General GCSE A-Level Key Stage 3 CPD

Learning in Lockdown: 21 Tips

Every day I learn something new. Whether it be a tweet I read, a message from a colleague or a post on Facebook; there is always something out there. Learning in Lockdown is now normal for us all but I wanted to share some tips with you all. So here are my Learning in Lockdown 21 Tips.

Digital Tips

We are now spending most of our day on screens and I am always looking for ways to work smarter. So I will start with some Digital Tips that might be of use to you over the coming weeks.

  1. Work out what software works for you and stick with that. Don’t try and use too many fancy websites all at once. Ask your students what works well and why. I love using Poll Everywhere, Padlet & Kahoot.
  2. Use Microsoft Forms to help you create quizzes & forms that students can fill in. Making it into a quiz will mean it will self-mark and give you feedback on how well the class have learnt a topic.
  3. If you want to play sound when on Teams or Zoom then send Youtube link to students rather than playing them through the platform.
  4. Keep lessons interactive by using websites such as Mentimeter or Mural. These sites will help gather thoughts, questions & responses. Word clouds are a great way to see what students have understood in a lesson.
  5. Share a Countdown Timer on Screen so that students know how long they have on a task.
  6. Use a Tablet such as a Wacom One so that you can write on a virtual whiteboard.
  7. If you are using powerpoint then set it up so that the presentation plays in a window rather than full screen. That way you can still see you class on the virtual platform and present at the same time.

Wellbeing Tips

It is important that we look after ourselves during lockdown, and in general. So here are some tips to keep us healthy and making our teaching even better:

  1. Keep lessons shorter than normal – 45 minutes is quite a good length.
  2. Move between live lessons on a screen and non-live lessons where work is set. I think the terms are Synchronous and Asynchronous
  3. Have a digital detox at the weekend to keep your eyes and mind away from screens. This is the popular advice at the moment, but it really does work.
  4. Set work that can be completed without any technology – this is good for you and the students. This could be some reading or listening work that can be done away from screens.
  5. Check in with other staff to see if they are okay, and that way they will do the same with you.
  6. Where safe and possible it might be good to pop in to school just so that you have been in. If you are anxious about going back then it is always nice to go to school. I have been in a few times and also had a Covid Test, so that has been reassuring as they have been negative.
  7. Use break time to have a break. It is easy to stay sat at the computer, but it is more important to get up and move!

Pedagogy Tips

Teaching online is very different to teaching in the classroom. We therefore need to consider how we will approach topics and lessons. Thinking through the pedagogy is important for all teachers, and here are some tips that might help:

  1. Allow students time to think rather than rushing on. This can be hard when you can’t see their faces. But give them time to process and then respond.
  2. Use Retrieval Practise as a regular tool in lesson. This involves students recalling information from previous lessons. This could be in the form of a Quiz on Microsoft Forms, or a poll on a platform such as Poll Everyone.
  3. Teaching new material might be challenging. It might therefore be a good idea to go over previous learning, or introduce topics slowly. It is a tricky time for students and new material might present challenges.
  4. When you ask students for an answer get them to type an answer in the “chat” but not send it until you say. That way they all think things through. It is then nice when all the answers pop up.
  5. Instead of having hands up, work down your class list to ensure you ask every student a question. When using hands up it might be helpful to get them to keep clicking the hands up button as you can easily miss it!
  6. Use breakout rooms on Teams or Zoom to give students time to discuss some work. You can pop in and out of these rooms to make sure that they are working hard. You can ask them to gather ideas and then share when they return. Give them a clear focus for their breakout room discussion.
  7. Starter tasks are a great way to start a lesson as inevitably students will arrive at different times. This can be some listening work or something to get them thinking – very similar to when we are in a classroom. Setting a starter task that is similar every lesson will also help them in terms of consistency. I love creating listening questions on Forms and providing the YouTube link so that they can get listening straight away.

Learning in Lockdown: 21 Tips

These tips are things that I pick up along the way and I would love you to share more with me. They aren’t revolutionary, but hopefully very helpful. Every day I feel I learn something new, and I am excited to take some of the ideas back into the classroom. I love the idea of enhancing my classroom practise with some of the technological approaches that I have adopted during 2020-2021 Lockdowns!

I think the best tip I can give you is to work out what works for you and focus on that. There is so much out there, but not everything will work for you! You know you, and you know your students. But I think I have stressed that enough here. Oh, and don’t work too hard. You need your evenings and weekends to relax and prepare.

Please share any tips in the comments below as I am sure they will help others and help me!

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  1. My corporate experience would suggest/recommend not sharing a link and asking students to press play etc. Rather share the video/sound etc through Teams/Zoom and finding how to share it properly – that way students are still have an experience together… if they have enough bandwidth to join a Team/Zoom call then they will be OK.

    1. The issue we have with sharing sound is that quality is sometimes an issue with the varying devices that students have. If you want them to do some focussed listening to a piece of music, then it is often better to get them to do that on a device that is separate to teams – bandwidth is an issue at times I can assure you. But I take the point.

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