Teaching with tech

Strategies used in remote learning now enhancing the classroom 

Teaching with tech

Some forms of new technology developed during remote learning, which had previously never been used, are being brought back into classrooms. 

Tools like Google Meet, Pear Deck, and other forms of digital work now have a greater presence within in-person schooling than they did pre-pandemic. 

“It’s a new piece of technology that adds to the classroom and student learning,” said science teacher, Howard Hu. “It would have definitely been helpful before the pandemic. When students were absent I would just catch them up upon their return and there was really no way to ‘Zoom’ them in or use a Google Meet during class.”

Google Classroom was introduced to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) at the start of the 2015-2016 school year. Prior to this, Jones had its own online platform to post homework and other assignments. 

“When Google Classroom came to CPS it was very wonky,” said science teacher Heidi Park. “Everything was on the stream; there was no classwork page, and you couldn’t categorize things. So it was a little bit of a mess.”

Now, with an updated and more functional Google Classroom, some teachers have begun to open up Google Meet for absent students so they can still listen or participate in classwork and discussions. 

“I have opened a Google Meet on a laptop and set it up with the absent student’s group. This is helpful so that students who are out of school can still work with their group while they’re remote,” said Park. 

Opening Google Meets for absent students allows them to stay on top of work and makes it feel as if they are still in school. 

Now responsible students will get caught up on their own before the next class,” said Hu. “Then when they return, they’re already reintegrated into the classroom.”

Not all teachers have utilized Google Meet as a resource, though, which some students cite as a reason for their inability to catch up on work.

“When I was awaiting COVID-19 test results, my teachers were generally unresponsive,” said Vanessa Peña ‘24. “I only had one teacher that opened up a Google Meet. It was hard in math class because we had a quiz and I didn’t know everything that was going on.”

Some teachers have been recording their lessons to use as a resource even when students are not absent.  

“The recording is helpful to rewatch and take notes from if a student remembered a particular class being helpful,” said Hu. “They can take more detailed notes or slow down instruction because each student goes at a different pace.”

Pear Deck, which was previously used as an interactive slide source in remote learning, is still being incorporated into the classroom on a daily basis.  

“I still use Pear Deck in in-person learning because it helps show the students  slide[s] on their devices,” said Park. “It’s another great, interactive way to talk through concepts instead of just talking at them.”

Remote learning, while difficult at times, has allowed teachers to gain new insight into what works best for students. 

“A benefit of being remote for so long is being able to be more flexible for different types of students,” said Social Science teacher Cheryl Verhey. “For example, I used to not post my slides and now I feel that it is beneficial to post them because then everybody can follow along, even if you’re not here.”

Overall, the switch back to in-person learning has increased the use of technology, and teachers have found this valuable.

“I think making things digital is great because you’re not limited to paper and pencil,” said Hu. “With Google Classroom, students can collaborate together on the same doc, rather than everyone having their own piece of paper and then having to explain what everyone’s writing.”

Remote learning has provided some more convenience, but teachers have greatly appreciated the return to in-person. 

“It’s really nice to be back in person with [my students] and there are so many things that are so much more effective,” said Verhey. “While remote learning has provided some benefits, I really value in-person collaboration.”