Tips for planning distance learning in your bilingual classroom

Things in the world have escalated very quickly in the last week. As many of our schools move to teach remotely or “flexible learning” it is important to consider different things.

Remember that you are doing your best as an educator.
Remember that parents and children are overwhelmed, stressed and confused about what is happening.

There is no one “right” way to do online or distance learning. Find what works for you and your students are tweak it when necessary.

Things to consider while choosing which platform you are using:
-Do my students have access to the internet?
-Do my students have access to a printer?
-Do my students have someone at home that can explain basic concepts to them? (In target language)
-Do my students have access to books (at home or online)?
-Does my school want us to have a hard copy available to families that do not have internet/computers/printers?

You may want to send a Google survey before starting e-learning to get an idea of what resources your families are working with.

Once you know the answers there are many options of which platforms to use for distance or e-learning with your bilingual students.
Google Classroom
-Recording Videos on Zoom or Loom and Screentastify (which are free Google Chrome extensions)
-Private Facebook Group for students/families
-Paper printable packets (emailed or left at your school)

As a mother of six, I plead with educators to remember to…
1. Keep it simple. Less is more.
2. Include choice boards/off-screen activities
3. Remember: If there are multiple children in the home, all/ might be needing to use 1-2 screens for school work
4. Do NOT expect families to follow a strict schedule. (8am-3pm for example)
5. Make all videos/class available after (read: recorded) so that people who had technology problems or need to re-watch can do it later. (LIVE classes do not work for all)
6. Follow up and ask students AND families for honest feedback once distance learning has started (What’s working/going well AND What is difficult/could be changed?

Since e-learning, distance-learning or whatever you want to call it is new for most of us– both teachers, students and families. Take time at the beginning to set norms and take screenshots or record short videos showing the screen– on how to do things and what to click, etc.

No matter what you (or your school district) chooses to use try to create a sense of community– just like you would in the classroom.

Some Ideas on How to Create a Sense of Community:
-Do read alouds to your class via video (live or recorded)
-Ask morning questions– respond via video/or writing depending on the online platform you are using
-Have kids record videos recommending books or activities
-Have students write stories problems for others to solve
-Have a song, dance, rhyme, poem of the day/week (Have students be creative)
-Have weekly challenges (for fun!)— drawing content, STEM building contest, block/lego challenge, etc.
-Have a dance party (via Zoom/Google Classroom or assign a song and tell kids to send a video)
-Journals: Have them keep a daily journal about what’s going on… what they did, how they felt
-Be their “pen pal” write emails back and forth to each other (if grade appropriate)
-Have them give tours of a room in their home and use adjectives to describe things they see.
-Give students the opportunity to explore a subject they are interested in– STEM/ART/Science/Drawing/Oragami (Could they teach their classmates how to do something?)
-Have daily assignments where they connect/share their results— for example: find circles around your house and take a picture, have students cook something or make something and write or explaining the process via video, etc.

These are some ideas to get you started. Let us know what is working for you. What you are doing? What you are struggling with and need support with? We are better together.

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