Keeping learning active
Active learners are engaged learners. The question is how do we support and sustain that activity in the hybrid learning environment? Starting from the assumption that strong relationships exist, this question is one of learning design. Challenging students to ‘create’ an end product and to share that with an authentic audience (using the UDL framework and the idea of ‘create, share, learn’) is a great way to deepen learning. Regardless of what the specific hybrid environment looks like (face-to-face, remote, or online) the opportunity to use the huge range of digital tools to support creativity is a good way to build engagement. These tools provide opportunities to do things that we could not otherwise do.
This list is not intended to be an exhaustive catalogue for teachers. It offers a series of ‘prompts’ for further inquiry. It offers options that range from relatively quick, easy and superficial tools and tasks, to those that support deeper, more challenging, learning:
- Google Slides to create a presentation arguing a case.
- Online discussion forums to debate the rights and wrongs of various human actions: try getting students to first argue one side of a point, and then to separately argue the opposite, as an exercise in critical thinking.
- Create a Digital Learning Object (e.g., using Screencastify) that explains some learning (a new maths strategy, sentence structure, use of a workshop tool, a science experiment conducted in the lab or at home, or a presentation that argues a point or that reviews a book etc.).
- Use the device camera (Chromebook, laptop, phone, etc.) to shoot still photos and demonstrate rules of composition.
- Digital drawing tools to create artworks, or schematics of relationships between key ideas. Imagine the SOLO taxonomy hexagon-based connection tools.
- Graphic cognitive organizers to deepen thinking, for example with ‘similarities and differences’ templates.
- Use storytelling tools (e.g., Storyboard That, Google slides/drawing, Canva, book creator) to not only show understanding but to develop it through use of alternative scenarios, endings, elements such as behaviour, settings, creating conversations in other languages.
- Google Earth enables students to mark locations on maps and add information, videos and pictures about those locations.
- Using Google Meet to connect and collaborate with peers strengthens relationships and supports learning. There are many different tools that can be used within the Meets to show the collaboration process including Jamboard and Google Slides.
- Virtual field trips are a great way to introduce students to new places or ideas with everyone able to have the same experience no matter where they are, which promotes deeper discussions of what they have seen, heard, etc.
- Online music tools can share culture, emotions, stories, ambience (to name but a few) and, when combined with other tools, is a powerful way to challenge students to go deeper.
Where might you start?
Choose one of these tools above that you have not used before, then
- Search YouTube for several video clips to help you become familiar with how to use the tool for learning activities. Be sure to put in “for teachers” to find videos specifically intended for teachers. E.g., “Screencastify for teachers”.
- Use what you have learned to design an active learning task for your students.
- Give it a try and then reflect on how it went. Collect feedback from your students. What could you do better next time? Keep a note of your reflection for when you try again in the future.
- Create another lesson using the tool.
- Think about how you might use it differently next time.
- UDL framework: https://inclusive.tki.org.nz/guides/universal-design-for-learning/udl-framework/
- ‘HookEd’ resources: Hexagons and the SOLO taxonomy: http://pamhook.com/wiki/SOLO_Hexagons
- “Creately: The Ultimate List of Graphic Organizers for Teachers and Students”: https://creately.com/blog/diagrams/types-of-graphic-organizers/