remote teaching

By Elena Giudice 
@SraGiudice

With all of us inevitably turning over to online teaching, EntreCulturas offers an array of diverse activities. Now is the time to further explore the Learning Site and all of its capabilities. Since I enjoy writing my own assessments and communicative tasks, I had forgotten about some of the resources available. I was recently reminded by my colleague about the Recursos and Sólo para profesores folders which provide some awesome resources. Below, I’ll take you through the top four features that I intend to use in the upcoming weeks.

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