A colleague of mine (high school social studies teacher) likes to invite special guests to synchronous virtual lessons, and I’m incorporating this into my teaching as well. In the past, he has invited state senators and legislators to attend his sessions, allowing students to learn from an expert and allowing the legislator to learn more about our school.
Benefits of special guests in a virtual lesson are:
I am putting a spin on having a special guest in my LiveLesson session tomorrow. I teach a gifted science course to 4th and 5th graders, and in the second semester we have a long-term science project that ends with a student presentation in a virtual session. Tomorrow’s lesson shows students what is required in the final presentation, and special guest, former student and current 6th grader, will join me to present parts of his project along with the instructions I provide. He will also be available to answer questions from the students. I hope this motivates the students and helps them realize they can do it! 🙂
During my Tier 1 Administrative Credential course module on Culture, I picked up on some ideas about making mistakes. I realized that making mistakes is a good thing as a teacher and a leader.
Here are some bullet points on lessons I’ve learned about making mistakes:
Thomas Hoerr’s MNM Philosophy, Make New Mistakes, recognizes that mistakes are opportunities to learn. He stated that old mistakes entail repeating errors and not learning from experiences. No mistakes mean we continue to use the same approach, perhaps we are error-free, but little learning takes place, and this sounds boring. Making new mistakes though, means we try new ideas and strategies and learn from our experiences.
When I was a beginning online teacher, I tried new things and continually sought feedback from my students, their parents, and other teachers. After seven years though, I found I had gotten stuck in my routine that I found worked, and was boring myself. I started trying some new things and experimenting with my teaching though. My lessons are not as streamlined and clean as before, but I am having more fun and my students are enjoying the variety too.
This also happened just in time for the mid-year reviews I conducted, and I was able to share my ruts and experimentation to dig my way out with the teachers I support. I hope my example and our discussion helps them feel free to take risk and enjoy experimenting too.
Thomas Hoerr mentioned the “wonderfully liberating message” it gives to teachers when the leader shares a learning experience and celebrates the new mistakes he or she learns, and I would agree from the experiences I’ve had from my leaders.
The Art of School Leadership by Thomas Hoerr
5 Mistakes Everyone Should Make by Real Simple
Only Let Yourself Make New Mistakes by Peter Winick
Mistakes that Worked by Charlotte Jones
Click the link above to be taken to a post written for the Virtual Learning Connections Blog based on my keynote panel points from iNACOL VSS 2011 in Indianapolis.
My students will continue their regular online studies, but I’m going to take advantage of the day and evaluate the 3rd-5th graders’ current technology skills, and what else we can incorporate into our lessons.
Using Google Forms, I created the survey below to determine what technology my 3rd-5th graders currently have access to, what they are already using, and what they’d like to do in the following areas:
I also created a message board discussion post for the students to share use of additional technology tools as project options. Students have gotten the hang of PowerPoint already in their shared writing lesson online, and I want to give them some additional options to interact with and pursue.
How can you teach math virtually, or explain a math concept from a distance? There are many ways. On Friday, a student in my Gifted Math 3 course did not understand the question below. He wrote an email message to me explaining how he thought his answer choice was correct, but didn’t understand how the second option should be correct. I quickly took a screen shot of the problem, and then used PowerPoint to draw Smart Art over the diagram to show how the correct answer makes sense.
The student was able to ask his question on his time, and receive a response from me via email message when he was ready to check again. He now has a written and visual explanation of his question to refer.
What other ways have you found you can teach math concepts at a distance, virtually, or asynchronously?
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.
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:
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:
I hope this information is useful and helpful to you. Do you have any questions or would you like to see more examples?
You’ve seen pin maps used to show where you’ve traveled? Here is my map to show some of the places from where I have virtually taught.
What about you? From where have you taught virtually?
Sometimes I try to avoid the question of what I do. I try to go with the quick answer that I’m an elementary teacher. However, this often leads to the questions of where? (Capistrano Connections Academy, a virtual charter school) or what grade? (3rd-5th), which then leads to more questions: how does that work? what does it look like? do you have a classroom? do you ever see your students? is that a real job?
I enjoy talking about what I do, but I’m never sure how much information the other person really wants to know, or how much time they have. I also feel bad for close family and friends that hear my continuous explanations. In any rate, it’s become necessary to develop a series of bullet points to concisely explain what I do:
Sometimes I hope that one day simply saying “I’m a virtual teacher” or “I teach the gifted 3rd-5th grade program at CapoCA” will be self-explanatory, but at the same time I’m happy to answer questions and go into more detail of what I do.
What do you think? Are you a virtual teacher with similar experiences in explaining what you do? Or are you just learning what a being a virtual teacher means?
Who am I?
Why “Virtual Teacher Bullet Points”?