#remotelearning: Building Community and Skills

If we can see the closure of schools and students continuing to learn remotely as an opportunity

  • to create learning experiences that allow us to explore new forms of teaching and learning
  • to build skills that will support the now literacies (digital citizenship, information literacy, media literacy, network literacy global literacy)
  • to build skills that will foster a new sense of community (again not aiming to substitute the same in-person- community we are used to)
  • to find learning experiences for us as educators as well as our students that help develop now skills
  • to amplify collaboration and embed crowdsourcing
  • to communicate with each other beyond space (geography) and time (asynchronously)
  • to document FOR Learning in order to support reflection and metacognition and collaboratively learn from this crisis
  • to move from consumption of information to creation (remixing, adding value, creating new) of information.
  • to foster self- directed and self-motivated learning and working skills
  • to foster social-emotional learning
  • to practice balance between our analog and digital activities
  • to amplify reading and writing to include new forms
  • to develop skills that Alan November proposes in his First 5 Days

#remotelearning is an opportunity:

  • not to substitute the exact same in-person-schedule students follow traditionally in school
  • not to find technology tools to automate what we would have done in person
  • not to give our students a package of worksheets to complete as “busy work” and a way to say “we covered it”.
  • not to have our students sit quietly in front of their screens through long lectures of recorded videos or live video conferences
  • not to expect the same results as face to face teaching and learning
  • not to focus on analog reading and writing skills alone
  • not to isolate ourselves and students in our learning, finding ways to connect beyond our quarantined walls and even connect globally

Let’s Play

How about organizing a game of Scattegories to play virtually with your students, classmates, family or friends as we are hunkering down in self-quarantine due to the Corona Virus?

So, how do you play together, when participants are not in the same location? Connect with a video conferencing tool, such as Skype, Zoom, Google Hangout or Facetime! For our family game we connected 4 generations in 4 countries and from 3 continents all at home due to a self-imposed quarantine:

  • Sophia (15 yrs) and Max (7 yrs) from Canada
  • Elena (7 yrs), Leah (25yrs), and Silvia (52 yrs) in the USA
  • Karin (79 yrs) in Argentina
  • Nanni (76 yrs) from Germany.

The game was explained via a family group text message, the time we would meet was set up and I initiated the group video call. Initially, we made sure everyone knew how to mute and unmute themselves, so not everybody would be speaking at the same time and to minimize background noises.

Scattegories is easily adaptable to the age of the players. Rules are simple:

  1. Pre-determine the categories you will use. Create a grid with as many columns as categories, add a column to be able to record the total points earned after each round.

2. One participants starts by saying the letter A out loud and continues to recite the alphabet silently in his/her head until another predetermined person calls out “Stop”. The participant, who had silently continue to recite the alphabet, announces the letter out loud he had reached when the Stop was called.

3. Once the letter is identified, all participants write down answers for each category, the answer has to start with the identified letter for this round. Participants race to find an answer for all categories. The person, who finishes first, calls out STOP and everyone has to put the writing utensil down. The round is over.

4. Scoring: The person who finished first all categories, reads his/her answer for each category out loud.

  • If a unique answer (no one else had the same answer) was provided, the player receives 10 points.
  • If two or more players had the same answer in a category, each player receives 5 points.
  • If a player was the only person with an acceptable answer in a given category, the player receives 20 points.
screenshot from a desktop mac
Elena using an iPad to participate
screenshot from an iPhone

Here some initial testimonials about our first virtual game:

My favorite thing about the game was I got to say my name on the E part and nobody had it

Elena- 7 years old- USA

My opinion as the grandma who also is in self-quarantine:  I enjoyed seeing the whole family on screen right here in my living room!  It occupied a few hours of the long day!! I enjoyed it and made me happy!

Karin- 79 years old- Argentina

It was not hard playing when we were not in the same room my favourite thing about playing the game is that the you could even write your own name!

Max – 7 years old- Canada

I thought it would be difficult to do it through Facetime but the system that Tia Silvia thought of (the one where anybody who isn’t speaking at the moment mutes themselves) was really effective. My favorite part of the game was spending time with you guys- it’s amazing that through technology, we can communicate with each other even if we live in different countries

Sophia- 15 years old- Canada

I enjoyed the game yesterday as it is a good training for my brains

Nanni- 76 years old- Germany

Facetime group video conference worked well. I was able to call the group directly from the previously created group iMessage chat. What impressed me the most was the ease of ALL FOUR GENERATIONS of moving to our digital game. The “little ones” and the “older ones” just seamlessly were able to adapt and have fun with the game. I observed global awareness, empathy (#weareallinthistogether), and communication skills developing,

Silvia- 52 years old- USA

The call was such a success, that we planned another one right away. This time we played the Mystery Person game.

Mystery Person

Rules

  • One person will think of a “Mystery Person”… it has to be a person that ALL of us know in some shape or form. The person can be someone who is dead/alive? Or it could be a fictitious person (ex. a character from a book or a movie). It can be someone famous like an actor or a singer or a cartoon… But you have to be sure that everybody will have heard of it. 
  • One person will start by saying: “ I am thinking of a person, that you are not thinking of…”
  • The next person will ask a question that can only be answered with Yes or No
  • If the answer is Yes, that person can continue asking a question
  • If the answer is NO, it is someone else’s turn.
  • Winner is the one who reveals the correct Mystery Person
Unfortunately my screencasting tool did not capture the audio of the video conference. In this short video clip, you can still get a feel of the engagement and happiness of all the participants.

How could you adapt any of these games, we played as a family virtually with your students? Could you invite another class/students from across town or another country to join? Could you invite the elderly from a nursing home or grandparents from your students? Would you play with a smaller group or an entire class? How would you document learning, community building, skills developed?