Virtual Teaching Best Practices – MVP iDLS
- Think remote first.
Develop new lessons, activities, and assignment for the virtual environment. Don’t just take existing lessons and expect them to work online.
- Use Check In / Check Out.
Get the student’s express commitment to participate in class at the start of each day or class. Use the Check In Check Out approach to gain their commitment as well as gauge the mood of the day.
- Keep it short!
Attention to any one topic flags after 40 minutes – even shorter for and shorter in the lower grades. Incorporate little breaks every 20 mins. Allow for interaction and comments. Plan “micro-learning” in short durations. Use timers or other fun ways to track the time boxes and stick to them.
- Keep it active and rotate the formats.
Intersperse knowledge transmission with activities like questioning, application, practice, micro-quizzes, etc. Changing the format or approach helps renew attention and re-engage learners. Use different facilitation styles (presenting, questioning, challenges, group activities) and rotate them frequently. Remember that our attention weakens after only 3 minutes of a straight lecture or presentation (faster in the lower grades).
- Keep some traditional classroom structure.
Some routine activities are reassuring and remind students that they’re still in school. Establish typical school activities like roll call or rotational grading of assignments and stick to them to provide some anchors. Consider starting the day with lightweight activities to get students revved up, and start the learning classes later in the morning when students are sure to be wide awake.
- Use more visuals.
Avoid overloading materials with text. Use fun visuals and conversation to build engagement, and then supplement them with text for reference and review. Make sure you consider students with color range perception variations and don’t really exclusively on color to make points.
- Make learning a game.
Look for opportunities to make learning into a game. Mini-quizzes, spot exercises, bonuses for early completion, bonuses for participation, tracking completion of activities can lead students to earn stars, badges, or applause are fun and engaging.
- Understand micro-expressions.
Even with video, it can be hard to read body language. You can still read micro-expressions online and they’re consistent between cultures. Paying attention to your student’s micro-expressions can help you take the pulse of the class.
- Improve your listening skills.
Deeper listening will help you notice when attention is flagging or a student is disengaging. Pay attention to th comments student make and also the comments they post in chat or using the emojis or icons. Acknowledge them all and reward participation.
- Master your tools. Practice with your tools until you have command of them. The more command you have of your virtual tools, the more creative you can be with them.
- Let students “go to the board.”
As in class, let students “lead at the board” frequently, “swap papers” or “time the teacher” to keep them active participants in their own learning.
- Adjust to different needs.
Different students will adapt to the virtual environment at different paces. Some will thrive in some activities more than others. Encourage each one at their own pace and provide a variety of activities for different learners.
- Remember the core learning styles.
Visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Include images, lecture or discussion and hands on activities in every class.
- Play games with the students. Playing interactive games with the students makes online learning Fun and engaging. For instance, mixing content with online games like Quizlet, Kahoot, and Bingo is a great way to get kids involved. But don’t plan for every minute. Create space and time for students to socialize, learn from each other and just have some fun!
- Find ways to build their self-motivation and self-discipline. Building motivation and discipline is something you can’t do alone. Look for techniques to guide your learners to take accountability for their own learning and ways to build self-discipline. Self-checks and progress checks help create the empowerment, self-discipline and internal motivation to succeed not just in class – but in life!