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5 things to consider to boost your work plan

The pursuit of online teaching and learning requires adaptations. How and what to adapt in his work plan to keep his teaching effective while keeping the motivation of the students?

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By Julie Chandonnet, in collaboration with Stéphanie Dionne and Martine Rioux

The pursuit of online teaching and learning requires adaptations, especially when the period promises to be longer than expected. How and what to adapt in his work plan to keep his teaching effective while keeping the motivation of the students?

We suggest 5 elements to consider in order to boost a work plan, which corresponds to the independent work that the student must carry out according to the indications of the Quebec Ministry of Education.

1- Put a little magic (the importance of the teacher-student bond)

Creating a fun and humorous school climate even online is essential. 

Here are some ideas: 

  • Play with words to make students smile; offer challenges rather than a job; positively name your planning for the week. ex. "Week without a mask" or "Week in pajamas". 
  • Create a stimulating context; create teams and give points for work done; create a moment to learn a new educational application (e.g. creation of podcast, videos, quizzes, online questionnaires). 
  • Surprise the students (eg install the Snap Camera and appear with a cartoon filter). 
  • Solicit student proposals (eg for active breaks, discussion topics or the completion of a project). 

2- Review your habits and opt for activities that facilitate the assessment 

Offer virtual classroom activities to develop study strategies with students and work with them through various interactive activities: vocabulary, conjugation and multiplication tables. For example, Alloprof and Typing Pal online allow you to create vocabulary word lists.  

The usual homework and lessons may not be necessary in today's environment. Once the online work is done during the day, it is desirable to reduce the pressure on the family, which is already in great demand by the online school.

Occasionally offer activities to students who correct themselves: quiz on Socrative, challenge on Kahoot, quiz in a Google form. Planning dynamic activities to be done online usually takes more time than usual planning. We must therefore think about reducing the correction time to avoid being overwhelmed. 

3- Be flexible about work discounts - when and how 

Having students turn in their homework for the next morning rather than the end of the day can make a difference in many families. Also, consider giving students a balance between work to be done before the end of the week and daily chores.

In class, it's easy to ask for work to be finished before recess… online, it's more complex. The computer may be in shared custody with more than one family member. If the class schedule is difficult to change, the assignment schedule can easily be changed. By giving students greater freedom in submitting their assignments, they can more easily obtain the support necessary to carry them out. You can also create a space for collaboration between the students so that they help each other and thus reduce the questions they would need to address to their parents to complete their task.

It is important to think about the reality of the students' families and what this implies in terms of reconciling telework and online school and the availability of screens to achieve them. For example, the Grade 6 big sister can help the family by playing outside with her Grade 3 brother in the afternoon while mom is working, then doing her self-employment after dinner. 

Provide different ways for students to hand in their assignments. Access to digital technologies multiplies the possibilities. Indeed, if for some, writing a short text on the computer does not cause a problem, some will prefer (by choice or by availability of tools) to do it in a notebook. The student can then take a photo of their work and attach it as an attachment on Classroom, Seesaw or even send it by email. Students may also have the option of registering on Flipgrid to answer questions on a given topic or to demonstrate their understanding of a concept being taught, if the Writing skill does not need to be assessed. 

The accumulation of these various traces will also facilitate the evaluation thereafter. It is possible to take advantage of this online teaching time to facilitate and simplify the assessment without overloading the students and creating additional stress related to the exams that will be offered to them upon their return to class. 

4- Make sure that the work is autonomous and motivating

Consider these two conditions related to a stand-alone task: 

  • the student has the knowledge or skills necessary to achieve it, AND 
  • the student knows and knows how to use the tool presented.

Certainly, and even inevitably, some students will not dare to say with camera and microphone open that they do not understand or do not know how to do the job at hand. It is therefore wise to take certain measures to avoid student learning delays (eg offering a private chat with students). Learning online is still new to everyone, it should not be forgotten. Create a space-time to allow young people to address their questions and address the difficulties they encounter.

When new technological tools need to be used, take the time to explore them with them in a virtual classroom before offering them as an individual work plan. 

5- Be available and simplify communications

Set the hours of online availability at a fixed time if possible. It's easier for the students: they need stability right now. Placing these hours immediately after the virtual classroom helps keep students online for questions. Remind students of your availability during group lessons and do not hesitate to personally invite certain students who need a helping hand or who are late in submitting their work.

Adopt only one mode of communication of information: schedule of virtual classes, personal work and hours of availability and stick to it. Send everything in one sending so as not to overload families with information (especially those who have more than one child), and this, ideally before Monday morning to allow them to make their schedule for the week. 

The tool must be simple, visual and contain all the links. Genially does wonders on this. Here are some examples:

In closing, we invite you to remember that the situation is not easy for anyone at this time. As a teacher, you also have the possibility of reducing stress for young people… and families. Every little bit can make a difference!

We invite you to validate the effectiveness of your work plan with your students and their parents. Dare to ask, depending on your reality, what could make the online learning experience even more positive or motivating. Also, don't forget that the parents at home are your eyes! Get the best out of it!

Photo credit: Photo by Annie spratt sure Unsplash

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