One of my favorite movies of all time is Singing in the Rain. The plot deals with the difficulty people had in adapting to the change from silent movies to talkies. What really worked in the silent film did not work in talkies.
This is how I felt about distance learning. I have been a speech and language pathologist for 41 years and I am constantly involved in continuing education to be able to hone my skills. I feel very comfortable working with students whether it is individually, small group, or a whole class. I love the interaction. I have consistently incorporated technology into my programming as it affords me the opportunity to reinforce skills in a different way.
When it was abruptly announced that we were switching to distance learning my first thought was “Great, I can do this!”. However similar to the silent film star with the jarring voice I found that even the technology that I had previously used in treatment did not always translate to students in their own homes.
Now that the school year has ended I have reflected on what I have needed to do to stay organized, productive, and effective.
- Google Classroom: my district is a Google district and the students were given Chromebooks if they did not have their own technology. By using the resources in Google I could cut my time down. Speech and Language pathologists typically have a large divergent caseload. When I first started with distance learning I was creating 40 different lesson plans and I was needing to put these plans in three different documents. These plans needed to be understood by families and students which required many modifications and visuals to assist. By using Google Classroom I was able to create lessons and assign them to groups that were similar. It also allowed me to store resources such as student passwords, videos about concepts, and rewards for the students. Google Classroom also would alert me when a student asked a question or completed an assignment.
- Youtube: I will never be a Youtube star but using Youtube allowed me to create videos that could explain a topic, read a story, or demonstrate how to use a resource. By having it be on Youtube it became more accessible to all technology. I also was able to see by the views on the movie how many of my students were using the resource.
- Boom Cards: This was a technology that I had not used extensively prior to closure. I began to break apart some of my units into small pdfs and assigned them in Google Classroom but by making Boom Cards I was able to see how they performed on the concept. It allowed me to teach a concept and then see how the student’s understood the concept. From this data, I was then able to create additional material to bolster the learning or I was able to interact with them on Google Meet. Different than using Google Slides or Google Forms it allowed me to voice the resource for many students who have difficulty reading. ( Example of the Boom Cards I created: Living Things)
- Networking on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter ( and even TikTok): Although we were confined in our homes the internet allowed me to connect with some amazing educators that taught me how to share materials during Zoom or Google Meet, ways to engage remotely and SO MUCH FREE resources and continuing education. Yes, I was one of those teachers that created a Bitmoji classroom.
I don’t know what the opening of school will be like, however, I feel that regardless of what occurs I am feeling more confident in being able to find the resources I need to be effective ( however I am also glad that it is summer and I have some time to refresh, renew and energize).
What did you find worked best for your students?