Designing Project Based Learning for a Virtual Classroom

Written by April Drake, President Elect 

As we wrap up a very memorable 2020, I’d like to highlight a few teacher tools that I had the pleasure of sharing during our December Webinar.  While the primary focus of the webinar was utilizing G-Suite products, such as Google Slides and Google Sheets to maximize differentiation during remote or hybrid learning, especially in the form of interactive notebooks, it is important to note that these same tools can be created or used within the Microsoft Office platform, as well.  Interactive notebooks are basically activities that students can engage with as a part of their remote instruction and practice.  By combining permanent backgrounds and moveable or interactive elements in the foreground, students can access learning or practice new skills in more exciting ways.  Teachers can use interactive notebooks for differentiation individualizing specific slides or including extension activities in students’ notebooks who have demonstrated a need for greater challenge or who desire a deeper dive into subject matter. Some examples that are available for your use include logic puzzles, math-based pixel art reveals, Hands-on Equations, complete literature units with extension activities and vocabulary study, virtual escape rooms for math and science, and interactive depth and complexity frames. Feel free to join the Google Classroom that I have provided as a storage spot for the activities I have created or have adapted, so you can make copies to adapt for your own purposes. The join code is na4pqg7. You may need to join with your personal Gmail account due to school-district security permissions.  

An additional tool I suggested during the webinar is Canva.com.  Canva is a web-based graphic design platform that allows the users to create logos, posters, banners, infographics, and more!  In my classroom, we have used Canva to develop logos for our stock market simulation and to create badges as incentives for student learning, behavior, and engagement in our remote learning classroom. Canva has an education feature that allows teachers to add students to their classroom for collaborative work and easy sharing between the teacher and students.  

Another tool I shared during the webinar is PixtonEDU, a comic creator for fun and education.  I have found this tool useful in engaging reluctant writers, encouraging creative thinking and providing differentiation opportunities for assignments and projects. My students enjoyed creating their personal avatars, and incorporating their characters and classmates within their comic strips. We combined Pixton with some of the Byrdseed.TV lessons, such as Holiday vs. Holiday, where students created a story of a holiday mascot encountering and interacting with another holiday’s mascot. While the full-access version costs $99 per year, the basic account is free and add-ons can be purchased individually or through monthly subscription plans.   

Did you know that all of our 2020 WAETAG monthly webinars are available to WAETAG members for viewing at your convenience on our fully renovated website? This year, we have had many top-tier presenters in the field of gifted education provide education, tips, and tools to support your endeavors to best serve your Highly Capable students.  2021 promises more of the same starting with Dr. Jann Leppien on January 28, 2021.    

Some of the topics that have been covered include identification practices, equity and culturally responsive teaching, implementing cluster grouping, differentiated instruction strategies, and communicating with parents, educators and district leaders about Highly Capable programs and services.  If you are not already a WAETAG member, consider joining us and become a part of the growing community of educators and advocates statewide who want to support students and one another in this ever-evolving field. Click here to become a WAETAG member.

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