In partnership with eSchool News, Illuminate Education is spotlighting teachers in a series recognizing educators, the way they have moved instruction online during COVID-19, and how they have prioritized the needs of their students.

Danielle Carlisle
6th Grade Social Science Teacher
Los Coyotes Middle School
Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District, CA

“We had to think about the fact that if we were feeling overwhelmed by everything going on, then our students were feeling twice that.”

How have you transitioned to remote learning? Have there been any big challenges?

When I first moved to my current school, the principal was trying to be more tech-forward. She had gotten some iPad carts for our school but none of the teachers were using them. So, when I started there, she told me I was going to be 1:1 with my students and needed to take a training program on it. That’s when I met my tech coach and really began to learn how to best use technology. She would come into my class about once a month, or as often as I wanted, and would help me recreate assignments so that the students can do them using their iPads. Eventually, that led to me training other teachers on how to use these tools with their students too. I really enjoy doing innovative tech assignments and transforming the students’ worksheets into something more exciting using Google Slides.

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This teacher makes student connection a priority during COVID closures

Even though I had already been using a lot of technology for the assignments, I still had a lot of redesign to do after moving to remote learning. In class, I relied on group or paired work and discussions, and being able to work through things with my students. Technology has a lot of benefits for me and my students, but it still doesn’t fill the gap for what we can do in person.

For instance, every year we do a big unit on Julius Caesar where I have them read a bunch of original documentation and then they have to do a whole investigation to decide who killed him. It’s a pretty challenging project, almost high school level, and it takes usually about a week and a half to complete. But now it’s just gone. I cannot ask them to do that project now. It’s too hard. So, a lot of my lessons must be re-modified and it’s hard because the lessons just aren’t as good as they can be because they can’t be hands-on.

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