School closures and distance learning

Responding to Covid-19 school closures

With the spread of the Covid-19 virus, schools in more and more countries are having to close temporarily and teachers are engaging their students in distance learning.  This page gives you some tips on how the InThinking chemistry site could be used to help your students through a school closure.

Even the aptly named new James Bond film has had its release delayed due to coronavirus. (Image © AFP via Getty Images)

Direct access to InThinking pages for students

Student access  gives students direct access to the InThinking site, as part of a teacher subscription. It enables teachers to set assignments, using learning activities from selected pages of the site. Teachers can easily create groups of students, set work for all students in the group, and monitor the activity of students in each group.

Schools that have been forced to close temporarily due to the new coronavirus, Covid-19 are making extensive use of ‘Student Access’. These schools need to engage their students in distance learning and the InThinking website is proving to be a very useful tool for this.

There has never been a better time to discover what Student access has to offer.

Getting started

The easiest way to get started is to click on the newsflash button clearly highlighted on the homepage called "Distance learning in difficult times".

This link will take you to a guide for setting up and using the student access tools which is the same for all InThinking subject sites. You may also want to check out the following pages which are specifically for the chemistry site:

Creating student accounts  

Setting assignments 

Using qBank 

Managing student accounts & mark book 


Features of student access

There are four types of student tasks that you can track and give feedback on by using the student access feature.

Reading assignments: If you want to ask your students to read a page of the InThinking website, then creating a reading assignment is the solution.  Your teacher's subscription will automatically record when each student has done this reading assignment and how long they spent on the page.

Writing assignments: Perhaps you want students to write a comment after studying a page of resources.  By setting a writing assignment, the student's work is recorded in your "markbook" where you give feedback.

Discussion assignments: Use a discussion assignment rather than a writing assignment if collaboration is required. You can create a discussion where students respond to an article, debrief a video clip or discuss approaches to an IB question. 

Multiple choice quizzes: The core and AHL topics are all assessed using multiple choice questions in Paper 1.  Quizzes are a great way to get students to think deeply about terminology and revise both factual knowledge and theories, so as well as the core and AHL you can also make quizzes on all the sub-topics in each of the four options. You can make up your own quizzes using the question bank (qBank), in which case the students' marks are automatically recorded in your mark book. Alternatively. you can use those already prepared in Teaching each topic & sub-topic and Multiple choice tests for each topic but the marks for these will not be recorded automatically. 

Helping students to be self-directed learners

In addition to the tasks listed above the site also contains the Complete course for students .

This provides:

  • Full coverage of every topic in the core, AHL and the four options
  • Learning outcomes laid out clearly for each sub-topic
  • Relationships between each sub-topic and nature of science and international-mindedness stressed
  • Key vocabulary
  • Illustrated slide galleries which comprehensively cover the syllabus, together with worked examples for each and every sub-topic
  • One or more examples to challenge students think critically about each sub-topic
  • Helpful information on exam technique, internal assessment and extended essays etc. etc.
  • Many extra resources, such as short videos, provided for each sub-topic to support each student’s learning

In addition you can control each student's access within the Complete Course for students to provide:

  • Brand new short-answer questions with worked answers on each sub-topic
  • Quizzes (ten questions with the answered explained) for each sub-topic including all the options to test each student’s knowledge and understanding of concepts

Putting it all together

Chris Wright has an excellent blog on his IB School Leadership site: Covid-19: What happens when school is closed?  I highly recommend the posting as it has a lot of good information for schools to think about.  For me, the most important part of the posting is the following graphic from Jennifer Chang Watall. This graphic suggests what a week of distance learning might look like.

As always, there may be ideas that you have to enrich the site and make it more useful for this rather odd time in our schools.  Please feel free to send me any suggestions you have - and I hope that we can make this as supportive a system as possible for our students. 

Most of all, may you and your students remain safe and healthy.


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