Over the last few weeks, educators around the world have quickly adjusted their curriculum and assignments for e-learning. Despite the challenges, the education community is coming together online to share ideas and resources so they can continue providing education from wherever their students are. The team at Unruly Studios had a chance to speak to many educators these last few weeks to gather their tips on e-learning and running a virtual class.
1) Be Flexible: It’s a great time to try new e-learning tech tools and learn alongside your students. We’re seeing class meetings going virtual on Zoom and Google, online school work submitted through Google Classroom, and a ton of great free resources offered by EdTech companies. Have fun with these new tech tools and don’t sweat it if things don’t go exactly according to plan the first time you try them.
2) Make Time for Check-ins: Keep in mind that parents and students are figuring out what works best and gathering e-learning resources too. Take some time to reach out and get their feedback. How are they doing? Are the learning tools helpful? Is there too much content or too little? You’re in a great position to help support young learners and their families.
3) Minimize Distractions: Encourage a sense of normalcy with a rough schedule that sets aside time for various subject areas. When class is in session, encourage students to minimize distractions and carve out a space at home where they can focus on learning. It may be difficult to keep your students attention for a full class, so Stacia Wagers, a Library Media Specialist, recommends breaking the class into “chunks” and offering short breaks.
4) Get Creative on Social Engagement: Students haven’t seen each other and are no doubt craving time to be social with school friends. Get students playing games at the beginning or end of class so they can naturally engage with each other and share with the group. Making connections and having time to chat with friends is important right now. Explore virtual game play with free resources from Jackbox. Consider posting a creative question that students can work on as a group and leverage Zoom’s breakout room feature to enable smaller group discussions and collaboration. We’ve also seen teachers organize small group gatherings with students who are friends through Google meet.
5) Connect with your Students: Belly laughs are good for the soul. Find ways to share funny moments or personal stories with your students to lighten the mood and encourage students to do the same. We’re thrilled to see the resiliency of educators everywhere. This new normal we are navigating will take patience, persistence, and lots of laughs. For example, teachers from Riverhead Central School District sent positive video messages to students stuck at home.
To bring some Unruliness to virtual classrooms and homes, we have created e-learning resources for educators to keep students engaged and learning from home.
1) Virtual Activities: We understand that students may not have the resources at home that they do at school so we created a set of home-friendly activities for kids to code with virtual Splats. Virtual splats are accessed on a google chrome browser through our web app or through an iPad. Our first activity pack is based on MIDI so students can invent their own songs with Splats. Explore our online learning, Unruly in the House, to learn more!
2) COVID-19 Grant: To give back to our incredible community, we are launching the Unruly COVID-19 Grant Program for educators looking to explore Splats. Fill out the application to apply to receive 2 Unruly Splats with activities for coding and playing at home. We are giving away 500 packs so apply soon while supplies last!
3) Distance Learning Webinar: Stacia Wagers, a Library Media Specialist from Parkway schools, met with us to talk about her tips and best practices for distance learning. In the webinar she talked about how to communicate with students and teachers, how to evaluate student work remotely, how to keep students engaged, and how to connect students with each other. Watch the recording to hear her tips.
Challenging times call for creative solutions. There are a lot of ways to make the switch to virtual teaching. If you have any tips on best practices you've found have worked for teaching at home, please reach out to us on twitter with the hashtag #WeAreUnruly or email us at email@example.com with your suggestions and we will include them in this blog!