As a result of this virus, my language center will be closed until late April, at the earliest, interfering with our spring term. In order to try to engage students in the meantime, we are thinking about posting some materials or doing some mini-lessons online. The platform we’ll most likely be using is Google Classroom.
Does anyone have any experience with the site, or some helpful tips/suggestions? What kinds of activities work best in this kind of setting?
I’m looking for recommendations on how to make the best of this unusual situation. Thanks in advance!
26 March, 2020 at 13:30
Total posts: 778
Make the online classroom as similar as possible to the physical classroom
The key with online teaching is to make the experience as similar as possible to the experience of sitting next to your student(s) in a classroom. The closer you can stick to the kinds of lesson plans, activities and methods of classroom management that you’re used to in a physical classroom, the easier it will be for both you and the student(s).
So you’ll need:
– a virtual classroom
– a way to easily share your screen so that you can show your students documents, pictures and so on
– a way to share worksheets and activities for your students to edit
– a virtual whiteboard
If you can combine several of these into one with one tool, so much the better. Skype for Business (I think it’s called Microsoft Teams now) has pretty much all of these features and I think is free for schools. I haven’t worked with Google Classrooms, but there’s a guide with some good resources here.
If you need a separate virtual whiteboard, there are a number of apps, like GroupBoard.
Google Docs works well for sharing worksheets, activities, etc.
So, with a group class, I would try planning a lesson in the way you normally would, and then think through each stage of your lesson, picturing how this will work with the tools above. If you come to a particular point in the lesson that is clearly not going to work so well virtually, think about a work-around.
For example, pair work and group work obviously don’t lend themselves so well to online lessons. A simple workaround to students completing a worksheet in pairs would be to have them do it alone and then come back for group feedback. Not as interactive, I know, but still a solution. If you use Zoom though, they have a feature caled Breakout rooms, where you can split the class into as many groups as you need to, and then “visit” each of these groups in turn. (I’m not sure if Skype or others have this feature, but they may well do.) This way you can do group activities almost as you would in a physical classroom.
Once you’ve planned a few lessons in this way, thinking through each stage of the lesson in your head and including workarounds for some of these stages, the whole process of planning an online lesson becomes a lot easier.
With one-to-one lessons it’s a bit easier – with screen sharing and whitebaords, there’s no reason why you can’t do a lesson almost exactly as you would in a physical classroom.