This is Part 2 of the Strategies for Remote & Hybrid Learning series, where we’re sharing helpful information from our recent interactive teacher panel with Rory, Esther, Fletcher, and Ty. If you haven’t already, check out Part 1: Student Engagement.
How do you find the balance between setting consistent expectations, but not having a mundane routine?
Setting expectations looks different with virtual teaching, and a top question from teachers is ”How do you maintain structure without creating a mundane routine?”
Tip 1: Warm Up
Whether virtual or in-person, Ty stands by always starting class with a warm up to help students transition to class. “We always start class the exact same way… Your lesson can be varied but you can build the consistency in the structure.”
Tip 2: Organize
Rory says an important way she builds structure during virtual learning is to make sure her students know where everything is. She pre-records lessons, has all notes posted in Microsoft Teams, and has Quizlet study sets ready. Students know where the information is and where the class is going, so they rarely have to ask what they’re doing next.
Esther’s master tip for helping students find things online is to keep the link titles consistent for them.
Tip 3: Paper-and-Pencil Assignments Can Still Be an Option For You
Students are spending so much time on their devices with virtual learning that screen fatigue is becoming a big concern for teachers and parents. Fletcher tries to keep as many assignments paper-and-pencil as possible during at-home learning.
Having students turn in papers may not seem like an option for every teacher’s learning situation. With Bakpax, students can complete their assignment on paper and take a picture of it. Bakpax reads their handwriting and grades the assignment in seconds. Less screen time for students, and less grading for you!
Tip 4: Post Updates in the Chat
Do your students type “I went to the bathroom, what did I miss?” in the chat during your virtual lessons?
Rory keeps a running list of what the class is doing in the chat while they’re doing it, so if a student misses something, they can catch up in the chat. It keeps her on track, keeps her students comfortable, and is a safety net when students have tech issues.
(Of course there will always be students who ask “What are we doing?” to which she responds, “It’s in the chat!”)
Tip 5: Provide Choices
A way to build structure without it getting stale is to provide the students with choices. Fletcher has the same checklist for all students as his base structure. Then, he gives his students the choice to do different activities.
For example, students can choose to do color by number for math, or they can research something they’re interested in for social studies and share it with the class the next day. The activities are still productive and meaningful, but they build in choice when students are not in the classroom.
Tip 6: Mix Things Up
Esther keeps a base structure in the days she teaches the lesson, days assignments are due, and when the quizzes are, so her students know the flow of the class. Beyond this structure, she allows the flexibility to mix things up with different class activities.
How do you manage student feedback?
How do you manage to give individual feedback during online learning, and do it all without interrupting the flow of class?
Tip 1: Answer Individual Questions Broadly
Whether students choose to ask questions by unmuting, asking in live chat, or private messaging, Rory and Esther like to acknowledge individual questions as a general question for everyone in the class.
During online learning, many teachers are noticing that their students are asking less questions.
“I’m not overwhelmed with giving feedback, because not enough kids even ask or talk to me. I wish I was bombarded with feedback to give.”
– Rory Yakubov, high school algebra teacher
Esther says, “Highschoolers are not all shouting at once over here, but if they message me… I’ll address it broadly to not single that kid out.”
During the Q&A session, a teacher in the chat suggested that when you have a particularly quiet class, but you know there are things the students will have questions about, you can pretend that someone in the class privately messaged with a question. Not only does it cover anticipated questions, but it also may encourage students to ask questions, because they think their peers are.
Tip 2: Use Tools That Give Individual Feedback
There are some great tools out there that help you give individual feedback while virtual learning.
Bakpax gives students instant feedback on which questions they got right or wrong, so they can see where they need to spend more time. Teachers get that full report as well, and can also see where the entire class may need more guidance.
Rory uses IXL for a lot of her individual feedback, because it allows her to see students’ live screens. They can live chat with her if they have an issue, and she can also see what they’re doing.
Esther uses MyMathLab, and loves that it gives her students really good feedback. They can see the right answer and why they got it wrong, and they can repopulate it with different values.
“There’s no way you can replicate that for all of them. That instant feedback is incredible.”
– Rory Yakubov, high school algebra teacher
Tip 3: Show Examples of Great Work
When students are learning online, they don’t see what others are doing, and they don’t have anything to compare their own work to. Fletcher asks someone in the class who went above and beyond for permission to share it with the class.
“That kid gets recognition, and it can give the others guidance and motivation as to what the expectations are.”
-Fletcher Nelson, third grade teacher
Tip 4: Focus on the Positive
With all of the struggles of remote learning, the focus can often be on students who aren’t logging in or doing their work. Because of this, Ty likes to make sure he focuses on the students who are doing an amazing job.
He sends his students positive emails and CCs the parents, so they can see how the student is doing on their work. He says that the parents really appreciate this gesture.
“We have to structure that positive feedback and praise and say ‘We see you, we appreciate you, keep up the good work.'”
– Ty Cook, middle school math and science teacher
Missed the session? Watch the full recording.
You can watch the full video of the interactive panel session here:
And stay tuned for Part 3 on the Bakpax Blog!