How to support students at home during the Covid-19 pandemic

Congratulations – you survived the lockdown and are now back at school. Mostly. For the moment. 

It looks like we are set for up to a year of on-again off-again schooling for many of your students. The challenge has moved from how to teach 100% remotely, to how to teach some students remotely whilst still providing a full classroom experience for the others. And spinning plates with your free hand. 

To keep these at-home students on track, you need a personalised, online, workflow-based system. You must be able to assign work, track whether and when it is done and analyse the results – all with as little time input from you as possible. And guess what? As a Yacapaca member, you already have one. Here are your key tools:

How to assign tests to a single student

You are used to assigning to a whole class at once. To limit the assignment to a single student, you need to override that default in the assigning system, like this:

and then this:

That’s the work set, and you will see it in your Assignments List as normal. When the % Completed bar shows you the assignment has been attempted, use the Activity Log to monitor how the student has been working. 


Here is a typical Activity Log for a single student, taking just one quiz:

Working with an at-home students, you interpret the columns a bit differently from how you would with a class:

Time:

What time of day are they working? Are they fresh then? Is this study getting the priority you want? Remember you can set exact due dates/times if you wish to encourage them to work during the day not the evening, for example.

Attempts:

How many did you allow, and how many did the student do? The default maximum is 2; if you want to allow more than this, I recommend you switch to Mastery Mode. Making many contiguous attempts at a single quiz creates false confidence. 

Questions:

The red flag here is if the student abandoned an attempt part-way through. You need to know why. It could be an indication of a poor learning environment, which the parents should be coached to improve. Assuming your school is organised for that, of course.  

Time spent (mins: secs):

In Yacapaca, there’s no faking time input. That is how long the student really spent on the task. 

Avg time (secs):

Students do naturally vary a lot in how long they take to complete each question. Look at the timings they used to record when taking quizzes in-class. Red flags are radically longer or shorter timings. A short timing combined with a low score is major red flag for a disengaged student. This is the time to call in pastoral support, if you are in a position to do so.

Confidence:

This metric is really about realism of expectations. Too high, and the student is headed for a fall. Too low, and your student needs their confidence boosting. Try to look at this across multiple assignments. A single datum may not tell you very much. 

Grasp of key concepts:

For a single student, I’d ignore this. 

Improvement:

This shows the change from the first to the last attempt. It is most useful with Mastery Mode – remember Mastery will return slower improvements, but long-term retention will be much higher.

Score:

The flag here is if the score is very different from your expectation. Once again, the more assignments you can look across, the better you will understand the student. A single score is like like a piece of a jigsaw, and not even a corner piece, at that. 

Grade:

Actually the least-useful datum for a single student, but it may be required for your school tracking.

Use Quick Assignments for non-test assignments, and short notes

If your school already has an effective tool for communicating with at-home students, use that. Otherwise, use the built-in Quick Assignments to

  • send short notes
  • assign (and retrieve) essay or project work
  • ask for quick responses to questions
  • send (and retrieve) worksheets

QAs, if you have not used them before, are just a simple and quick way of sending anything to a student (or class) and getting a response, to a deadline you set. 

Get set up now

We don’t know how this term, or even this year, is going to go. At the risk of sounding like a boy scout, I’d advise to you to Be Prepared. Make sure your students are all set up on Yacapaca and have practiced logging in. Check your current subscription is adequate to cover the anticipated need. If not, consider upgrading here. Most of all, don’t worry. As a Yacapaca member, you already have the tools you need to teach remotely and in class with minimum additional workload. 

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