What is one of the big challenges of students working remotely? Access to the teacher’s high-quality instruction and guidance.

What is one of the ways students engage with information in their world today? Video!

Simply put, teachers need to “clone themselves” so that students have access to their voice, expertise, knowledge, and wisdom so they can learn anywhere, anytime. Let’s admit, spring 2020 had its bumps; teachers were not “live” much of the time and it left parents dissatisfied. But the answer is not to live stream lessons all day long. We need a new look!

Videos provide students with inspiration, instruction, and direction. Synchronous instruction should be used for discussions, facilitation, and small-group instruction. #DoSomethingDifferent

A big shift for “learning anywhere, anytime” will be away from live teacher “lessons” to recorded lessons. Live engagement is reserved for small-group instruction and for larger group discussions to solidify learning. I’m not a fan of whole-group instruction even in the physical classroom. I feel that while it’s “equal” access for all, it’s not “equitable” access for all. When teachers record lessons, students who need some extra time or help can get it. Remote learners who cannot join a live video-conference lesson can watch the video multiple times; they can pause it and rewind it; and if they are distracted in the middle, they haven’t lost the moment.

It may sound daunting to have to record a lot of videos; have a strategy:

  • Write out your talking points and put together some slides for a variety of topics. Then just record, stop, record, stop, record, stop . . . you get it . . . you’ll actually accomplish more than you think.
  • Make friends! This is the time to collaborate with your grade-level and subject-area colleagues to divide and conquer! Yes, you can find videos on the web, but students respond better to their own teacher and other teachers they know when learning through video.
  • Start with a few and mix with live instruction; then, little by little, keep adding to your collection. By next year, you’ll be in awesome shape! Plus, students who need to return to a topic for review will have a path to success.

Thankfully, here in the 21st century, we have technology tools and ease of making videos that didn’t exist before. It’s time to depend on them! I recommend five types of videos teachers can make to create a powerful learning environment.

  1. The Morning Message — Record a 1- to 2-minute video each evening or early morning to welcome your students to the day. Share some highlights from yesterday and build anticipation for the day. For very young students, make this your morning meeting with calendar, weather, and songs. They’ll watch you over and over and over again! Here is an example from a middle school ELA classroom. For the youngest learners who are at home, you’ll want a longer video as your morning meeting! While you can hold the morning meeting live with students in a physical classroom, I don’t recommend a live video-conference meeting if students are remote. Here is one example and a second one.
  2. The Benchmark Lesson — When you consider a unit of study, there are benchmarks you want students to achieve along the way. In the case of creating Designer Pizza menus where people can order different sizes of slices, first the students need to understand surveys, then they need to understand how to add fractions with unlike denominators, then they need to learn how to calculate prices based on different fractional parts. Those are the benchmarks; introduce each benchmark topic with a 2- to 4-minute inspirational video. Here’s an example from Butterfly Garden and another example introducing the math concept of pi.
  3. The Directions Video — When students are working remotely, you can’t “swoop in” and offer guidance and redirection. You need to ensure that they know how to complete the assignments and activities you are offering, that they know how to navigate that new website you found. Create a screencast offering them directions. Here’s an example of how to use a graphic organizer on multiple perspectives.
  4. The Instructional Video — Instead of live instruction, break your message into chunks of approximately 10 minutes of content each. Make the video interactive in that you provide direct instruction, then ask students to pause the video and answer a question or solve a problem, and then restart it for the answer and explanation. Here’s an example of a math video.
  5. The Insights Video — Optionally, after students tackle a new concept or skill and begin to apply it, record a video of your insights. Connect the content to scenarios where it would apply, to future learning, or anything else that typically emerges in those side conversations when you’re facilitating. Here is an example of a middle school ELA video.

Take advantage of the live video and in-person time you have with students and use it to advance their thinking, explore ideas, and engage students in participating in discussion. #DoSomethingDifferent for students in the 2020–2021 school year.

Join us for an upcoming Virtual Learning Community on designing learning environments and related topics.