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Teaching school during the Covid-19 outbreak is all but impossible, and schools around the world are resorting to online classes in order to finish up their school year. If you need to teach online for the remaining weeks of the semester or year, this guide will help you set yourself — and your students — up for success.

Hopefully, your students have internet access at home. Many districts have been handing out tablets such as Chromebooks to students (one per family, if the family doesn’t have a tablet with internet access at home). The issue here is that not all students have internet service at home. There is little that you, as the teacher, can do in this circumstance. There have been reports of schools, libraries, and other publicly funded areas expanding internet access. Beyond that, it’s up to individual schools or districts to decide how they want to proceed in those situations.

But for students who can get online, attending class doesn’t have to be a challenge — it’s just different.

Planning out your lessons in an online format

You have the benefit here of (hopefully) having your lessons planned out through the end of the school year. All you have to do is get those lessons, and the material students need to work through them, onto the internet (see our tools section below for where to post). 

Lay out your lessons in a step-by-step format.

  • INTRO
  • STEP 1 LEARNING MATERIAL
  • ACTIVITY/INTERACTION/ACTION TASK
  • STEP 2 LEARNING MATERIAL 
  • ACTIVITY/INTERACTION/ACTION TASK
  • STEP 3 LEARNING MATERIAL
  • ACTIVITY/INTERACTION/ACTION TASK

And so on.

If laying this out in a Google Doc, you can embed photos, links, videos, or anything else the students need. Google Docs is also a great way to post online versions of printed handouts, as you can easily copy and paste from Microsoft Word or other word processors.

Be very direct with the students and try to keep sentences short and clear. 

If leading lessons online via video conference, it helps to have notes to follow along with while you talk (if you thought students had a tough time paying attention in the classroom, online lessons will be even tougher). More on video conferencing below.

You can also record yourself speaking the lesson and post it for your students. A number of service/apps will record you speaking for free.

It’s important to be consistent across your classes, by age. High schoolers may be able to handle up to 20 or so lessons per week across all of their classes, being able to work through them one by one in order as they would during a normal school day.

Middle school students will need fewer lessons but more direction on getting through them. Try annotating notes in detail, potentially even “copy-pasting” some of your teacher notes into the lessons you post if you feel your notes are likely to answer direct questions the students may have.

Elementary students will need the most attention. 

And no matter what level you teach, keep communications channels as open as possible (Twiducate, described below, is a great tool for this).

Best video conferencing services for teachers

  • ZoomZoom is the cream of the crop for videoconferencing, and the company has waived its 40-minute call limit on free accounts during the Covid-19 outbreak. Creating an account is free, and you can send a link directly to your students. Zoom also has options for the call leader (you) to take full control and restrict speaking of other users, add and remove users as necessary, and generally lead your class as close to a classroom experience as possible.
  • Google Hangouts — Google Hangouts is the next best option. It’s free and anyone with a Gmail account can access the hangout easily. You’ll create a permanent hangout link and share it with students, and they can bookmark it — similar to Zoom, except you do not actually “own” the classroom. There isn’t a direct call leader on Google Hangouts like there is in Zoom.
  • Skype — Skype is the long-running standard for videoconferencing, but it isn’t the most user friendly for classroom-type situations. If you are working with one, or only a few, students, Skype may work well — but for larger groups, Google Hangouts and Zoom are better options.
  • Uber Conference — If video isn’t key, Uber Conference is ideal for classes of about ten-fifteen students. Their chat feature is easy to use, and like Zoom, there is a designated “call leader” though unlike Zoom, the call can begin without them.

Tools to use for online teaching

Google Classroom

The most popular way for classroom teachers to transition into online teaching is with Google Classroom. The service, which is free, allows you to create digital “classrooms” for each of your classes and post assignments, notes, updates, and more into specific classes. Students can access what they need, share with you, and generally carry about their learning as close to normal as possible.

Twiducate

As you may have guessed by its name, Twiducate is a social network for classrooms. Teachers are in control, but can allow students to post and interact with each other. The experience makes online learning a lot more interactive, and helps to replace some of the social interaction that students are accustomed to getting during the school day.

For more tips and tricks, check out our 3-part series on modern technology for online teachers. In it, we cover resources, tricks of the trade, and real-life stories on best practices for online teaching.

Anomalous Educator (this website)

Anomalous Educator is a site entirely dedicated to helping teachers work online — and maybe even turn online teaching into their full-time gig. We encourage you to browse around through our podcast episodes and blog articles — a lot of your questions regarding teaching online classes are sure to be answered!
Should you have additional questions, feel free to get in touch with us at info@anomalouseducator.com

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