Teaching K-12 Online – part 1

A few years ago I went back to teaching after a really long gap of staying home with my kids. During those years home Common Core was instituted, SmartBoards were invented and a lot about the education world changed. There were a few things that made my entry back easier than it could have been.

  • I went back as a long term sub
  • The SmartBoard in the room I taught in was broken
  • I was already really progressive with tech when I left teaching
  • My husband works in tech
  • My kids were in grades 6 and 9 and were very willing to help me

There were more things, but these were the essentials. At the core of this was the fact that my students were not at all used to being taught with tech because of the broken SmartBoard. I had the gift of time to innovate given the conditions I was working with. I wrote this post on my husband’s blog about my journey into tech.

Essentially I used an iPad, Apple Pencil and an Apple TV to create a pretty sweet set-up in class. My daughter’s music app, ForScore helped me SO much with this. After that year I was again out of teaching for a bit, but part of my former tech teacher self were awakened and ready for what could come down the road.

The post I planned to write all year

Two years ago I got another long term sub job in the same district. The room I was in was similar to the other room in that the SmartBoard wasn’t working properly. It wouldn’t stay calibrated. Full disclosure about me here. I’d rather not have something than have it working sub-optimally. I am just not willing to constantly re-calibrate a board. I’ll switch over to a whiteboard instantly over having kids wait will I deal with minor tech things. I have absolutely no patience for tech glitches when I’m a student so I pull that mental framework into my teaching. I say this because probably the board wasn’t all that bad. It would stay calibrated for about half a period, it is just that I wanted more than that. This room didn’t have an Apple TV though, so I asked if I could bring an old one in (the district countered that they had one they could install – yay!) and I before long I was back to my former set-up.

What about recording my class?

Once I got back to teaching with tech I sometimes recorded lessons at home using the built in screen recorder from the iPad. I did this for review games. I used Google Slides and then the kids would get the problems in a team game format. Instead of pausing after each problem to go over it and write things on the board I’d play the video that was inserted from my iPad into the Slides presentation. It had no audio so I could talk in real-time in class over the video and explain, pause etc. The bonus for me is that I didn’t have to do the same problems in real time all day long but could talk about them. The bonus for the kids is that I could share this at home with them and they could watch the problems worked out for extra studying.

One night I was running with a friend and I told her about this. I shared my new idea that I had just come up with. What if I recorded EVERY class? I could post it in Google Classroom and students could watch it if they were absent or needed to catch up?

The screen won’t record

I shared my idea with my husband and kids. They were a little iffy about this. What about background noise? What about discipline? Oh it’s ok I said, “It will be in Google Classroom only so it is private to the students. I will tell them I’m recording the class. It is just my screen, so you will just hear me and muffled background noises.” The next day I prepped my first period class, connected the iPad to the Apple TV and then tried to hit record. NOTHING. I couldn’t record. Not one to dwell I told them I’d figure it out and just taught the unrecorded lesson.

You can’t record AND screen share

Ok so I learned this in REAL time that you can’t record and screen share at the same time. I would need an app for that. Down I went into the rabbit hole of app finding. I admit that I dropped this for awhile. I didn’t actually NEED to record my lessons. I just thought it would be cool. Then, enter in an opportunity for a self paced professional development class through my local BOCES. We were exposed to a lot of tech things as part of this class. I did all my learning between 5 and 6 am and tried out a variety of the platforms in the classroom. As part of this class I stumbled upon Explain Everything. This program was my ticket to recording my lessons.

In my next post I’ll share how that played out over the course of the next two years and how that base helped me transition into K-12 online teaching this past week when Coronavirus forced us all to innovate further.