As teachers around the world respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by moving their classrooms online, the challenges they face vary from school to school and district to district. Kay Vanzant-Bradney is a middle school teacher at a Title I Southern California middle school with a majority low-income population. She is using the Applied Digital Skills curriculum to help transition her classes, track student work from afar, and provide the support her students need to learn.
How are you using Applied Digital Skills to facilitate remote learning?
My district is expecting that all students log in to each of their classes two times a week. There is a schedule so teachers can meet online with students, but, because of varying student circumstances, not all students are actually able to be present in the online meetings. Students are also expected to have some kind of work turned in for each class.
In my computer class, the requirement is that students watch one Applied Digital Skills video and do the required steps for that video in their project. Using Applied Digital Skills helps me track the progress of all of my students, even those who are unable to attend our class meetings. From my dashboard, I can track students’ progress and see their work, so they get credit for attendance even if they weren’t part of our Google Meet class.
How have you been empowered as a teacher during a time of uncertainty?
Our district is all about a balance of synchronous and asynchronous work. Having the ability to track students’ work progress using the Applied Digital Skills dashboard during times of asynchronous learning reassures me that kids are engaged. It’s good for students because they know I can see their progress. It’s a way to make them accountable.
I also like that the skills my students learn as part of the Applied Digital Skills curriculum are real-life skills that people in the workforce use every day. Even before our distance learning time started, when we worked on Applied Digital Skills projects, we always looked at the applications of the tools in the real world. Now, with kids actually working remotely like so many of their parents, they are experiencing the application of these skills on a new level and are seeing their family members applying them, too.
I like that the skills my students learn as part of the Applied Digital Skills curriculum are real-life skills that people in the workforce use every day.
How are you customizing the lessons to fit your needs?
In my computer class, my students are working on the Plan and Promote an Event lesson. The activity they are planning is an end-of-quarantine party for their neighborhood or our school. I’m going to be using Create a Scrapbook in an upcoming history lesson, where the students will be acting as the first emperor of China and making pages in their scrapbook that reflect his accomplishments.
What are a few standout observations, moments, or successes you’ve experienced since remote learning began?
I like that students are able to work independently. One of my students was eager for constructive things to do. He has already finished the project that I had scheduled for the next four weeks! He started looking through the curriculum and asked me if he could do one of the other projects. Another student has to watch his younger siblings while his essential-worker parents are at work during the day. He isn’t able to come to our Google Meet class sessions, and he appreciates that, with the videos on Applied Digital Skills, he doesn’t feel like he is missing class.
In the current project my students are working on, the class has a shared Google Slides deck. It changes everything for us all to be able to “see” each other in the slide and to watch the responses come up. It has also been great to watch kids work in groups on individual slides. They remember how to use the comments to “talk” with each other, as well as how to use the general comments to speak with the whole class and find people to work in their group. It’s heartwarming! The personality and sense of community in our class are beginning to return.
It’s heartwarming! The personality and sense of community in our class are beginning to return.