Contributed by Vivian Simmons.
David Valente is the writer of an article on online tools and teaching remotely. Valente is the Coordinator of the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL) Young Learners and Teenagers Special Interest Group. He works for Nord University, in Norway and he is also Editor for the Children’s Literature in English Language Education (CLELE) Journal.
In his post, he talks about three simple steps to help teachers focus on their teaching goals while purposely engaging students. While this article aims at an elementary school audience, some of these steps can be modified and adjusted to any grade level:
- Plant seeds of early independence
Online teaching is the perfect way to start helping elementary school students do things for themselves. Varied choices such as drawing or singing can encourage early independence in a fun, engaging way. If teaching online and using tools such as zoom.us, this could be a great chance to practice some group activities and conversations among students. If a conferencing tool is not in use, choice boards could be an excellent way to enhance student independence.
- Focus Attention using WALTs
Start the lessons with sentences like “We Are Learning To…” Outlining the purpose of the lesson is ideal for helping students feel a sense of accomplishment. Creating videos to post on school pages and mentioning the content and language objectives for the session are excellent ways to help students make connections.
- Incorporate playful, personalized practice
When planning lessons, do not forget to include activities that will make connections to students’ lives outside of the classroom. Making connections will not only make the lesson creative but also fun and enjoyable.
From Personal Experience:
As an ESL teacher for K-8 students, and recently becoming an ESL/DI Lead Teacher in the county, teaching students and working on administration duties is on the agenda. At school, the administration gave us directions to set up private Facebook pages (per grade level), which parents can only access by request. Teachers are using different resources to keep the learning going. For instance, some teachers are using the Facebook private page to post links to Zoom meetings. Some are posting links to sites like Khan Academy, and others are creating videos ahead of time to teach a lesson.
Creating these videos has been both challenging and rewarding. At first, it was difficult deciding what to do and how to contribute to online teaching. Also, given the new responsibilities, it was imperative to find a quick, useful way to teach to set up the daily routine. The answer was: video recording. QuickTime Player is an app that allows voice and screen recording. It is easy to preview vocabulary and work on listening, speaking, reading, and writing activities using this app.
Food for Thought:
To sum it up, here are some reflecting points to share:
Disclosure: NOT advertising any sites or apps.
- Even though times are difficult, we are fortunate to have a job still and do what we love.
- Be flexible with yourself and the students. Think about the due dates set and the amount of information sent. Remote learning and teaching are new for ALL of us, and some families still do not have devices or internet service. Less is OK for now.
- Check-in on students. A phone call can do wonders and will strengthen positive relationships.
- Send frequent emails or announcements but do not overcommunicate. Keeping families informed is a must right now, but do not flood them with tons of information. It is not about quantity, but quality.
- Stick to just one mode of communication (email, ClassDojo, Class Tag, Talking Points, Facebook closed pages) to give parents and students a sense of consistency.
- Start small and keep things manageable.
- Provide support and feedback for students. If unable to get a hold of some families, communicate with the school administrations as they can provide guidance.
- Watch tutorials or webinars (simple K12, Cassie Create abilities, Saddleback, Edmentum) if you need guidance or would like to work on your Continuing Education Units (CEUs) or credentials.
- Reach out to peers and ask for help if needed, simply to get a consensus of what is working for others.
- Take a break and rest: try learning a new language with different apps like Duolingo, for example.
Find David Valente’s full blog by clicking the following link:
Valente, David. “Supporting Every Teacher: Teaching Children Online, Avoid ‘Edutainment’ but Don’t Lose the Fizz!” World of Better Learning | Cambridge University Press, 20 Mar. 2020, http://www.cambridge.org/elt/blog/2020/03/18/teaching-children-online/.