Remote teaching: How to structure an online lesson plan for high school students

Uncategorized Apr 01, 2020
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, our world has changed so fast over the last few weeks and as a result, our education system has been flipped on its head. Many teachers, students, and parents are now navigating an entirely new way of learning, so it’s entirely understandable that many teachers are finding it difficult to work out how to best deal with this new situation. 
First of all, let me note that it may be the case that everyone's expectations might need to be a bit lower whilst teaching through this pandemic. It’s hard to know how it might be affecting students emotionally, and we also don’t know their situation at home or how much support they have. They might have to share devices with siblings or parents, or their access to internet might not be great. Older siblings may have to look after younger siblings whilst their parents try to do some work. Teachers may also be struggling at home, trying to look after their own children whilst also trying to teach, or dealing with their own anxieties regarding this new situation we are in. So during this time it is fair to give everyone a bit of grace and not place too much pressure on ourselves. 
That being said, this could be a great opportunity to up-level our tech skills and experiment with new types of innovative teaching strategies. It will be very interesting to see what the future of education will look like as a result of this experience. 
The most important thing however, is that you are still connecting with and supporting your students everyday so that they don’t feel like they have been left to fend for themselves. Providing them with a sense of calm, consistency and routine will help them to navigate through this strange time. Try and do what you can do keep their spirits high. 
How you manage to deliver remote teaching to your students will depend on the software that you or your school has access to, the technology or devices that you and your students have access to, varying levels of access to internet, and the level of technological skills that you and your students currently have. I have put together a variety of options here depending on these variables. 
Scenario 1
This is the best case scenario, where teachers and students have access to video conferencing software (such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams - both of which are free) and a high level of access to technology and fast internet which will handle video streaming. This is also assuming that your school is conducting remote teaching as per the usual school timetable where students are expected to ‘attend’ certain classes at set times.
Here’s a basic example of how a 50-60 minute lesson could go: 
  1. Roll call: if you want to get creative, instead of just answering ‘present’ when the lesson starts, you could get them to answer something like a ‘would you rather’ question - eg. Would you rather have a flying carpet or a car that could drive underwater? 
  2. Introduce the learning intentions for the lesson.
  3. Spend 5-10 minutes introducing the content, possibly with the aid of slides. An alternative to this is to pre-record yourself explaining the content here and have it available as a video - this will help students who may have trouble keeping up and who need to re-watch. It is also useful in case there are any tech glitches whilst you are talking.
  4. 15 minutes: Set an activity - it could be reading from a website or a document, or watching a video, and then answering some questions. You can assist individual students during this time via the chat function of your video conferencing software. 
  5. 5-10 minutes: Open it up to a question and answer session as a class. 
  6. 5-10 minutes: Online quiz: use a website like Quizizz which will then give you all of the analytics (you can then look at the data and decide if there is anything that you may need to re-teach in the next lesson). 
  7. 5-10 minutes: Journalling activity where students reflect on the learning intentions and self-evaluate using success criteria
  8. Exit ticket - this is a very short (1 minute) and simple activity due at the end of class and the link isn’t given out until towards the end of class. This is to ensure that students are still in attendance, and also doubles as a form of plenary. This could be done via Padlet or Google Forms for example (Google Forms will also time stamp their responses which is handy).
Scenario 2
Mixed levels of access to technology and internet. This might be the case if your students don't have one-to-one access to technology (they might be sharing with siblings or parents), or if the internet connection or speed is a bit unpredictable and you cannot rely on video streaming. If this is the case, it is unlikely that you will be able to stick to a regular timetable where you can interact with students in real time. Therefore, you will need to provide a guideline of set activities that students will need to complete each day. For accountability and informal assessment/ feedback, you could have them submit a task, complete an online quiz, or keep an online journal that summarises their learning. 
  1. Spend 5-10 minutes watching a pre-recorded video of you (either you at the whiteboard or narrated slides for eg), explaining the learning intentions and introducing the key concepts. Just in case there are tech issues, it would also be a good idea to to provide a written transcript for those who can’t access the video. 
  2. 15-20 minutes: set an activity such as reading a website/ document and answering questions. 
  3. 10 minutes: complete an online quiz using a website such as Quizizz.
  4. 10 minutes: journalling activity to reflect on learning intentions and self-evaluate using success criteria
  • You will need some sort of way that you can communicate individually with students or the class as a whole so that you can distribute the activities, address questions and give assistance where necessary. Some options are: 
    • Email - make sure you have your classes set up as groups in your email program to make this easier for you. 
    • You could let your students know that you are available for video conferencing for 20mins each day at a certain time, and record them to clarify anything or answer any questions. Students who are not able to make the live video can watch it at a later time. 
    • Apps like Edmodo, WhatsApp or Voxer to help with communication (WhatsApp and Voxer also have voice recording options to save you all that typing when responding to student queries). 
    • If your students are old enough and it is endorsed by the school and parents, you could consider setting up a private Facebook group or Instagram account - as well as aiding communication it would help to keep everyone feeling connected. This article does a great job of explaining the benefits. 
    • In some circumstances it may be more useful or necessary to talk to students on the phone. 
Scenario 3:
This is the worst case scenario, where the majority of your students do not have adequate access to technology and/or internet. However, it is still likely that they have access to a phone, whether that be their own or their parents. 
  • In this scenario, you may have to mail out workbooks to students. This would need to include any resources that they need to complete the activities that you set, and very detailed instructions to avoid confusion. Include all of the learning intentions and success criteria for the topic. 
  • Video streaming or downloading videos may be an issue if they cannot afford to have access to a lot of data, or if their internet connection is very slow. Therefore it is best not to rely on this option for this scenario. 
  • Another possibility is setting them a long-term project that is fairly open-ended in nature, where they need to create something tangible that will be brought into school and presented when it opens again. You could even make a competition out of it if you wanted to. You would still need to provide daily check-ins, resources, support and scaffolding however. 
  • Set activities that utilise any kind of low-tech resources that they have at home - this could include interviewing their parents/ siblings, creating activities that integrate daily tasks around the house such as cooking, cleaning and gardening (obviously this depends on your subject area). Creating things such as dioramas or models out of household waste items such as cardboard boxes, toilet paper rolls, milk cartons and so on. Watching the news, reading the newspaper, or listening to a radio program. Gathering data and creating graphs on things like how many cars drive down their street. Maybe they could even initiate some type of community care or well-being program. You get the picture. 
  • You could send out text messages with the activity for the day.
  • Students could take photos of their work and send them to you so that you can offer feedback. 
  • You could possibly still use apps like Edmodo, WhatsApp, Voxer, Facebook or Instagram to help with group communication and distribution of information. 
  • Make phone calls where necessary. 
These are all fairly basic strategies for delivering remote learning, but they are a good starting point. I will be writing more articles soon regarding how you can experiment with more advanced strategies, including how you can implement differentiation, group work and project work. 
Hope it helps!  
Kelly :) 
PS. To access a range of free teaching tools, sign up for the Freebies Vault here. 

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