With the spread of the novel coronavirus and the closure of all schools, learning for students has moved from brick and mortar classrooms to online. It is a shift in the delivery of instruction in a classroom where you can’t see the faces and behaviors of your students, which is often one of the means of formative assessment. When preparing for remote content delivery, there are many things to take into consideration. The suggestions listed below are a guide to assist educators.
- Start with small practice exercises. Have students respond to posts, submit assignments, etc., not related to content (examples: a discussion post about their last meal, upload a document with an image of their pet, a group MadLib assignment to get students comfortable working on collaborative documents).
- Mix online and offline activities. There’s nothing wrong with having students read their textbook (if available), go outside, draw, and submit upon their return.
- Remote learning can be very isolating for learners and teachers. Encourage group activities and communication. Keep MULTIPLE lines of communication open, such as email, a group texting tool (e.g., Remind or Bloomz), teleconferencing tools (Google Hangout, Skype, Zoom, etc.), and even phone calls (consider a separate Google Voice number as a possibility if you are also working away from your classroom).
- If you are able to use a platform such as Google Classroom or Moodle, consistency is key. Structure assignments in a similar fashion. Have consistent due dates (e.g., Thursday at 10 pm). If possible, coordinate across your building so every course/class looks similar.
- Have scheduled time slots for student meetings. Be consistent (repeating) but vary times (e.g., 1-2 pm on Mondays, 9-10 am on Tuesdays, and so on).
- Provide an expectation document for students (and teachers; to let students know what to expect and not expect). Parents, too!
- Work to make sure that activities aren’t just busy work, and align to intended curricular goals.
- If you are showing videos, consider limiting how much of the video students view. Have targeted questions based on a short segment.
- If you are using a platform to conduct an online discussion, space out periods between their initial post and commenting phases. For example, if you have a prompt, allow 24-48 hours for students to respond, then a separate timeframe for commenting. This prevents students from posting and commenting in the final minutes of the assignment (which is not a discussion).
- Overall, consider structuring learning to address big ideas or key concepts in your curriculum. In other words, cut out the nonessential aspects of your curriculum. That means different things for different schools and content areas.