The Second Wave – how to prepare

Last week I received this mail;

Would you be interested in leading a discussion about teaching and learning during the pandemic? We want to talk about what we’ve all been going through, the new role of Flipped Learning, and how other educators are preparing to shift back and forth between on-site and remote teaching transition back to school. Second Wave Summit

The Second Wave Summit is a free virtual conference from June 29 to July 15th.

The second wave refers to the looming threat of the return of COVID-19 in the fall that may drive another round of school closures and remote learning. It also refers to the second round of contingency planning and preparation we all now need to do to prepare for the uncertainty of whatever is coming next. Linda Darling Hammond, Dr Eric Mazur, Lisa Nielsen, Jon Berman, Errol St. Clair Smith.

Sharing What Worked and Why

As COVID-19 spread, millions of educators around the world figured out how to make a rapid transition to online learning (RTOL). The magnitude of what we had to know and do was overwhelming. But so are the volumes of innovative strategies educators devised to make the leap. Many of the lessons learned are globally applicable and invaluable. As we pause to regroup, now is a good time to get global perspectives on what worked and why. What lessons can we carry forward? Second Wave Summit

In my preparation for the discussion, I started to think about what teaching and learning look like, and where it is headed. In the months following the Corona crisis, we dropped all state exams in Norway. Report cards were based on the assessment of online work students had prepared at home. I was anticipating discussions in Norway on how to take some of what worked well and further develop it. But nothing has changed, really. Because now as we are preparing the next school year the only thing that has changed is that we do not know for sure how the virus will influence our students’ timetables. Will they all be able to start at the same time? Or do we need to take precautions and plan when students commute to school? Minor organizational issues. Other than that we are talking business as usual. Even our strict rule of seat time at school is back. If you are a bright student, we will not let you graduate if you skipped school too many times. Attendance is more important than skills in Norway it seems. OK, we are in the middle of a school reform here. And I do have high hopes for our “Lied utvalg” Perhaps I am being overly pessimistic! It might be that I was anticipating more voices like the one below.

What does the transition back to school mean? And who defines the problem? Policymakers? The traditional educational experts? Headmasters? Teachers? Do students and teachers just go back to the school buildings, but in a sub-optimal, socially distanced situation? OECD Education and Skills Today

Is it really the plan to go back to business as usual but with restrictions, knowing school systems around the world need a push for the better?

This crisis should be our final wake-up call on educational reform and the need for reciprocity between teachers and students. Young people today are not the same as when we (I’m 54..) were young.  COVID-19 should be the final push we needed to put into practice what we actually already knew about changes in our educational systems. If we don’t act now, when will we? Are we brave enough to take the giant leap forward? Brave enough to rethink some very basic definitions: What is school? What is school for? Filling buildings and classrooms with students, following the curriculum, and aiming for good grades? Or is it for fulfilling the dream that all children have the opportunity and space to develop the knowledge, mindset and skills in a way that suits their needs, so they can become active, happy, and successful citizens? By H.R.H. Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands

Online school when the normal is brick and mortar

In Norway, students were home from school two months from the 13th of March.  On the 13th of May some students started school again and the next week all our 950 students were back at school. Shorter days groups of 15 instead of 30. At the end of May, the school opened up to business as usual. Still shorter days, but back to 30 in each classroom. It is not a surprise to us that students learn better at school although there are some exceptions. There always are. We must remember this was not a wanted situation. And many were lonely, scared, and worried. What have we learned from this and what could we do better if we were to close down again. Here are some of my reflections.

Teaching online

What is teaching online? Is it giving assignments with set reading requirements and written answers to be handed in at the end of the day/week? For some teachers, this was the norm. It is a bad idea for most students. A better way is to meet the students in Teams or Zoom. The teacher talks about the new topic, small lecture or talks, in some subjects a video to watch with the class or before the class. Then use the Zoom functionalities to dived the class into groups of 4 with specific tasks. The teacher visits all groups and offers help. The assignments can be met by the group producing individual texts, podcasts, videos, posters (padlet). The assessment can be in the group or individual, written test, or the teachers visit the groups and asks questions there.  The groups can be topic-specific or permanent groups. See examples here.  And read this article from Forbes.


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