When it comes to actual teaching during these trying times, one of the biggest obstacles is getting into frequent contact with authentic student work. I don’t how authentic it is, but I have been able to examine student work just about everyday in a way that isn’t totally horrible. Plus, with a little prep beforehand, I’m experimenting with how to seamlessly bring their work into our Zoom sessions to start conversations. Here’s what I’ve been doing. (My pal Michael Pershan wrote a great post on this topic, too.)
1. Before class, students do some math by hand on a given problem I’ve assigned.
2. They scan their work using Genius Scan. Scanned work has some serious advantages over regular photos. It’s clearer and glare and other lighting issues are usually minimized. Genius App is free — and I’m sure there are others like it.
3. They upload their scanned work to Google Classroom. I create a new Assignment for each problem in Classroom so that I’m only looking at work from one problem at a time. I make it clear to the kids that their “grade” for the assignment is based purely on completion, not correctness. That’s the bait I use to encourage them to submit work that is genuine. I think it’s working, but who knows. What else do I have?
4. After they submit their work on Classroom, here’s how it appears on my end:
In doing this almost every day, looking over their work and providing feedback has worked out far better than I thought it would originally. The whole process feels like it did when I collected work from them in person (minus handwritten feedback). The arrows near the top allow me to toggle between students with ease and leaving a “private comment” becomes a space for direct feedback that is emailed to each student on the spot. Copy and paste is my friend for common errors, which is a nice bonus that comes from typed feedback. In the comments, I have even been including links to other students’ work (anonymously) and YouTube videos that I know would help them. Some kids have told me that the feedback is helpful, but I know there are others that never use it…but this is not unlike the oft-ignored handwritten feedback I used to give them, right?
5. After looking at all of their work, I choose 3-4 interesting ones and paste those into a Google Doc. During our Zoom sessions, which are twice a week, I am developing a routine where I give the link to the doc and then put students in breakout rooms to discuss the work.
What’s nice about this is that not only are they assessing other kids’ work, which I find to be a worthwhile and engaging task for them, but even if they didn’t do the problem or submit it on Classroom (which is A LOT of them), they still have access to it and can think about math. It keeps all kids in the loop. Well, at least in theory. Most of my breakout rooms are jarringly silent.