Key Considerations

Before you pick tools for distance learning think about these key decisions and factors.

  • Distance learning is different than just trying to replicate classroom instruction online. Especially in the context of the quarantine.
  • How will you provide a consistent schedule and clear communication of expectations and due dates?
  • How will you maintain your relationship with students?
  • Think about the key pieces of learning and focus on those without trying to do everything you did in a normal setting.
  • Distance learning takes students longer
  • Provide for students who can only work asynchronously and sporadically
  • Take care of yourself and your loved ones

We are not trying to create the best distance learning program, we are trying to support families in a time of a global crisis creating massive upheaval in people’s lives.

Posting Materials

Three powerful tools for getting information to students are Moodle, Google Classroom, and Hapara Teacher Dashboard. You should use one of these as your starting place for students. Start with Google Classroom if you have never used these much.

Here is a breakdown of the key features of each of the three core tools

Moodle – The most powerful and commonly used online learning tool in the world

  • Getting Started Site
  • Does your page need a refresh or new layout to make it more clear?
    • Many teacher prefer the Collapsed Topics or Grid format
  • Use the announcement forum to send all students an email
  • Moodle has a tool for everything: discussion forum, quiz with auto grading and really easy essay question grading, TurnItIn assignments for collecting and grading digital work.
  • Adding due dates to activities in Moodle adds to the class calendar. All student course calendars are joined together on the student dashboard page so they can see work across all classes very easily.

Classroom – The easiest way to grade google docs online

  • Getting Started Site
  • Classes can be created right from your aeries dashboard page next to the gradebook summary. Just click Add/Edit Website.
  • Invite coaches/support teachers to be teachers on your page so we can see and support
  • Adding due dates to activities in Moodle adds to the class Google calendar.

Hapara Teacher Dashboard – Send google docs to student folders

  • Getting Started Site
  • Use this tool to push out documents (great if you have a central google doc calendar or instructions slide show.
  • This tool shows your whole class and each student’s last time editing the files in your class folder. This can help you know who is not engaging in class work and who has new work for feedback.

Aeries – Gradebook used by all 6-12 grade teachers

Interacting with and Supporting Students

Since you don’t see your students every day, you need to use tools to maintain your relationships and clarify instructions. There are two great options for emailing all students, instructions for how to use your personal phone, and instructions on Zoom and Meet, the two very popular video chat rooms.

Email, Phone Calls, Texts

Video conferencing – Zoom and Meet

Zoom is the preferred option, but Google Meet can be easier to learn. Make sure that your settings include the waiting room on and that participants can’t share their screens unless you are working with a small group of students.

My experience with running meetings with 30+ students has proven that Zoom is the best choice for three key features: the non-verbal feedback (raising hand, yes/no, thumbs up/thumbs down), breakout rooms, and being able to mute all participants at once.  

– Darcey Rambach CMS Language Arts teacher and Master Zoomologist

Google Meet is the quickest and easiest video tool for teachers and students. Find it in the waffle menu. This used to be called Hangouts and they recently changed it so some instructions refer to Hangouts/Meet

Feedback and Assessment

Moodle Quizzes, TurnItIn assignments, and Google Classroom give you tools to assess student learning and provide feedback. For student Google Docs the comments or the suggesting feature are great feedback tools. Also Kami and Kaizena are useful extensions for digital feedback.

Classroom Assignments

Moodle Activities

Google Docs Comments and Suggestions

Kami for writing on pdfs and images

  • Use this extension to write on student images and pdfs

Kaizena for quick audio feedback

  • Use this extension to easily give audio feedback

FlipGrid – A social video discussion board

Creating Videos

Simple Video in Moodle (and Audio)

Simple to use for the teacher anywhere and also for students in a forum.

Screencastify and WeVideo

Record your screen and/or your webcam. When you finish, the video is ready to share with students. Processing has taken up to a few hours with increased demand.

FlipGrid – A social video discussion board

Engaging and Interactive Activities

One of the challenges of distance learning is you lose the quick checks for understanding you can do when you present information in class. Also students can get more distracted from watching videos and reading powerpoints/documents. These tools help you see what students are understanding and keep them engaged. They also allow for students to practice with feedback.

Nearpod – add questions to slideshow

EdPuzzle – add questions during videos

Kahoot – quick and social quizzes

Quizziz – Search their large library of quizzes

Quizlet – Online flashcards you can assign

Using Google Docs

Guided Google Docs Online Learning For Educators

Online Lessons, Activities, and eBooks

There are a wealth of sites that have instructional content for distance and independent learning. Many of them are adaptive so that students get targeted instruction. Some allow for you to create a teacher/tutor account to monitor student progress as well.

Classlink – A collection of all the website subscriptions the district has. Used extensively in elementary already.

  • Single login portal so that students don’t need to remember passwords.
  • Access online social studies textbooks, math and reading practice, and easy links to websites
  • First time login with the ADFS link using your school account

Khan Academy – The most video tutorials and practice quizzes around

eBooks and Library Resources

More Great Resources

  • NewsEla – Articles that can be scaled to lexile reading levels with comprehension quizzesThey are offering full access for free for this school year.
  • ck-12 – always free, customizable textbooks and quizzes for math and science
    • You use individual pages, videos, and quizzes or you can sign up as a class and guide student progress.
  • – giant bank of online quizzes, specializing in AP but now with content for middle school and non-ap high school
  • Wonderopolis – hundreds of thousands of wonders/questions answered in engaging articles and reading comprehension/vocab quizzes
  • Common Sense Media has a list of great sites by grade level.