In the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic, educators, families and students of all ages had to manage the sudden shift to distance learning. With many schools now deciding whether they’ll be holding in-person classes in the fall, we thought it would be good to prepare for the possibility of more distance learning and find tools for everyone to succeed.
The idea of approaching another semester entirely online is definitely daunting for many educators. The phenomenon called “Zoom fatigue” is impacting all of us as we navigate daily video conferences instead of being in the classroom. We spoke to a group of educators to get their suggestions for approaching non-traditional class structures while distance learning.
These solutions were thought of with educators for grades 5 and above in mind. As part of our ongoing series on distance learning, we also have resources for keeping students engaged at home and a list of organization and collaboration tips for educators preparing for a socially distant fall semester!
If there’s something you or other educators did that worked well for your students this spring as you navigated distance learning together, or any problems you’re still looking for solutions for, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below!
Flipped classroom - This class style allows teachers to spend their one-on-one time with students tutoring them and guiding them through their practice rather than lecturing. The instruction comes from pre-recorded videos that students watch for “homework.” There is free video recording and editing softwares for educators, such as Stroome, and you can host videos through YouTube or send them directly to students via email.
Office hours - Instead of having a mandatory time for students to sit for lecture, offer your class time as a free space to ask questions about the homework or readings in your course. Create space for students to collaborate on their assignments together, where appropriate. This method can work especially well in conjunction with the flipped classroom style, but can be just as effective without recorded lectures.
Small groups - Breaking students into small group video calls, a feature on Zoom, can facilitate collaboration and break up the monotony of lecture during video chats. Consider assigning group leaders to ask discussion questions, or collaborative problem-solving activities.
Student-led sessions - In addition to providing more social interaction for your learners while social distancing, student-guided sessions help develop their confidence, public speaking and leadership skills. Whether they present a book report or slideshow on the discoveries of a famous mathematician, allowing students to take the wheel makes them more independent and gives you an opportunity to step out of the spotlight for an afternoon.
Virtual field trips - Zoos, aquariums and farms across the country have virtual field trip opportunities, as well as museums from all over the world. Instead of a lecture, have your class log in to complete a virtual tour of Yellowstone National Park and discuss thermodynamic pools or visit the Great Wall of China to discuss the engineering of the world’s largest wall!