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A sudden shift to distance learning doesn’t have to spell chaos–learn how one school managed the transition with patience and support.  As districts have moved to distance learning amid fears of the spread of COVID-19, it has been a learning experience for all — even in schools like ours that have had a 1:1 computer initiative for years. Here are a few strategies we have implemented to make the shift to distance learning, along with a few lessons learned along the way.

Determine who has access to technology and plan accordingly.  While our students are used to using technology daily in school, more than one-third of our families do not have dependable internet access at home. So, on that Monday before schools closed, we gauged which students would be able to complete assignments online with their Chromebooks and which wouldn’t.

Focus on quality, not quantity.  At the high school level, the time allotted for remote learning is now 20 to 25 minutes per class (dual credit courses receive more time). At first, many of us struggled with how to teach lessons we’d normally cover in a 48-minute period in half the time. To help, our district has encouraged a “less is more” approach. The goal is to break down the content into manageable chunks for students.

Choose resources carefully and don’t try to reinvent the wheel during the shift to distance learning.  In the English department, we are continuing to use the curriculum resources that we know work instead of trying to create new, tech-savvy lessons or sampling every product that arrives in our email inbox. Continuing with our normal routine during our shift to distance learning also helps students feel more normal, which is important.

Hold students accountable.  During the first two weeks of our shift to distance learning, we were not allowed to count students’ work toward their grades. The number of students who didn’t complete their work — because it wouldn’t hurt their grade — was mind-boggling. In the third week of remote learning we went back to grading, and the district has done a wonderful job communicating with parents about revisions to our grading policy for the fourth quarter and spring semester. Even so, it was difficult to rein students back in after those first two weeks.

Communicate with parents often.  In my 23 years of teaching, I have always been a big communicator, and it’s no different with distance learning. I believe that one of the good things to come out of this experience is that it is forcing us to communicate with parents more and in a clear, concise manner.  Since moving to distance learning, I have become better at updating parents about their child’s progress.

The information in this post was taken from an article by Beth Morgan in eSchool News, follow this link for more details and the complete article.