Coronavirus Response – Resources for Educators
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LiDA e-Modules

High Leverage Teaching Practices for Remote Teaching

Prepared by Raffaella Borasi, Center for Learning in the Digital Age

Effective remote teaching requires K-12 teachers, in addition to curriculum redesign, to master a number of “online teaching practices” that cut across subjects and topics.  In this eModule, we have identified a few of these practices that may have the highest impact, and for each highlight key instructional decisions to be make in implementing that practice, identify a few key options worth considering, and discuss advantages and limitations of each of these options.   Handouts are also provided for easy reference and to inform reflections on the implementation of each practice.

This eModule aims to support teachers with different backgrounds and interests, allowing for individual choices and different levels of depth.

List and quick links to featured practices

How to use this eModule

Watch VIDEO as introduction

Read description of each Featured Practice

*Optional*
Look at illustrations of these Practices in Action

Decide which practice to focus on next (watching the videos may help)

Click on LEARN MORE for the chosen practice

If you have already been introduced to online teaching practices, or you are a teacher educator designing experiences on this topic for others, you may want to simply use the materials posted here as a resource.

In this case, we recommend that you first watch our short introductory video at the top of this page, so you can get a better sense of our goals and the contents you can find on this site.  Then read through the brief descriptions provided on this page for each of the featured practices, so you can decide which ones you may want to focus on.

For each practice you select, you can take advantage of the following materials:

  1. 2-minute video that highlights key elements to pay attention to regarding that practice.
  2. An In-depth Analysis examining the potential benefits and challenges of that practice, as well as options to consider when implementing it, along with their pros and cons – available both as an interactive webpage and a Word document.
  3. A 1-page Summary Handout that can be printed and used as a quick reference when designing instruction.
  4. A template for keeping a Reflective Journal about the implementation of that practice.

All these materials are available on the dedicated webpage we created for each featured practice, which can be reached by clicking on the related “Learn more” button on this main page.  Items #2-4 have been provided in both a pdf format (so you can quickly peruse them online, and print them if you wish) and a Word file (to allow you to “personalize” these documents by adding your own comments and illustrations – we just ask you credit the source).

We also created two illustrations of the featured teaching practices in the context of (a) a PD for K-12 teachers on remote teaching, and (b) a classroom video vignette available on the Teaching Channel.  You may want to have a look at those documents as well.

As we are very interested in continuing to improve these materials, we would greatly appreciate any information you could share with us about how you used them, along with your feedback and suggestions.  Please email us with this information at lidacenter@warner.rochester.edu.

If you are interested in using this eModule as a guided independent study, we would recommend the following sequence of activities.

Getting started:

  1. First watch our short introductory video at the top of this page, so as to get a better sense of the goals and contents of this eModule.
  2. Next, read through the brief descriptions provided on this page for each of the featured online teaching practices.
  3. To get a better sense of what each practice may look like in practice and its potential role, look at one or both of the following documents created to report on implementations of the features practices in two different contexts (and using different formats):
    • PD on remote teaching: The six featured practices were purposefully modeled in a fully-online professional development experience for K-12 teachers about leveraging online technologies for remote teaching.   You can review an annotated narrative of a section of this experience, with links to selected artifacts and identification of the specific practices used.
    • Digitally-rich classroom experience: The 10-minute Teaching Channel video “Creating Digital Stories” provides a great visual illustration of the featured practices in a digitally-rich secondary classroom. To help you identify the specific practices used, you can check out the annotated summary of this experience we have created.
  4. It may be helpful at this point to think back about your past teaching, and identify at least a couple of specific uses you already made for each of the high-leverage teaching practices featured in this eModule.
  5. Now it is time to make a decision about which specific practices you want to learn more about, and in what order. If you what to learn a bit more about each practice to make a more informed decision, you may want to watch now each of the 2-minute videos posted next to each practice’s description on this page.

Learning about a specific practice

For each practice you select, we recommend the following steps – although feel free to ignore these suggestions and go through the available materials in whichever way makes most sense to you:

