I am in the ironic situation of being a distance learning teacher during the COVID Abyss. I know distance learning, I have been teaching by video conference for 13 years. I could do this………But I don’t know how to reach all of my students who have no internet access at home (most of them). So I have spent a few weeks networking with others in my same situation. Learning and listening to other amazing teachers making adaptions. One thing became clear, there is no equity in the access students have to devices, internet and even long distance time to make conference calls.
My professional networking resulted in discovering new models for designing lessons during the COVID shutdown of schools. Teachers now prepare 3 different types of packets for each unit. The terms “no tech”, “low tech”, and “high tech” are emerging around these designs.
no tech= paper packet, possibly some physical supplies sent home with careful hygiene consideration. (Phone conferencing may be an option)
low tech – files that can be used offline for learning. These can be transferred by air drop when students come in to pick up their lunches or stand outside the building to access the wifi. They can also be mailed or dropped off by usb thumb drive. (Phone conferencing may be an option)
high tech- students have a device and internet access. They can join classes by ZOOM and use LMS such as Canvas and Google Classroom. In my situation this is less than 5% of my students.
It has been so wonderful to share with other teachers who are designing around all of these constraints to make learning possible. Taking the time to reach out and network with other teachers has been an invaluable use of my time. I hit the jackpot last week when I found that the Science Teachers in Portland Oregon had posted a COVID adapted version of Unit 5 for their Physics Curriculum. Triple Bonus, their unit matched mine with alignment to the NGSS, used the same open source CK12.org textbook and utilized PHET interactive lab simulations . So here is what a unit plan can look like if you design it in three ways; no tech, low, tech, and high tech. All of the material used and the design is published through open source creative commons. I adapted the unit a bit. When I have more time I am going to add some personalized screencasts for the low tech and high tech options.
Did I mention time? Just think about it. Designing three versions of all your lessons and then personalizing it with video instruction and personal communication. A good reason to work together and share. A big thank you to all the science teachers who share and the staff at Portland, Oregon school district.