Remote Teaching advice

Edited for LOCKDOWN #2

I’m now on maternity leave, but was remote teaching between March and July 2020. My school managed pretty darn well throughout, allowing teachers to suggest what worked for them and then consolidating best practice across the board. Below is an edited, updated list of advice, in case you missed lockdown teaching last time round, for example NQTs and returning teachers, or just want to update your practices. Some may be a bit obvious, but everything helps, right?

content:

Original post: Being nearly 6 months pregnant, I’ve been forced to self-isolate since last Tuesday (17th March) Although it’s meant I’ve spent about 10-12 hours a day at the computer, it’s paid off as I’ve had a chance to try out all the Remote Teaching advice my school had already gathered together. I’d love to help you out if I can. Here’s the most important stuff I’ve found:

REMOTE TEACHING PLATFORMS/HELPERS


– we’ve got a VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) which we use to set homework and promote individual learning. If you’ve got one, it should be your first port of call. Ours is Firefly and all the kids know how it works, so we are setting classes as usual for the day as Tasks using that. They all have to be up online by 9am so that kids can download/see what they need to do and not hog the computers in households where there may be more than one student and also parents working from home. It’s also has a smartphone app that students can use to see their work, which is a bonus (they just need their school code). Pupils have been asked to take a pic of their class work for the day and upload it to the Firefly task, or scan their work using the Office Lens app (see below) and upload written work as a PDF. If they have typed, this file can also be Uploaded. The bonus here is that teachers then can download all the work at once into a Zip drive (which DOES work on Mac), with each file already individually named for the student (bliss!)


– Our school has Microsoft Office365 which is suddenly proving invaluable. In addition to Outlook for email, the pupils have been taught how to use OneDrive and some of the teachers know how to use it, so some will be sharing work there, or doing collaborative work with students. We have also set up Microsoft Teams shich is included in Office 365, so that we have one Team for each class, as a place they can ask questions during regular lesson time, and chat, and get a bit of normality. It’s also a good place to put a link to the Firefly task for that day as a reminder, as they get an email too. If you have Office 365, I’d really recommend getting to grips with Teams. I knew *nothing* about it four days ago and now it’s my best friend. (I did have to ask our IT bods to set up the Teams as they’re the admins, but once that’s done it’s easy!)

– For teaching smaller 6th form classes, Google Meet has been my platform of choice. (Btw, if you have Office 365 that allows you to log-in to you VLE with the same email address, then it’s probably all integrated, which means you might be able to log into Google Gmail with your school email address and password – again, I didn’t know this til last week – and get the kids also to use their school email, which prevents GDPR/safeguarding issues about them using their own emails) Google Meet is an app on phone or just a window in your regular browser. You start a meeting once logged in and then can send the link to students (again, preferably using a Gmail-linked school email so not a GDPR/safeguarding nightmare) to join. One in the meeting, they can use chat or video or just voice to communicate. There’s also some (slightly ropey) automatic captions! And, best thing, is you can open a PowerPoint or word file or whatever and then share it with them (‘Present screen/window’) so they can see it. I have taught five 6th form Ancient History lessons like this already and it’s been great! 

– This is the list of apps I’ve sent to my form group/teaching groups for them to download to help with remote learning and lessons:

Apps to Download for your phone/computer/laptop

 – Firefly app for phone- which I’m sure you have already if you use Firefly VLE (don’t need an app for computer, just an internet browser)

 – Google Meet app for phone- for virtual lessons, if your teacher is using these, and for Form time: we will have Form time every so often, just not every day. (Don’t need an app for computer, just an internet browser)

 – Google Teams app for phone / desktop app – for contacting teachers, help with work. You can access your Teams on the computer by opening Firefly and using the link to Office 365 on the top of the Dashboard page, then selecting Teams (email)

 – Office Lens app for phone – for scanning your prep to send to teachers if is not a typed document)

 – Outlook app for phone – for getting your school email – v useful for getting updates and Google teams and Google Meet links. You can access your email on the computer by opening Firefly and using the link to Office 365 on the top of the Dashboard page, then selecting Outlook (email)

 – OneDrive – for saving files/sharing with teachers. You can get the app for your phone or you can access your OneDrive on the computer by opening Firefly and using the link to Office 365 on the top of the Dashboard page, then selecting OneDrive (email)

Adobe Acrobat, if you can afford it – see below in ‘Advoce from |Lockdown #1’

MAKING TEACHING CONTENT USEFUL FOR REMOTE LEARNING

NOTE: I teach Latin and Classical Civilisation, but a lot of this advice lends itself to other subjects


