We’re in strange times for science learning, and many of the distance learning solutions out there are scrambling to catch up. It’s not hard to find solutions that are designed to engage students on a basic level just to get them doing something at home, but resources to help students master Performance Expectations or to prepare for state testing, for example, are another matter.
Twig Distance Learning is a product of listening to what teachers say are the key challenges they’re facing this year—and devising creative solutions that are adaptable, easy to use, and genuinely inspiring. We thought carefully about the problems teachers and students are going to face in the months to come, and we’re confident we’ve made some good choices that users are going to appreciate. There are lots of important features that help to make the Twig Distance Learning experience a tool for setting up students for long-term STEM success. Here’s a run-through of three of the standout features and benefits.
1. Synchronous/Asynchronous Distance Learning
Many of the distance learning resources available up until now were stopgap solutions. They help keep students learning something, which is important, but they’re not a replacement for what students used to get solely though in-class instruction.
Twig Science Distance Learning, however, is a high-quality, standards-based program that finally makes it possible to achieve a quality and depth of instruction equivalent to the classroom experience. Twig Distance Learning does this by combining synchronous and asynchronous learning—and, uniquely, being equally strong at both.
You no doubt know that synchronous learning is when teachers and students take part at the same time, such as when the teacher is presenting a lesson online. This is fine, and closer to the traditional classroom model, but synchronous learning needs everyone to be available at the same time, which isn’t always possible. Technical challenges can also get in the way.
Asynchronous is by nature a more flexible approach. Teachers don’t need to be virtually present when students complete lessons and work—they can assign content later that students can work through at their own pace. This feature of asynchronous learning is actually really empowering, giving all students greater freedom to guide their own progress.
The way Twig Distance Learning incorporates both synchronous and asynchronous models means you really have the best of both formats. In a synchronous session, teachers are able to walk through a Digital Twig Book live with students or present to students via a split screen. Asynchronously, teachers can assign students the same sections from their Twig Books and use feedback tools to check on students’ progress. We’ve made sure that no matter what approach is being used, teachers can switch between using Twig Distance Learning synchronously or asynchronously and the content and standards covered will blend seamlessly with what was taught before and what’s coming up next. We know it’s not going to be an either/or situation this fall. We know teachers are going to need to flip between live, online teaching, in-class situations, and assigning students independent work. Twig Distance Learning allows for exactly this flexibility in approaches. We hope this adaptability is going to bring real peace of mind to teachers, students, and parents in the year ahead.
2. Twig Coach/Video Labs
Twig Coach is the feature that really makes Twig Distance Learning the strongest asynchronous solution out there. As mentioned, Twig Distance Learning is the only program that can offer equally strong synchronous and asynchronous instructions.
Our team of Twig Coaches is made up of virtual teachers who appear in bite-sized studio-quality coaching videos. They’re all experienced teachers, who specialize in teaching science at particular grades. The lessons Twig Coaches present are designed to fit right into your students’ full program of science learning—they’re not bonus lessons to fill in when the teacher is not available. They hit exactly the same learning standards as teachers would be expected to cover in the classroom. Likewise, they’re not simply presenter-led videos that students passively watch—Twig Coaches encourage participation and engagement.
Twig Distance Learning Video Labs are another vital tool for asynchronous learning. They allow students to take part in experiments from home, which helps to support the teaching of hands-on science—a crucial part of getting students engaged in science. Video Labs are carried out by engaging presenters from different backgrounds, and all of the experiments are shot in HD from start to finish in the Twig Science studio.
While the primary use of Video Labs is as an aid to enable students to view hands-on lab work they’re unable to complete themselves, they can also be used as a refresher for work you carry out with students in a synchronous session.
Just as with the Twig Coach videos, Video Labs aren’t just random fun experiments. They’re carefully designed to teach important standards—including science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas—as stepping stones on students’ paths towards STEM success at school and, much later, in college and careers.
3. Culturally Relevant Content
Twig Distance Learning shares with the wider Twig Science program a commitment to bring the wonder of science learning to every student, no matter their background. Twig Distance Learning features immersive story-based investigations full of theater-quality videos, interactives, and imagery, and in all of it we’ve tried to be sensitive to the need to represent the realities of the diversity of student experience.
In this respect, we’ve gone way beyond what is legally and socially compliant. We want absolutely every student to get the same level of opportunity to succeed in STEM. And we firmly believe that students get excited about science careers when they understand that scientists are regular people just like them. We’ve made sure to include representation of different genders and races in our learning materials—including in our Twig Coaches and Video Labs—and the program includes examples of a wide range of STEM professionals from all backgrounds to inspire students, including interviews with real-world scientists who talk in a relatable way about what they do, how they got started, and the tools they use.
Twig Distance Learning trials are being rolled out right now—so get in touch today to apply to have your school try out the entire program.