Dear Teachers Considering Distance Teaching Via Video Conferencing- Give Yourself a Break. Do This Instead:

I have been teaching an online/hybrid class for 4+ years. The last thing that I would spend my time on is a video conferencing session. It’s exhausting, stressful, & basically unnecessary for grades 6-12. Do it for fun, but not for learning. Right now the last thing you need to do is add unnecessary stress, you need to give yourself a break. 

kit kat 2

For distance learning try these instead of live video conferencing: 

  • Create group work where they work asynchronously
  • Create a @Flipgrid for your students to respond to, or use it in language learning, or dance instruction, or to demonstrate something in physics for the class. 
  • Create a solo writing activity, but include an activity w/peer comments
  • Create discussion boards with interesting questions, or in response to something they learned, perhaps by watching a cool short video. 
  • Solo work
  • Have your students make a quiz for other students or create flashcards
  • Have your students take a quiz BEFORE they learn so they can see how much they need to pay attention.
  • Screencast a Slidedeck or Keynote or PPT and leave it for them to watch and then respond to it. Try using the Loom Chrome extension to make your screencast, it’s super easy. Or use a drawing tablet and create screencasts of you solving and talking about math
  • Make a @PearDeck Here’s how
  • Make some @playposit videos
  • Find an interesting piece of writing and have students annotate it with @hypothes_is or Kami or Perusall
  • Create analog work and then take a picture of the work and submit it to Canvas
  • Have students create visual notes or a one-pager while listening to a podcast and then post them on Canvas, in a discussion or to you via a picture in a Google Slide deck. 
  • Or maybe create a low-tech/no-tech choice board like this one (seen below) created and shared by Dan Ryder

Screen Shot 2020-04-22 at 7.18.59 PM

Or… just have them read something, even a real book and then have them write something where they talk about the intersection between what they just read/learned and their life and the world around them. 

If you don’t believe me, ask a hybrid online teacher at my school how often they use live online video conferencing like Google Meet, Skype, Zoom etc… for classroom instruction. There are lots of teaching online. You can find them online. You should learn how they teach online and why it works college professors like Laura Gibbs have been doing this for a while. There are even books written about this new pedagogy. I own three copies of that book and lend it out often. The authors Jesse Stommel and Sean Micheal Morris are great follows on Twitter. 

We are not broadcasters on a news channel. We are not a reality show. We don’t have a team to help us create daily video content on YouTube. We are teachers. Show students how they can learn while they live. That they don’t have to be somewhere specific in a certain place like a classroom or a video conference in order to learn. As my friend Stephen Davis a teacher in Cypress says “Read, write, create. Tools don’t matter. Humanity does.” If you want to do video conferencing, you can. Heck I love when people try new things. Maybe it will be great for you and your students, but just because Zoom is free, or Google Meet is getting an upgrade doesn’t mean you have to teach in real time via video conferencing. 

Give yourself the grace to find what works for you, use what you already know and slowly branch out. You will find your new online space taking root and eventually growing into something that will last a long time for you, and your students. 

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