Frequently Asked Questions about Teaching Online
Can I run an online class with 40+ students?
Yes! In fact, you can do even larger classes – many platforms allow up to 50 or 100, and we’ve had success with classes of up to 100! These strategies can help:
1. Control who speaks: Join 10-15 minutes earlier than students and ensure that you have muted everyone so that you don’t get lots of background noise. Unmute kids one at a time to speak.
2. Use the chat function more! Students can answer questions simultaneously, and you can quickly summarize the responses.
3. Just like in a regular class, encourage students to raise their hands to speak and be sure to call on a variety of students.
How can a teacher manage time during an online class?
Most students would be experiencing an online class for the very first time, so it’s useful to budget 10 minutes to go over features of the videoconferencing platform like renaming a student, typing in chat, and raising the digital hand. You may need to spend this extra time during the first few classes, but it will save time in the long run. An online XSEED class should take about 30-35 minutes to complete the class even with 50+ students.
Can I do experiments in an online science class?
The following steps will help you to run experiments and activities that require easily available resources at home.
1. Send information to parents to arrange for resources in advance.
2. Instead of making students do activities that are complicated or require safety precautions, you can demonstrate them for students.
3. You can also choose to show a video from YouTube that shows that particular experiment.
As a teacher, how can I help parents understand the technology?
Inviting parents to attend classes is the best way. They will learn the technology along with their children, whether it is Skype, Google Classroom, Google Meets, EZTalks, Zoom, or another platform. Of course, you can also provide links to the platform’s websites, all of which have detailed “how-to” pages. Give some time for parents and children to learn through technology, and above all, encourage them to keep using it.
How can I do blackboard work in an online class?
Impromptu board work can easily be done in any subject by selecting the “Whiteboard” option in a videoconferencing software like zoom or EZTalks. You may need a little practice to start “writing” well on the whiteboard with a mouse. You can also have pre-prepared board work in a slide or a document and take students through it during class using screen sharing.
How can group work be done online?
Breakout rooms in Zoom and other platforms now allow for small group work. You can put students into groups and move freely from “room” to “room” to guide them and answer questions as they are working. This works best for students in Grade 2 and higher.
For younger students, activities may need to be adapted to work individually. For example, sequencing the events in a story can become individual work, or observing a map with a partner to identify its elements could become an independent observation followed by a group discussion on zoom. Group experiments could become teacher demos.
How can teachers check worksheets and student work?
Have students take pictures of their work in the notebook and email them to you. You can respond with written feedback on email, or handwrite your feedback and send back a photo as well if you prefer. You can keep track of student scores in a spreadsheet, grade book, or even use another platform like google forms or google classroom.
How do I keep students engaged and paying attention online?
Students actually may be LESS distracted in an online class. Students in an online class are not talking to their fellow classmates and have parents on hand to supervise them. However, to keep the class interesting it’s also a good idea to vary what the students see on screen and what they hear. Allow them to speak to each other to answer questions. Make sure they don’t always look at slides or text on the screen but also see the faces of the teacher and the other students.
I’ve never done an online class before. What is the first thing I should do?
Just try it, and remember that you will improve with time! Prepare as you’d prepare for any class. Read the plan, get the resources ready, and make a “mental movie” of how it will run. Try the platform for a smaller meeting with friends or colleagues to get familiar with the features yourself. And then go for it!
How do I use worksheets online?
There are 2 simple ways to help students with worksheets:
1. Show the worksheet on your screen after having done activity and discussion
2. You can mail/WhatsApp worksheet to parents prior to the class so that students are familiar to the worksheet beforehand
What about struggling students who need more help?
There are many ways to engage struggling learners. For example, while conducting an online class, you can ask simple questions to students who struggle and allow them to respond privately via chat. This can boost their confidence and gives them an opportunity to share answers without fear of what their classmates may think.
Won’t so much screen time be bad for children?
While every parent may have their own opinion about how much time children should spend in front of a screen or online, and there are valid concerns about safety, it’s important to remember that not all “screen time” is the same. Live classes where students are thinking, solving problems, and communicating can be considered “active” screen time. Simply watching videos or playing online games is “passive” screen time. Active screen time can provide many of the same benefits of a live class.
How can I manage background noise during online classes?
All video conferencing platforms have a mute button and a chatbox. Keep all students muted by default, and unmute those who raise their hands to speak. The teacher can even mute him/herself while students are speaking to reduce background noise. If you want an answer from EVERY student, use the chatbox instead. This saves time and does not require any noise at all!
