Students are not the only ones having to adapt to today’s remote learning environment; teachers are also adapting and seeking new methods and strategies to ensure students are engaged and continuing to learn effectively.
To help teachers prepare for a variety of possibilities, the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Learning and Instructional Strategies has created online sessions featuring experienced teachers sharing what is working for them and their students.
One of those experienced teachers is Eryn Ruder, science instructor at Scarlet Oaks Career Campus. The Ohio Department of Education asked her to share her knowledge as part of the “Tale of Two Teachers: Lessons Learned” series. “I am honored and excited to share the instructional framework and digital resources that have allowed my students and me to seamlessly transition from in-person to distance learning,” she said.
Educators are ready to learn; the online session was originally set up to accommodate 300 attendees, but had to be changed when registration climbed to more than 900.
Ruder uses a variety of electronic tools to connect with students. Some allow her to use familiar services like BlackBoard and Zoom to share lesson materials and to start discussions with and among students. Other resources allow students to interact with content and progress through the course material on their own, a form of student-paced learning that Ruder implemented in her classroom. Students receive immediate feedback to guide their progress using a variety of digital assessment tools that are accessible via computers, tablets and cell phones.
Ruder described activities she uses with one such digital resource, Nearpod. “I can collaborate with students using electronic sticky notes, and through digital activities students can explore remote locations with virtual field trips. They can listen to me explain the course content, gauge their level of understanding by answering multiple choice questions, matching terms and definitions, and even audio record their responses to open ended questions.” Teachers can duplicate the digital lessons then edit each in order to provide differentiated instruction.
Ruder also creates online polls and gamified quizzes for students, to help her see how well the students understand the course content while they compete for the top score.
There are online resources that enable teachers around the world to share ideas, materials, and more. The education community has stepped up during the pandemic and many digital platforms are offering free access to tools and materials to help support remote learning.
Scarlet Oaks’ Eryn Ruder said that the tools, programs and methods she and others are learning about and using will help today’s students learn better and help teachers become more effective, regardless of whether they’re together in a classroom or teaching and learning remotely.
“The pandemic pushed the fast forward button on education. Educators are stepping up, trying new tools, sharing and implementing strategies to reach students where they are, while we are apart. I am excited to share how my students have continued through the course content and are demonstrating mastery. As their teacher during distance learning I act as a coach, a facilitator and a cheerleader. My students and I are interacting and using tools that will leave us all better prepared for the future, no matter what it holds.”