I recently wrote about the challenges teachers, students, and parents faced with the enforced move to remote and online learning due to Covid-19. I also identified some unexpected learning benefits the situation resulted in for students.
With the shift to remote learning being new to most teachers, many found that the teaching methods and strategies that work well in the physical classroom are not always as successful in online teaching formats. Many teachers tried and tested new ways of doing things. As a result, these teachers find themselves armed with a swag of effective new teaching strategies that they can use in online, face to face, or hybrid teaching models.
In EdTech Review’s Distance Learning Strategies To Use In A Brick-and-Mortar Classroom, Saniya Khan explores teaching strategies teachers have perfected for online teaching that would also improve teaching and learning in the physical classroom.
I’ve picked my five favourite strategies that work with all learning models and looked at how they can be used with Makers Empire to create engaging, challenging and rigorous learning experiences for students.
A flipped classroom turns traditional teaching methods upside down. In a traditional approach, the teacher introduces new content in the classroom and then provides homework tasks for students to practice or reinforce the content at home. In a flipped classroom, the teacher provides some new content to students prior to the class. This might be a video, recorded lecture, or online materials. The class time can then be used to discuss issues arising from the new content, address students’ questions, and for the teacher to give individualised support. This method maximises the available time for teacher student interaction rather than using class time to disperse new information.
One way to use Makers Empire in a flipped classroom model is to ask students to watch one of our design videos for homework and to start creating their own version of the design. The teacher led lesson, either online or face to face, can then be used to address any issues students encountered, allow students to share and give each other feedback and peer mentoring, and to allow the teacher to provide explicit and targeted instruction.
Remote learning has given teachers a much deeper insight into the lives their students live at home. They’ve met pets, glimpsed students’ homes’, and taken a closer look at the types of hobbies, toys, and activities students enjoy at home. Teachers have been able to capitalise on these insights by making learning more personalised and connected to students lives and interests. A topic on caring for living things, for example, is much more meaningful if it’s directly related to how students care for their own pets or help grow vegetables in the family garden. The benefits of getting to know their students on this elevated level will have carry-on effects once face to face schooling begins again. Teachers will be better placed to make authentic connections to students’ own lives.
One way to use Makers Empire to facilitate student-led learning is begin with students’ ideas for how they might use Makers Empires. Do they have ideas for design projects, or have they been creating designs at home that could become school- based activities? There could be problems students have encountered in their everyday lives that they would like to solve with design thinking processes using Makers Empire.
Goal setting and self- reflection
Goal setting and self-reflection strategies help students to become independent learners and set them up for successful lifelong learning. Students are asked to identify explicit learning goals and regularly check in to reflect on and monitor their progress towards achieving them. This is a widely used strategy in classrooms for students of all ages. Many teachers find it particularly useful during remote learning where they can’t provide as much direct feedback and monitoring of learning themselves. It provides an effective structure for an online lesson where students communicate their goal for the lesson, or longer-term goal, and then reflect on the goal at regular intervals and report their reflections to their teachers. Online tools such as Google Docs can be useful places for students to record, share and reflect on their learning goals. Many teachers have established a routine for goal-based learning in their online lessons and will be keen to continue with this approach in their face to face teaching.
One way to incorporate goals setting and reflection using Makers Empire is to use an iterative approach to creating designs. Rather than setting a new design task for each lesson, students begin with a design they have already made. They evaluate their design and identify areas for improvement. They articulate these improvements as goals they would like to achieve and work on towards during the lesson. They can then reflect on the new iteration of their design against their articulated goal.
Exit tickets for formative assessment
Formative assessment is an ongoing form of assessment that provides feedback to students throughout the learning process. The ongoing feedback guides students and helps them to identify particular areas to focus on as they continuously work toward achieving a learning outcome or goal. One effective strategy for providing ongoing formative feedback is to use an exit ticket. At the end of a lesson, students are asked to summarise their progress, write about a topic to show understanding or identify areas they still have questions about. This gives the teacher a snapshot of where the whole class is up to and helps them to plan the future direction and focus of their lessons. Many teachers have used this as a way to wrap up an online lesson. For example, they might tell students that they can log out of the Zoom call once they have posted their ‘exit ticket’ in the chat function. This effective strategy can easily be incorporated into the physical classroom, either using technology, verbal responses, or even old- fashioned pen and paper.
One way to use exit tickets with Makers Empire is to ask students to pause at the end of a lesson and add their thoughts to the description section of their design. They could be asked to complete a sentence such as:
- One problem I solved with this design…;
- One new skill I tried….; or
- One thing I would like to work on next…
Online learning models usually involve shorter formal sessions than traditional school days. Nobody wants to sit in a Zoom call for six hours! Teachers often provide a shorter live session and then assigned a project or task for students to work on independently once the call has finished. Passion projects ask students to choose their own projects based on their interests, curiosities and wonderings. Teachers can scaffold the project with expectations and criteria for success but leave the choice of topic up to the student. For example, students might be asked to make a plan for their project and be required to share their project using a particular format. It’s a great way to intrinsically motivate students by allowing them to delve deeply into topics or concepts they are passionate about. This strategy also students develop independent learning skills such as research, note-taking, goal setting, project management, and time management. Passion projects have been a popular choice for teachers design leaning tasks that students can work on at home during remote learning as they can be tailored to incorporate available resources and supported by family interests and expertise regardless of available technologies in individual homes.
Makers Empire is a great match for passion projects. Students might be required to make a model related to their passion project or create a prototyped solution for a problem they are trying to solve. Teachers might offer students a range of tools for them to choose from and Makers Empire is always a great addition to a passion project toolbox!
We’d love to hear about strategies you have used during remote learning that would also be great to use with Makers Empire in the classroom. Please let us know if you’d like to share your experiences and ideas with the Makers Empire community.