Despite 2021 starting off with a bit of toing and froing from government on whether school buildings would open for students or not, at least now we know we are teaching remotely until at least February half term.
Know that teaching and learning for the coming weeks will be online makes it much easier to plan and prepare for the term ahead. We can use the skills and knowledge we gained since March and implement it well as we are not going to on the conveyor belt of uncertainty. Yay.
So for my first post for 2021 (and first since September 2020), I thought I’d share how I am approaching remote teaching with a less is more attitude.
Teams Set up
Firstly I’ve set up the following channels on each team
a) General (default channel – used for general communications with the class)
b) Classwork (instructions for each lesson and any resources are provided here)
c) Extend Yourself (any useful or interesting resources related to the topic or exam specification)
I have the following tabs on the general channel beyond the default ones:
– Document library – entitled ‘Resources – Key Stage … ‘, this takes students to SharePoint where all my teaching resources are available.
– Grades – this is a grade book for marked assignments (Teacher Only)
– Insights – this tab is useful to monitor student engagement within the Team. It provides data on communications, downloads, time viewing documents etc. (Teacher Only)
Remote Learning Routine
Prior to period 1, I use the announcement feature in posts to outline the lesson. In the announcement post I provide the following information:
- Time to join the Live Meeting (start of lesson)
- Outline of the work to be undertaken
- Resources needed for the lesson
- How I will check their understanding
My morning announcements look something like this:
At the start of the lesson I start the meeting by clicking ‘Reply’ to my morning lesson announcement. I then select the ‘Meet Now’ function.
The meeting opens and students can join. At present I don’t use the lobby function so students enter straight into the meeting. I found myself getting flustered whilst they entered, I tried to set up any resources and welcome them at the same time. So since Thursday 7th January, I’ve been starting the lesson with a holding screen that welcomes students to the lesson, which is just a PowerPoint slide that I share. Since it is only one slide it doesn’t take long to load and gives me time to get comfortable.
After sharing on Twitter, I’ve decided that I’m going to introduce 3 recap questions to my holding slide and ask students to write their answers in the chat or similar. I’m aware that they might just copy each other but I’ll see how it goes for now.
My introduction to the lesson is usually quite brief. I tell the students the content they will cover, what they should know and understand by the end and quickly outline the content of the worksheet or booklet pages they will be completing.
Once I’ve provided the essential information for the lesson, I allow students to leave the meeting. However I keep it running for the entire hour so students can rejoin and ask any questions or seek support.
A few minutes before the end of the lesson, I send a message that lets students know the lesson is almost finished but to rejoin the meeting if they have any questions or issues. The last week I’ve also used the poll function to find out if they need more time next lesson.
I’ve tried to keep the work I set as simple as possible, so they require little instruction from me. However everything the student needs to complete the work is either included or linked within the document.
Worksheets or booklet pages general consist of the information, tasks, video links, reference to textbook pages and optional further reading. additionally, I try to include ‘extend yourself’ tasks for those that wish to go beyond the specification.
By providing worksheets with all the relevant learning materials, I hope that my students can then work through them at their own pace during the hour. At least then if they are experiencing any disruptions at home they don’t feel pressured to keep up with the rest of the class.
Here’s an example of a worksheet for GCSE:
Here’s an example of a section of a booklet for KS4:
Up until this week I’ve not found it necessary to produce PowerPoints or videos for classes, but did create two short videos (Record PowerPoint, then Save as mp4 or wmp.) These were elements of the course content that students have found tricky, and despite showing a clear understanding of, some needed reassurance. The videos were uploaded to the class team and students could choose to watch them (or not).
Assessment for Learning
Prior to this term, whilst teaching both in school and remotely, I’d been using Microsoft Forms to set an AfL quiz. I’d send the link about 15 mins before the end of the lesson as students start to finish off the main body of the lesson. Before the next lesson, I’d make note of any common errors or misconceptions and this would influence my planning. If they weren’t common, I’d make note of the student and check-in with them individually either in person (if in school), by commenting on their live work (if set as an assignment) or by email. If necessary, I’d provide individual support. Last week I didn’t find the time to produce them, but I want to reintroduce them this term as I found them really useful.
I ask my GCSE classes to upload their work to a ‘Classwork Submission’ assignment. Before Christmas this was after every lesson whilst they were learning remotely. I’ve now decided to make it weekly after our lessons on a Friday. I’ll do a quick check just to make sure they’ve done the work set. However, I don’t provide feedback on general classwork. Instead students can identify parts of the work they would me to review and feedback on for reassurance.
The other year I produced booklets for each topic of the IB Geography course (very grateful for that foresight now). Which has meant that Year 12 have been working from booklets since September whether they’ve been in school or at home. The use of Teams this year though has meant that at the end of the booklet, I can ask them to submit the booklet for checking. Which has been much easier than then emailing me their digital work or handing in their folders. This year I’ve also had year 12 doing an AfL quiz roughly once a week since September and this is something I will continue after the pandemic.
Additionally, I try to provide students with the answers to the worksheets so they can check and correct their own work at the end of the lesson or during the next lesson.
All of the above then support my planning. The following is an example of a resource produced for a review lesson based upon the AfL quizzes and classwork submission.
My GCSE and IB students are continuing to complete PPQs at home in the same way we’ve always done using the AfL booklets they are provided with at the start of the course.
We cover content, AfL informs planning of next few lessons but no marking of classwork. After several lessons, students complete a set of past paper questions (PPQs) and submit via Assignments. PPQ influences starters, content review and revision lesson at end of topic.
Feedback hasn’t changed much at all, well with the exception of less live verbal feedback.
Individual feedback on formative and summative assessed tasks through the rubric attached to the assignment. 4 topics, 7 formative assessed tasks, 4 summative assessed tasks across the year.
KS4 & 5
Self-marking AfL quizzes
Marks and codes on PPQs using Feedback function in assignments
Whole Class Feedback
Verbal feedback (via meeting), mark scheme and coded feedback shared.
Students provided with answers to elements of worksheet at end of lesson, series of lessons or beginning of next lesson. Students self assess through check and correct process.
What my students say…
A number of my students have been kind enough to give me feedback on the approach I’ve taken. The most common being that the work is easy to follow, they’ve appreciated that by not delivering a lesson via PowerPoint they are able to work at their own pace and that because I’m live they can ask questions when they arise during the lesson and receive a timely reply.
I hope this outline is helpful to those of you that are perhaps feeling swamped and out of your depth a bit. Unless your school is really strict on their expectations (I know some are), you don’t need to overcomplicate things. Think simple. If you’re finding online delivery overwhelming, it’s likely that your students will too.
Best wishes for 2021.