The term "distance learning" seemed to pop up overnight along with other COVID-19 phrases like "social distancing". Our school's closure came as a shock to me when I read the news in an email from our Superintendent on the morning train to school Friday March13th. The email stated that we would close the following Monday, March 16th. It was a shock because I had been spending long days at school helping my students hang their IB Art Exhibition, which had just opened to the day before. My son had also been sick with the dreaded Hand Foot and Mouth disease since March 5th so I was completely overloaded with work both at school and at home so I had no time for the news. My first reaction was heartbreak, mostly for my seniors who were so looking forward to their art show, the prom, and the many other senior activities that will now be postponed and most likely cancelled all together. I also felt disbelief- how could this be really happening?
Now a week into the school closure I have had more time to process everything that is going on and set into a new rhythm for my personal/professional life.
Lessons, tools and apps
Like most schools early last week came with a flurry of emails with links to education apps, online tools and conferencing platforms that we could try in our new digital classrooms. For me this onslaught was overwhelming. To start my new curriculum design I turned off my computer and got out a pen and paper. What were my goals for each class? What format did I want to use to convey new lessons to students? How could I structure my new digital classroom to include a sense of community without stressing students out with a million invitations to zoom calls? How could students with no access to art materials participate in the lessons? This reflection session helped me to streamline my goals and to find the tools I could use to begin the process of re creating my classes online. The tools/apps I decided to use to fulfill my goals are:
Canvas Discussions- I'm using this feature in canvas for all of my classes so that students can comment on content I share- screencasts and videos. Also students can comment on each other's comments and "like" comments.
Canvas Online Submission- all of my students are submitting drawings and art journal pages via canvas. Make sure if you use this option to allow any file type so students with different devices can submit work.
Screencast-o-matic- I added this app to my Canvas menu so I can record my voice talking as I go through slideshows.
Google Hangouts- I found this to be much easier than zoom. At our school every student has a google account and every class a shared calendar so I simply add a hangout to the class calendar and the invites are sent automatically. So far I have only "hung out" with my IB seniors, but I'm planning a hangout with DP 1/ 2 next week. It helps to schedule hangouts during regular class time so they don't conflict with other classes.
Example of a Canvas discussion
Example of Canvas online submissions
Examples of Screencast-o-matic slideshow presentations
I'm a high school/middle school art teacher with 16 years of experience. I'm here to help art teachers free up more time and space in their lives through lesson ideas and ready to go content rich, engaging curriculum.