Remote Learning – Staying in Touch With Students

distance learning remote learning virtual learning

We have just started remote learning and it has been a challenge. One of the challenges has been finding ways to connect with the students that we’ve grown to know over the past school year. Many of them need the social and emotional support that school provides. I find myself missing them, and I’m sure you do too.

I discovered something yesterday. We are using a video conferencing platform called Zoom to deliver content. It’s a virtual meeting space and we can use it to hold “office hours” during this time. You just start the meeting and when the doorbell rings, you know someone is in the meeting, and you can chat with them. You might want to check this out as a way to get some interaction with your students (and read below for some more suggestions.)

I wasn’t surprised that students came in, but a was surprised what happened. A few students dropped in to the meeting, but they didn’t have any questions. They just wanted to talk. I think a lot of them are lonely. They seemed a little defeated. And I think yesterday was the first day that it hit them how unusual this whole situation is going to be.

So staying in touch with students will be crucial. We all need the social contact we’re not getting.

Here are some other ideas for staying in contact with your students.

1. Record your instructions.

Yes, you probably want to deliver them in text as well. But this way students get to see your face and get instruction in a way that’s way more personal. Plus, eventually you’ll probably want to teach again. This is no fun for those of us who thrive in front of the students. So plan a lesson and teach it to an imaginary class. Or, use an app like Zoom that will allow you to have a virtual class. It doesn’t need to be the whole class period – just a 15-20 minute lesson would be fine.

You can also record videos on your phone and load them up into the virtual learning platform you are using. This is how I do my daily announcements.

2. Schedule “face to face” meeting times. 

If you do have the ability to use a program to do a video meeting, do that with your students. Create a SignUpGenius where kids can schedule a time to meet with you are discuss the lessons for the week – or anything, really. Make this a requirement. You’ll want to touch base with each of them anyway.

3. Read to them. 

Record yourself reading a chapter of a book you’re reading together. Or read a daily poem to your students. Remote learning at its best!

4. Use discussion boards. 

We use Canvas, and discussion boards are a great way to stay in contact with students. They can also stay in contact with each other. I haven’t checked, but I think Flipgrid, which is a discussion platform that allows students to respond with videos, has relaxed some of their restrictions on class size for their free package. That’s a great way to get kids interacting with each other and seeing each other face to face. I plan on using that next week.

5. Record audio comments on assignments.

Not only is this a good strategy to save yourself from all the extra typing you have to do now, but it also allows students to hear your voice.

Finally, we all need to laugh now.

We need lighthearted content. Keep it light in your contact with students. But another way to keep your lessons fun is by using comics!

I have a series of lessons done as comics that address various ELA topics like grammar, poetry, editing, and Shakespeare, all of which are well suited to a remote learning environment. All the fun is there for you, and your kids will love studying any of these topics because they’ll get a new comic every day! Please check out my resources and let the learning begin!

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