This year’s return to in-person education feels different. Yes, the enthusiasm is palpable, as it is at the beginning of every school year. But I also believe COVID-19 has changed teaching and learning in ways we may not yet fully comprehend.
In the Lake Washington School District, where I serve as a Digital Application Instructional Alignment Specialist, 30,000 students continued learning during the global pandemic through the remote learning experiences created by my talented colleagues.
These learning experiences were delivered by educators using a variety of digital tools chosen by our school district. Together, they formed a powerful ecosystem through which Lake Washington’s students could feed their natural curiosity as they continued their academic development.
It seems that as of this writing that COVID-19 will continue to linger with us through the 2021-2022 school year. Therefore, it is important all educators take stock of their learning ecosystem to ensure it delivers what I believe to be three critical attributes: Interactivity, Opportunities to Connect Communities of Learners, and Vetted, High-Quality Digital Resources.
Through the end of our first pandemic-impacted school year, educators, parents, and students often shared concerns about student engagement. Just as students said they were bored with their new at-home lesson format and parents were noticing a general disinterest amongst their children regarding attending to their schoolwork, teachers shared those concerns and worried about students who were opting out of logging in or weren’t submitting their homework.
Fortunately, our district was in the process of implementing the use of Lumio (formerly SMART Learning Suite Online) prior the shutdown in March of 2020. Through Lumio, teachers can create slideshows and build in a variety of interactive activities for students to engage with either during synchronous instruction or outside of regular class time. Assessment activities (like Response or Monster Quiz) provide students with immediate feedback on whether they submitted the correct responses, while activities like Fill in the Blanks, Super Sort, Label Reveal, and Match ‘em Up give students low-stakes opportunities to test their knowledge and keep trying until they get it right. Best of all, the teacher is able to view student progress in real time, export their results, and connect with those students who might need additional support.