Monday, August 24, 2020

Actions of Classroom Teacher – Best Practices in In-Person and Online Learning

After experiences in summer school and now in our second week of the Fall semester, we are reflecting on what best practices *look* like in a totally new world of education.  So, taking traditional best practices, what does the look like for the hybrid, parallel instruction model?

*** Note: my school is at 50% capacity.  Students are split into two cohorts and attend class either in person or remotely.


Best Practice

What Might This Look Like?

Encourage student-faculty contact

·        Exchange contact information

·        Google Classroom “Question” assignment

·        Ensure students see your face regularly, even online, through regular check-in videos and virtual office hours

Develop reciprocity and cooperation among students

·        Create assignments where students F2F need the students online to complete the work as a strategy for keeping online students engaged

·        Group work – each member assigned a clear role and responsibility

·        Student(s) at home are group leader

·        Student in room is in charge of Chat and ensuring student(s) at home are included

·        Student at home leads discussion/game/activity in class

·        Students prepare questions prior to class, then work through them in groups during class

Use active learning techniques

·        Use synchronous time to maximize interaction between you and students and among students; if they can watch or consume content passively, try to assign it outside of synchronous instructional time

·        Create synchronous demonstrations that rely on participation of both F2F and online students

·        Start lessons with engagement strategies like KWL charts – what do I know, what I wonder, what I learned or Think-Pair-Share (at a social distance)

·        Look for opportunities for students to lead instruction or conversation

Establish clear routines that create predictability and support

·        Agendas

·        Class routines – every day, same routine

·        Incorporate visible thinking routines like graphic organizers, guided notes for each period (for ideas, see:

Give prompt, constructive feedback

·        GClassroom rubrics are great for prompt, clear feedback

·        One on One workshop

·        Use audio and video feedback on written assignments

Emphasize time on task

·        Each assignment should have an “expected time to complete” that is shared with students

·        Consider modifying assignment if students report inability to complete/too fast to complete

Provide a balance of challenge and support

·        Offer challenge problems or situations (case studies, challenge practice problems, creation activities)

·        Scaffolded Kahoot!

·        Choice reading at various difficulty and interest levels

·        Links to more information on topics in GClassroom

Respect diverse talents and ways of learning

·        Choice assignments – either in content (reading or video) or product (written paper or podcast episode)

·        Incorporate technologies like Voicethread which encourage multi-modal engagement

Use deliberate practice and mastery learning strategies

·        Quick “Chat” check in for practice

·        Exit ticket for mastery check

·        Formative Assessments in blended manner – Classroom assignments, quiz assignment or question; EdPuzzle; electronic lab book (example in OneNote; example in GDoc)

Elicit active, critical reflection

·        Questions in GClassroom

·        Survey in GForms

·        Peer evaluation with rubrics

·        Peer evaluation of presentations or products

·        Writers workshops


 Best Practices above created by Chickering and Gamson (1987), Savory (2006), and McCullom (2010) as found in Evaluating Online Teaching (2015) by Tobin, Mandernauch, and Taylor.  Chapter 1 found


Friday, March 13, 2020

Been a Minute! Sample Extended eLearning Design, Practice, and Tools Document

Hello dear readers! 
It's been a while.  Thought I'd use this platform to share out our language on extended elearning protocols.  In the real world - this is a living document for internal use.  You get a snapshot but it may help.  

Context for new readers - Brebeuf Jesuit is a highly integrated 1:1 high school in Indianapolis (800 students).  We run a 5 day modified block schedule - thus the references to Day 1, Day 2....Our students all have devices and are very used to online learning environments - particularly Google Apps for Education.  

Network - happy to help in anyway.  Email is
Be kind.  Be Well.

