“Just how do I make this work?” That’s the question that comes up again and again in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook from teachers supporting in-person and remote students at the same time. The “Roomies and Zoomies” model can feel unsustainable, and like you’re charting completely new territory.
“Be kind to yourself,” advises teacher Wendy S. “This is new ground for all of us.” Teacher Kate W. agrees. “You have to find the little things that are working and build on those.”
If you’re teaching simultaneously and looking for more tips, be sure to check out the new book The Quick Guide to Simultaneous, Hybrid, and Blended Learning, by Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, John Almarode, and Aleigha Henderson-Rosser. It’s a follow up to their popular The Distance Learning Playbook, and it’s chock full of ideas for assessment, collaboration, and scaffolding.
Plus, right now, you can order it with 25% off and free shipping using the code WAT25. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the ideas in the section on organization and procedures.
1. Provide weekly and monthly schedules so families and students can organize resources.
Chances are good that there is more than one school-age child in the household. Juggling the online schedules of multiple children can be challenging for even the most organized caregivers. Posting these schedules allows families and students to organize their time.
2. Furnish a daily schedule at the beginning of the class meeting.
Providing a schedule for the class meeting assists students in self-regulation of their cognitive and attentional resources. The schedule should list the major learning events of the day in chronological order and may also include times. The consistent use of a posted schedule establishes a predictable learning environment and assists learners in pacing their rate of work.
3. Use a staggered starting time for Roomies and Zoomies.
If the school day begins at 8:15 a.m., let Roomies arrive at school, gather their materials for the day, and prepare their learning space for the day. Conduct an abbreviated morning meeting with them to check in with them and get them started on their opening learning experience or task. Then, at 8:30 a.m., for example, start the day with the Zoomies with the same tasks. Conduct an abbreviated morning meeting with those students, check in with them, and get them started on their opening learning experience or task. Then engage both Roomies and Zoomies in a joint morning meeting and their simultaneous learning day.
4. Teach students the signals you will use.
Teachers need a signal to gain the attention of students at the beginning of class, when students are engaged in dialogue with peers, or when transitioning from one activity to another. The signals should be taught daily at the start of simultaneous learning and reinforced frequently until students respond quickly and consistently. Use an online elapsed timer display when setting up tasks students will complete in real time. This further signals to students how to best use their remaining time to complete independent work such as reflective writing.
5. Create procedures for how students will gather materials and resources.
Few things are more frustrating than trying to figure out where to find materials for learning. Clearly label digital folders by date and topic so that students can easily locate them. Ask Roomies and Zoomies to access digital resources so that they are looking at and using the same materials and resources.
6. Create procedures for how students will submit assignments.
Over the course of the school year, students will turn in a large number of assignments. Invariably, some of these documents will lack important information such as a name or date. Teach students a system for heading their assignments at the beginning of the year to make recordkeeping easier. Be sure to instruct them on properly naming the file so that you (and they) can locate it quickly. The title of the document should contain the student’s last name, the name of the course, and a one- or two-word description.
Want more ideas for making roomies and zoomies work? Don’t forget to check out The Quick Guide to Simultaneous, Hybrid, and Blended Learning. Use code WAT25 for 25% off and free shipping.