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Online Learning, Virtual Instruction Tools, Virtual Teaching


As a virtual teacher, I get to teach synchronous lessons when my students log in to my virtual classroom at scheduled times.  At Capistrano Connections Academy, we use Adobe Connect called LiveLesson®.  The screenshot below is from a 3rd grade Literature Study discussion session. Student names and faces were blurred or blocked out for their privacy.

Screen shot of LiveLessonExplaining Pods
In Adobe Connect, the host can move and re-size pods (the little windows you see above) in any way they desire.  Layouts with pods can be saved to easily reuse the same arrangement.  In this particular session, I’ve used the following pods:

  • Chat Pod
    • renamed to be “Discussion Pod” with instructions for students to only stay on topic
    • I do not want to mislabel this as the “Chat Pod” and let the students think they can use it for socialization.
    • I do let the students chat before we begin and if there is extra time at the end, because I do want to allow time for connecting, however we need to stay on topic once we’ve started the lesson.
  • Share Pod
    • Many things can be shared here (website, application, whiteboard), and this is an example of sharing a PowerPoint presentation.
    • The current slide shows student pictures (with faces blurred for their privacy) because I like students to visualize who is talking throughout our discussion.
  • Attendance Pod
    • This pod shows a list of the students present, and will also show their “status” which can be raising hand, showing to speed up/slow down, agree/disagree, etc.
    • I ask students to change their status as a quick way of checking for understanding and attention.
  • Note Pod
    • Notes can be created, re-sized, and saved.
    • In this picture I have a note pod up with the “Focus Question” for our Junior Great Books discussion.
  • Poll Pod
    • Polls are great features to engage the students, vary the lesson, and to get quick feedback from the students.
    • I created this poll quickly during our discussion when I realized the question really only had two answers, and this way the students could see classmates’ opinions and if they changed throughout the discussion.
  • Applets
    • Adobe swf files have been created that work in virtual classrooms.
    • “Stage Lights” appears on the screen and I use it to show the students how much time they have on their microphones.
      • I encourage my students to interact frequently, so I’d rather they use the microphone for under a minute to allow time for responses, rather than talk for about 5 minutes straight and not allow other students to comment and interact with their ideas.

Kinds of Lessons
While the picture above is from a small group literature study discussion, there are other uses for LiveLesson® sessions too.  Here are some that I’ve taught:

  • 3rd-5th grade Shared Writing session
  • 2nd-5th grade Math Lessons
  • 4th Grade Writing Lessons
  • Open Tutoring Lessons
  • 4th-5th grade Science lessons
  • 4th-5th grade virtual science fair presentations

I hope this information is useful and helpful to you.  Do you have any questions or would you like to see more examples?


About CindyCarbajal

Virtual K-5 Teacher, UC Irvine Extension Virtual Teacher Certificate program instructor, Collector of Virtual Instruction Tools



  1. Pingback: Oh the Places From Which You Can Teach « Virtual Teacher Bullet Points - January 30, 2012

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