Are you virtually teaching? I am going to assume your inbox has been inundated with emails from every tech company that has ever made an education tool. The onset of virtual teaching in March of 2020 opened the flood gates on technology tools for education. Let’s be honest, it is overwhelming.
I’ve been 100% virtually teaching since March 15, 2020 and I’ve learned a lot about what works and what surely does not. Number 1 is…
if you’re not invested, it’s not going to work. But that doesn’t just apply to technology that literally applies to anything about teaching… or life.
So, here is what IS working for me teaching virtually math. If you’re here you’re struggling to find the right tech tools to teach virtually hopefully seeing what works for me will help you!
I created a quick criteria list that I was looking for in each tech tool. I hope these will help you decide which tools will fit your needs.
#1) Padlet for Virtually Teaching Math
Pros for Padlet:
- Easy to use. Students can easily access this tool. I drop the link in the chat, they click it and we get started.
- Open Ended- There are so many possibilities with Padlet because it is so basic and open ended. However, you can add background images, Titles, Headings, etc.
- Interaction Tools. When you create the Padlet you can add an interaction tool for each post. You can include a “love” button, a rating, thumbs up or down, 1-5 star rating, and more. This allows students to engage with posts without having to write a comment. I have noticed an increase in engagement when I include the reaction feature.
- Easy to share photos. Padlet is the easiest platform I’ve found to add a picture. That’s it. It’s simple.
- Great for discussions. Padlet offers different types of formats for the posts. This allows for different types of discussions. I truly love this tool the best for getting an online discussion going.
Cons for Padlet:
- No Drawing Tool. For most of my text tools I’m looking for a way for students to draw on the slide or page. However, since I’ve mostly used Padlet for discussion, this really isn’t that big of a deal.
- Logging in can be challenging. If students are logged into their google account their name will pop up when they access the link. If not, they will appear as anonymous. I combat this by asking students to start each post with their first name.
Notes for Padlet:
Everyone can see everything– This a pro & a con. It makes it very easy to monitor student’s participation, but no privacy limits student participation. I have noticed students take less risks in putting their work “out there” when everyone can see it.
Voice Recorder– I love that students can also record their voice to leave their response. Really gives the “discussion feel” to their posts.
#2) Nearpod: For teaching Math Virtually
Nearpod is my go to for making my slides accessible for students. I have found their free version gives teachers the best value. The other tools that are similar (PearDeck) tool’s free version doesn’t give as many functionalities.
Pros for Nearpod for Virtually Teaching:
Cons for Nearpod.
- Time Consuming. It can take a while to convert your slides. It does add another step to your lesson planning, after you have created your slides to convert them to Nearpod. However, I think it is worth it for the benefits Nearpod offers.
- Logging in. Definitely takes time to log in and teach students how. You can share a direct link, which I think is the best method. You can also share a code that students can enter at their website.
- Limited Storage. On the free version you are limited in the amount of storage you have. However, I have not yet met my storage limit.
Notes about NearPod.
Monitoring & Sharing student Work. The teacher dashboard is truly BEAUTIFUL. You can see the students working on their slide in a tiled grid view or a large view of each students slide. You can also select “share with class” button to show the whole class one student’s work. I use this to get our discussions going by asking students to share their work.
Teacher Reports. After your live class you get a report that shows the students’ engagement, all of the responses to each type of questions, and more. This is really hugely helpful and all available on the FREE version.
#3) Jamboard for Virtually Teaching Math
Pros for using Jamboard to teach virtually.
- Drawing. Hands down best part of Jamboard is the options for drawing.
- Google Product. We know it, we love it. Google makes things simple and Jamboard is SIMPLE. Easy to use and easy to access.
- Open Ended. As stated above, Jamboard is simple and simple to use making its possibilities endless.
- Very Easy to Use. Yep. Very easy.
- Post it Feature. The sticky notes allow students to not only draw but type! Type, then move your typed comment anywhere.
Cons for Jamboard for Teaching Virtually
- Sometimes Lags. With a lot of people logged onto the same Jamboard something it will lag. This has made using Jamboard frustrating for my students.
- Students can edit all the slides. This is problematic when students start editing others’ work or slides. With older kids this is less of an issue, but definitely know that anything on the Jamboard can be edited by anyone.
- Put your name on you paper! There is no way to track who did what on the Jamboard, so students my “tag” their work with their name. I’ve found that if you assign one board for each student that seems to help… but they still have to put their name on it.
Notes on Jamboard
Update! You will soon be able to upload your own background. This will make it more similar to Nearpod, where you could upload a worksheet and students could complete with the drawing feature.
Everyone can see everything. This sometimes limits what students are willing to do or put out there. Some privacy helps students build confidence and willingness to take risks. Something to consider as you’re building your community up to use this tool.
Now it’s your turn…
I hope you have found something here that will help you choose the virtual teaching tools that will work best for virtually teaching math.
I would love to hear from you about the tools you are using and how it is going. Leave a comment below!
If you have any questions or want to connect to learn more about how I’m using these tools please feel free to reach out, any time! LocalLearnersAndCo@Gmail.com.