How can experiential learning happen online?
Activities such as those done in XSEED Method Lesson Plans are still effective online. However, you may need to modify them to include resources that are available in kids’ homes or do them as demonstrations. Kids can keep their cameras on while doing the activity so they can learn from watching each other as well. For older students, you can use breakout rooms to have students do activities or have discussions in pairs/groups.
What are some ways to check for understanding during an online class?
Checking for understanding is just as critical in an online class as a face to face one. You have a variety of options to do this online. You can do a quick chat poll with a basic question and ask all students to type the response. Yes/No questions work best because they are quicker! You can also ask students who have understood to raise their “digital hand”, and then follow it up by calling on and unmuting a student to explain what they’ve understood to the class.
How can we stop students from writing on the shared screen unnecessarily/when not required?
There is an option in videoconferencing platforms to disable annotation for participants who are not the host. In case you do want students to be able to write on the virtual whiteboard (which can be a very useful feature!), set norms around its use. If students still use it inappropriately, you can disable the setting and remind them that you’d like to turn on this setting again, but only if they follow the rules.
What is the ideal duration of an XSEED online class? Should it vary as per grade levels?
Like a regular XSEED class, online classes can range in duration from 30 to 50 minutes. Generally, it makes sense to go with shorter classes for younger students (e.g., early childhood) — and you may choose to run 25-minute classes with longest breaks in between. Be sure to give extra time during the first week or so of classes to allow students to get familiar with the technology.
Should parents attend online classes with their children?
Absolutely! This can be useful to kids, especially at first as they are getting used to the medium. Many parents report a greater understanding of the teaching/learning process, and this can be an opportunity to see some useful ways to help children learn at home. However, please take care to let your children do activities and answer questions on their own. Some parents can find it hard to resist the urge to do their children’s work for them.
Do you have any advice for working parents who do NOT have time to attend classes with their children?
Once you help your children get started with whatever technology they will be using, you may be surprised how independent they can be. You may still ask them to tell you what they did in class and what they learned, as well as helping with homework, to let them know you are checking in. Of course, if at least one parent can attend at least one class, it will help you understand what the experience is like, which can be helpful to answer questions kids have along the way.
Some students in my class are new to the XSEED Method. How can I introduce this different way of learning to them online?
Students actually adapt very quickly to the XSEED Method, even online. Within a week, most students should be comfortable (and excited!) about learning in this new way. The following tips can help speed up the transition.
1. Make sure that students understand they will be doing activities and come prepared with the right resources.
2. You may send private messages via chat to students who are not understanding activity instructions.
3. During the discussion, encourage new students to answer both via chat and by unmuting and speaking.
4. Remind parents to let students attempt worksheets and homework questions on their own, even if they are not used to writing in their own words.
What are some free platforms that we can try for teaching online?
Aside from zoom, there are some good options out there. Three that we’ve tried are Google Meet, Skype, and EZTalks. For more information, please read our article here: https://www.info.xseededucation.com/zoom-is-not-the-only-one/.
How can I demonstrate solving a multistep mathematics problem in an online class?
This is one of the biggest uses of the board in face-to-face math classes, and in turn, becomes an important use of the digital whiteboard in online classes. There are different ways to manage this, and teachers should find which is most comfortable for them.
1. You may write or type your steps on the digital whiteboard.
2. You may simply write steps on a piece of paper and then hold it up to the camera.
3. You may write your steps on slides in advance, and show them one by one.
Can we teach early childhood (ages 3-5) online as well? What are some things that we need to keep in mind for such young learners?
Yes! It’s a common misconception that online classes do not work for younger learners, but we’ve seen many successful early childhood classes. The following tips will help you engage early learners better:
1. Use less screen/slide sharing and more live teacher videos. Be expressive with your voice and body language, and use real objects like puppets, toys, and books to demonstrate.
2. Don’t use the CHAT or DIGITAL HANDS features as much. Instead, ask students to raise their real hands, and unmute them to say answers to questions.
3. Mix it up! In addition to the simple activities that are at the heart of the XSEED Method, explain concepts with a combination of pictures, videos, and live demonstrations. Songs are still a great idea, and students can sing along even if they are muted.
4. Supervision by a parent, older sibling, or other family member is of course needed — but once kids get used to the online classes, close monitoring is often not needed. Simply being nearby is enough.
The Saturday Series of webinars on online education will continue to cover topics that are relevant to the need of the hour. If you are making the switch to online classes, these sessions can be of great help. Watch out for our social media updates to register. For queries, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.