Effective Teaching Strategies

Managing your concurrent classroom is easier if you plan ahead. The teaching strategies below are effective across many types of delivery scenarios, including concurrent learning modes.

1. Create short pre-recordings of any lecture content

Allowing students to view this before class gives Face to Face and Online students the same ‘lecture’ access. It also reduces your need to ‘work the room’ during the delivery of content.

Use the freed up class time for related interactive learning activities.

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2. Write up a lesson plan

Consider using a template for this and adapt it to suit your class:

  • List the key L&T points of the lesson at the top of your lesson plan;
  • Include any tech / tools and how they will be used. For example…
    • Whole class working together on Teams for the first and last ten mins
    • GoSoapbox for group poll at 10:30am
    • Online students will need headset and access to specific software for second activity
    • Surveying equipment needs to be fully charged
  • Clarify the discussion / activities / approaches likely to occur. Remember to refer to your pre-recorded lectures, and other pre-lesson material/requirements;
  • Add in any ‘question time’, ‘checking for understanding’ or ‘check-in with online students’ reminders;
  • Decide on your timing for each part of the lesson;
  • Remember to save the last five minutes to discuss details of students’ homework or prep for next week’s lesson.

3. Share your lesson plan with students at the start of the class

This will signpost progression at the start of the lesson. Refer back to it at key moments, or, go through the lesson plan verbally with everyone (Online and Face to Face students at the same time). Be clear and upfront about:

  • when activities will start and stop;
  • who / which groups will be doing what / when;
  • what questions will be asked, and when;
  • who / which group will be asked for their input and when;
  • what students will be expected to say / demonstrate / do and how this will happen;
  • setting reminder timers on your Teams session;
  • nominating a different student each week to be time keeper / classroom manager.
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4. Check for understanding during the lesson

By checking with all students (both Face-to-Face and Online) you can immediately address any misunderstandings that may have occurred. It is also a good way of identifying and developing related ideas and comments that students bring up. Three ways to regularly check for understanding are:

  • asking open questions of the class (e.g. ask ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions, or ask for different Points of View, or a summary of what the next steps might be);
  • insert ‘feedback / feedforward loops’ or ‘Q&A spaces’ into your lesson so that both Face-to-Face and Online students know when they will be expected to check in (you can signpost these in a slide that maps the lesson, and use Teams to manage the feedback);
  • invite different student(s) to summarise a particular teaching point, reflect on their learning, or report back on group findings, and so on.

5. Activate classroom dynamics using these strategies

  • Divide a large class into smaller groups, and then get them working together. Set up ‘break out rooms’ (real and online) to do group work – nominate a ‘facilitator’ and ensure that everyone understands the responsibilities of this role.
  • You may want to select your ‘break out room’ groups differently each week to accommodate similar or divergent views – for a mix of experience – to create safe cultural spaces for sharing sensitive ideas – to combine Face to Face and Online students.
  • Students post questions on a poll site or chat feed as they go through an activity. Bring the class back together to look at questions. Consider collecting the questions / answers together into a spreadsheet and publishing this as a student class resource (or keep it private so you can check understanding and identify continuing gaps).
  • Establish a discussion board, or similar.
  • ‘Throw the mic’ – only students holding the ‘mic’ can speak, then they throw the mic to someone else (can do this physically by tossing a Catchbox mic – or even a tennis ball – around the class, or online using an emoji). Great for noisy groups and big class discussions. Set a time limit if you need to.
  • You can try to tweet / haiku / mime / dance / role play / group contributions and document these in some way.
  • Group work results / findings can be formatted into a slide / videoed on a phone, then posted on the class site with a link added to the chat, for general discussion.
  • Ask all students to monitor class dynamics, e.g. check the chat to alert you if something needs your attention.
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6. Get the most out of the first ten minutes and the last ten minutes

Develop a suite of ‘entry’ activities for students to do while waiting for everyone to arrive. Ask students to:

  • spend five minutes writing out what happened in the last lesson, and critically reflect on this by identifying the most important thing they learned and listing anything they still don’t understand. By setting this every week, it can become a permanent journal entry for reflection;
  • spend two minutes reading through the shared lesson plan and writing out two or three questions that they have about it, and identify what they expect to have learned by the end of the lesson.
  • set a subject-relevant ‘contemplation’ question (or brief, scenario, case study, design) for students to muse over in writing each week.

Develop a suite of ‘closure’ activities for students to do at the end of every lesson so they don’t just pack up and forget it all. Ask students to:

  • complete a quick online feedback table after every lesson. Possible headings might be: What worked well for me today? What questions do I now have? What could have been better about today? What do I hope will happen next?
  • think about the upcoming next lesson – answer these questions : What will I be learning next week? What will I need to do to prepare for next week? Or;
  • set a subject-relevant ‘contemplation’ assertion for students to muse over in writing each week.