The 2020-2021 school year is definitely going to be remembered as a historic year in education. I constantly had a feeling of uncertainty not knowing if my plan (and the technology involved) was going to work. It was very similar to how I felt during my first year of teaching. Now, as I reflect back, the feeling actually makes sense as it was the first time for most teachers (around the world) that we were teaching in a hybrid model. Needless to say, it was a challenging year for ALL stakeholders in education. However, I also feel that 2020-2021 was the perfect time for teachers to think beyond the physical classroom and innovate.
Personally, I prefer to see all of my students in person, but having students online created challenges that turned into opportunities to try new things. Trying new things, as one may expect, was not always successful, but there were many times when things did go as planned (or even better). I’d like to now share some take-aways from my hybrid experience.
1) Using Technology to Check-in with Students at the Beginning/End of the Class
I found it very helpful to check in with my students at the beginning of class since we were all learning under unprecedented circumstances. I found that many students were more willing to share when it was done virtually. I mostly used Desmos, but you can really use whatever platform you are comfortable with. Many times this short activity was followed by a 1-1 conversation, as it’s important for students to know we value their input.
Many times I seek feedback from students at the end of the lesson, especially constructive feedback, i.e How can we make this lesson better? I found that my students were really good at identifying what worked for them and what did not. They were also amazing at providing tech ideas/solutions/troubleshooting.
2) Using GIFs to Visualize Mathematical Concepts
Visualizing ideas can be a lot of fun when using gifs, I mostly used Geogebra since it can combine 2-Dimensional and 3-Dimensional concepts.
Students are also very familiar with gifs since they are very common on social media. It was very interesting that whenever I used gifs to present a concept, the lesson felt way more engaging.
3) Online Formative Assessment with Immediate Feedback
One complicated aspect of the hybrid model was providing all students with timely feedback since students were literally at different places during our interactions. I find that many digital platforms can be very intuitive and user friendly for both teachers and students.
It’s important for students to receive immediate feedback on their entries and be provided with multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery. This can be all pre-set by the teacher in advance in most tools.
4) Using Technology to Make Student Thinking Visible
Not having all students in the room was particularly challenging at the beginning of the school year. Usually I know students have a question (or something is not clear) because of their body language, but this was a challenge in remote settings. Being able to “see” what they were thinking was very important to me, so I used different platforms like Desmos/Zoom/Jamboard to visualize their thinking and have the means to promote student collaboration.
I hope to be able to incorporate many of the strategies that worked this year moving forward regardless of the teaching model (in person, remote, or hybrid) that is being used. I hope you find them useful and are able to incorporate them with your students.