Sunday, March 22, 2020

Creating Interactive Lessons Through App Smashing

Remote learning has been thrust upon school districts. The result has been disruptive change like we have never seen before.  In a previous post, I shared some broader ideas to help navigate these uncharted waters.  However, the fact remains that there are now expectations to get work out to kids in many forms. So, what does this all mean? Educators now shoulder the burden to create lessons and activities that will enable students to learn at home.  Virtually none have received extensive professional learning in this area. We know that teachers, like they always do, will rise to the occasion.  My goal is to try to make it a little easier with some simple to use tips on how to leverage free tools.

First and foremost, we must always keep sound pedagogy in mind, something that I discuss at length in Digital Leadership.   If the plan is to just “deliver” content though video, this constitutes no real difference from direct instruction in the classroom. Now I am not saying that teachers shouldn’t do this. The key is to ensure there is some interactivity during the synchronous component of the lesson or later on during the asynchronous part. Technology, if available for your learners, can play a vital role in accomplishing this goal. Most schools are relying on their Learning Management System (LMS) such as Google Classroom, Canvas, Microsoft Teams, or Schoology to push out work.  That is a good start, but not a solution if learning is the goal. Content consumption does not equate to the construction of new knowledge, discourse, answering questions, solving a problem, or creating a learning artifact. Here is where app smashing comes into play.

Greg Kulowiec provides an excellent working definition:
App Smashing is the process of using multiple apps to create projects or complete tasks. App Smashing can provide your students with creative and inspired ways to showcase their learning and allow you to assess their understanding and skills.
The power of an LMS can be unleashed when lessons or assignments are posted, and then students can respond in a variety of ways. For example, a teacher could create a video lesson, upload it to YouTube, and then utilize tools such as Edpuzzle or Playposit to make it interactive.  It can then be “smashed” with the LMS to push it out to learners to complete. Since many tools now allow the importing of rosters to the LMS’s listed above, it just makes sense to take advantage.

Here is another example.  Suppose you want to develop a literacy lesson for your learners.  ThingLink could be used to curate content (text, video, images). I often recommend the use of this tool in History as a way to explore primary source documents. After kids review the content, Google Forms could be used for them to answer higher-order questions.  The link to the form could even be included in the Thinkglink.  For multimedia discourse, tools like Padlet and Linoit could be smashed with your LMS.  If you or your school doesn’t use one of these at scale, consider using a general Google Doc where the permission is set that anyone can access without signing in. HERE you will find some great tools to get started. However, don’t limit yourself to this list as the possibilities are endless. Just like with remote learning in general, there isn’t one right way. The right or best way is your way.

A word of caution when it comes to app smashing.  It’s not how many tools you use that matters, but the degree to which your students use them to learn.  Many tools are being shared, which can be overwhelming.  Stick to one or three that you and your learners are most comfortable with using.  In this case, less is more.  If you are interested in learning more or seeing what other teachers have done, click HERE

For more ideas follow #remotelearning on social media.

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