Advanced Online Teaching
We are so lucky to be teaching online. We are practicing skills that would take a long time to learn in real life for example, we don’t have to manage disturbances and problems with student behavior. Instead our focus is on presenting the lesson and engaging our students.
With the time that we accelerate our teaching skills when teaching without having to worry about other distractions.
Online Education is at it’s infancy. As teachers we should master the basics, learn how to use the software, develop lessons and teach online.
As time passes we should look towards advanced teaching skills and new activities to engage learners online.
I have already spoken about basic tips for teaching online. In this video I will share 10 Advanced Online Teaching Tips.
Before we start we’ve got to take in consideration the position of our learners. Do they have access to a computer/phone, stable internet connection? What are their digital habits?
Do they watch YouTube lectures? Do they consume more visual content like Instagram photos. Do they voice/ video call their friends? Do they chat via Whatsapp? Find out where they are and create content suitable for them. Some professors have also set up
The answer to these questions will determine your strategy for the future.
Asynchronous or synchronous?
If you are in the perfect world where every student has access to a digital device and a stable connection, here is my belief.
Use blended learning! Send them information and material before class that they can consume on their own.
But!! Also do real time Zoom or Google Meet classes for students to practice HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills)
For example, every Saturday before my classes start – I send my students a short video explain what we will do for the next class and what they need to prepare. Vocabulary, grammar and something they should bring to class.
Then, like clockwork – I have weekly classes where we focus on practicing the skills they need. I put them in group to work together and I can give feedback to make corrections.
So – Make learning easy and engaging. Give them guidance via short messages, video or audio. And hold online classes for them to practice valuable skills.
Background and Sentence Starters
Most students will be nervous and reluctant to answer. It might be because they need more time to formulate and answer or they don’t know how to answer.
Give them sentence starters to help them explain themselves. These starters you can have behind you on a wall behind you or on your screen if you’re using a green screen option.
I think that…. / I agree with…. / I don’t believe… / I have a question about…
Also there are many new ways to use our backgrounds. Make sure to have some helpful vocabulary on the screen. If you can’t do that hang it in the background. Have props. You are learning how to engage students.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve got to be an entertainer, but, you have to learn how to be entertaining or to capture their attention. Use props, colorful backgrounds. Make it fun. Use a topic for the week. If it’s travel have a big lamborgini as your background.
Prepare for Problems
There will be mistakes with technology. Have a back up plan in case the student’s computer doesn’t work, if they have audio problems. If your mic explodes, whatever can happen most likely will – Send a list of online procedures to the students before their first class. They will have less anxiety if they know exactly what to do if there are any issues during class.
In the “First Days of School” Harry Wong explains that every teacher should teach their students the rules and procedures for class. Successful classrooms are those where students know exactly what is expected of them and how to do it. Now that we are moving into Online classes that principle has not changed.
Tell your students what to prepare, how to join class, what they should do in discussion. If their technology fails, how they can get the information or contact you. If their sound goes off what to do. If they get disconnected how they should rejoin.
How students can get in touch with you and each other if they are doing group projects.
If something happens to your stream what will happen and where can they rejoin.
The most important thing about online classes is being able to reach your students as quickly and effectively as possible. Most teachers communicate via LMS, google classroom, classdojo or email.
I prefer using a messaging app like whatsapp because I know that 100% of my students have it. I can send messages, voice notes, video and I know that they will all read it within an hour.
They can also send me questions that I’ll get immediately and reply quickly.
That’s way better than having to send a long email for a quick question.
Explain the procedures in class with your main activities and how to submit homework.
Students as Original Creators
Engaging learners and keeping their attention is the primary duty of teachers online. The best way to do that is by making them the focus of your lessons.
Their lives, likes and stories should be the driving force behind your content. Stop trying to teach them from a book or using your own experiences to push the lesson… Get your students to share something of themselves every week.
In your weekly video or pre-class message ask them to prepare something.
Share a photo – About their weekends. Their pets. Places they want to go in the future. Past trips. Memories. Birthday Presents. Parties. A photo with their best friends.
If they don’t have photos ask them to draw a picture. If your topic is animals let them draw their favorite. Try and link it to the topic or theme from the week’s class.
Otherwise do a show and tell. Bring something from home. The greatest advantage with teaching at home is that they can share stuff… from their homes.
We can’t do that in class. But now they can provide content for the lesson. They bring the connections to their lives. Every lesson you do you have to first think to yourself – How can my students share something from their own lives to add to what I’m trying to teach in the lesson.
Get students to master the platform
If you are using Zoom, Meet, Skype or any other platform, you remain limited if you and your learners do not know how to effectively use it.
Don’t be boring and send them a “how-to video” or translated text if you are teaching English. Get them to engage with the platform by playing competitive games and thereby also learning how all the functions work.
How do you do that? I call these games “Pickers.”
Whenever I want to pick students to do a demonstration or choose the order in which they have to do a dialogue I play a game with them.
If you want to teach them how to use the whiteboard function on Zoom – I tell them that the first 10 people that write their names down are exempt from doing the dialogue. They rush to figure it out.
I do the same with messaging: Send me a public message with what number you want to do your presentation.
Send me a private message with your name.
Learn how to do the react functions – Last 4 people to show me thumbs up have to answer the questions.
Students have fun and you get a way to control the class… By being the leader.
By playing these games they can become more competent at using the app. Get them to practice using the whiteboard to save their content.
Three P Model
We all know the 3P model for teaching and learning by John Biggs.
Present (Presage) – Process – Product
Teaching/Lecturing – Learning-Focused Activities – Learning outcomes by using their learned skills
This is especially common in online courses, where the predominant model is to consume content and then discuss the information afterward.
