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How to Make Teaching Online Easy

Due to Covid-19, many teachers are required or prefer teaching fall 2020 classes online. School system leaders have been exploring options for this scenario since the Spring and have provided what seems like unlimited options for remote or hybrid face-to-face and online learning. Google classroom, EdModo, Edulastic, Buncee, ClassDojo, Deck Toys, Eduplanet, FlipGrid, Zoom, Skype, Slack, Microsoft teams, Schoology. Screencastify, You Tube, and Google Meets are just a fraction of the options available. Add to this the increased availability of educational technology for the classroom and teachers quickly find themselves buried under an avalanche of distance learning tools, Viewsonic boards, webcams, and other electronic gadgets they have no idea how to use.

If this describes you, relax. There is an easy way to get through this.

First, you have to remember the most important rule in problem solving and learning. That is to keep things simple. Just because you have access to all of this technology does not mean you have to use it all. You need to choose 2-4 simple online learning tools stick with them. Disregard all the rest. Just make sure you have chosen at least the following:

  • A platform like Google Classroom or an educational website you have built (Wix, Weebly...) to organize your classes, classwork, parent and student resources, or other class materials you will want students to have.

  • A method of live or recorded communication with which you will lecture or provide opportunities for students to ask questions. This can be zoom, google meets, Screencastify, Skype... But just choose one and use it on a regular schedule so students know when you will be online.

  • A method to evaluate student learning. This can be as simple as Quizzes, a google doc quiz, or an online Examview assessment. Consider reducing the number of assignments and assessments and focus on quality instead. Don't overload your students or yourself. This is 2020, a year like no other in recent history. You will not get through as much material as in the past. Don't stress about it. And, don't stress your students over it either.

  • Make sure your computer has a camera and a good microphone.

  • Make sure students have a way to contact you.

That is it. This is all you need. For example, you could choose Google classroom to house and deliver student work and assignments. You can supplement this with the built in Google Meet for answering student questions or delivering instruction. Just these two alone will do. Students will be able to contact you through email in Google classroom and you can make assessments there as well. If you prefer to record some lessons and upload them, you can use something like Screencastify as well.

Finally, don't try to get fancy or get too far ahead. Schools could be back in session under normal operations as soon as November (after the election) or it could last all year. You just don't know. The point is that the situation is fluid. So just get things done as you go along. Don't try to get an entire semester of work ready before school begins. After all, you only see as far as the headlights will allow. So, just relax and do your best and that is enough!

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