Distance learning in high school: my do’s and don’t s

Want to know what went well and what went not so well when we started distance learning in high school? Keep reading!

I teach STEM, and in the first round of distance learning I was teaching Mathematics and Technology for high school. So here are the best/worst ideas I had for distance learning in high school.

Best ideas for online learning for high school STEM

Recording videos for arduino instruction

This year, all of the students I had were following the same curriculum structure, we were studying arduino with distance learning. The students did not have the components/materials at home, so they were learning how to programme the microcontrollers and the components.

To do this, I made short instruction videos for each of the components, and each of the exercises the students had to complete. I used Screencastify and the platform we were using to programme the components, and then uploaded them to their Google Classroom (programming the upload for each week).

The short videos were the best thing I could have made to help my students, because they needed these videos for asynchronous work, since they needed a computer instead of a tablet, so they could work independently, but still have as much guidance as possible.

Project choice board for their robotics final assignment

My students were not familiar with choice boards, and by giving them one, the results were amazing! They took advantage of the creativity this allowed, and they made awesome projects.

I will go into further detail about how to apply choice boards to arduino projects in a different blog post, but they completely revolutionized my student’s attitude towards this project.

Live exercise lessons

As I have said, I taught math, so worksheets/exercises are a crucial part of the way math teachers work (or me at least). And it was very difficult to grade the exercises through Google Classroom, so, as a form of practice, we would reserve some time for doing live exercise sessions, in which students participate, giving the instructions on how to solve the different exercises, and the teacher follows the instructions.

To use this as an extra form of data gathering, you could always call on different students in each session and see their level of comprehension of the different topics.

Scavenger hunt for math in the real world

I will make another blog post detailing how I made this, but my students LOVED this scavenger hunt, and it was the best possible introduction to 3D shapes.

Students had to go throughout their house and try and find different 3D shapes and place their pictures in a Google Slides presentation. As a result of this, they had a great guide to study the characteristics of the different shapes.

I also made some other scavenger hunt games which I explain in this blog post, so, stay tuned!

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Distance learning virtual scavenger hunt for high school math.

Making a virtual escape room for my students

Again, I will make another blog post detailing how I made the virtual escape room and how I used it for formative assessment.

The virtual escape room was hosted on Google Forms, and it is easy to create, and can be adapted to any length of time you may have available for the class. Also, I think it could probably work for any subject!

Review google forms

When we first started out, we were not going to make the students take exams, however, we did end up doing exams virtually. Because it was the first time students had virtual exams, I decided to make some review Google Forms, in order for them to get used to the structure the exam may have.

This is very very important for the students, if you are going to make them take an exam online give them a review document that can help them get used to the format of the exam. That way, you can also practice grading, and optimizing the grading process.

Final project for math

I will probably do another blog post for the final project process I made for math, what my students had to do, and all of that good stuff. Don’t worry, the process is really easy to replicate (and again, get on that mailing list to stay up to date).

My students loved this final project, they were very engaged, and it allowed them to get their creative juices flowing! In math! say WHAT?

Worst ideas

Live instruction classes

Just… no. It is very difficult to make conventional classes online. Why? Because, usually, some student will have some technical problem and won’t be able to hear you correctly, or they will not be able to connect properly, or they may have a lot of doubts that the rest of the students dont have, they connected late and lost the beginning of the lesson…

So… Instruction videos, that allow the students to replay them, take notes, pause the videos, think about the answers to the questions in the videos

As I mentioned, I did live exercise sessions, and most of the theory was recorded in different short videos.


Exams are not the best ideas for distance learning, however, there are some different possibilities on how to implement them if you do need to do them. But that will be in another blog post…

If you decide you want to try any part of the post, please leave a comment with feedback or share the results on instagram, mentioning me.

And make sure you go to the blog to check out the rest of the most recent ideas, you have some posts to check out below!

Continue to make STEM proud!