Where to Start with Distance Learning

Many teachers are in the same boat. You might be thinking…I do a few things online with my students, but not much. If the extent of your online teaching/learning has been Kahoot or Quizlet, then good job! That’s a start. Don’t be ashamed. If you have dabbled in Google Classroom, then Yay! The key is not to be afraid to try new things. There’s always a learning curve, no doubt about it. The more you become familiar with something, then the easier it will be. The key is to start!

So how will you reach your students? Your district is probably scrambling to come up with a plan. I know my district has been having internet issues… as in a virus attacked our whole system. Google Classroom was being used by most of our teachers, but when the district internet and website when down, we couldn’t access Google Classroom. Luckily I was using Blogger. If you’d like to read more about how I use Blogger, then go here: Using Blogger for Online Teaching. I love Blogger because I do not have to rely on my district for anything which is a blessing!

I think it is important to find something you feel comfortable with and something that is free! If you already use Remind with your students, this would be another way to guide them to where you want them to go. If you’ve never used Remind, then check it out here: REMIND. It is not a website, but it is a way to communicate with your students, so let’s say you wanted your students to go to a video, or go do an online activity, you could tell them through Remind!

Once you know how to stay in contact with your students, it’s time to figure out what activities to give them. The reason I love Blogger is because I can use a picture of my resources and place them on my blogspot. How do I check to see if they did it? I’m planning on checking their journal at some point. Right now with COVID-19, I don’t know if we will go back to school anytime soon, so the next thing I gave them was a Quizziz.com activity to see if they understand this material. I love this platform because I can look at the report to see if they did it, how many times they attempted it and how well they did. I stick with these free online tools to check for understanding as well as to teach:

  • Google Slides – like PowerPoint (use with your google account…if you have gmail, you have google slides)
  • Google Forms – Good for assessment (if you have gmail, you have google forms)
  • Hyperdocs – A way to deliver your lessons and provide links to online tools. This site has several templates and tutorials.
  • Quizziz – Self-checking
  • Boom Learning – Self-checking
  • YouTube – Video Learning Tool
  • Khan Academy – Video and Tutoring Tool
  • Flip Grid – Video Tool (students explain a concept on a short video)
  • Desmos – Graphing Calculator Tool with Free Lessons – There are two places you will want to use: Free Calculator and Teacher Resources
  • Screencast-O-Matic – Video your computer screen while you are explaining.

My suggestion is not to overwhelm yourself or your students. Pick a couple of resources that you feel are best for you and stick with them for a while. Ask other teachers in your school what they are using. Get with teachers in your department and share the workload. Some other tools you should check out are Google Meets and Zoom. These are video conferencing tools where you can actually see your students live.

If you are a secondary math teacher, then I have several distance learning activities in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store that you might be interested in. I also have a Boom Learning Store called Time Flies. You can go to either store and find all kinds of things that would be helpful. Here’s the link to my distance learning resources in my Time Flies TpT store.

I wish you the best in your online teaching journey. You can do this! If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below. Good Luck!

***New on Teachers Pays Teachers! If you purchase a PDF, then that resource might be eligible to use digitally. Look to the right of the product page and if you see “Create Digital Activity” button, then you have access to a digital resource!

Looks like this on the product page after your purchase:

Here’s what it looks like when you are preparing it to be assigned. You can change things as you see fit.

More of my favorite activities that can be used digitally:


Using Blogger For Online Teaching

I’ve thought many times about writing about how I use Blogger for my classroom. With the coronavirus outbreak, it seems like a perfect time to do this. Like many of you, my district has called off classes for two weeks and who knows if it will go longer. I will still be able to give my students the things they need through Blogger. I’m really grateful that I started using this free platform.

I’ve been on spring break for a week. The week before spring break, we lost our school internet and the school website and all of the systems that we use. I’m in a huge district, so how could this happen? I still was able to use many of my tools because my campus has a second internet since we are connected to a college campus. I was still able to use my Blogspot! I started using Google Classroom at the beginning of the year to see what all of the fuss was about and I found it too restricting. I have too many things in my personal Google Drive and it was a pain to go back and forth between my personal Google Drive and the school Google Drive. I still love Google Forms and Google Slides etc., but I use them through Blogger which is a free blog publishing service by Google. If you have a gmail, then you have access to Blogger!

Here’s how to get to Blogger… Open a tab in Google Chrome. (You need to be signed in to your gmail.) In the top left part of the page you opened, you will see the waffle I highlighted. Click that waffle and you will see lots of stuff you can use. You may need to use the slide bar to find Blogger. Blogger has a funny looking B with an orange background. Click it! Follow the directions to set up the blog. The best thing to do if you are unsure of how to do the set up is to go watch a YouTube video. When I set mine up, I just fumbled my way through it. Don’t worry about a custom domain. You have to pay for domain names, so stick with the name that blogger has you create.

Go check out my Blogspot if you’d like an example. I’m giving you a chance to check it out so that you can use my ideas. It’s been recently updated, so it does not look exactly like the picture below. Here’s the link: https://mrshamitersclass.blogspot.com/.

Now that you have this platform, you just need to give your students the link. I teach 3 different subjects. I could have a Blogspot for each subject, but I thought it would be easiest to have just one. I usually like to give assignments in the sidebar using “pages” and make announcements to all classes on the main section of the blog which is called the “posts”. I’m not always consistent on that, but students know to look in both places. I also have started using a Google Calendar which is another way to attach lessons and/or quizzes and tests.

My purpose for giving my fellow math teachers access to my Blogspot is because I want to help. Even if you do not want to create your own Blogspot, then feel free to rummage through mine and find things you need. Also, I will be posting lessons for my students starting tomorrow.

While I’m at it, I have a free item to give you. A perfect tool during this time of distance learning is Boom Learning. Click here to get my free Domain and Range Practice Boom Cards. If you’ve never used Boom Cards, you can add a new platform to your list of online tools! You will not regret it. They are easy to use and self-checking.

We will all get through this crazy time. Teachers are the toughest people I know. Be strong for your students. They look to us, so we must remain in control and be good examples for our students. I wish you well and please let me know if I can help you any further.