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Design authentic distance learning experiences with PowerPoint

By Tammy Brecht Dunbar
May 27, 2020
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The Innovator Solutions section includes contributions from corporate sponsors and advertisers representing education organizations, businesses, policy-making bodies and other influencers dedicated to transforming education. This blog post was provided by Microsoft in Education.

Sudden distance learning gave educators a gift: A second first day of school. It offered us the opportunity to rethink how we were teaching and craft a fresh start for ourselves and our students. The biggest challenge became how to continue the learning from a distance while trying to maintain as much normalcy as possible?

When I considered what strategies would allow my students to successfully learn from home, I knew the most important thing was allowing them the freedom to access their lessons at a time that suited their family’s needs.

For my Room Nine Kids, I’d always used PowerPoint to create my lesson plans and project them up on the screen as they worked throughout the day. Realizing PowerPoint also gives me the ability to save lessons as a video file (MP4), I knew immediately what to do.

Every recorded lesson would begin with a video of me greeting my students like I normally would at the beginning of the day. Since they had no curriculum at home, I brought in digital core curriculum to my presentations so students could read and write their lessons in notebooks, binders or journals that they had at home.

Digital inking allowed me to teach math lessons, explaining each answer. And narrating each slide would give them that feeling of being in the classroom and hearing a friendly, familiar voice.

We also had live class meet-ups three to four times a week, and lots of individual check-ins, but the recorded lessons were the most successful.

The result? Some accessed and turned their work in at 7 a.m. and some at 2 a.m., but an average of 94% of my students continued their learning every week.

That was their gift to me and to themselves.

In the video below, I'll take you step by step through using special features of PowerPoint that make remote learning lessons come alive!

Tammy Brecht Dunbar, M.Ed., STEM, has been an elementary teacher for 20 years at a Title I school in Manteca (California) Unified. She is a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Fellow as well as a Microsoft Certified Educator and Master Trainer. She was a Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Fellow in 2018, the NCCE 2020 closing keynote speaker, an ISTE 2018 Literacy PLN award winner and the 2016 California Woman of the Year for District 12.