– Peter Santoro –
A critical component of the Rapid Transition to Online Learning (RTOL) is what teachers plan to do in what would have been your in-class activity. When I plan my video lessons, I plan my classroom activities at the same time. I want that logical “flow” from beginning to end. It is important to keep in mind that the video lessons are typically watched independently at home and the classroom activities are what would follow in class the following school day. Here are some things to keep in mind as you start planning for your virtual classroom/group space.
Your group space activities should be a natural extension of your video lesson. Remember, it is very likely that your students have never been in a virtual classroom, so you need to guide them through the process. It might make sense to write a script for this part of your lesson plan as well.In some ways, group space planning might be more difficult than planning your video lesson. Identify what learning outcomes you want your students to achieve from the group space activities. Decide if you want students to work individually or in groups, as they might in class. Regardless of what group space activities you implement, it is important to maintain your student/teacher relationship as you guide your students through this uncertain period in their educational journey. With advanced technologies, education can, and should continue, even though we are not in the same physical classroom as our students.
Tom Menella’s article on Strategies for the group space will give you guidance and ideas for how to approach and structure your group space. Depending on the group space activity you are planning, the Screen Capture technology you used recording your lesson may be used here as well. Get creative and try some new and fun apps. Many of your students will enjoy the use of technology as part of their learning experience. Another decision point is whether or not your group space activity will be synchronous (all students participating at once, simulating your regular class time) or asynchronous (students participating at different time throughout the “online school day.” You need to determine how you want your students to demonstrate their learning at the end of the group space activity. Give your students choices and let them be creative here.
Discuss with your administration how “remote” classes will be scheduled. My idea would be to set up a virtual classroom for each of my classes and I would log in at the normal time my classes start and so would my students; this would be a synchronous online learning environment. We would hold classes on schedule. This gives students the structure of school even though we are not there. My school is a Google school, so I would use Google Hangouts Meet. Google is doing its part during this crisis by making all the advanced features available at no charge through July 1, 2020. If you are not a Google school, check with your administration and see what technology they have available for students and faculty (such as Skype, Zoom, etc.).
The RTOL has been designed as a comprehensive “Quick Start Guide” to ensure a smooth transition to online learning in the event your school has to close due to the Coronavirus. The online class activities should be an extension of the pre-work (typically a video lesson) your students completed prior to engaging in the group space activity.