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How to Plan for an Entire School Year of Digital Learning

The upcoming school year has many uncertainties. No one knows for sure how COVID-19 will affect student learning or how long teachers will need to rely heavily on digital learning. Many teachers are being forced to completely rethink the way they deliver instruction. The good news is, there are many great options available. Google classroom, Screencastify, Schoology, and Zoom are making the transition smoother. Teachers Pay Teachers has enabled users to easily convert word or pdf resources into digital formats. Whichever online learning platform you use, the school year will be much easier if you begin with the end in mind. This is a concept every veteran educator knows well. Before uploading the first PowerPoint, video lecture, or student assignment, it is a good idea to make a digital pacing guide. By making a digital pacing guide, you can see clearly which essential standards, objectives, assignments, lectures, activities, and assessments you can comfortably fit into the curriculum. This will help you to deliver instruction, remediate, or accelerate as needed to keep students learning at an appropriate speed and level. There are several ways to do format a digital pacing, for simplicity; I will describe the simplest method in this post.

What you will need:

  • 2021 School Instructional Calendar

  • Curriculum Standards/Objectives

  • Pacing guide or units to include

  • Assignments list (Optional)

  • Assessment list (Optional)

  • Other curriculum resources you plan to pull from

Step 1: In an excel spreadsheet, create the following columns (adjust as needed)

Week | Date | Unit Title | Lesson Title | Standard | Objective | In-Class (live online) Instruction Title | Student Independent Practice | Assessment

Step 2: Label the following rows (adjust for your schedule)

  • Class/Section

  • Period

Step 3: Using your instructional calendar input the dates of school days in the “dates” column. (This is important, you need to input your instructional days first.

Step 4: Fill in the class and section or period rows for each class and date.

Step 5: Identify how many days/weeks you will spend teaching each unit based on what level of detail you plan to go into. Place unit titles in the appropriate columns based on the dates you will teach them.

  • The example shown below demonstrates how this looks on a modified 90-minute class schedule for high school. In this situation, students are divided into two cohorts (by splitting eight classes in half). Students will meet face to face with instructors in a socially distanced classroom setting once each week. Instructors see blocks 1, 3, 5, & 7 on Mondays (Cohort 1) and Wednesdays (Cohort 2) and blocks 2, 4, 6, & Advisement on Tuesdays (Cohort 1) and Thursdays (Cohort 2). In this hybrid digital learning format, those activities students are required to complete outside of the face-to-face meetings have active hyperlinks with the resources students will need for learning.

  • Here is a sample of a digital curriculum guide in word format.

Step 6: Complete the template for the entire course. In this way, you will realize exactly how deep you can go into each unit while setting reasonable workloads for students. Good luck! Whatever happens, teachers will remain education’s most valuable resource and most definitely essential!

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