As the coronavirus continues to spread, the CDC is urging schools to prepare for closures. Some teachers are being asked to create online versions of their lesson plans. Many administrators are wondering how to equitably ensure continuity of learning when many students do not have access to the internet at home.
Actively Learn’s features and content make it an ideal platform for remote learning. We make it easy to collaborate, support students as they read, and provide access when there’s no internet at home. Here is a guide on using Actively Learn when students are not in the classroom.
Turn your paper resources into digital assignments
You probably have a plan for what you want students to read. You've lined up your assignments, including the questions you want students to answer. Instead of putting the planning and learning on pause when school is closed, why not use those same texts in a digital version where you can monitor student responses and provide feedback?
Actively Learn makes it possible to upload your own webpages, Google docs, or PDFs and transform them into interactive assignments for your students. Once you bring your assignments into our platform, you can embed questions and annotations, add assignments directions, and even post media links. When students answer questions and annotate in Actively Learn, you'll be able to provide feedback on their answers and hold them accountable for their work.
To save some time, you can also look through our Catalog for pre-created assignments. We cover core curricular topics for middle and high school ELA, social studies, and science with a variety of content types, including full-length novels, short stories, textbook sections, primary sources, high-interest articles, and videos.
Keep the discussion going with collaboration features
One of the biggest downsides of schools closing is students missing out on discussion and collaboration. Social interaction is a significant motivator for students, especially when they’re digesting challenging text. It’s also a way to deepen students’ understanding of what they read and a way for them to ask one another questions if they get stuck.
Luckily, Actively Learn makes it possible for students to keep having rich text-based discussions, even while they’re at home. You can ask students to share at least one annotation with their peers, and respond to at least one shared note. You could also ask a question in a note and have students respond to it in a thread. Teachers can leverage small group mode to make sharing notes even easier. Students can tag their peers or their teacher for a targeted message, which is a great option in case students get stuck and need help.
Teacher feedback is especially important when students are not in the classroom. It shows students that you’re reading their work and giving them guidance on their thinking, which encourages them to put more effort into their assignments. It’s easy to give feedback to students in Actively Learn as you grade. You can also allow students to revise their responses so they can put your guidance into action.
Support students with scaffolds and accessibility features
For students, one of the toughest parts of doing challenging work independently is not being able to get help when they need it. Here are a few ways that Actively Learn can provide that support, even if the teacher isn’t in the room:
- Assignments in the Catalog come with pre-created annotations to fill gaps in background knowledge, guiding questions to chunk the text and monitor comprehension as students read, and embedded media to drive engagement.
- Text-to-speech: This is our most popular support feature, and is especially useful for EL students or students who struggle with disfluency or dyslexia. Students can hear an entire text read aloud or select passages that are especially difficult.
- An embedded Learner’s dictionary that provides a student-friendly definition of any word in the text
- Translation into over 100 languages
- Extra Help: We provide differentiated scaffolding for students who need additional support. Students you select as needing Extra Help will see a summary before reading, additional scaffolding notes in the text, one fewer answer choice in multiple choice questions, and hints and answer stems in short answer questions. Teachers can also create their own Extra Help notes for their students.
- Shared annotations and tagging: Students can ask one another questions, or signal to their teacher that they need help.
No internet? Actively Learn works on smartphones
Did you know that 95% of teenagers have access to a smartphone at home? That means they can use Actively Learn to read assignments for their core classes, even if they don’t have Wi-Fi or a computer at home.
Students can answer questions, take notes, look up words, hear text read aloud, and translate. The deeper learning that you promote in your classroom can continue even when students are at home.
Set expectations and do a trial run
Transitioning to remote learning might include a few tweaks to your instruction. For example, if you typically read text aloud to students to support your struggling readers, you may encourage students to use the text-to-speech option instead. You could also record your voice reading the text and embed it as a media link in the teaching direction. Or if you like to have students discuss the text after reading, you may want to require students to use shared annotations.
Anytime you make these types of instructional changes, it’s important to communicate expectations with your students, do a trial run on a homework assignment, and then hold them accountable. For example, you can track which students used text-to-speech in your assignment data. You can also see whether students participated in discussions and what notes they shared. During the trial run, you can iron out any confusion about your expectations and ensure that students know what to do in case schools close.