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Using Cognitive Load Theory to Design Effective Online Instruction

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 I would like to share with you a small change that made a big difference in my own teaching this week. To give you a little background, I am a huge fan of EduTwitter (aka educators on Twitter) and as I was scrolling through my feed I saw this infographic about Cognitive Load Theory. As I looked at it, I had an eureka moment. In trying to keep my normal in-person (AP) pace, I was overloading my remote learners. Here's a brief explanation as to why and how I changed my practices. (Image Credit: https://images.app.goo.gl/hea8W3pM4SskjyhcA) Cognitive Load Theory was introduced by Dr. John Sweller in 1988. His theory built on what was known about memory capacity. He theorized that the way instruction is designed can reduce the cognitive load in learners. "Cognitive Load" refers to the amount of information that the memory can handle at one time. There are three types of memory; sensory, working and long-term. Sensory memory acts like a filter and directs our attenti

Growth through Gratitude

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November is a hard time of the year for teachers. The days are shorter, the weather is colder and the honeymoon period has been over for quite awhile. Teacher burnout peaks and motivation falls. This year the transition to winter is made even more difficult because it is fraught with unprecedented challenges impacting both teachers and students.  In my next series of posts, I would like to share some interventions that can increase your and your students' well-being. I will even share a way that you can incorporate them into your building to increase the well-being of your faculty. The field of positive psychology is the scientific study of what makes life worth living (Peterson, 2008). According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, there are three factors that influence a person's happiness; genetics, life circumstances and intentional activity. You might not be able to change your genetics or even your life circumstances, but you can change your intentional activities. In the field of psych

Remote 3.0

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This week my district transitioned back to remote instruction. This is the third time that we switched modalities this year. I can honestly say that this was the smoothest transition that I experienced in the past 7 months. Since I was already teaching using a HyFlex model all of my lessons were already designed with the virtual student in mind. In this post, I will share some adjustments that I have made to make Remote Learning 3.0 more successful and share what those changes will look like in my next unit. I believe that teaching is both a craft and a science. As a teacher, I use data about my students' learning and engagement to tailor my instruction to meet their needs. Teaching in a remote setting requires the same sort of adjustments I would make any other year. I have found myself making  administrative and instructional  adjustments to my instruction as a result of teaching online. From an administrative standpoint, I have made the following adjustments: Labels : I labe

HyFlex: Teaching In-Person and Online

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My district's return to learn plan provides the students two options: to return to in-person learning on a modified HyFlex schedule or to remain fully remote.  In a HyFlex model, learning is provided in-person and online simultaneously. For example, a student might be asked to Zoom into a live class from home. A HyFlex learning model is different from a Hybrid or Blended learning model. In a Hybrid or Blended model, the teacher purposefully designs a blend of in-person and online learning and gives the students some control over the time, pace, path or place of their learning. In this post, I will share my planning process for HyFlex instruction and give you a sneak peek into my Sensation and Perception unit. HyFlex Model  In 2020, students across the United States have had their education disrupted by Covid-19, forest fires, hurricanes and tornadoes. The HyFlex model grew out of a need for a more  accessible option for students whose access to the school building has been disrupte

Remote Learners in a Hybrid World

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In my district, the students were given the option to return to in-person learning on a hybrid schedule or to stay fully remote. Students may choose to stay remote for a variety of reasons including being at high-risk for severe illness from Covid-19, living with someone who is high risk, providing childcare for siblings or they might just prefer the online learning modality. Offering both modalities is asking teachers to, in effect, teach online and in-person at the same time. Both groups of students deserve a robust and engaging learning experience. The challenge for teachers in this model is to create an accessible, inclusive and equitable learning environment in a way that is sustainable. A ccessible I thi nk one of the most important lessons that I have learned while teaching during a pandemic is the importance of accessibility. As a result of teaching remotely I realized that my classroom has not always been accessible. In the past, if a student was absent I asked them to get t

Back to Basics

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We are currently on track to return to modified in-person instruction in October.  My district is using a hybrid model in which the students will be alternating between in-person and online instruction.  In this blog post, I will share an easy way to start the planning process when your students are attending both in-person and online. Backwards Design I use the process of backwards design to guide my redesign.  I identify what the students need to know by the end of the unit  and determine how I can measure if they learned it or not.   Once I have determined what I need to teach, I can identify the most appropriate and engaging ways to share the content.  I use a tool called a "Mix Map" to help me visualize this process. It provides a snapshot of how the class or unit is currently balanced and it allows me to identify redesign opportunities. There are three steps to this process: 1. Classification: Classify the elements of each lesson element according to how they have bee

Feedback as Fuel for Connections

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This is the 3rd post in a series exploring how to build connections in the remote classroom.  I'll be honest, I've never given enough thought to how I utilize feedback in my classroom.  It just seemed to happen organically during class discussions, group work, or one-on-one meetings when a student was struggling.  I did not have a system in place to consistently provide specific feedback to every student in my class.  Teaching remotely has forced me to reevaluate my current practices because feedback is one of the few ways that I can make sure that I make consistent contact with every student. Feedback is routinely recognized as one of the most effective instructional strategies. John Hattie & Robert Marzano both agree that feedback that includes comments on the quality of the work and ways to improve on it are essential to learning. Recent research indicates that the type of feedback offered can lead to increases in: 1. Connections between teacher and students 2.