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16 Jul 2020

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Kahoot! Academy’s teacher of the week, Cathy Yenca, shares the secret to engaging students and key takeaways from distance learning

My name is Cathy Yenca, a Verified educator on Kahoot! Academy, Kahoot! Ambassador, and middle school math teacher in Austin, Texas. I am excited to share 5 secrets on how I approach distance learning and learning in general!

From one passionate teacher to another, I hope my insights and advice provide you with some guidance, perspective, and support to ensure back-to-school is awesome, no matter what it might look like. So, here we go:

1- We should not use technology for the sake of technology!
Technology provides succinct, relevant feedback to inform our teaching. When we use technology to highlight student thinking in real-time, we can use these different thoughts to guide our talking points, discussions, and assessments. My passion for using technology for students is rooted in showcasing student thinking, not just for me to see but also for showing our entire learning community of learners in the class. Technology tools help us put student thinking at the center.

2- We can keep our students engaged by valuing their thinking and allowing them to connect with each other.
Student engagement is about empowerment. When students feel empowered, no one is looking at the clock. In order to ensure every student is heard, I use digital tools that promote every student’s thinking to shape where we go next. In my classroom, we embrace the idea that we are all teachers, and we are all learners, which allows us to connect with and learn from each other in meaningful ways.

I found that during distance learning, I saw a different side of some typically quieter students who were willing to linger longer after class.

Cathy Yenca

3- Relationships and class culture can still thrive and develop through distance learning.
Just because we are teaching and learning through a screen does not mean we cannot create connections and build relationships. I found that during distance learning, I saw a different side of some typically quieter students who were willing to linger longer after class. Students that typically did not show up to in-person tutorials were more willing to meet and get help virtually. In a distance learning environment, we are able to get to know our students in surprising and refreshing ways.

4- To create a high-quality kahoot, I recommend starting with a learning standard.
My kahoot creation process starts with a learning standard, preferably one where questioning and scaffolding can help lead students to understanding. With my learning standard in mind, I ask a few leading questions that lead up to understanding the larger concept. Also, as I create kahoots, I like to imagine how my students will react to ensure that I design a fun and emotional learning journey!

5- My best piece of advice for other teachers is to try out your lessons and resources yourself before you try them with your students
The way we can demand excellence from our students and ourselves, no matter our teaching environment, is to put ourselves in a position to experience what our plans will look like from a student perspective.When we put on our student hats, we ensure that we are teaching intentionally, which is what all our students deserve.

Check out my Verified profile on Kahoot! Academy to see all of my standards-aligned kahoots as well as other useful resources! 

Throughout the summer, Kahoot! Academy will feature ideas and advice from educators around the world who are passionate about sharing what they know. 

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