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The Glue for Distance-Learning and the Bridge Back to School

Posted by 
Mitch Weathers
 on 
July 16, 2020

As our plans for fall begin to take shape there appears to be an emerging trend to keep schools closed in the fall in response to the resurgence of COVID-19 cases. Just this week the school districts in Los Angels, San Diego, and Stockton announced they will remain closed in the fall.

For teachers, one of the most challenging aspects of transitioning to distance-learning is keeping lesson plans from devolving into a to-do list for students. In a typical year, a teacher would never create a list of worksheets or assignments and call it a lesson plan. A lesson plan is so much more than a list of things to accomplish. Lesson plans have predictable rhythms and routines. They provide structures to promote learning and success, and so much more.

For example, a lesson plan has an opener to kick things off. During an opener students might engage in retrieval practice through prompts to revisit, reflect, and review the previous lesson's standards or objectives. During the opener the teacher gains formative feedback to gauge how students are progressing with the content of the unit. Lesson plans have many other parts - calculated transitions, additional opportunities for reflection, pair-shares, a tactic to schedule homework, schemes for organizing material and student work, direct instruction, time for independent practice, a distinct closer...to name a few.

I have spoken to many educators who are frustrated. Yes, it's easy to assign work via the digital platform your district or network has adopted. We can also monitor students who have access and are accomplishing their assignments. The question is, how do we embed our lesson strategies into a remote learning environment to assure students are learning, and not just "doing"?

In a perfect world, all students would not be living in a "digital desert". They would each have reliable broadband internet access and a functional device; we know this is not the case for all communities. If we pretend for a moment everyone is connected, then I could be confident every single one of my students could equitably access and complete assignments. In other words, they could get through the to-do list I assign each day or each week.

That does not necessarily translate into learning.

To help students succeed while doing school at home we must embed research-backed and evidence-based practices into every lesson, just as we do in the classroom. We must move beyond the to-do list.

The question is, how do we embed the same rhythm into our distance-learning or hybrid schedule lessons as we've done in the classroom environment? If we can figure out how to maintain the same rhythm to the learning day for students schooling at home, we can be confident students will be more likely to succeed.

It is possible and it doesn't have to be difficult. It requires very little extra planning on the part of teachers and can equitably work for all students, especially those with an inadequate internet connection and/or device. We can structure learning at home just as we do in the classroom if we equip students with a tangible, tactile tool that is the foundation of our classroom rhythm and routine.

Organized Binder is one tool to accomplish these objectives. It is an education success platform that provides a framework for teachers to maintain and structure daily learning for students at home just as they do in school. With Organized Binder teachers can provide the same rhythm students depend on in class while working independently at home. Keep in mind many students will be working alone and are much more in need of structures and routines that promote learning. There needs to be a glue that holds distance learning together. That glue is Organized Binder.

Investing in Organized Binder makes the following possible:

  • Students are equipped with a toolkit of resources provided by their teachers to help them be successful while doing school at home.
  • Teachers move beyond the to-do list. They structure students' at home "work sessions" that mirror lessons in class - complete with opening and closing prompts for retrieval practice and metacognition, mapping out daily agendas, and organizing all work and resources that students engage in and/or create while doing school at home.
  • Teachers and students engage in setting goals to provide students with an academic bearing while working independently.
  • Each student creates a portfolio of their work throughout the distanced learning period. When schools reopen students provide their portfolio as evidence of their learning. We like to call it a trophy!

We must be careful to implement interventions and strategies that are effective in distance-learning and the classroom. If teachers are embedding structures into their distance-learning plan that have proven to be effective in the classroom they are building a bridge back to school when we reopen. With Organized Binder the daily routines used in distance-learning are identical to those used in the classroom - making the transition back to school as seamless as possible for students.

INVEST IN YOUR STUDENTS:

The glue to bring equity and success to distance-learning is Organized Binder. Empower students to succeed at home just as they do at school by providing each student with an Organized Binder for the fall.

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