However, at some point, we want students to engage in meaningful projects. We want them to be problem-solvers, creators and designers. In other words, we want students to develop a maker mindset.
Topic – Explain – Example – Explain the main idea by using some of your examples – Then ask learners for an example from their own lives – Put them with a partner and tell them read practice dialogue – Create their own dialogue using what they’ve learned – Then put them into new groups in which they produce something new –
A dialogue. A company. An invention. A play. Use what they’ve learned to make a small movie using famous characters. So many ideas for them to produce something new with what they’ve just learned.
Build exercises where students can be creative. Online classes should not be boring lectures by teachers. They should focus on helping the students develop critical skills, not be a boring way of going over the curriculum.
Before I mentioned that students can interact with the content in different ways. Example content – own creation – Then make a movie using famous characters.
This is a great way to let students be more creative and not as shy. When they act out a dialogue or fun scene playing another character (made up or famous) let them have fun with it.
They can act it out on camera. If they are able to meet their friend let them record it as homework. Get students to record audio files for homework or let them take a video of them acting out with family, or a doll.
Students can learn asynchronously. Technology has improved enough for them to use their phones for everything. Get them use to recording themselves. This idea that we should be shy in front of cameras is a thing of the past.
You can set up discussion forums.
Give them questions for homework that they have to practice with a partner – Let them record it on audio or video as evidence.
In the digital age they should have to perform something outside to show their skills. If they are young get their parents involved. Let them take a video repeating words of objects in the house. Let them make 5 sentences.
Record them saying something on their own. This is a fantastic way for us as teachers to embrace technology and using it to promote learning.
This will help students bridge the gap between lesson and real life.
Weekly Online Theme
Young learners – animals. Sports. Weekend. Food. Pirates.
Zoom now has new functions which include filters. Use them to make class fun but don’t let it get out of control.
If you think that this is limited to young learners you are wrong. Adults and students also like to liven things up. If your students are unable to use filters ask them to draw a picture of that and hang it behind them. This links up with students being original creators. Let them draw pictures of themselves or whatever the topic is that week.
Incorporate world travel themed lessons.
Let them add fun and clever cultural details from other countries — yours, theirs, maybe a 3rd one altogether—to liven up a boring, standard-issue lesson. Let’s say we’re doing a lesson on China.
You might play music in the background, theme lessons around things like kung fu (show your best move after you answer a question!), let them do their favorite kung fu pose then take a class photo with screen capture – where I want to make a mention of checking attendance.
You can dress up like a character from a show and they have to guess who you are
Evidence of Learning
More and more we have to provide evidence of our classes. This isn’t all bad once you figure it out. When students are in groups pick a group leader, and while they discuss something or practice a skill, the leader should make notes about what they have done.
This is especially useful when you are using breakout rooms in Zoom where groups are separated.
When writing dialogue remind them not to type out whole sentences. You want students to practice using a script and then create their own by using the vocabulary.
A common mistake they make is to write out the whole script. This is a massive error because in stead of practicing their speaking they are reading everything which has no value whatsoever. The reason they do this is because they fear making mistakes which says a lot of the classroom culture. Language classrooms need to be places where students feel safe to make mistakes and students are predominantly doing most of the speaking.
Actually, I encourage mistakes in the classroom. Do not let them read from scripts! They may write down words to remember the order but not much more.
When they report back to the class they can share their whiteboard. This keeps them accountable inside their breakout rooms.
How can teachers show that learning has happened in their online classes?
Some teachers record their whole classes but in my experience this is too much. Save the class preview and make notes on every class that you take. Also, you can have a simple checklist of what you want students to do or achieve during the lesson.
When you plan you’re curriculum write these out for every lesson. When you send students their weekly preview, you can add this checklist too. That way they know exactly what is expected of them during the lesson.
Save these checklists on your LMS or in class reports in case admin wants a look at it.
Structure of Lessons
With Remote Learning the faculty role changes from a lecturer to more of a coach or mentor.
Learners are expected to take a more active roles, taking more responsibility for their own learning.
The major mistake most teachers make in this new era of online teaching is that they have devolved from group learning to a lecture mode where they talk the whole time. This fear of online learning has made education regress to a type of class where the teacher does all the talking.
DO NOT GO BACK to that outdated way of teaching. Just because the platform changes doesn’t mean you have to. Master the platform, build engaging lessons that target your learners and evaluate them by incorporating new technology. – That’s it!
Things are new and scary so to combat this we should build routines that students will find comforting.
Just like your routine in class, you should have routines for online as well.
Let me show you my routine for my classes. You don’t have to do the same but build your own set routine that students understand and can trust.
Introduction. Roll call. Example of warm up. Warm up conversation in breakout groups (Make sure to tell them to take notes). Come back and play picker to decide who will give feedback. If it’s a large class pick one from each group to do an example.
Send their names in a message. Write their names on a white board. Thumbs up. Ask them a riddle and they have to send you the correct answer. Strike a pose. Find something in your room that….
It keeps things fun
Then I have the lecture part. I can share the digital version of the book. I explain everything, go through the work and ask them to read parts. This is the part where you are teaching the lesson. Keep their focus. Practice. Place students with a partner or do a group activity.
They practice something about the class. Once they come back you pick some pairs to do it for the class.
Review the class. Go over what they have learned and make sure to have a final MOM point.
What is a MOM point. Students have to be able to explain to their mom what they have learned or done in class.
Let them practice it before they leave.
Teachers need to evolve with technology to suit modern needs. Those who don’t adapt will quickly find that they have been left behind and will be out of the job. For the sake of the teaching profession and to teach the necessary skills our students require, me must get better at teaching online.