Preparing to Teach Remotely

Preparing to Teach Remotely

This post was published in March 2020.

Many school districts across the world have already closed due to the Coronavirus. Some in the US have begun closing as well. Many teachers are finding themselves in a situation they’ve never been in before, and never thought they’d have to be in. They are being required to prepare lesson plans to be delivered remotely while their school or district is closed. Now, I don’t know about you, but the thought of having my own kids home and “quarantined” for two weeks is frightening enough… but add on the stress of having to create lesson plans in a format I never have before… it might be a little much!  

Flip the Classroom – Fortunately, there are quite a few things you can do to continue to deliver instruction to your students from your home, while they are in theirs. First, you can create flipped classroom style videos where you are delivering recorded instruction. Your students watch and are able to complete notes, classwork, etc. You can record with your cellphone if that’s all you have, or you can use apps like ScreenFlow, Capto or even QuickTime to record your computer screen (which, let’s be honest, is amazing because then your students don’t need to see you in your jammies!). I am quickly getting together a collection of grade level specific videos on my YouTube channel. This collection will grow daily {each grade will have its own playlist} and is FREE to you to access. While I use my notes to teach, you don’t have to purchase them unless you want to.

Zoom or Google Hangouts – If you are able to, you can have students come together at specific times and have Google Hangouts or Zoom calls with them so they can still feel like they are part of your class. These resources allow everyone to see and speak to one another, and can be great not only for delivering instruction, but just for checking in. If you are going to be out of school for an extended period of time, consider scheduling a call with your students every few days just to check in, answer questions, and let them know you are thinking about them! You could also check in with parents this way to see if they could use any help with the material as well.

Long Term Projects – Notice, I didn’t say “long term packet.” Giving your students a printed packet of busy work is bad news. They will not at all be engaged and motivated to work. And you will not at all want to grade them when you return to school. A long term project, however, could be a fantastic way to keep students engaged and actively learning or practicing skills. Since you are going to be short on time to prepare, consider purchasing a project already made and one that doesn’t require prep from you aside from printing or delivering digitally. Choice Boards are also a great option because students can create a project and demonstrate their understanding using whatever they have available to them at home. 

Test Prep – For some of you, the possibility of having to teach remotely will fall at the absolute worst time…. test prep. If you are required to send home a test prep packet (ugh), consider ways to make it more engaging. Toss in a puzzle or a coloring page. Have your students send you photos of completed pages or get together on a video call to discuss not only the content, but strategies.

Digital Activities – Thankfully, you can upload most PDF files to Google and deliver them remotely. Your students, if they have ipads and apps, can even write directly on them before sending them back to you. So many resources are now available in a Google format that used to be strictly printable. Take advantage of these to keep your students engaged and make your life SO much easier. Some are self-grading and even those that are not, will be sent right to your email when a student completes them… so grading is paperless. You can even grade from your phone while on your couch!

Online Resources – Kahoot and Quizizz are two fantastic resources. Take advantage of the work other teachers have put in to create resources on these two platforms. You can see student progress and easily assign activities. While they may be doing the same thing a worksheet would provide them, it will feel so much more engaging to them and they’ll end up working a little harder and longer because they are “playing games” and using technology.

Social Media – Create a new account if you need to and use it to keep in touch with your students. In 5th grade, my daughter’s teacher had a classroom instagram that she used to share a few photos every now and then, but mostly to deliver instructions. You can share instruction on IGTV or stories and save them to your highlights. Students do NOT need their own account to follow you – they can use their parent’s accounts. We don’t need to go encouraging students to get social media accounts of their own! You could always de-activate this account or keep it going if you find it works for you. You could also create a private Facebook group and have your student’s parents join (just ignore the “friend” requests you are sure to get – and make sure your personal Facebook page is PRIVATE). You can share a ton of information this way as well.

Send Home Answer Keys – If you don’t have the ability to send/use videos because either you or your students don’t have the technology, you can always send home answer keys to NOTES so your students have a guide when completing work. While many schools and families have technology access, many do not.

Apps – Remote teaching becomes very difficult without technology – but it can work! Send home keys, send home projects, get an app that allows your students to check in with you through their phones (like Remind, Classting, etc.)

Reach out to the community – If you and your students are not required to self-isolate, consider reaching out to the community for support. Ask local libraries, coffee shops, businesses to provide you with a place not only for students to access technology and wifi, but also for a place for you and/or groups of students to meet and work.

I know this is a stressful and challenging time, but I am here for you and promise to support you in whatever way possible!

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Hi, I'm Lindsay!

I create ready to go resources for middle school math teachers, so they can get back what matters most – their time!

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