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Engaging students in their online work

I talked in my last post about using breakout groups as a way to create some student autonomy in my classroom. My in-person classroom was such a place of activity and a place where students could come to discuss math. The online version of this math community quickly evolves in nothing more than direct instruction if I am not careful about my planning. A couple of tech finds have helped me engage students more than me just speaking at them through the computer while changing slides. I try to use Pear Deck(through Google Slides) and activities from the Desmos website as much as I can. Pear Deck has a dashboard where you can view students as they work and give them verbal feedback. Desmos has its summary chart that also lets you view student work and checks off correct answers as they go. Desmos also lets you write comments to students on each slide of their work if you do not have enough class time to share. What I have found with both of these technology resources is that students get engaged! There are still some stragglers but I can immediately see who they are. Students can work at their own pace, which is a big part of a math community. Even if all students do not make it through all of the work in the allotted time, they are still gaining understanding. I have students sending me messages constantly in the chat to check their work and then to ask why their answer is not correct. I know it is not the perfect situation but from my end, it feels better and I know understanding is happening!

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