Online teaching strategies: Top tips for K-12 teachers

For many teachers, online instruction wasn’t a cornerstone of their own education and professional training. Teachers in the K-12 space in particular, must deploy techniques that address accessibility issues and overcome educational constraints. At the same time, they still have the chance to leverage new opportunities in the digital realm.

New teacher guidelines for accessible online instruction

Take a look at the following tips and resources for online teaching strategies that can help your students excel in their virtual classrooms.

Encourage students to work in small groups

Group work is instrumental to many teachers’ lesson plans for several reasons. First, it encourages teamwork and collaboration. Second, it gives students an opportunity to master core concepts through active learning. 

While it may seem difficult to transfer group work to the online learning environment, there are techniques you can use. For instance, a recent Edutopia article pointed out that Zoom, RingCentral, GoToMeeting, and Microsoft Teams all feature some kind of option for breakout rooms. In addition to video platforms, students can also collaborate on group work using message boards, forums, and other features of your learning management system (LMS).

Prioritize support for English language learners

Providing opportunities to interact with their peers is one tactic you can use to ensure that English language learners are receiving sufficient assistance, according to a guide from Colorín Colorado. Encourage group work for all students, including those who have varying levels of proficiency in the medium of instruction. Among other tips, Colorín Colorado also suggests: 

  • Encouraging students to engage with content while practicing oral language development using tools like VoiceThread or FlipGrid.
  • Scaffolding instructional materials as needed, and providing opportunities to respond in writing as well.
  • Giving students the opportunity to replay and review the materials multiple times.

Focus on helping all learners thrive

For students who require accommodations or other assistance, resources are available from the Educating All Learners Alliance to help teachers best support them during the move to online instruction. In particular, specific resources are available for students with autism, as well as those who participate in speech therapy, and many other learners. 

Allow for asynchronous participation

Nearly all of our online teaching strategies are made more effective when teachers allow for asynchronous or self-guided learning. While this technique can be combined with live videoconferencing sessions and office hours, all students benefit from having the ability to replay lessons and proceed at their own pace. Record your sessions and make sure students know how to find them.

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