When I left school on Thursday evening, I didn’t expect to receive a text message from the assistant principal informing me and our Math Department that there would not be any school on Friday.
With the rapid spreading of the Coronavirus, I expected that we would go on Spring Break but not return. Since the school closed on Thursday, it kind of put me in a state of confusion. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it until it was announced that we would be out until April 10th.
At that point I started asking myself, if this is really happening! Then my mind went into panic mode, because I knew that there were many teachers that weren’t going to be prepared.
I started live streaming on Facebook and Twitter to help make teachers aware of the platforms that were out there. Knowing what platforms are available is only the tip of the iceberg. Choosing the right platform is what makes the difference.
What’s your goal?
Before you begin using a technology platform, you must have a goal. For example, I use Nearpod because my goal is to keep my students engaged and on task. I found that Nearpod minimized the off task behavior in my classroom.
You may be thinking because of the Coronavirus outbreak the goal is to deliver content to the students. While this may be one of your goals this shouldn’t be the only goal.
There should be goals that you have for yourself and for your instruction. Even with this sudden shift from face to face to online learning you should have one goal for you and one for your instruction. When I started using Flipgrid, my goal was to decrease my talk time and increase my students ability to explain their thinking.
How do you want to deliver your math content?
I’ve found that there are certain obvious challenges to teaching math online. One of the biggest challenges that I have faced when teaching math online is trying to figure out how to deliver the math content.
There are so many different platforms out there that can be used to deliver your online content, however there are only a few that compliment teaching math. Explain Everything is one platform that I highly recommend for teaching if you’re going to create videos. Zoom and Ecamm Live are excellent platforms for teaching math.
Zoom and Ecamm Live have different capabilities. Honestly, I used both to deliver my content to teachers. Zoom will allow students to see one another and the teacher which may be good for elementary and middle school students. Ecamm Live is a MacBook only platform that can be used to record videos and will allow the teacher to mirror his/her iPhone or iPad.
It really doesn’t matter which platform you use to deliver your content. As long as it meets your goal, and helps you to provide the kind of online learning experience you want for your students.
What’s the level of Internet access of your students?
On Monday, I had the pleasure of sharing some technology nuggets for a webinar that was hosted by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Before the webinar began, teachers were given the opportunity to ask questions that would be answered during the webinar.
The question that kept coming up was, “What about the kids who don’t have access to the internet?” The presenters before me hadn’t addressed the question so I decided to include it in my part of the presentation.
I thought about how I deal with the inequity and access on a daily basis and came up with this response, “ Our students are resilient.” They are accustomed to doing more with less. I’ve seen my students come to class without a computer and another student let them borrow their computer. They know how to make it happen.
I learned a long time ago that I can’t change my students’ home lives; I didn’t have any control over that. What I did control was providing them with the best math education that I could give.
Even with the Coronavirus school closures, that is my goal. YouTube and Google Classroom are my go to products.. I prefer these because most of my students don’t have computers and they are truly mobile friendly. I’ve tested this out in my math classroom over and over again.
Creating a virtual math classroom has its challenges. Choosing the right platform can make teaching math online a rewarding experience for you and your students.