The shift to remote and/or hybrid teaching during the 2020-21 school year resulted in many educators adapting their teaching practice in order to accommodate the swift change to their students' learning structures. Now that this school year is coming to a close, it is the perfect time to reflect on the teaching practices, engagement strategies, and technology tools that we may decide to continue utilizing in the years to come in order to enhance instruction in the field of mathematics.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, my math students at Red Bank High School in Chattanooga, TN, used technology on a somewhat regular basis through online practice and formative assessments. It should be noted that our school district has a 1 to 1 student to Chromebook ratio and also, that community partners have made access to the Internet more accessible through hotspots and reduced-cost programs. During our shift to all virtual learning and the eventual transition to hybrid learning, my utilization of technology has and continues to grow exponentially as I enhance my mathematics instruction. This school year has been filled with a multitude of difficulties and hardships. Educators continue to experience the opportunities and challenges that come with facilitating mathematics instruction in a digital classroom; that is why, as we start to intentionally plan for the next school year, ASSISTments can be an effective tool to help students and teachers monitor understanding and learning.
The following are opportunities and challenges to consider for your 2021/22 digital classroom:
Opportunities in the Digital Classroom:
- Immediate Feedback: With ASSISTments, students receive immediate feedback so they are able to gauge their understanding. In addition, students can receive hints and explanations to support them in their learning. understanding as they complete their assignments.
- Personalized Learning: With ASSISTments, teachers are able to leverage student and class data to promote the collaborative analysis of questions and responses. This focus on what students need helps make time in class more effective for student learning and can facilitate in creating agents of learning.
- Ease in Accessing and Understanding Student Data: With ASSISTments, teachers get real-time assignment reports that detail student performance, class performance, and question analysis.
Challenges in the Digital Classroom:
- Emphasis on the Tech Tools over Instruction: With many educational technology tools, sometimes the focus becomes more on using the tool and less on how to utilize the tool for digital instruction. With ASSISTments, the focus is on improving student learning through responsive online technology that is teacher-paced and evidence-based. The true magic of ASSISTments is when students and teachers analyze the responses together to determine the material that is mastered and material that may need remediation or reteaching.
- Educators Not Supported in Effective Digital Instructional Practices: When many schools transitioned to virtual or hybrid learning, many educators felt overwhelmed with this potential obstacle in teaching. ASSISTments offers numerous professional learning opportunities to help teachers grow their math instructional practices.
- Potential Lack of Collaboration: In digital modalities, it can be difficult to collaborate with fellow educators. ASSISTments offers Virtual Professional Learning Communities to support the effective use of ASSISTments and leverage the community of ASSISTments users.
As many schools and districts transition back to “normal” operations, the lessons learned and innovative teaching practices that were utilized should not be squandered or reverted. Educators should continue to use tech tools, such as ASSISTments, to foster mathematical learning in their students.