Brebeuf Jesuit Guide to Extended eLearning Design, Practice, and Tools

By Katie Colin and Jen LaMaster

Brebeuf Jesuit Expectations for Extended eLearning Days

This document is for an *emergency* situation where the entire school is required to go online for an extended period of time.  The assumption being with little time and preparation.
Since our Ignatian call is to relationship - we are going to ask that every Day 1 of an extended closure we follow the bell schedule and have live, synchronous *** lessons.  This will meet best practice of face-to-face interactions at least once a week.  All other Day 2-5 may be asynchronous.
       As in all eLearning Days - on Portals the following information should be entered in the Class Summary section on every class page (this can be posted once for the extended time if you are directing students to GClassroom or other class site).  This is primarily for clear student, parent, and teacher communication.
       Where the class lesson(s) is/are posted
       On activity page, clearly post the experience, assessment and when assignment is due
       If student does not complete an assignment - assign a zero as you would with *normal* homework
       Virtual office hours for questions (2 hours per Day 2-5 expected. Day 1 will be a teaching day following the standard bell schedule)
       Method of communication with teacher for questions
       As always…. These days not meant to flood students with busy work. Assign essential activities  – do not feel like you need to make something due for that you would not normally ask the students to complete.  Respect the time and needs of the individual student and yourself.  Use your best judgement.
       Teachers should do some kind of synchronous*** (real time) lesson every Day 1 of the closure for during the regularly scheduled time the class would usually meet. (length of time optional)
See options below on tools available for free or through the school accounts. Examples - Google Meet, Zoom meeting, Recorded lesson with live text chat, a Q&A period using chat tool of choice, etc.  Use this time to:
       Run live direct instruction
       Q&A on assignments
       Peer review or editing of work
       Class watches a video together and chats on questions
       Something that assures students you as the teacher are still around and engaged with them and their learning
       Make very clear your expectations for how and when asynchronous*** (not real time - aka homework) classwork should be turned in.  Recommend agendas posted clearly and frequently. 
       Due date times should be no later than 4:00pm
       Assessments: Can take various formats, but must be formative, not summative. Think mastery learning, where we are measuring and checking and giving feedback on learning progress during the e-learning time, but not a final grade that can't be improved later
       Teacher feedback should be quick and thorough to mimic as much as possible the face-to- face interactions we have when we are in the school building.
       [Principal’s Team] will be monitoring and supporting you all.  Please remember our families and students are quite comfortable with feedback.  We will be in touch if we feel there is a kudos or concern.
       We have full confidence in this faculty.  This is new territory so use your best professional judgement, support each other and our students, and take note/screenshots for the epic article we can write!!
*** Critical Vocabulary -
Synchronous - existing or occurring at the same time.  In EdTech speak means class happens in real time with everyone in a virtual environment together.  Examples - web conference or live chat
Asynchronous - not existing or happening at the same time.  In EdTech speak means that class activities happen when the student individually wishes.  Examples - a dropbox upload, online quiz due by certain time, emailed assignment.

Online Instructional Design – A Very Quick and Dirty Practical Guide

In a nutshell - online instructional design is not that much different than face-to-face instructional design.  The tools may be different but not the process.  The goal is never to flood students with busy work.  Content experience should remain centered, significant, and active.  The Chronicle of Higher Education ran a decent article on big picture thinking in online learning environments in this article.  The biggest take away for our purposes is Organize, Explain in Multiple Formats (visual, auditory, written), and Clarify Expectations right out of the gate.
The Chronicle article looks at instructional design from the lens of intentional instruction and time to plan.  This document is for an *emergency* situation where the entire school is required to go online with little time and preparation.  In these circumstances, a couple of things to remember:
       Know your focus - what is absolutely necessary to cover in the time out of the building. Look at the curriculum as a department and identify your MUSTS (pare down and consolidate)
       Remember that students are adjusting to this as well.  Some may be very stressed, others not so much.  Be compassionate and open to the experience.  Students are sitting at home with everything to do (family and school).
       Speaking of open - encourage a growth mindset in yourself and your students.  The usual tricks and classroom activities may not work online.  This is a time for exploration, failure, and try again for ALL members of the community. 
       Scaffolding is your friend.  Really consider all the step-by-step.  See below…
       All learning accommodations are applicable in online environments as brick-and-mortar.
       For more - check out this website on emergency preparedness in K-12 (it’s from a vendor so take it with a grain of salt)
Many online instructional designers use Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction to frame their design.  I paired the Gagne pieces with the IPP below.
 Context - who am I teaching and what am I trying to accomplish in this lesson.
1.      Gain attention
2.      Inform learners of objectives
3.      Stimulate recall of prior learning
Experience - what content and activities can we experience together to accomplish our goals for the lesson?
4.      Present the content
5.      Provide “learning guidance”
6.      Elicit performance (practice)
Reflection - time to process new content and provide/receive feedback on performance
7.      Provide feedback
8.      Assess performance
Action/Use - when presented with similar or same circumstances can student replicate action to successfully meet the learning objective (proof of mastery)
9.      Enhance retention and transfer to the job
Evaluation – formal assessment of objective

Practice Options to Consider for Online Active Learning

(totally stolen from Carleton University
Strive for a variety of methods to appeal to a broad range of learning styles.  This individual, small group, large group activities.  Think formative (small, in-progress) and summative (large, end of unity) assessments.
·        Readings, including the textbook, articles, websites, books, or essays
·        Written material that you type up
·        Video lectures of yourself talking about a topic
·        Videos of someone else talking about a topic
·        Narrated animations
·        Humorous yet educational videos
·        PowerPoint slides the students view and read
·        Narrated PowerPoint slides with a voice-over by you
·        Posts you add to discussion forums - this is a particularly useful place to correct misconceptions or add information when the relevant time comes around
·        Real-time question and answer sessions held as synchronous review sessions using instant chat feature (available in many course platforms)
·        Questions that lead to directed reading and writing, such as well-framed discussion questions or essay questions within written assignments
·        Visualizations, interactive media and simulations, such as PhET's radioactive dating game, that the students use with direction from you
You do not need to create every element of the course content from scratch. Take advantage of the vast array of high-quality, readily available materials online and employ sources like the USGS, NASA, NOAA, art museums, the New York Times, free online textbook visualizations, Indy Public Library system, YouTube, pre-made lessons in EdPuzzle or your online textbook, The Library of Congress…. So many options.
People spend years in grad school learning and perfecting online instructional design – we do not have such time!!  For quick learning check out some of these places to go for ideas in online instructional design…
MIT Digital Learning Toolkit -

