Please forgive the Billy Joel reference. I recently turned 44, and I’m reliving both my junior high and high school years pretty intensely these days, often through music (thanks, Prime Music Unlimited). All this time at home, exploring the internet in search of new resources and opportunities to help my kids connect with the world in healthy ways, is bringing me back to my own schooling, remembering how hard it was to find out new information without resorting to (egad!) TALK to someone.
Now you can find out almost anything–even FROM AN EXPERT–without speaking to them, without risking any vulnerability, whatsoever!
And yet… and yet… so many students don’t take advantage of this, are too afraid to take advantage of this. It’s AWKWARD or WEIRD or, some other word in UPPER CASE LETTERS.
All of that preamble is to say, that I started out the shelter-in-place teaching with an arsenal of products, and now I’m down to just one or two (or three) that I use consistently.
But, to start out, I was using, on a weekly basis, the following programs:
1. Google Classroom
2. Google Docs
3. Google Forms
9. Zoom then Google Meet
12. Google Slides
17. Plus the tons of other things that I signed up for, tried out, then discarded.
I had the kids doing the equivalent of about 20 minutes of work a day–usually watching a 2-3 minute video, then answering some multiple choice questions. Then, as my co-teacher and I worked on creating new curriculum, we had the students work on specific reading and writing skills using IXL.
But the students complained that it was too much. And, frankly, it was too much for me, too. The actual grading wasn’t too bad, but switching back and forth between 17 different programs and Skedula, the school’s gradebook program, was taking a toll on my eyes.
I realized that, for the first time, students were honestly doing the exact amount of work they could do. They weren’t distracted by noise and misbehavior and millions of requests to go to the bathroom, and they weren’t trying to trick me into thinking they understood the work by getting answers from peers (while pretending that they were actually just misbehaving and talking about non-school related things), so I could more acutely and understand what was really going on in the classroom. So I pulled back.
I realized that Project Based Learning (PBL, to those in the know) was now the way to go. Maybe it was always the way to go. But it seemed like this was the right time to help kids learn to pace themselves and to face their emotions in a way that would help them now and for the rest of their lives.
And then I found the online course that has changed my life: How to do PBL online.
It’s a free course!
More to come.