Many classroom best practices can still work in remote and hybrid settings—with a little technology tweaking. Here I’ll show you how to translate six research-proven classroom best practices into remote and hybrid learning settings.
I’ve included free technologies you can use, along with resources and tips to help you get started. While I’ve listed plenty of technology options, you only need to choose one or two tools that work best for you. As always, the curriculum, instruction, and social and emotional learning play the lead while the technology plays the supporting role.
As you dig into applying these best practices, use this evaluation tool from Kathleen Shrock to choose technologies that meet your students’ and school's needs. This quick reference chart also pulls all of these tips into one document, so the details are handy when you’re planning instruction.
Now, let’s look at the best practices and how to use them during remote learning:
- Whole-Group Mini-Lessons
- Formative Assessments
- Small-Group Instruction
- Small-Group Collaboration
- Differentiation/Student Choice
Use a livestream, recorded video, or screencast tool to deliver small chunks of either synchronous or asynchronous instruction (no more than one minute for each year of your students’ age). Students can then practice in pairs (try pairing one remote student and one in-class student, if applicable) for a quick formative check.
- Use this Whole-Class Mini-Lesson Template to get started.
- Use Nearpod and EdPuzzle for asynchronous instruction.
- Zoom and Google Meet are great for synchronous instruction.
- You can also use a backchannel like Padlet to ask students questions during instruction.
- Students can use Google Meet or Zoom Breakout Rooms for asynchronous and synchronous collaborative practice and discussions.
Use both asynchronous and synchronous options. Asynchronous instruction allows students to process and absorb at their own pace. On the other hand, synchronous instruction and practice help students engage with you and their classmates in a live setting. That can make remote learning feel less isolating.
You can incorporate formative assessment remotely by embedding questions in instructional media or through small-group or individual conferencing.
- For asynchronous formative assessment, use tools like Formative and Nearpod for quizzes, polls, and more.
- For synchronous assessment, students can use Kahoot, Quizlet Live, and Whiteboard.fi to take competitive and interactive quizzes, share ideas, and exhibit understanding.
When students are remote, the more ways you have to communicate, the better. Try setting up one-on-one conferences using Calendly so students can select meeting times that work for them. Use Google Voice to send informal text messages asking older students what they’ve been working on for a quick formative assessment.
Provide instruction to small groups of students using Zoom Breakout Rooms or Google Meet - Breakout Rooms. You can break students into guided groups, strategy groups, learning style groups, or interest groups - flexible grouping can still work remotely! The remaining students can work in asynchronous stations using Nearpod, EdPuzzle, or simply read a book or collaborate using tools like ClassLink Discussion Boards, Seesaw, and Padlet.
You can even mimic your usual process of getting up, walking around, and listening to how groups are doing. Use this Chrome extension to view multiple tabs in your browser so you can quickly check in on students. This extension will also help you mute (and unmute) multiple tabs.
In a hybrid situation, you can designate one day per week as a collaboration day. Form teams of two remote students and two in-class students. For a true cooperative learning scenario, teams should stay together for an extended period of time as a "home base" to promote team bonding and seamless, flexible grouping. Assign roles to students to create a sense of individual accountability. Students in a team then collaborate on a common goal, promoting developed connections, collaboration, and embedded social and emotional learning.
- For synchronous collaboration, students can use Zoom and Google Meet Breakout Rooms (again, these Multiple Tab View (Extension) and Multi-Tab Mute resources are helpful).
- Asynchronous collaboration can happen with ClassLink Discussion Boards, Seesaw, Padlet, and Wakelet.
Try some of these Collaborative Learning Activities with your students, or this Jigsaw Template. Don’t forget, cooperative learning applies to teachers too. Why not partner with others in your PLCs to help generate content, learn from each other, and ease the workload.
Differentiation and Student Choice
Teachers can provide opportunities for student choice and varied instructional options to accommodate different learning preferences by creating stations with tools such as Zoom Student Choice Breakout Rooms and Google Meet Breakout Rooms. You can also provide choice boards where students can decide which technology tools they use to show their work.
With so many online resources, it’s best to choose just a few resources that work for you and your students. That way, you and your class can master a few solutions without being overwhelmed.
Student-Centered Problem-Based Learning
Have students work on long-term Project Based Learning activities such as WebQuests. You can use a tool like Zunal, which allows you to create your own or search existing WebQuests based on grade, curriculum and keywords.
Designate certain days of the week for small group conferencing and check-ins. Try helping students choose passion projects to keep them engaged. This list of PBL examples is a great place to start.
Choose what works for you and your students
Of course, you don’t have to use these specific best practices. You can choose to shift whichever best practices make sense for you and your students. This isn’t about creating more work for you. It’s about making the most of the time you have with students. To help you through the shifting process, you can think about these three questions:
- How do I already use best practices in a face-to-face classroom?
- How can I mimic those classroom best practices in a remote or hybrid learning environment?
- What educational technology tools can support my efforts?
Want to watch a webinar using these best practices in remote and hybrid learning? Visit your district's ClassLink Launchpad and watch the on-demand version of ClassLink Academy’s ClassLink for Teachers: Technology Tools to Support Remote Learning.