Ideas for synchronous classes and feedback for distance learning

First, I wanted to share my video for ACTFL about ideas for online assessments! It is a shorter version of my post, but some people prefer video. I was so excited when ACTFL was willing to publish it!

Whew! I will probably still start each post off expressing how difficult these times are. I know this. Also- with all of my experience teaching online, I am using a different platform. There are some things that I am doing that haven’t worked for my students. (Thus the importance of asking for feedback!) I was a little worried that I was over-assigning work. However, based on their feedback, it turns out it wasn’t too much. But my point that I want to reiterate is to ASK them!

My feedback questions include:

  • What has been your favorite activity?
  • Has any activity been difficult to figure out? Why?
  • How long has it taken you to complete your distance learning work? (10-15 minutes, 15-25 minutes, 25-30 minutes, over 30 minutes)
  • If it is taking you over 30 minutes, what activity took you a long time to complete?
  • A question about how I have been posting assignments
  • A question for my 8th grade class that is meeting synchronously about how that is going
  • An option for them to add any additional comments

I should have provided a list of activities that students could fill out (next time!) My hope is to do this every other week. I will modify my questions as we go, but I am able to get feedback.

Now onto my synchronous class: My first Zoom session with my students went pretty well. I talked about a few screens from the Señor Wooly song. I used PearDeck. However, it was tricky for me to “lecture” even for a few minutes because I could only see a few students’ faces. What I did enjoy was when they were drawing, and I let them all unmute their microphones. Then, we played GimKit at the end which was also fun.

My head of school mentioned that we should really be focusing on building our community during this time. I can take questions if needed, but frequently my students don’t have questions. If they do, they have emailed me.

Therefore this presents me withmy first change for synchronous classes: I will mostly use the drawing feature on Pear Deck. (I still love all of the other features for regular face to face classes or to assign for student paced mode.) As my students are reading now, I love these drawing prompts:

  • Select a sentence from the interpretive assignment and have students draw it.
  • Have students draw their favorite scene from a reading and perhaps label it in the target language.
  • Draw emojis that represent the page/chapter/paragraph.
  • Give students a page number, have them draw emojis then each person races to find the sentence it represents.
  • Pair students up and plan a Pear Deck vocabulary session.

The next thing I decided to add was a few more games! AnneMarie Chase (who is the queen of CI games!) has recently posted ideas for some games to play in synchronous classes. Lisa also posted ideas about how to get students moving throughout this time. I have also been doing a COVID game night hosted by Samara and Ashley. They always have so much fun, and I eat up their suggestions!! They say that our game night is not professional development, but it really has inspired me to spice up my synchronous classes!

Today, we played a version of the Unfair Game. I embedded a link on each slide to a random number generator to decide their points. I asked for one integer between -1,000 and +1,000. Every time I clicked it, it gave me a different number. That made for some fun combinations. Each time, it would pop up with a new number.

Throughout the game, I also did challenges to have students draw a picture from a famous Spanish artist. We had a few winners- but each time, their team ended up losing points! The link to see how I made the game is here.

I would love to hear more ways of how you are building community within your distance learning classrooms!

Finally, looking for more reading for your students to do? Martina and I have published FOUR more free articles about COVID-19 in the Spanish speaking world!

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