This post started as an internal guide for Colegaues, but I polished and expanded it to include it here. It’s a little antidote to the more melancholy considerations of my last post!
The first challenge for me was that the students could not download or access any resources. From this I learned to always assume that the students access their resources over the phone. This means that if you don’t download the Microsoft Office apps (which you can), PowerPoint or a similar document will lose formatting and images will be lost everywhere. Therefore, it is imperative that you Export Word and PowerPoint files as PDF or JPG Files. Thats is quite easy. Under the file There is an option for tab export. Go here and click on “Export to PDF / XPS”.
In PowerPoint, you can simply use the Save As or Save Copy function and select * .jpg as the file type to save the presentation as an image or image series. To use PowerPoint as a slideshow, export it as video using the same method. You have to set the timings first. If you don’t, the default is about five seconds per slide. You can also record audio on any slide, which makes for a nice touch!
I know that many of us have access to online MS Office or GSuite or the like through their organizations and that there are open source and free app equivalents, but installing, using, and editing such things on a phone isn’t always like that easy or accessible.
Despite its importance, marking is rarely an exciting experience. You must therefore carefully consider how to deal with it. Otherwise you can mark each individual task for each student with true or false / multiple selection. In class, for example, we can check as a whole class, display the answers on the board, and so on. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t take every work home and mark every question.
- When choosing resources, consider using pre-built online resources that do the labeling for you. ESOL teachers have no excuse not to use them as they exist Hundreds from websites that offer activities to fill gaps / sentences, which then also give the students feedback
- Mark extended or open tasks like a font only extensively.
- Use screencasting software to record how you talk about a student’s work, rather than marking it by hand or in Word.
- For closed questions or clearly answerable questions, simply share the answers with the students.
- In teams, you can easily share the answers once the job is done. You can do this as suggested above or just use the snipping tool to scan the answers.
- If you are physically publishing work, put the answer sheet behind the questions (fold it if you want to hide it).
- If you ask questions in a presentation video, just leave the questions on a slide and ask students to pause the video as they answer the questions. Then add a slide with the answers.
I have tried several video courses with varying degrees of success – partly due to the availability of students, but also due to dubious connections, interruptions and various other problems. Some things that I found helpful are:
- Turn the lessons over – let students do the work, read the text, watch an explanatory video, answer the questions, etc. In front the lesson and then discuss problems, questions and challenges in the spoken element of the video chat.
- Start and / or end with a positive note or social chat – share good news, etc.
- Give students time to get used to the systems
- Keep the online lessons relatively short – it is a busy hour for you and for the students
- Consider doing several shorter lessons with smaller groups of less able or less confident students, and consider breakout rooms for higher levels (see Kate for ideas).
- At the beginning of the meeting, ask all students to mute their microphones and turn off the video. This saves bandwidth for everyone and makes it easier to manage interactions, not to mention interference from children, dogs, turtles, etc.
- Let teachers guide you more – control who makes a contribution, rather than allowing suggestions “from the ground up”.
- Use the chat feature in Teams / Zoom to get quick confirmation from students and to ask students questions during class instead of disturbing the flow or disturbing each other speaking.
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