  1. Click on the “Learn more” button for the practice you selected, to access a dedicated webpage with all the materials specific to that practice.
  2. As an introduction to the key elements and instructional decisions related to this practice, watch the 2-minute video posted at the top right of that page.
  3. To learn more about the potential benefits and challenges related to your selected practice, as well as key options to consider (along with their pros and cons) when implementing that practice, explore the information provided on the dedicated webpage by clicking open specific sections of the accordions.  As you do that, it will be helpful to think back to the examples of that practice implemented in the PD for K-12 teacher we reported on as an illustration, as well as other instances of using that practice in your own teaching, and examine the instructional decisions made in those instances in light of the information you have reviewed.
  4. At this point you may want to download the Word version of our In-Depth Analysis we have also provided on each dedicated webpage, as one of the items underneath the video. This document contains the same information you have just reviewed by opening the accordions, but in a format that allows you to add your own comments, and also include additional options and examples that may be particularly relevant to your specific teaching context. (NOTE: This document is an open-source document you are allowed to modify and share – we only ask that you acknowledge its original source)
  5. You may also want to print the 1-page Summary Handout we have created, and keep it as a reference you can quickly consult as you actually plan your instruction. This document is also accessible on the dedicated webpage, as another item underneath the video. Feel free to customize it (as long as you acknowledge its original source).
  6. Repeated practice accompanied by reflection is what is ultimately needed to truly master any teaching practice. So, when you are ready, we recommend that you make an explicit effort to incorporate your selected practice in your teaching, while keeping track of the decisions you make and their outcomes.  To help guide and organize your reflections, you may find it valuable to use the Reflective Journal Template we have created and made available for you in the same section of the dedicated webpage.
  7. To go about your reflective implementation, you may want to start by reviewing your planned lessons for the next couple of weeks, and identify opportunities for meaningful implementation of the target practice. For the opportunities you choose to implement, think carefully about the decisions you make taking into consideration the observations recorded in the In-Depth Analysis document – and record those decisions in your Reflective Journal.  Once you have implemented these experiences, record your observations and reflections in your Reflective Journal.

This process can be repeated with any other practice you want to learn more about.

Keep in mind you can choose the order and the depth at which you wish to examine each practice.  It may be best, though, to engage in the “reflective implementation” one practice at a time.

Call for feedback:

As we are very interested in continuing to improve these materials, we would greatly appreciate any information you could share with us about how you used them, along with your feedback and suggestions.  Please email us with this information at lidacenter@warner.rochester.edu.

If you are interested in using this eModule in the context of a “study group”, we would recommend the following steps – which include a combination of synchronous and asynchronous activities designed to make the best use of the limited time the group will be able to have together.

Getting started:

  • A. To be completed independently prior to the first group meeting:
    • 1. First watch our short introductory video at the top of this page, so as to get a better sense of the goals and contents of this eModule.
    • 2. Next, read through the brief descriptions provided below for each of the featured online teaching practices.
    • 3. To get a better sense of what each practice may look like in practice and its potential role, look at one or both of the following documents created to report on implementations of the features practices in two different contexts (and using different formats):
      • PD on remote teaching: The six featured practices were purposefully modeled in a fully-online professional development experience for K-12 teachers about leveraging online technologies for remote teaching.   You can review an annotated narrative of a section of this experience, with links to selected artifacts and identification of the specific practices used.
      • Digitally-rich classroom experience: The 10-minute Teaching Channel video “Creating Digital Stories” provides a great visual illustration of the featured practices in a digitally-rich secondary classroom. To help you identify the specific practices used, you can check out the annotated summary of this experience we have created.
    • 4. Identify a couple of specific uses you have already made for each of the high-leverage teaching practices featured in this eModule – and be ready to share them with your group.
    • 5. Also think about which practices you would be most interested in becoming better at, and why, and be ready to share this information with your group.
  • B. First group meeting:
    • 6. Watch once again the Introductory video together.
    • 7. For each practice, have each group member share one/two instances of when they used that practice in their teaching – so as to begin to develop a set of shared illustrations the group can refer to as needed throughout the eModule; then briefly discuss the value of becoming better at that particular practice.
    • 8. Informed by the previous conversation, come to a group decision about which practices the group will work on and in which order.

(if there is time)

    • 9. As a group, view together the 2-minute video provided on this page for the practice you decided to start with.
    • 10. Have a first brief discussion of the relevant shared examples in light of the video.

Learning about a specific practice

For each practice your group selects to work on together, we recommend the following steps:

