Online Instruction

Foster and grow“The number one thing to remember when taking learning online is to foster and grow learning relationships with your students. Give yourself and your students grace as you learn in this new environment.”

District and school leaders know that online instruction has opportunities and benefits that are different from traditional classrooms and that they should maximize those benefits for all learners. For example, because teachers can create or introduce a variety of multimedia resources, students have multiple ways to access content. Communication tools, such as chat, whiteboards, and discussion boards, can build in easier classroom conversation entry points for students who may be more introverted and who may take a little longer to process and articulate their thinking. Teachers can use protocols and other discussion strategies for managing live online classes in ways that allow every student to participate.

Guiding Questions

  • What techniques and tools promote active student interaction in remote and hybrid learning environments?

Professional Development Connections

  • Teachers learn a lot about what works in an online learning environment when their professional development and collaborative professional learning takes place online, allowing them to experience the technology platform and tools as learners.
  • Individualized online support through virtual walk-throughs and subsequent coaching conversations are also important to identify and support areas where teachers need to strengthen engagement strategies.
Now it’s your turn
High-leverage Strategies Aligned Resources

Unit Reviews to Incorporate Technology

Organize unit reviews to help students connect with the lesson.

  • Is there a way to build collaboration into your lesson?
  • Would a short video be helpful?
  • Would a guest speaker help deepen their understanding?

Teaching with Technology (New Visions for Public Schools) provides effective strategies you can use immediately. The how-to strategies include:

  • Model Instruction with Video
  • Model Instruction with an Online Whiteboard and Video
  • Formatively Assess Students
  • Encourage Discussion/Interaction

Online Trauma-Informed Practices

Incorporate trauma-informed practices to help keep students motivated and present for learning.

See related resources in section on Responding to Trauma 

Use this list of trauma-informed practices (National Child Traumatic Stress Network) to inform your selection of practices. For example:

  • Begin class time with a social ritual.
  • Introduce a short “mental stretch” break during class.
  • Offer monitored hangout time before class starts.
  • Create small groups that meet socially.

Use Technology to Increase Participation

Incorporate technology tools that increase participation in all subject areas. While it’s extremely important to honor students who cannot or do not want to turn on their cameras, there are appropriate ways to help or encourage students to use their cameras.   

3 Participation Strategies for Live Video Instruction offers how-to strategies on:

  • Getting student input using polls
  • Using the chat function to ask compelling questions
  • Prompting discussions with word clouds (Edutopia)

Tips to Encourage Camera Use–students need options, encouragement, and often trust to turn their cameras on and connect visually.  

  • Allow students to show only their hands on screen. Some students are particularly self-conscious about exposing their face on camera. 
  • Have students vote with their thumbs up or down on a topic, or poll the class with a Fist-to-Five, a simple signaling system that can engage reluctant students and build consensus within a group. 
  • Encourage virtual backgrounds. It could be that a student is resistant to using their camera because of their home environment, so teach them how to use Zoom virtual backgrounds or introduce them to Unscreen. 

(Strategies to Encourage Students to Turn Their Cameras On, Edutopia)