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Shake Up Learning Show

May 5, 2020

Access the full blog post and show notes here.

This week I am interviewing two students who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and are experiencing remote learning first-hand. Getting the student perspective is so critical. Here's what students have to say about remote learning!

These unprecedented times have brought to light so many issues in education, but if we don't ask students about their experience, we will never understand the impact.

My cousin Charlotte is in the 3rd grade and has plenty to say about this situation. On the flip side, Elena is joining me to share her experience with remote learning as a graduating senior. Their insight is so powerful! Every educator needs to take the time to hear what students have to say about remote learning.


Thank you to Jennifer Green for her wonderful tweet about Shake Up Learning and how it has impacted her career. 

Quick Tip of the Week: Customize the Google Classroom Stream

The Stream is your Google Classroom communication hub. This is where you post announcements and keep students informed.

By default, the Stream will also show notifications of new items posted on the classwork page. For some, this feels like duplication and can muddy up the Stream. (Ha! See what I did there.)

If you’re using the Classwork page, you can choose a collapsed or expanded view for Classwork notifications on the Stream page. You can also hide them entirely from the Stream page.

  1. Go to
  2. Click the class.
  3. On the Stream page, click Settings.
  4. Under General, next to Classwork on the Stream, select an option:

You can learn more about all of the Class settings here.

All quick tips are here:

What Students Have to Say About Remote Learning

Over the last several weeks, I have talked to a variety of teachers and administrators about their experience with remote learning. We have all been experiencing this pandemic differently. This is why I wanted to chat with students to get their perspective. My cousin Charlotte is in the third grade and had a lot to say about missing school.

The Pandemic: From the Perspective of a Third Grader

First up, I’m chatting with Charlotte Dollins, my cousin, about how remote learning has affected her third-grade year. At this point, she definitely doesn’t think learning at home is much fun. She misses art, recess, and seeing her friends.

She’s been busy doing her school "work" online and only gets to communicate with one of her teachers a few times a week.

Charlotte also shared that her teacher just introduced Friendship Friday, where they join a Zoom meeting to connect and see their friends. These connections are not about schoolwork or learning. I love this idea! It's so important to give kids a way to make those social and emotional connections outside of the lesson or assignment.

Charlotte has been spending more time with her dad, who is working from home while managing Charlotte and her little brother. She’s missing her teachers and her friends as well as the school library. Gotta love a girl who misses the library! At this point, she thinks it should be a summer vacation already. (Me too, Charlotte!)

The Pandemic: From the Perspective of a High School Senior

Next, I welcome Elena Grande to the show to share her experience because this is her senior year in high school. She’s missing out on the last semester and many senior milestones. Elena has such a mature attitude and is taking it all in stride.

She equates this period to the five stages of grief. She keeps vacillating back and forth between acceptance and denial. In retrospect, life will continue, and everyone will be fine, but it's tough missing prom and graduation!

There have definitely been tears. She’s been working on staying in touch with her friends, and they text frequently, but that has only helped Elena realize that she doesn’t really like texting. When she gets to Facetime, it’s so much better. 

Remote Learning During Senior Year

Elena admits that the initial days of remote learning were a bit chaotic and tense. There were already tools in place, but to be fully remote was an entirely new world. 

The worst part has been trying to keep to a schedule and making sure she gets all of her school work done when she doesn’t want to.

Some classes have been giving more work than others, and more specifically, she feels she is often assigned busywork. She thinks that the grading system is unfair at times. As a top student enrolled in several AP courses, it's difficult when you aren't rewarded with a grade that reflects your learning.

Their grades are static and frozen from before the school closures, but if students do no schoolwork while at home, they could be assigned an incomplete and not be allowed to graduate. 

Elena said it’s crazy to think about how much work she has put in during the last couple of years that is now unnecessary. Even worse are the changes to her AP exams and requirements.

How Does it Feel to Miss Those Big Senior Moments? 

Prom has been canceled. Elena said that it feels really surreal. She hasn’t even really processed that completely because her prom wasn’t scheduled until May. Once that date comes and goes, she knows she will have all the feelings. 

She’s planning to do a virtual prom because she has the dress--why not get dressed up and share it with her friends. 

Graduation is still on the books for May, but an alternate date has been set for August. They’re looking at venues they could use, but for Elena, it's hard to imagine never walking across the stage at her graduation.

It’s All About the Little Things

All the little things like kids rushing off after the bell and settling into class… those are hard to miss. Elena also said that she misses her teachers and her classes. She recounts the last day before spring break, and she just walked out without a backward glance. It’s odd to realize that all those little things are things to cherish rather than take for granted. 

The worst thing about being stuck at home is not having options. It’s one thing not to want to go out, but not to have the opportunity to go out, to be told that you can’t, changes everything.

The best thing that has come out of this time is the fact that she’s been able to spend more time with her family. They already had good family relationships, but they were all busy and on different schedules, so this time together has been nice. 

Elena’s positivity was so refreshing. Her answers regarding grades, what school is about, and what she would love to tell teachers were spot on and definitely something we all need to hear.

Podcast Question of the Week

  • What’s one thing you learned from Charlotte and Elena that will help you better connect with your students during remote learning?   
  • Post your answers in the Shake Up Learning community or on your favorite social platform.

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