The article: “Six Shifts for Math Teachers Moving Online” by Adam Lavallee in Global Online Academy, July 17, 2020
“Shifting to online teaching can feel overwhelming,” says Pennsylvania teacher/ learning design coach Adam Lavallee in this Global Online Academy article. He suggests six ways of changing teaching to make the best use of the remote environment. (The full article, linked below, has lots of detailed examples for math instruction.)
• Identify the essentials. A tough-minded assessment of the curriculum is essential, he says, and that means doing triage: What do students need to master, explore, or just be exposed to? Lavallee uses an Algebra 2 textbook that he admires as an example: there’s a section he would skip because it’s not essential to precalculus, another section he’d have students cover briefly and move on, and a section (functions) to which he would devote considerable time (time saved by cutting back on other sections).
• Make strategic use of asynchronous and synchronous instruction. Lavallee suggests using asynchronous videos to deliver content that students can’t necessarily discover on their own, with ways for them to ask questions and check for understanding. Synchronous time is best for working on example problems and misconceptions (in small groups if possible). “The key strategy,” he says, “is a structure where students know the objectives, and they have the ability to check for their own understanding along the way.”
• Reframe homework. “Students need practice,” says Lavallee. “We need to incentivize authentic practice, so students take that work seriously… Assess students not on their first draft of homework or their final product, but on their revisions and reflections.” Online discussion boards can be part of this process.
• Make feedback immediate, metacognitive, and collaborative. Lavallee suggests using automation to give students “instantaneous” affirmation or correction, and requiring students to self-assess using a discussion board. Get students supporting each other.
• Organize strategic check-ins. “On a video call,” says Lavallee, “it’s much harder for a student to ask a question or lean to a classmate to make sure they are on the right track. It’s much harder for a teacher to ‘walk by’ and connect with students doing individual practice. Teachers need to intentionally design for interaction in online formats and create structures that empower student voices in online and hybrid classrooms…” An example: Students are given a focus problem each week and create a video explaining the problem to a peer who didn’t understand it.
• Innovate with assessment. Lavallee suggests a three-fold approach to summative assessment in math: