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I was starting to feel like it had been forever since I last posted so I thought I would write a brief update. As I referenced in my last post, the sudden switch to online learning dramatically shifted my focus from engaging, in-person learning to surviving the online experience. This dramatic mindset shift has influenced my work so far this summer. While I've been doing my usual summer work of packet updates (refining and adjusting the problems we explore during class), my goal, first and foremost, is to avoid simply surviving a possible return to online learning. Instead, I want to feel prepared and confident my students are learning and feeling sincere support from me and their peers.
I want to be able to support my students who may not be able to return to school. I want to be able to support my students if I can't come to school. I want to be able to switch smoothly from online collaboration to whiteboarding together or as together as possible. This is obviously the dream and if I had a magical solution ready to go, believe me, I would share! All I can share is what I am doing to get ready and why I am doing it.
As you know, I teach regular level physics and AP®. During these last two months, I have focused primarily on my regular course. These students especially need to feel they can be successful in physics. In-person, I work every minute to boost their confidence through immediate feedback, thoughtful questions, humor, and consistent encouragement. By building our relationship class-by-class (particularly during whiteboarding sessions), they feel supported in this intimidating subject as we gradually add skills to our practice.
How do I build this trust and confidence online? I've decided (right or wrong, I don't know...) the first step is to put myself in their digital space. I already have a YouTube channel I use primarily for bare-bones videos I've made for my AP® students...kind of an online textbook. Now, I've been creating videos for my regular students. Yes, these are like flipped classroom videos. I'm not pioneering something new. What I am hoping will feel unique (and special?) to my students is that I am writing to them, I am talking to them, and my kids are doing demonstrations in my house for them. I'm not using videos made by someone else (with likely far superior editing capabilities). They're getting me. They are hearing our shared vocabulary and seeing the packet pages they have physically in front of them. I'm aiming for as much familiarity, comfort, and consistency as possible. I am hopeful the personal touches and the references to our work together make my students feel connected and supported.
I feel compelled to add that I'm still keeping in mind my overarching goal of a student-driven learning experience as I curate these videos. They're supportive enough to get students started in our collaborative problem-solving work (online or in-person) but also open enough to require them to make connections far beyond the video content. For instance, I only show one example of motion graphs for an object speeding up in the positive direction, allowing me to define acceleration. Next, the students use that foundation to figure out what slowing down looks like or what switching directions looks like!
If you are interested in checking these videos out (the image above is a still shot from one of my forces videos), I've compiled them into one playlist for easy reference, and they are also divided into units on my main channel page. I'm still working on these each day! My goal is to wrap them up by the end of this month so I can turn my attention to my AP® course before the school year ramps up. I can't believe it's July already...
I send my support out to all teachers facing the unknown year ahead. Your students are tremendously lucky to have you!