Tips for Changing Your Traditional Classroom into a Distance Learning Hub

We know many schools across the country are transitioning to distance learning, and Team iCEV is here to help that the transformation from traditional to online classroom settings be as smooth as possible. Use this blog to find resources and suggestions to help teachers and students adjust to a distance learning model.

Schedule Your Time

Teaching is already a profession with a delicate work-life balance. Add in working-from-home, and your life could quickly be taken over entirely by answering student emails and sorting through free online resources for your class.

Start your move to distance learning by mapping out your day. Create boundaries for yourself of how and when you will respond to students. Set and protect daily planning periods in your schedule, and don’t let that time be taken over with students or parents. You will likely need more time than usual for planning and prep work to prepare for each period, make sure to consider that when creating a schedule for yourself.

With Google Calendar, you can make and share multiple calendars. You can create a personal schedule that you keep private, but you can also create calendars for each course to share with students and parents. Click here to view a Google calendar in real-time.

Communicate Daily & Unit Objectives

In the classroom, teachers often hear, “Why are we learning this?” While scaffolding and explaining purposes for learning in the classroom can be easy, online learning can muddle objectives and feel like “busy work.” Try these options to communicate objectives in a clear and concise manner.

Daily Calendar

Providing a calendar for each unit can help students contextualize their learning to the larger picture of the course. These calendars should detail when students are meeting learning objectives for the unit and include major assignments and assessments. When assigning daily tasks, make sure to reinforce the learning objectives for that day.

Checklists

Create a checklist for students to complete. Checkli allows you to customize a checklist for the day, week, or unit. Students will have a visual of everything that must be completed to meet the objectives. Additionally, a checklist will tell students the order in which to work through the lesson.

*iCEV Connection: Outlining objectives is made easy with iCEV lesson plans. Each lesson has provided objectives and a daily schedule for you to use to create this calendar.

Check Learning Objectives

To assess students’ comprehension of lesson objectives, you can end online class time by implementing exit tickets. While you can’t gather responses via traditional methods, but there are several ways you can collect student thoughts:

Email

One way to record student responses is via email. However, during the transition to distance learning, you will likely be receiving massive amounts of email, so collecting daily student exit tickets via email could become overwhelming. If you choose to use email, use a nested folder system to sort emails. This option is best if you want to provide direct feedback to each student in a private and individual manner.

Google Forms

Google Forms allows you to create a survey-type document to send to students. In your Google Drive, you’ll be able to see and sort student responses. This method is ideal for situations where students may feel more comfortable with private answers, and you do not necessarily want to provide direct feedback to their responses.

Flipgrid

Flipgrid is a free resource for teachers and students. Teachers create discussion boards with questions, and students answer by posting recorded videos to the board. Using videos can help engage students, foster creativity and maintain a sense of community. Additionally, students can be assigned to review and respond to their peers’ videos.

Remind

Remind utilizes a computer-generated “phone number,” allowing participants to send and receive text messages. There is even an app for smartphones, so parents don’t have to worry about text message fees. You can also schedule texts ahead of time, which is incredibly helpful if you have a unit organized in advance.

*iCEV Connection: Every iCEV lesson has objectives listed in the lesson plan. Newer courses like Nursing Skills also have essential questions. Both objectives and essential questions can be used as discussion assignments.

Facilitate Class Discussions

Arguably one of the most important aspects of classroom learning is class discussions. Just because classes are moved online, doesn’t mean your students have to miss our on peer interactions. In addition to Flipgrid, the following resources can facilitate dialogue between teacher and students:

Zoom

Zoom allows you to host live webinars where students can make provide feedback and ask questions in real-time. All participants can view the discussion section and respond accordingly. You can also host a meeting where multiple people are video conferencing at the same time.

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is a messaging platform with the ability to handle large groups at one time. You can have a full discussion, upload documents, and share links with all the participants. Though this resource does not allow you to see each other face-to-face, you can communicate immediately or respond in your own time.

Padlet

A more organized option, Padlet is an online discussion site. You can post a question and students can answer in paragraph form. One great thing about Padlet is it can be created ahead of time and comes with a page-specific link to send to your students. Students will be able to answer in their own time and can also comment on each other’s posts. Additionally, students may post questions for you or their peers to answer. Click here to view an example of a Padlet discussion activity from iCEV’s Law Enforcement I course.

Get on the Same Page

The most important thing when moving to distance learning is to communicate with your students about your expectations for them during your school’s closure. We recommend creating a document which provides the following information:

  • When you’ll be available and how to contact you
  • How and when students will need to report to class
  • Where class assignments will be posted
  • How to submit work
  • List of accounts students will need to sign-up for and how to provide you with their account information

We encourage you to continue to utilize any technology you used in your regular classroom in your new virtual classroom. If you have questions about implementing distance learning, please reach out to our education specialist Morgan Dixon (morgan.dixon@cevmultimedia.com), and check out our distance learning page for resources during your school’s closure.

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