Success story about distance learning

Author: Rigonda Skorulskiene

School: Kaunas Jesuit Gymnasium, Lithuania

Date: 23 – 24 April 2020

Context

During the pandemic, most of the schools in the whole world were closed. That meant most of the school communities had to take difficult and snap decisions. One of them is moving everything to virtual platforms, nearly overnight.

I am proud of my school‘s community and want to share our great experience and how we managed to survive this transition. In short, teachers and students are proud of our distance learning methods. After receiving the results of questionnaires, we noticed that nearly 75% of 368 students‘ parents evaluated us very positively too.

Students saying “Thank you” and sending us hearts.

Before we start analyzing STEAM education in times of remote learning, I would love to introduce the context first. Kaunas Jesuit Gymnasium is a private school, having about 800 students with ages ranging from 10 to 19 years old. Nearly 1/3 of students are from large families, having more than 3 children. You can read more about the school here: Kaunas Jesuit High School.

The 12th of March was our last day at school… Well, at least at the school we were used to. Since the 13th of March, the lessons of final years’ students were moved to virtual classrooms. From the 18th of March, all the students were learning from home, following our standard timetable. Even though the timetable was standard, the classrooms were not. That‘s how the timetable of our school looked like:

All students and teachers were given specific Google accounts by the school administration. Each of the class was given access to virtual classrooms using Google Meet, except for the final two years students, who were going to „Teachers’ Classrooms“.

If you are more interested in how the lessons and work were organized, you can check our video made in English.

Students tasks, homework and other docs were shared in Google Classroom.

The teacher from our school created a full series of tutorial videos to help other teachers to work with this platform.

After all lessons, our school teachers would discuss the issues that occurred during the online teaching with the administration. Those discussions were also a great opportunity to share experiences and find ways to improve our teaching. The school administration showed us great support during this period as well.

Yes, it is as it sounds. Students and teachers spent way too much time in front of our computers during quarantine, which negatively affected our health. Therefore, being active and doing sports was very important. For this reason, our physical education teachers not only did lessons for kids but also for the teachers.

Watch our video!

The exercise routine for eyes and head was introduced to us by our student‘s mother, who is a doctor. Unfortunately, it is in Lithuanian, however, you can learn how to do these exercises by just watching this video.

Tools

Now, let‘s focus more on the tools and activities of STEM subjects performed during distance teaching. During our lessons, especially in Physics, Chemistry and Maths, we are used to showing examples of solving problems on the whiteboard. As a substitute to this, during online teaching we used i3 interactive whiteboards. Here are some videos on how to use these boards.

This online board has not only typical functions but many different tools as well. This board supported pictures, 3D models and it contains the library of resources created by other teachers. Also, there are different tutorials about how to work with this platform. If only typing is required, LiveBoard can also be used. Here is my video tutorial on LiveBoard (in Lithuanian).

In STEM lessons, we cared a lot about research-related work. We always thought of research-based tasks that students would be able to do at home. For example, liquid surface tension.

Another experiment to do with children was measuring angle between sky objects with fingers.

Now that I mentioned the sky objects, I want to point out that constant staying at home was beneficial for observations. Students could download virtual Star Chart apps to their smartphones. During the lessons following apps were beneficial for discussions about observations:

One more internet resource I would love to recommend is this Periodic Table. In this periodic table, elements are well explained, and a lot of information is given. Even history teachers could find something interesting and useful for their lessons.

Many students had smartphones, which extends the possibilities of home experiments. Here is one of the most universal apps – Science Journal.

This app detects different sensors in our phone and allows to use them to measure and draw graphs. Also, it allows describing experiments in texts and pictures format. I cannot forget to mention that in this website you can find lots of ideas for your STEM lessons:

However, the most concentrated library of STEM lesson resources is GRAASP.

Another useful tool that I found was GoLabz. In this educational environment, you can create your lessons or use the ones created by other teachers. For example, my lesson „Physics On The Road“.

This lesson was successfully implemented during distance teaching. Here you can find some fragments from the lesson, links to students works and reflections (in English).

A lot of teachers knows and uses Kahoot! If you haven‘t tried it yet, you must do it as soon as possible.

For different questionnaires and reflections, I found Poll Everywhere to be useful. Therefore, I highly recommend for other teachers to use it as well.

Below is an example of question results analysis (X-axis – how did you feel during the lesson, Y – how useful this lesson was).

Dissemination

We always share with teachers and colleagues from different school our success stories. About 300 teachers registered to my Webinar on April 23rd “STEAM education for distance teaching” in Vytautas Magnus University Education Academy.

A full recording of my webinar (in Lithuanian) is available here.

There was another webinar on April 24th, called “STEM education for distance teaching” for Visaginas teachers.

Lithuanian Ministry of Education has created the website “Nuotolinis” (“Distance”), where they keep different resources and tips for distance teaching.

You can hear more about my experience in distance teaching (in Lithuanian) in this video (from 26th minute).

I‘ve shared with my experience in the press as well:

And here you can read my colleagues article in English.

I hope you‘ve found something interesting and useful for your lessons from this article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.