In terms of what/how I’m actually teaching, my 5th form/Year 11 GCSE Classical Civilisation (OCR) class only had one section of Homeric World left to do, Tombs and Burial, and a bit more on the Prescribed Sources. I learned last week how to record a voiceover into each PowerPoint slide to put on the VLE, so they could download it and work through the note packs I’d already thought to give them, with my virtual help. For my 4th year GCSE set I’ve done the same – they’re doing Myth and Religion, Journeying to the Underworld, so I’ve also recorded myself giving notes on the PowerPoint, reading Odyssey 11 and bits of Aeneid 6 (for fun) as a bit fo extra reading about the Underworld, and scanned those pages from my texts for them to read, if preferred, using Office Lens, as well as the Homeric Hymn and Ovid Prescribed Sources (I’ve recorded me reading with annotation advice) for them to work through – I annotated one page and scanned it in as an example of how they should also work. Those classes are a bit big to have a Google Meet with, but I’ll be online on Teams in their lesson time in case they have any questions.

My 5ths haven’t done the Homeric World Mock yet, so will be sending that to their parents to get them to do in exam conditions over Easter/after Easter, and send back for marking. This will go as evidence towards their final subject grade, as per the government guidelines, and helpfully will add a feeling of importance to this last bit of the course. (EDIT: It did. I set it as an open-book exam that I made sure the pupils knew would be important in helping me setting their grade for this unit, going towards their overall grade. Most of them took advantage of this, within reason, and worked really hard to answer the questions as well as possible. Some did not, but this was in line with their general performance over their whole GCSE.)

– Lower school Latin and Classics I’ll probably do the same kind of lessons for, but with different tasks, with quizzes and creative tasks for a bit of a different activity. Thankfully, the Cambridge School Classics Project that does the Cambridge Latin Course that the Year 7s and 8s for Latin, has all the translations with helpers and Vocab online – brilliant! – and our 3rd Year Classics Course is currently covering War With Troy, using the Classic Tales resources also by CSCP. You could also use their Primary Ancient Greeks site for more resources and ideas aimed at younger pupils.

– If you haven’t tried out Quizlet, I highly recommend that. I have a ton of premade ones for GCSE Classics and lower school Latin, for self-testing and revision. They currently have a free premium account for teachers so you can add pictures and diagrams to your quizzes. My account is  https://quizlet.com/lejenkinson and anyone can use all of them or even copy them over and edit them and save them as their own 👌


Socrative is another really good quiz app that I’m yet to really utilise but which my colleague Sasha is really good at and swears by for Latin. 

GCSE Classical Civilisation Resources: I have a ton of these on another page of my site, covering the whole course for Myth and Religion and Homeric World, including some resources I’ve made for Remote Learning. You can find them here.

If you need more Classics resources, we’ve got Greek Myth Comix resources at 50% off, some of them about 60p , such as Odyssey Book 1 (and other books) Comix, Odysseus and Gladiators paper dolls, the Olympians Colouring Book and The Trojan War Playset, all for download and print – use code LATENOPEN *. And, a TON of FREE Myth comics at GreekMythComix.com

Advice from Lockdown #1

Some things to consider, especially in light of the new DfE guidelines.

