If You’ve Been Asked to Connect Using Video with Your StudentsThings to think about: (click to expand)
- Do all of your students have access? How will you support students that do not?
- What is your reason for connecting? Are you trying to show them something, or just staying connected?
- Does your school division have a platform that they subscribe to already, such as Teams, Zoom, Hangouts, etc.?
- If not, have you been given permission to use something that your school division doesn’t currently “own”, and do you have permission from the families to use it?
- Will you be connecting live, or recording messages for them to watch later?
- Will you be connecting with your entire class, small groups, or one-on-one? Don’t feel that you have to connect to everyone at the same time.
- Perhaps test out with a group of teachers or smaller group of students before diving in.
- Start small. You don’t need to have perfect conferences right from the start. If you haven’t tried breakout rooms for example, maybe don’t do that the first time. Students will likely be very excited to see you!
Before using video with students, check with your school division about what might already be available. Some school divisions might have preferred or required platforms that they want you to use. Also, take advantage of the password functions, as there are reports of uninvited people coming in to meetings and causing havoc. Passwords or invitations will help with that problem. If you are free to use what works best for you, and you have permission from the families, here are some resources for video conferencing.
- Zoom is widely used across the province for video conferencing. It offers features such as “raising hands”, breakout rooms, interactive whiteboards, screen sharing, muting, etc. There are many videos on YouTube about how to set up a Zoom meeting. Here is one:
- Here are two webinars on Facilitating Engaging Online Learning for teachers as they are called to provide remote learning for students using Zoom. These webinars are by Mike Flynn, an adult educator providing support for teachers working through engaging students. They are long, but very informative: Session 1 and Session 2
- Microsoft Teams will be present in many school divisions due to the licensing for Office 365 that many school divisions utilize. Teams is a multi-faceted application that does many things including online meetings. Teams is more suited to small group, one-to-one, and one-to-many meetings. It allows screen sharing and whiteboard, but does not have breakout rooms or the “raise hand” function. It is easy to send a link to a meeting using Outlook, and does not require that anything is downloaded to a computer (although there is that option for added features). Teams is a little specific depending on how your division has set up Office 365. It’s probably best to contact your division support for using Teams with students.
- There are many other options, but in the interest of not overwhelming, we will stop there. Other services your division might have are Adobe Connect, Blackboard Collaborate, Google Hangout (used through Google Classroom – called Meetings). There are also numerous resources online that can walk you through setup and use.
If You’ve Been Asked to Provide Resources for Your StudentsThings to think about:
- What is the learning that you want your students to experience?
- Is it something that can be delivered digitally?
- If it is, can all of your students access it? If not, how do you support those who can’t?
- It is important to keep copyright in mind. Copyright Matters! is a great Canadian resource that explains how education is affected by copyright. Many sites are opening up during this time, but please be sure you are following proper protocols. Publisher’s Lunch is a site that is attempting to publish a list of publishers that are giving permission to use their materials through this time.
- Does your school division have a platform that they subscribe to already, such as Google Classrooms (GSuite), Office 365, SeeSaw, FreshGrade etc. that your students already have accounts for?
- If not, have you been given permission to setup something outside of your division, and do you have permission from the families to use outside platforms?
- Many sites have age restrictions and do not allow students to create their own accounts if they are 13 or under. You may need parents/guardians to create the accounts for them.
- If your school division has GSuite or Office 365 and the site provides a “Sign in with Google” option, have your students use those sign-in options when creating accounts. This provides you with the protection of access to those accounts, should there be an issue.
- Have you already used digital delivery in your classrooms? If so, it might be better to stick with what students are familiar with to limit the technology being a barrier.
- Will they have supports at home to work through the resources? What supports can you provide if they don’t? Can students do it on their own?
- How can you make the learning ongoing? Can you build on prior learning and think of next steps in learning?
- How will you provide feedback to students and families?
- Supports for major platforms:
- Seesaw is a good communication tool, especially at the primary level. It can be used as a way to send daily messages to student and families with opportunities to comment and send photos back. Teachers can also send messages (for example, “take a picture of three right angles today”) and allow students to send back and respond. Families can work with the students if the technology use is a barrier for the students. Check out the write up for SeeSaw.
- Google Classroom is available to most school divisions throughout Saskatchewan. If your division has GSuite, your students already have accounts that can be accessed. With Google Classroom, you can post announcements, assignments (provide feedback and return), have discussions, and even invite parents in (to view only). Classrooms are very easy to setup with a plethora of resources online. Google offers their own guide which might be a good place to start. Google Classrooms are also mobile friendly, so students can use mobile devices to access.
- Office 365 is deployed, but not necessarily fully, in all divisions. If your division is using Teams, Microsoft has created a Teams for Education Quick Guide that could help. Office 365 can also be used much like Google Docs to share and collaborate on documents.
- OneNote is also widely used, has great educational value, and is part of the Office 365 suite. Microsoft has also created a OneNote in Education guide.
- Flipgrid is a little more involved, but can be very engaging for younger students. It uses video for students to engage with the teacher and with each other and allows easy moderation for teachers. It also integrates with Google Classroom. Visit their site for information on setting up, and use your GSuite or Office 365 account to sign up.
If You’ve Been Asked to Communicate with FamiliesThings to think about:
- How were you communicating prior to the directive?
- Do you already have email addresses for the family?
- Does your school division have a platform that they subscribe to already, such as Google Classrooms (GSuite), Office 365, Scholaris Class Sites, etc.?
- Does everyone have access already? Was there prior engagement?
- If you would prefer to try something else, do you have permission from your school division to use it? Do you have permission from all parents to use it?
- A great site and podcast by Jennifer Gonzalaz on working through this emergency remote teaching. She offers some great perspective and thoughts.
- In Part 1, she discusses the emotional and psychological factors for teachers in this sudden shift to online learning, including perspective, the need for physical activity to enhance brain function, and the need to connect with colleagues. She recommends two Facebook groups to which teachers can turn for collegial support and collaboration.
- In Part 2, she provides an overview of the nuts and bolts of online learning. Beginning with connecting and communicating with students, she addresses ‘must-haves’ and ‘nice-to-haves’ with both synchronous and asynchronous options. She provides recommendations for video conferencing and alternatives such as discussion boards and backchannel discussions. Then, she recommends options for keeping everything organized online and for streamlining information going out to students and families. Next, Jennifer provides support for planning online lessons, including Tips for Designing an Online Learning Experience Using the 5 Es Instructional Model, by Catlin Tucker and Engaging Learners in Online Environments Utilizing Universal Design for Learning Principles, from elearn Magazine. She discusses options for delivering content, including readings (Google Docs, PDFs, PDFs with annotation tools, websites, and websites with customized added layers), videos (using videos created by someone else and creating your own videos using Screencastify and Screencast-o-matic), Google slide presentations, audio (podcasts and your own audio recordings), and interactive learning experiences. Lastly, she presents options for demonstrating learning (e.g., Book Creator, Google Tour Builder, infographics, photographs, models, museum or multimedia collections, podcasts, scavenger hunts, sketchnoting, and creating videos and websites).In
- Part 3, Jennifer shares general tips and advice from teachers.
- Part 4 addresses troubleshooting, including students who do not have home access to tech, meeting special education, RtI and language learning needs.