Alongside my AMSP role, I teach maths two days a week at Hardenhuish School, a medium-large comprehensive school in Chippenham. In the weeks since lockdown began and we all had to start remote teaching, I found myself on the same steep learning curve that I expect most of us experienced. In May, I invited teachers from my local area to an online network meeting called Teaching Maths In Lockdown, which provided a chance for teachers to share nuggets of wisdom from their own experience, and what school or departmental policies were in place. Different schools had obviously set different guidelines depending on their individual circumstances – in some schools, live lessons were being delivered (roughly 50% of this group had some online contact with students), whilst others had developed other methods of remote learning.
During the session, three things stood out that some schools were using, and that other teachers were interested in finding out more about – how to handwrite on a computer, how to record your screen, and how the Desmos Classroom Activities work. As a follow-up, Ben Sparks and I ran a second session on approaches to screen handwriting and screen recording, with over 50 teachers in the first instance, and we have since repeated the session to cater for the high demand. We looked at writing on touchscreen devices with a stylus or using a graphics tablet, OneNote used as whiteboard software, using the inbuilt screen recording options in Powerpoint and other free screen recording software, and finished with a whole range of tips and tricks.
The third session in the trilogy was an introduction to the Desmos classroom activities. For live or asynchronous lessons, the Desmos Classroom Activities enable you to create a virtual lesson that students can work through, with all sorts of interactive features such as card sorts, graph plotters and multiple choice questions. If you are not teaching live lessons, you can even upload video examples for students to access through Desmos. The session was just a taste of what is possible with this, and we had a brief look at the new GeoGebra equivalent, the GeoGebra Classroom, which has only gone live in the last month or so. If you are interested to discover more about Desmos, then teachers in state-funded schools can sign up for the AMSP On Demand Professional Development (ODPD) course, Desmos in the Maths Classroom.
Following the sessions, I received the following feedback as part of an email from a teacher who attended the event:
“I have been meaning to email you to say I found the screen writing and screen recording session absolutely brilliant. I went out and bought a graphics tablet and have taught my first live lesson using this. I am also going to use the screen recording option in PowerPoint along with the screen writing to produce some short videos. I have also used the equation editor shortcuts since then which I didn’t know about. All in all a really useful session that has given me lots of new possibilities for distance learning and hopefully supporting my students better.”