  • A. To be completed independently prior to the first group meeting:
    • 1. Click on the “Learn more” button for the practice you selected, to access the dedicated webpage with all the materials specific to that practice.
    • 2. As an introduction to the key elements and instructional decisions related to this practice, watch the 2-minute video posted on the top right of that page.
    • 3. To learn more about the potential benefits and challenges related to your selected practice, as well as key options to consider (along with their pros and cons) when implementing that practice, begin to explore the information provided on this page by clicking open specific sections of the accordions. As you do this, think back to the illustrations related to this practice that were shared in the group, as well as other instances of using that practice in your own teaching, and examine the instructional decisions made in those instances in light of the information you have reviewed.
    • 4. (if this is the first practice you are working on) Quickly review the pdf versions of the In-depth Analysis, Summary Handout, and Reflective Journal Template (all available on the dedicated webpage, underneath the 2-minute video) – just to have a sense of each document and to begin to think about how you could make use of these resources.
  • B. First group meeting about this practice:
    • 5. Watch once again the 2-minute video together.
    • 6. As a group, discuss in-depth a few illustrations of the practice participants previously shared, reviewing all the decisions made and their rationale, and discussing what may be done differently in similar situations in the future in light of what learned.
    • 7. (if this is the first practice you are working on) Have group members’ share their impressions about the available documents and their initial ideas about how they may make best use of them.
  • C. Follow-up individual assignment:
    • 8. Download and review the Word version of our In-Depth Analysis we have also provided on each dedicated webpage, underneath the video. This document contains the same information you reviewed by opening the accordions, but in a format that allows you to add your own comments, and also include additional options and examples that may be particularly relevant to your specific teaching context. (NOTE: This document is an open-source document you are allowed to modify and share – we only ask that you acknowledge its original source)
    • 9. You may also want to print the 1-page Summary Handout so you can use it for quick reference as you plan your instruction with the explicit goal of making use of the target practice as appropriate – and also as you fill in the Reflective Journal Template after each implementation of the practice.
    • 10. Download the Reflective Journal Template, so you are ready to use it to record your reflections after each implementation of the practice in your own teaching.
    • 11. Review your forthcoming planned lessons for the period agreed upon with your group, and identify opportunities for meaningful implementation of the target practice. For the opportunities you choose to implement, think carefully about the decisions you make taking into consideration the observations recorded in the In-Depth Analysis document – and record those decisions in your Reflective Journal.  Once you have implemented these experiences, record your observations and reflections in your Reflective Journal.
    • 12. Before the next group meeting, share your reflective journal and read the reflective journal of everybody else in the group.
  • D. Closing group meeting about this practice:
    • 13. As a group, select a few of the implementation of the target practice recorded in the Reflective Journals, and discuss them in-depth in light of the considerations reported in the In-Depth Analysis
    • 14. Have everyone identify key insights they gained from this activity, and share how they may customize their own In-Depth Analysis document to reflect those insights.
    • 15. (only if desired and it there is time) Launch the study of the next practice by viewing together the 2-minute video introducing that practice, and briefly sharing and discussing past experiences with that practice

This process can be repeated with any other practice the group chose to learn more about – in any order.

Call for feedback:

As we are very interested in continuing to improve these materials, we would greatly appreciate any information you could share with us about how your group used them, along with your feedback and suggestions.  Please email us with this information at lidacenter@warner.rochester.edu.

Featured practices in action

Do you want to first get an image of what the featured high-leverage teaching practices may look like?

Here are two illustrations, in different contexts and using different formats, you can choose from:

Eliciting Prior Knowledge

Research on how people learn has pointed out the importance of building on students’ prior knowledge – but eliciting that knowledge may be challenging, especially if you are teaching remotely and cannot easily observe students’ reactions or ask impromptu questions. On the other hand, online tools can provide powerful new ways to both elicit and record your students’ prior knowledge, which will be useful regardless of your teaching context.

Synthesizing Learning

Often time students (of all ages!) miss the key point of a learning activity unless offered the opportunity to explicitly reflect on what they have learned and its potential applications. This is what good teachers spontaneously do at the end of face-to-face lessons. Doing this when teaching online may be more challenging, yet also offer new opportunities for students to develop this valuable skill.

Conveying Content Online

You can save precious synchronous class time by having students access most of the course content asynchronously online. This could involve presentations and other materials you created specifically for your students, or “published” multi-media content you selected for them. Each of these options, as well as the specific media you choose, has its own advantages and disadvantages, which you need to consider when making decisions about the online resources you assign to your students.

Sharing Student Work

A key tenet of social constructivist learning theories is that students can learn a lot from each other. This calls for providing students with opportunities to share and discuss their work – which may be even more important when students do not see each other’s in class, as it will help them stay connected with each other and their teacher. Yet, you will need to make some important decisions about how to share your students’ work. These decisions include what kind of student work is most worth sharing, whether or not to make their work public, and what online tools to use for the sharing.

Giving Direction for Independent Work

Students cannot engage effectively in independent work unless they understand what they are expected to do and why. While this is true in face-to-face classes as well, giving directions for remote independent work is even more critical and can present additional challenges – as, for one, students will not be able to immediately ask clarifying questions. Therefore, special care has to be given to crafting and communicating directions in ways that are clear and accessible for all students.

Giving Feedback

Research on assessment suggests that learning is greatly enhanced when students receive timely and informative feedback on their work. Providing quality constructive feedback on student work is even more important when teaching remotely, as in this context it provides a unique opportunity for communication and connection between teacher and student. Deciding when, how – and even who – should provide feedback will be critical.