California Educator

August/September 2020

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subject matter, but also to identify any obstacles that may be preventing them from being able to fully participate. Importantly, the researchers noted that the instructors "emphasized their use of data for continuous improvement" as well as their use of surveys as a "helpful feedback tool, and the usefulness of such data for immediate and remedial action, unlike the end-of-semester data." You don't have to build your own sur- vey to gather this kind of data. Here are a few examples that cover technology access, student participation, and ways to support students during the pandemic: • e Making Caring Common Project at Harvard University has a five-ques- t i o n C O V I D - 1 9 C h e c k- i n S u r v e y focused on student wellness. • E d u C a u s e , a t e c h n o l o g y - f o c u s e d nonprofit, has a longer sur vey on the transition to remote learning. It's geared toward higher ed but can be adapted for K-12 schools. • In May, the Hawaii Department of Education administered a 29-ques- tion survey — and published results with insight into what supports stu- dents need. • Th e C e n t e r o n R e i nv e n t i n g P u b - lic Education at th e University of Washington, Bothell, analyzed seven national K-12 student sur veys and identified key areas, from student concern about falling behind to "dis- tractions, lack of motivation, and lack of social connections" as major chal- lenges to online learning. Reviewing these surveys, I've identi- fied a set of questions that are commonly asked (see sidebar). It may help to clearly identify that the purpose of the survey is to collect feed- back on how well students are able to participate in online learning so that they understand that they won't be graded or suffer consequences if they point out any problems. Questions around technology access should be asked regularly, to ensure that any issues a r e q u i c k l y a d d r e s s e d . A s k t h e broader questions, such as those around voice and participation, early enough in the school year — within the first month or two — to be able to help any students who may be fall- ing through the cracks. Survey tools For real-time feedback while on a video conference (like Zoom), you can do a quick ch eck-in to see if students have any questions or prob- lems. A handy feature is nonverbal feedback. It lets participants display an icon — such as "raise hand" or "thumbs up" — next to their name. Before y ou l aunch into a lesson , you can ask your students to give a thumbs up if they 're ready to start, letting you quickly gauge if they need more time to get their audio set up or log in to the learning management system (LMS), for example. Turning to formative assessment of content, Laura omas, who directs the Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, suggests using tools like Padlet or Google Forms to create exit slips to quickly collect student feedback at the end of class. A low-stakes approach ke e p s th e w o rkl o a d m a n a ge a b l e f o r teachers while giving concise, actionable feedback that can identify which students need extra support. If you're working within an LMS, Sarah Schroeder, an instructional designer and professor at the University of Cincinnati, recommends using built-in tools like discussion boards to field questions. Apps like Edpuzzle, Pear Deck and See- saw can integrate seamlessly into most LMSs, making it easier to collect feedback within a lesson — a key consideration that puts students' learning experiences front and center. "Flipgrid is a fantastic oral communica- tion application that is easy to use," writes high school English teacher Kyleen Gray. e popular video-sharing platform lets teachers pose a prompt that students can respond to through a short video — mak- ing it a valuable tool to collect feedback in an informal, interactive way. Research suggests that Flipgrid can boost students' feelings of connectedness in an online classroom, increasing their willingness to ask for help. is story originally appeared on Read the virtual room and collect feedback to gauge how well students understand the subject matter, and to identify obstacles preventing their full participation. Ask Your Students Y O U C A N I D E N T I F Y what's working or not for students in a virtual class- room by posing a few questions. These can be part of a larger survey to get a sense of how students are doing and whether they are learning what you expect them to learn. • How comfortable do you feel using technology for our virtual classroom? (You can use a Likert scale here, with a score of 1 being "not at all comfortable" and a 5 being "very comfortable.") • Have you encountered any technical issues, such as not being able to connect to the internet or not being able to hear me or other students talking? • Are assignments clear? Are you able to access them? • Are you having any trouble finding assignments, links to articles, or other documents online? Is the virtual space well organized? • Do you feel like your voice is heard? • Do you feel like you belong in our virtual classroom? • What can I do to improve our online classroom? 55 A U G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 0

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