The team here at NorthStar Academy recognizes the difficult situation in which you as teachers and administrators find yourselves as you suddenly transition to online schooling for your students. Teachers, students, and parents alike are all in survival mode just trying to establish some kind of new normal. We wanted to give you a few tips from our team here at NSA that might make the transition just a bit easier for you.
First of all, please recognize that this is “pandemic pedagogy,” not online teaching pedagogy. In the online teaching world, there are specific high-value teaching strategies that have to be incorporated into every online course. Right now, you are just taking brick and mortar teaching and adapting to put it online to the best of your ability. Here is a great article explaining the difference and giving some tips. We have summarized the most important tips here:
At NorthStar Academy, we put between 350 to 500 hours into writing a year-long course. No one should expect you to produce online courses with the type of quality that can be found with a fully online school; your work is okay!
The biggest thing that you can do right now for your students is bring a sense of calm and routine by staying connected with them. One great way to do that is with Loom, a quick, easy, and free program that records you (and what is on your screen, if you like) and produces a link instantly that you can send to your students via any mode you like. There is also a Chrome extension that can be added to your Chrome browser to make it even easier. Research shows that if kids can see you and feel connected to you, they perform better.
You might be thinking, “Yeah right!” But it is easier than you think to keep learning active and keep kids connected. Day in and day out of “read this, answer those” is not going to work. Kids will check out or get frustrated. One tool to keep kids interacting face-to-face is Flipgrid, another free tool that allows students to easily record a video response to a discussion question so that they can see and hear each other. A second tool that allows them to post projects and share is called Padlet. It is kind of like a class bulletin board.
Right now, flexibility is the name of the game. If something is not working, throw it out and try something else. There is no playbook for this; everyone is experiencing new things every day.
NorthStar Academy has gathered a depository of resources for schools to use as a quick reference. The depository can be found here.
The following courses are designed in-house, by NSA’s very own teachers and curriculum department, and are available free for your gain!
NorthStar Academy offers a free four-week course for elementary students in grades 3-6. Exploring Elementary digs into the California Gold Rush across the four core subject areas. For more information, please visit the Exploring Elementary course information page.
NorthStar Academy offers a free four-week course for middle school students in grades 6-8. This course is a fun and engaging 4 week/16 lesson course designed to help you thrive in the classroom and in life. For more information, please visit the Middle School Essentials course information page.
This podcast has a variety of topics that may be of interest to students and parents. Topics such as “The Coronavirus: The Reality For Parents and Teachers,” and “How To Master The ACT and SAT.” Feel free to share these with your families.
This is a blog specifically designed for educators and schools with articles like “How To Stay Connected While Isolated,” and “Having Grace For Sudden Homeschoolers.” Feel free to share these with your teachers during this time.