  • You cannot expect children to be online all day. For a start, there may be several children at home all needing to access their schoolwork, let alone parents who are working from home (WFH). Bandwith can only stretch so far. Some pupils may not even have access to the internet save for a mobile device, and data costs. Instead, consider the following:
    • Set all tasks to be available from the start of the school day. This sounds like a lot of work in advance but it really pays off. Students will be able to access their work, download it, write down instructions, and then complete it offline. The same with Homework tasks (although if they’ve submitted the homework by 9am and you’ve set the classwork by 8.30 you may need to have a chat with them about quality/taking it easy.)
    • Don’t insist pupils be online for their lesson time, but give them ways of accessing live content later. We expect perhaps one lesson per yeargroup to be taught live or have a live element, with the rest of the lessons being set work they can get on with themselves, with guidance. This can look like this:
      • Record the Live lesson to be able to be viewed again later. This is pretty standard on Teams, but if you’re not using that platform you may need to look at other ways to record your screen, and the audio.
      • Give a live introduction, and then let the pupils get on with their work offline. This can really help the flow of lessons and give more of a sense of togetherness, whilst not dominating computer equipment and internet bandwith.
      • Be online and available during class time. Opening a videochat on Teams, for example, that pupils can log into when they need help with the assigned work, or using the Chat function, also allows for the more timid pupils to access you with more confidence (the ones who don’t like the camera on, or sometimes even the microphone on, and can fall through the cracks virtually). This also allows you to get on with marking work for other classes – you do need your non-contact time and it will be at a premium.
      • Set work on PowerPoints with a voiceover explaining the tasks. This is a fair bit of work, especially if you’re not used to it, but gets easier with practice and is brilliant if you have more than one class in a yeargroup as you can reuse it for each class. You can either export as a PowerPoint Show, where it launches immediately (just make sure to leave time before the page-turns), or as a Video, which can then be paused easily. (NOTE: this is so much easier if you have a PC version of PowerPoint, as the Mac version doesn’t have such useful tools as ‘export to Video’. However, if you upload PowerPoint Shows to Teams it allows for pausing of the show, which is extremely useful for the pupil!)
      • Recording an audio of yourself talking through resources also works well. I used this for remote-teaching the set texts, as it was more easy for a pupil to listen to me talk whilst annotating a printed page or typing notes into an editable PDF I’d made them, than trying to watch a video of me explaining at the same time. Plus, an audio file can be played on pretty much any device. You can use the Voice Recorder on your phone (I think all phones have them) and then email them to yourself to then download and upload to Firefly/Teams/Google Classroom etc. (Yes it sounds long-winded but it’s not). You may need to change the format of the file to .mp3, which you can do on websites like https://online-audio-converter.com/.
      • Set work on video and upload to YouTube. As I had classes with pupils working at very different speeds, some unable to access Teams or Firefly at times (which was less about inability to access and more about not understanding it), I resorted to making videos for a whole Unit and uploading them to my YouTube channel as this seems to be somewhere every pupil can get to! It also allowed them to pause and rewind as necessary.
  • For both PowerPoint and Video materials: Over the course of the week’s lessons I would set several ‘chapters’ in my video/PowerPoint for pupil notemaking (ensuring there was an endpoint for where I expected them to get to or some students would try and do the whole thing), then have a consolidating Live lesson (which I recorded) where they could ask questions about the material, at the end of which I would introduce homework materials that tested their knowledge of what they had learned…
  • You do not have to make all your resources yourself. There are oodles of great support resources out there, you just have to look. BBC Bitsesize, TED Ed, ClickView, other teachers on YouTube… it might take time to find ones you like and approve, but then you’ve got them. There are also groups of teachers sharing resources and links on social media so have a look for those. You will also find that your own colleagues have great resources, and in fact it may be a good idea to have one teacher in charge of each yeargroup’s lessons in your department, to spread the load.
  • Set homework/prep tasks that are short, specifically useful, and self-marking where possible! I used Firefly to make self-marking quizzes (you could also use Socrative, or Quizlet and get them to upload their scores, which, if you have them set up in a class on Quizlet, you can monitor) but with sections where the pupils also had to type their answers. This way you are still marking work and getting a realistic view of their ability. But it’s probably time to shy away from the more whimsical homeworks that often take a lot of time – if you still want to do this, consider making it a mini class project and allocate class time rather than homework time.
  • Don’t expect pupils to be able to print out anything. Seriously, not everyone has a printer, or paper, or actual printer ink. You have to be so, so, so flexible. Provide it as an option but if you can, make any worksheets tones pupils can type into (Word, Adobe Acrobat) or just allow them to follow instructions and then type or handwrite their work to be scanned (Office Lens) and sent. On that note…
  • Be flexible in how you receive work. Although it’s an absolute pain in the butt to receive work in a variety of different media, do understand that for some pupils it will not be possible to access online quizzes and they may need to write out their answers and send them to you as a PDF using Office Lens for example. Overall, do be consistent in saying how you want their work in, but do also be understanding if that’s not possible.
