Resources for Teaching Online

Many educators this Fall 2020 semester, particularly those new to online teaching, are talking about how teaching during this global health crisis feels like teaching for the first time. Even those with many years of experience feel this way. Fortunately, colleagues around the world are sharing their online teaching resources. However, it can be hard to navigate this avalanche of advice and information mid-semester. To help you, we’ve broken up some of these tips and resources into categories below. You can also access more resources at the CUNY Innovative Teaching Academy.

Boosting Student Engagement

Inventory Methods

  • The easiest way to boost engagement is to start your class with a quick Think-Pair-Share (TPS). Remember that early engagement (e.g., TPS or an Entry Ticket) boosts engagement throughout a synchronous meeting by indicating to students that participation will be expected throughout the class.
  • Take the baton and pass it on. In a synchronous session, after one student says something, make it a routine to end their comment by passing it on to someone else.
  • During asynchronous work, turn discussion boards into places for peer-to-peer learning where students are required (and given ample time) to respond to one another.

Give Students Autonomy

Create Community

  • Start your session with some music. Students might rotate who picks the song each week based on their preferences or you could pick a song that matches the topic for the day. Then, at the end of the class, share the playlist with everyone.
  • Play a game of Kahoot! (trivia for the online classroom), BINGO or Jeopardy.
  • Try an interactive activity like a Zoom poll or asking your students to post to a Padlet.
  • You can even do an interactive activity with plain old pencil and paper (BYO) or using the chat function to transform crisis into community.

Better Breakout Rooms

  • Use slides to give students prompts to start the conversation.
  • Create differentiated learning spaces.
  • Use collaborative documents during breakout sessions.
  • Make sure you ask for clear deliverables from each group.
  • Designate someone to be the spokesperson for the group, or remind students to pick someone to report back by broadcasting a message before the breakout session ends.

Give the Eyes a Rest

  • There are some ways to overcome Zoom fatigue.
  • Plan a 5-minute “water break” in the middle of class for anyone to get up and use the bathroom or refresh their glass of water. You might play a song while everyone’s away and then when the song ends, class resumes. This way even if students go into another room, they can listen for the song to gauge how much time they have left in the break.
  • Try incorporating 5 minutes of mindful meditation or yoga stretches into your session, either to start the class or to end it. Even stretching one’s arms and neck can make a world of a difference.
  • Find an engaging and short podcast or radio broadcast related to the topic and ask students to close their eyes and listen.

Pedagogy of Care

  • Add resources to your syllabus for accessing a nearby food pantry, health insurance, emergency housing, legal support, or other urgent issues like referrals for those students dealing with domestic violence or substance abuse.
  • In synchronous classes, turn your Entry Ticket into a quick, optional wellness check. Greet every student (if the class is small enough to do so in a timely manner) and ask them how they are doing. Or, students can say hello and how they are doing, then pass it on to the next person themselves. If the class is large, you could do this as a poll.
  • Show students that their health and wellness matter to you by sharing some best practices and tips for self-care.


Ways to communicate with students outside a synchronous session


Black Lives Matter Resources

Resources specific to teaching at CUNY

More extensive resources for remote teaching during COVID

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