Establishing Guidelines During Synchronous and Asynchronous Video Conferences

Today, I watched my son’s amazing Kindergarten teacher lead a video conference with her class of 5 and 6 year old students. Students were so excited to see their classmates and their teacher! However, within minutes the excitement dominated the video call and students were interrupting each other, shouting and changing the topic. Other participants struggled with technical difficulties. Has this happened to you?

Here are some helpful tips:

1. Share a Tutorial in Advance: There are many screen recorders available such as Screencastify that will allow you to create tutorials in advance. (If you don’t have time to create your own tutorials there are plenty available on YouTube.) Consider sharing the tutorials with both students and parents in advance so they may have adequate time to acquaint themselves with some of the features prior to your first meeting. For example, you may want to model how to access the app, use the mute button, turn the video camera on and off, present your screen, respond to a classmates, or change the different views.

2. Share Expectations: We always share our classroom expectations for students while they are physically present in the classroom. But, what about our virtual presence?

There are two different guidelines I would establish for students:

Synchronous Learning Environments

I would share participation guidelines to those joining a synchronous learning environment such as Zoom or Meet etc. (As always, check your district’s policies and the Terms of Service before using such tools.) Students need to know the expected behaviors in advance.

When I was a 4th grade teacher we used hand-signals while participating in literature circles. I think these hand-signals could easily transfer over to participation signals during video conferences.

Click here to modify template: https://docs.google.com/drawings/d/1l4cDB7gtQQ9WKX7Vw_bTlykJ6vfNXZgT-cqIVP9TkXA/template/preview

Video Conference online hand signals
Please note: If you want to model the exact, official sign-language that is wonderful and you could visit https://www.handspeak.com/ for demonstrations.

The hand-signals would help students participate in a live video chat while visually sharing their intentions with both classmates and the teacher. I believe these hand-signals can truly help with virtual classroom management.

Asynchronous Learning Activity

These response tips would also be appropriate during asynchronous learning opportunities held using apps such as Flipgrid, Seesaw or Class Dojo. Many teachers and students prefer these asynchronous discussions as students may participate whenever they have time as opposed to a set schedule.

Click to Make a Copy of Template

3. Reflections– Provide students with rubrics allowing them to reflect on their participation and set goals for the next session. If you are leading a synchronous video session, make sure to provide students with timely feedback by taking quick anecdotal notes on paper while leading the discussion. If you are using Flipgrid, page 6 of this document by Sean Fahey and Karly Moura explains how to create a rubric for students.

Keep these ideas in mind and hopefully you will have a much more productive session!

Happy conferencing everyone!

Do you have any tips or resources you’d like to share?

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