 Arrupe Virtual Learning Institute (formally Jesuit Virtual Learning Academy) - online, recorded webinars by discipline area for online learning student-centered activities.
A 5 Step Guide to Making Your Own Instructional Videos (by Edutopia) -

Tools available to Brebeuf faculty and students

       Google Hangouts Chat
       Can chat with students individually in text format
       Google Meets
       Video call with students one-to-one or the entire class
       Record the chat for later use (posting online or sending to students that missed the session)
       How to video here -
       Google Classroom
       Keep your classes organized, post assignments/videos/tests
       Google Classroom gradebook can be linked to your Portals Gradebook
       Interactive lesson, allows teacher to post questions and students to post their answers live for the class to see (teachers can filter responses)
       Ready to Run lessons available
       Teachers can record themselves talking in a postable video
       Teachers can show PowerPoint and record themselves speaking while going through the PowerPoint
       “Login with Google” using your Brebeuf email account
       Online grading application for teachers
       Your classes are already entered into the system (with students placed in the class) all you need to do is email Kaite for an invitation email
       “Gimkit is a game show for the classroom that requires knowledge, collaboration, and strategy to win.”
       Create flashcards
       Make interactive video lessons
       Ready to run lessons
       Microsoft office 365
       PowerPoint with narration - decent tutorial video for PPT 2016 is here
       Email Katie if you have forgotten you password
       Adobe Creative Cloud
       All teachers should have Adobe Create Cloud downloaded onto your device and already have accounts (using your Brebeuf email). If you have forgotten your password, select “Forgot Password” when logging in and reset your password accordingly.
       Excellent tutorials at
       New York Times
       Use the above link to access your free subscription to NYT for faculty and students, please use your Brebeuf associated email address to gain access to the subscription.
       Zoom - free version
       Video conferencing
       Able to share your screen (possibly a powerpoint) on the video call
       Other Miscellaneous subscriptions


Primary Support
Jen LaMaster
Katie Colin

All Support Services are in contact with students and available to faculty as usual.  Please continue open channels of communication as you would in the building. ALL ACCOMMODATIONS hold for extended elearning. (actual contacts deleted for privacy)

A Few Extras We Could Not Find a Place For…

       Please only assign work for days that your class would have met in the building.. 
       No, you do not need to require something be turned in every class period.
       Please use a tracking system of your choice to ensure student participation.  There is no required documentation from the IDOE but it is helpful to have participation checks, attendance in Day 1 lessons, or assignments as evidence we did the work.  For Day 1 attendance - or any other - print the roster off Portals Gradebook and use as “old school” record.. 
       One issue that has arisen in Avon is students not understanding that these days are in fact school days.  Please remind students that we are continuing school - just in a new way.
       Remember students may be *absent* due to illness or appointments.  You can set up the same policies as you would in your traditional classrooms for make-up work.
       Speaking of absences - YOU might need to be absent as well.  Rather than try a one-size-fits-all policy - please email Jen LaMaster or Greg VanSlambrook if you have a pre-arranged absence or sick need during an extended eLearning event.  We will work with you on how to proceed. 
       Thank you for your patience. 

From the Information Commons… Even More Resources

Need something to read?
eBooks and audiobooks are available through
       Axis360 (kids and teens)
       Gale eBooks
You can access these resources by going to,  searching the catalog, and filtering for ebooks or audiobooks.  You can read or listen from your computer or download the apps to read on other devices.  (You are truly missing out if you don't have the Libby app on your phone or tablet!)

If you have little ones at home, check out this list of 500+ ebooks and video read-alouds for kids!

Need to do research?
       All of the usual databases will be available for use.
Access these resources directly by going to >> Research

Bored sitting at home?
Stream movies and TV shows for kids and adults
(You will need to create an account using your library card number)
       AcornTV (BritishTV) 
Read popular magazines online
       RB Digital
You can access these resources by going to >>Books, Movies, and Music >> Download and Stream

Need your library card number?
Thanks to our new library management system, we are now able to remotely help you and your students with forgotten library card numbers.  Just ask us!

We're here to help!
Charity and I will be available via email and other platforms as needed to assist you and your students throughout our e-learning time.