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
- 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
- Have students take turns leading discussions (synchronous or asynchronous) and propose questions that they care about.
- You even can have students write the questions for the final exam.
- Use what students write about in the discussion boards to guide the course of the class discussion. Make room in each lesson plan to address whatever problems or questions are most important to students.
- 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
- You might set up a Slack Channel or use a class hashtag on Twitter to communicate outside of class.
- In and outside of class, use collaborative tools like Microsoft Teams and Google Docs for things like collaborative note-taking, group work, and peer review.
- Better yet, poll students to ask them what they prefer (email, a WhatsApp group, Instagram, etc.).
- At CUNY, you might be getting started on Blackboard or teaching at CUNY and need more tailored information (see the Campus Contacts for Blackboard Support and the CUNY IT Blackboard Knowledgebase).
Black Lives Matter Resources
- Academics for Black Survival and Wellness
- Antiracist Teaching Resources by MLA Commons
- Mina Rees Library’s Resources on Black Lives Matter and Antiracism
- The Graduate Center’s Teaching and Learning Center has Blog Posts on Anti-racist Pedagogy
Resources specific to teaching at CUNY
- Considerations for Instructional Continuity (Graduate Center Teaching and Learning Center)
- Also see the GC TLC’s list of CUNY campus-based resources.
More extensive resources for remote teaching during COVID
- “Adjuncts Reimagining Digital Pedagogy without Burnout” by Adashima Oyo and Christina Katopodis
- Remote teaching resources (started by HASTAC Co-Director Jacque Wernimont); also see this HASTAC Collection, “COVID-19: Resources and Reflections for Teachers and Learners“
- “Trust Your Students to be Active Participants in their Learning,” by Cathy N. Davidson and Christina Katopodis
- Thinking through a Pandemic by Cihan Tekay and Siqi Tu
- Students: Distance Learning in the Time of COVID (Lisa Brundage, Lisa Rhody, Katina Rogers)
- Bringing Your Course Online (for MLA members via Humanities Commons)