Distance Learning- an update

Greetings! It’s been awhile since I’ve updated my website. Between teaching remotely full-time, planning a move, and expecting a baby (April 2021), I’ve been a little burned out and overloaded on screen time since school started. However, now that we are through the first half of the school year and heading into the second semester/third quarter, I thought I would share some of the things that have been working really well for me in distance learning, and some things that haven’t worked. For this post, I want to focus on Schoology.

Our school district uses Schoology as our LMS, and there is definitely a learning curve associated with it! After I had several weeks to work the kinks out, I found some things that I really like and use often, and others I do not use quite as much.

  1. Creating banners- inserting banners into announcements on the update page so that they appear at the top of my class page when students log on has been a lifesaver. I rotate between two banners, one for live learning sessions and one for independent work sessions. They are a quick, easy way for students to see what type of learning they are responsible for each week!

  2. Assessments-I tend to stay away from formal assessments in general, but I use them most frequently when assessing music literacy. I teach using the Conversational Solfege method, and have adjusted the assessment at the end of the unit to one that fits into the Schoology assessment system. The assessment tool is very flexible, and allows multiple ways of creating questions and getting answers.

  3. Publish/Unpublish- Okay, I know teachers mixed feelings about this. However, I publish and unpublish folders and lessons weekly, and it is a serious timesaver. I only teach synchronously Tuesday-Friday each week, so every Monday I log into each course and publish or unpublish my live learning link. I will also front load lessons into the Independent Work folder for a class, and leave them unpublished until I'm ready to use them.

Okay, now let's look at two of the things I don't use:

  1. Mastery- The setup for this is confusing for me, and not something I find particularly relevant to my teaching. Mastery focuses on meeting/exceeding learning expectations based on learning objectives tied to the students’ work. While I can see the benefits of this with older students, I don’t see it as something applicable to my elementary music classes.

  2. Badges- For awhile I used badges as a way to take attendance at the beginning of each live learning lesson, but I have since moved away from that to tracking it in the grade book. Most of my students don't know what the badges are for, and don't usually know where to find them. In a different learning situation I could see badges as great incentives for students, they just don't really add anything to what I do.

I know this was a brief post, but I wanted to get something out there to let you know I was still here! Next week, I will be writing about one of the most valuable learning tools I've used so far this year... Nearpod!


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Thanks for reading this post! I am an elementary music teacher with a love of educational technology, instructional design, and curriculum. Click below to read more about me!

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