The deadly pandemic, Coronavirus has turned the world upside down. Not only has it affected people’s emotional and mental wellbeing, but it’s also brought challenges for people from different walks of life. Teachers have been hit directly by this.
They were asked to dive into the world of virtual teaching, without any life jackets. Also the emotional setback for not being able to see their students, for not being able to see them off before the schools closed was heart-breaking.
We all miss the laughter and giggles, the humming of our learners in the school corridors and the face to face interactive classes but life must go on, so does the learning.
Through this article, I will be sharing some tips to help my fellow IB facilitators sail through this storm.
There are some virtual teaching groups created on Facebook, which proved to be quite helpful for teachers all over the world. Websites like Tes.com, Teach-starter, are also rich in resources and can be a time-saver in terms of creating the resources and content for the lessons.
As an IB teacher, you don’t have books to keep the learning going, but you have a system, which encompasses the world of books, and that is APPROACHES TO LEARNING. These ATLs are a guide for IB facilitators when teaching virtually. There are many resources shared by teachers and educators on different platforms focusing on ATLs. These ATL based tasks not only give breathing space for learners and teachers but at the same time are equipping learners with some major life skills.
For thinking skills, some thought-provoking prompts can be given, which can strengthen analytical skills and intrigue cognitive thinking. Tasks such as creating a maze, puzzle, a robot can be given to channelize their creative thinking skills.
For research skills, they can be given research-based projects related to History or Science. For communication skills, they can be given tasks like letter writing, postcard designing, etc, to help them strengthen their skills.
For social skills, there can be written tasks for the learners to explain how can we stay socially connected during social distancing. There can also be formative assessment tasks designed by asking the learners to share their thoughts through a short video or presentation.
The above activities give a very brief insight into how ATLs can be used during virtual teaching. But I know there are multiple other ways to use ATLs creatively and constructively during this time period.
This time can also be utilized to help strengthen the ICT skills of the learners. The older ones can be asked to explore different tools such as PowerPoint, Powtoon, Padlet. This will not only give them an opportunity to work on their ICT skills but will also help them to choose a variety of mediums to express their thoughts and opinions. The facilitators can plan a whole lesson by introducing these tools to the learners and assign them a task later which has to be done using any of these tools.
Another tip that can work well during virtual teaching is the use of online storybooks. This can work really well with the younger ones. With limited teaching resources available at home, storybooks can work as provocations and as a resource also. There are numerous websites, generous enough to offer free online ebooks.
Being an Early Years Coordinator, I believe online teaching is more challenging for the Early Years/Pre-K facilitators. Making 3-5 years old sit in front of the screen and to make them engage in learning is like bending steel with your own hands. But early years teachers, are known to make impossible, possible with their magic wand. For Early Years, make use of resources easily available at their and your place.
For stand-alone language lessons, objects available around them can be utilized for some engaging activities like the name of all the objects starting with C, or how many red-colored objects can you see around you.
For Math, you can give them a 2D or 3D shape and ask them to find similarly shaped objects at home.
I SPY, trying out live recipes like making lemonade, brownie, sandwiches can also be interesting for the learners.
The Subject facilitators have a wide scope to teach during this time. There can be live sessions or tutorials for Music, Yoga, or Art teachers, depending on which subjects you have in your school.
Even the parents can be made part of these sessions to help them stay sane during this situation. Talking about the parent community, this is a great opportunity to involve them in online sessions. You can invite the parents for parent volunteer sessions, there might be parents who are doctors who would like to make learners aware of the COVID-19 or there can be some parents working as motivational speakers, who can help to keep the morale of the teachers and learners high at this time.
In the end, I would like to give a big shout out to all the educators out there working in any capacity, either as admin, teacher, mentor, trainer, etc.
You all are superheroes, heroes who don’t wear capes and you have the passion and will to make all impossible, possible for your students’ learning.
Heroes, who are working round the clock, just to ensure that the learning is not interrupted by any means. Though this time has brought difficulties it has also brought people together. I have seen some wonderful collaboration going on among the facilitators from around the world. There are multiple IB Facebook pages, where teachers are sharing resources, resolving each other’s issues, and most importantly giving strength to each other by motivating and supporting each other. Let’s keep the same spirit alive, let’s this culture of collaboration help us all reach our common goal and i.e to teach, empower, and mentor.
PYP Early Years Coordinator