Remote teaching and learning

COVID-19 has forced all of us to make changes to our lifestyle, included within this is the education sector. Schools, colleges and universities in the UK switched to remote teaching from March 20th, teachers and educators across the country had to renew and refresh their teaching overnight to continue delivering for students. My workplace in particular very quickly set up CPD courses for all staff members to attend to allow us to become accustomed to the different programmes offered by Google and Microsoft to continue to educate and support young people. This post will be a brief insight into how I have been delivering lessons to my A Level Religious Studies students in the current situation. 

Google Classroom: 

We use Google Classroom all the time – it is our usual form of online communication where we post lesson resources and important notices – just like Moodle or Blackboard. We have continued with this as the main form of communication for teachers and students. During the current crisis I have been making the most of the ‘Assignment’ function in Google Classroom, setting all class essays and tasks as assignments for students to ‘turn in’. This has actually made marking much more effective and efficient, as I can mark all work online using Google Docs. I will definitely continue with this once we return back to teaching in our classrooms! 

Google Meet: 

All lessons are being delivered through Meet. It is just like Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams. I simply set up an online lesson, share the ‘class code’ with my students and we meet at our usual lesson times. I know some educational settings have not been delivering lessons as such, instead they have been uploading work online or sending work packs to students to complete. However, delivering lessons whilst we still have content to teach at the usual lesson time provides some regularity, normality and continuity for myself and the students. 

Google Meet allows you to share your screen with the audience, therefore most of my lessons have not had to change drastically, as I can easily share my presentations with all students and talk them through the tasks. I can edit the slides as I go too, so any questions, arguments or suggestions that my students provide, I can easily add these on as we go through the lesson.

Google Meet allows you to show or hide your face, share screens and also has a chat section called ‘Hangout’ where I usually post questions for discussion and where students can post any questions they have for me. This has worked well for discussions and allows those students who do not want to speak in the lesson to still have an input in all tasks.

Jamboard: 

This is a virtual post-it note app provided by Google, I started using this in my lessons in January after another teacher showed us how it works. You simply set up a ‘jamboard’ which is like a blank page, you can add a title, I usually write up a question or statement. You then share it with whoever you want – just like sharing a Google Document and then they can post their answer or suggestion on to a post-it note which will appear on the main page. Here are some of the ones I have created previously:

To do this whilst remote teaching, I share the link with my students and my screen, as they post their note, it appears on my screen which they view through Meets. I particularly like using Jamboard for Starters, to see how much knowledge the students can remember from a previous lesson or to see what they already know when we start a new topic. I also use this for ‘silent debates’ – I will post a statement and the students can post their answers on different coloured post-it notes depending on if they agree or disagree. I have also used this in tutorial sessions to generate feedback or discuss important issues like lowering the voting age or making tutorial compulsory for all students. It’s a great way to generate discussions as everyone can see the answers. Jamboard can also be very useful for ‘stretch and challenge’ – I often ask students to elaborate, critically analyse or evaluate a point they have made. We also draw links between the post-it notes to help students consolidate their learning.

Kahoot: 

I absolutely love using Kahoot for Starters and Plenaries, however I wasn’t really aware of how to use it with remote teaching. I was very happy when a colleague of mine created a CPD video showing us how to to do this, and once seeing this I realised it was very simply! You can play Kahoot simply by screen sharing which is what I have been doing or you can set the Kahoot quiz as a challenge for students to complete within a time-frame and then share the results with the students. Again, this has brought some kind of normality to my lessons as the students love Kahoot too. One of my students has gone on to create a Kahoot quiz for revision – a useful tool which has been shared with all students.

A final addition to my remote teaching is a weekly catch up with all my students at the end of the lesson – I have been leaving 10 minutes spare at the end of every Friday lesson to check in with my students and see how they are coping the current climate. As a mental health first aider, this is one of my natural instincts and priorities as a teacher. The students really liked this and many emailed me after the lesson to say how beneficial this was for them, therefore I have continued doing this every week. As a result, I have made some referrals to our mental health and safeguarding team to help any vulnerable students. This also allows myself and students to share what we have been up to outside of lessons, the students have been sharing decorating ideas and recipes with each other.

Although the initial change to remote teaching seemed daunting, it has been an enjoyable experience and there are definitely some great benefits to teaching this way. Saying that, I can’t wait to get back to the classroom and funnily enough, some of my students have also said they just want to get back to College!

How have you changed your usual style of teaching? Are there any resources or ideas you can share? Let me know in the comments!

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