Usually, you would break out your classroom devices slowly, modeling for your students how to properly care for them and what your expectations are. Oh how I miss the pre-Covid world. Now, we are virtual learning. Which has a million different synonyms. E-learning, distance learning, whatever you want to call it… teachers are struggling to maintain the LEARNING part of the label.
But what do you do if you have to hand a student a device on the first day of school and need your students to know how to use it on the first day? In this article, I’m going to share some helpful ways to teach your little kiddos how to use their devices.
Lights, Camera, Action
Virtual learning means video. One of my best friends that teaches down the hall used to break out in a cold sweat when she thought about herself on camera. I used to delete my videos anytime I got tongue tied and said the wrong thing.
But let your pal, Rach give you some tough love. It’s time to forget all that. It’s time to give your Oscar-winning best performance. After all, the only person doing the judging is YOU. Your students just want to see your face and hear your voice. And their parents need your help.
Using screen casting software, you can record every click you make on your screen and narrate directions as you go. My favorite is Screen-Cast-O-Matic, and you can watch a quick tutorial video here. Loom and Screencastify are two other screen casting platforms, and you can read about them here.
So how do you use screen casting to help your students with their devices? By recording the instructions you would normally model, you can have a video ready to go. Best part? It’s ready to go at any time! To save a lot of time, I put all my tutorial videos into Google Classroom, but I also had them ready to email to parents.
Are You Using Seesaw?
I love Seesaw! It’s my fave. If you’re using it for virtual learning with your kiddos, use this Seesaw Scavenger Hunt to teach them how to use the platform. It’s totally FREE and you can grab a copy here!
Put Yourself In Their Shoes
I’m a parent to four college kids, one high school sophomore, and a seventh grader. (Yes, that’s six, I answer to Mrs. Brady sometimes). All of my children are doing some kind of virtual learning or hybrid model. As a parent, I can’t keep up with it all, and your kiddos parents are in the same boat.
Since the first week or so is tech support, cater to them as much as possible.
Helping Parents With Virtual Learning
- Pick one platform at a time. You’re going to want to minimize the number of clicks that you make parents and students do. By all means, add some in as the year progresses, but stick with one or two. I used Google Classroom, and linked activities to Seesaw.
- Start by recording videos on how to log onto the platforms. Narrate your videos as if you were showing them how to log on in class.
- Keep the videos somewhere that you have access to. For as much as you’d think the kiddos will stay logged in, they won’t. They’re going to need to know how to get back in. And yes, you’ve shown them already, and yes, they could probably find the video you’re going to send them, but send it anyway. Put yourself in their shoes.
- Make a document (Google Docs was my choice) for each student with their login information. They’re going to have so many usernames and passwords to use, and both you and their parents will need to have access to their information. You can email this to their parents, but you can also share it in Google Classroom with JUST one student.
- Set boundaries. It’s okay to NOT respond to a parent request at 8pm. I set my email signature to say something along the lines of “I may not respond right away, but I promise I’ll get right back to you.”
Don’t Forget Your Anchor Charts
When I was in the classroom, my anchor charts were glorious! They weren’t always Pinterest-worthy, but they did the trick. You can still have anchor charts with virtual learning as well. Just use a dry erase board or a piece of chart paper and refer to it during your screencasting videos.
I’ve seen teachers draw the “mute” symbol as they were getting onto Google Meet or Zoom to remind the students to stay on mute. Think about what your expectations will be and make an anchor chart. Don’t know what your expectations are yet? It’s okay! You’ll realize in a hurry when one of your students is doing cartwheels in her bedroom, another student walks away from the camera, and a third wants to show you her dog.
Biggest Virtual Learning Takeaway
Be kind to your parents. Once you get them through the tech support week of virtual learning, it gets easier. I know you’re tired and worn out, but so are they. Getting your parents on board will help get those kiddos on their devices.