  • Set work in more than one place if possible. If you were remote teaching last time round you’ll remember the day that Firefly was trending on all social media because it fell over at 8am the first day of lockdown due to the enormous number of teachers and students trying to access it at the same time. We now set on Firefly and take work in on Firefly as a response to the Task, but also repeat the lesson instructions and materials on Teams, where we host the Live aspects of the lesson.
  • Make sure pupils understand how and why the work time guidelines you have set are there. It really helps to remind students to not log in before the set start of the day – teachers will still be uploading work and they’ll just overload the system. I had to have some very careful conversations with younger pupils who thought it was ok to Chat message me on Teams at 6am asking where the day’s work was.
  • Keep track of pupil progress, even if this just means they were in attendance, or made an effrort to answer a question in a live lesson. Having your old paper register next to you and making a note next to their name (even just a tick in a column) will pay dividends later when you are screen-blind, tired, cranky and expected to write reports or take parents evening.
  • If you can afford it, get a second screen or monitor. I have a cheap extra monitor hooked up to my laptop so I can have my lesson on one and my marking etc. on another. If you have an iPad or largeish mobile device, see if you can use it to do your marking on/take register/enter data. Make it work for you!
  • Also if you can afford it, and don’t have another way of annotating work, get Adobe Acrobat. Again, if you can afford it – these things cost a monthly subscription, which I reluctantly took out because it made life sooo much easier when marking exam papers and other handwritten and scanned work. This allows you to draw directly onto the file as a PDF, such as annotating essays or exam papers, then save and send back.
    • Make your printed worksheets interactive instead. One thing that is *really* useful is using Adobe Acrobat to make your worksheets interactive, as in being able to type into them, to avoid pupils having to print. Especially good for pupils who need to type. And then you can quit your subscription once you’ve converted them all! Yay!
  • If you prefer to do marking and keeping your markbook by hand, great, just make sure you have one place to record all your marking data etc. Seriously, so much easier later.
  • Have a pad for making notes on the side. Jot things down as you think of them, then return to this at the end of the day and see what you’ve written. I used this for planning lessons because frankly there were too many screens in my life, and then I knew where to look when my brain overloaded and I forgot everything.
  • Prioritise topics that lend themselves well to remote learning. This is something to discuss with your department, as it may mean changing what is regularly taught at certain times of year. It is also a good idea to prioritise using remote learning to teach simpler concepts, in the hope that more important topics can be taught back in the classroom later this year (fingers crossed) or at least once pupils and teachers alike have got more used to the remote learning process.
  • Be forgiving, but keep track. Not all pupils are up to the task, and some find remote learning incredibly hard to deal with. Rather than continually insist work be completed, set them specific goals to get up to, and use materials that allow for use at any time (such as the PoerPoints with voiceovers or videos on YouTube. Hopefully you’ll also have great SMT in charge of that yeargroup/House/key stage etc. to whom you can give feedback on their progress and wellbeing, and who will follow up with parents so that you don’t have to and also therefore provide a united front for all teachers and give the parents one lead person to talk to for support. I’m really pleased to say this is something my school prioritises and is extremely good at.
  • TAKE TIME OUT FOR YOURSELF EVERY DAY. My goodness, if my husband had not also been WFH, I would absolutely have not done this, but instead he pulled me away from my computer during lunchtime and made me eat something that was not snack food. It was good to have a break that also split the day in half. Being pregnant and sat in front of the computer all day is not good, but then it’s not good for anyone not-pregnant either. Get some exercise, preferably outside, even if it’s a walk around the block, your garden, or your patio/balcony/stairwell. Set an alarm and do it.
  • TALK TO YOUR COLLEAGUES. Make time for videocalls in your department, and, if there isn’t one, lobby for a ‘Staffroom’ Team to share frustrations, helpful tips, and anecdotes about what your pupils have got up to. Also9 helpful to have just one place for those ‘Firefly is down again’ announcements.
  • Finally, everything takes longer online. Know that marking work submitted online takes at least 50% longer – you have to download it, mark it or give feedback, get that feedback back to the pupil, make a note of it, transfer that note to an electronic setting (possibly), chase up those who have not uploaded it, do that all again when they have despite that class being done with, etc., etc. ad nauseam. However, your non-contact time is definitely going to be eaten-into with online teaching, specifically the setting of tasks and making of resources. You have to take that into account, as does your SMT. Set tasks that are easy to mark whilst still being valuable in terns of pupil learning and consolidation. Likewise, it will take longer for pupils to do the work to begin with – they have to log in, download, open files, read more, get confused without you there, get bored and be distracted, wait their turn for the computer, need to go outside for some air… awareness of this is absolutely key


Please let me know if this info is useful and if you’d like to know more about anything else. I’ll update when I have more to add.

Jenks x

Useful TECH tips TO Share:

Use Office Lens to turn written work into a PDF:

1. Choose ‘document’

2. Take a picture to ‘scan’ the page

3. Add the B/W1 filter by tapping ‘filters’, selecting, then < to go back to the document

4. If there’s another page, press ‘Add New’ in the bottom left-hand corner to do the same and add another page, etc. (Please don’t upload each page as a separate PDF!)

5. Finally, choose ‘Done’, then on the ‘Export to’ page choose ‘PDF’, save to phone or OneDrive, then upload it to teacher!

*’Late, no pen’, as in how the Prime Minister once turned up to his own book signing at the bookshop I worked at.

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