The omicron variant of the Corona virus is spreading across the globe like wild fire. However, up to this point we have not heard from the health authorities whether this new and virulent variant has been discovered in SVG. Given what is currently known about Omicron, it is safe to assume that it is already here and we should act accordingly.
My major concern is the anticipated spike in cases and what it might mean for the resumption of school in a face-to-face setting. Online education has been a failure for many despite the sterling efforts made by students, teachers, parents and the authorities. For me, a return to online school is utterly and completely out of the question. Therefore, we must learn to live, work and play with the virus even as Omicron rages.
I listen to the experts. In so doing, I learn a lot. For instance, despite the virulence of variants such as Omicron, the world is much better armed to put up a fight against the pandemic than we were in the early months of its emergence. The public health protocols, the emerging therapeutics and, yes, the vaccines have all put us in a position to effectively combat and defeat Omicron. However, to arrive at this point, it requires global solidarity, national unity and personal responsibility.
As long as we are prepared to do what is required, face-to-face school can and must resume indefinitely. To do so safely and thus minimize outbreaks of Omicron, all concerned must adhere to the following:
1. Regular sanitization of hands and surfaces;
2. Wearing masks in the appropriate settings.
3. Observing social distancing as far as practicable;
4. Conducting regular testing for COVID-19 among all school personnel; and
5. Vaccinating ALL who are eligible including students.
The pandemic forced us to make some serious adjustments to life and work. Some of them made sense, others have turned out to be nonsensical. Online school was nonsensical. Even as Omicron rages, keep our school doors open. Let’s beat the pandemic by following the science.
Note: I share an account by one teacher of how she manages to stay connected with her students during the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting closure of schools. My colleagues and I have been making use of the same platform, Edmodo. I highly recommend it to those of you who may not have settled yet on how to stay connected. In a future post, I will share my own experience.
P. J. A John\\
Distance Learning: How to Teach in the Time of the Coronavirus
By Alessandra Pallavicini, EFL Teacher and Edmodo Certified Trainer, Italy|March 21st, 2020
These are hard times for schools and for us teachers. Staying at home does not mean rest and relaxation at all, but rather, since families expect instruction and lessons to be carried out even from a distance. The task of a teacher becomes even more difficult as preparing a lesson to do later in class is very different from preparing it, recording it (or instructing live) and then sharing it online.
Luckily for teachers, there is Edmodo! Never before has Edmodo proved so useful for its flexibility. Once a tool in our kit during classroom time or after school, Edmodo takes on a more prominent role, offering the ability to upload various materials, lessons, quizzes, and homework and then share them with students.
As a teacher, once you’ve created your own Edmodo Classes (depending on what subjects you teach and how many different classes you have), you’ll then want to organize your content and communication, making the best use of features such as subgroups and folders. A good rule of thumb is to create an orderly environment. For instance, in an online environment, students are better off responding directly to a teacher’s message rather than creating a post for all classmates to see.
Notes can be used to create announcements, lessons and discussions. Important announcements can then be pinned to ensure that they are easily found. In a Note, you can create a lesson by adding all the necessary information and attaching useful links. You can also create short, simple videos with further explanations which are then attached to the Note for the lesson. This is especially useful if the lesson hasn’t covered all the material or if it is particularly difficult for students. I am creating many of these videos—simple and short and based on the textbook where the topic is explained clearly. Using the comment section, students can ask questions or request further explanations.
In my opinion, sharing your lesson is not enough. We need to engage our students by asking them to answer questions on the topic that is being addressed. And, to make the online learning experience more closely match learning in the classroom, have students comment on each other’s answers. This is important in maintaining, as far as possible, contact between classmates. When my students took part, I was pleasantly surprised by the level of interest and care with which students participated in discussion.
Edmodo also allows you to create Quizzes and Assignments to assess learning progress. A Quiz provides the level of understanding for a topic and therefore allows us to determine overall student understanding so that we can continue moving forward or decide to stop and go over the topic again. And, don’t forget that Quizzes and Assignments can be shared among colleagues so we can help each other with relevant, high-quality learning content.
Lastly, I suggest following the hashtag #bettertogether on Edmodo to find and share good practices with other educators and to feel less alone in these difficult times!
May 06, 2020