Highlights from the quarantined classroom…
Like the rest of the teachers in the country, I was forced online for the last few months of the school year. Since my department of world language teachers has already used a lot of technology and has always been open to working together to try new things, I was probably better prepared than most. Not to mention that my school district is relatively well funded and was very proactive about ensuring that students had access to technology via Chromebooks, hot-spots, etc.
But what did all that really mean for teaching? Without going into a lot of pedagogical detail, teaching German remotely meant continuing with most of the material I would have done anyway, but in slightly different ways. We already use Google Classroom (an online platform for organizing and delivering content), so providing students with videos, online practice, etc. was easy. I left a few things behind which would not have been practical (such as my game-play unit in which students play card games together in German) and filled that space with other activities.
The most important change, and the reason for this post (in what is usually a blog focused on writing and book reviews) is flexibility: allowing students to show what they know and can do in a variety of ways. With inspiration from my fellow teachers both at my school and across the country, I found ways to encourage student creativity and motivate them to engage with the material at home. (By the way, do other occupations support each other in Facebook groups like teachers? They should! I get my best ideas from the German teacher Facebook groups!) Here are a few examples: