Implementing Instructional Strategies and Lesson Plans with Edtech and your Online Classrooms

With many K-12 university classes online or in the process of transition online, edtech tools and resources have been abundant. However, what needs to be further addressed and discussed by the educational community is in implementing and aligning various research-based instructional strategies with the edtech that is being used in our online classrooms. My goal is to provide you with a series of instructional strategies that are used in face to face classrooms that can also be utilized in an online classroom. Additionally, there will be a discussion of which edtech tools can facilitate the outlined instructional strategies.

While implementing various instructional strategies, we want to ensure our synchronous and asynchronous lessons are comprised of a listening, speaking, writing, and student work creation component to our lessons. Also, by having lessons that are multimodality in their composition, they fulfill the elements of the universal design for learning. This is important as we are trying to facilitate student learning for all students, which helps us differentiate instruction for students who may need additional support in their learning.

First, I am going to show you a list of instructional strategies we use in face to face classrooms that can also be used online. I am going to describe how they can implemented in your online classroom. Then, I am going to provide an example of a weekly online class lesson plan outline that employs a multimodality approach. While I go through this conversation with you regarding these topics, please refer back to my previous blog posts on Listing Etech Tools and their Applications as well as Selecting Edtech Tools to help you learn more about the edtech tools discussed here. Also, on my YouTube Channel, I provide examples of how to build your online learning management system infrastructure for your classroom using Google Classroom and G-Suite, which much of what I talk about is built upon.

Instructional Strategies Linked with Edtech

 Direct Instruction and Modeling in Synchronous/Asynchronous Sessions. As with any classroom direct instruction is used to provide instructions as well as give students information directly on the content. Within synchronous live sessions on Google Meet, Microsoft Team, or Zoom, teachers can share their screen and present Google Slides, Slideshare, Padlet, or Microsoft Powerpoint to depict the information they are lecturing on to their students. During direct instruction, teachers can use modeling to show their entire class or specific students how to perform a specific task or problem by sharing their screen with students and go through it step by step. Within this modeling technique, teachers can scaffold the tasks for their students and build a progression of videos their students can view within a module or unit of study. One major point of emphasis, all synchronous live direct instruction should be recording it for later use for students to review. Ultimately, this will provide your students with an opportunity to review the content at any time and at their own pace. 

For asynchronous sessions, teachers can use Screencast-o-Matic, Loom, or Screencastify to record a lecture that allows them to present content. Additionally, within each of these screencasting tools, they provide editing software to edit the recorded lectures to then be uploaded to YouTube, Google Drive, iCloud, or Drop Box. Once the lectures have been posted online within the storage cloud, teachers can use hyperlinks to place the links on a HyperDoc or HyperSlides, which can order the lectures in a progression for students to interact with in a specific order. Lastly, edtech tools like Edpuzzle can be used concurrently with your edited screencasts where questions can be added by teachers to break up the lecture to check their student’s comprehension of the material as the student moves through the lecture content.

Class or Small Group Student Brainstorming and Collaboration. Online collaboration or brainstorming can take many different forms. For example, a Google Doc can be shared with an entire class on a learning management system like Google Classroom where the class can collaborate together on an access to all editable document. Or, in a similar manner, it can be shared directly through a hyperlink on a HyperDoc or a HyperSlide for students to access the editable document.

In a different manner for smaller groups, a teacher or a student can share a Google Doc with their group mates, which only gives those specific students editing rights on the document. Another method for students to collaborate is on Padlet, which gives students an entire digital bulletin board to share their thoughts on a given topic. Students can share text, images, audio recordings, and videos, which provide many different modalities of learning as well as mediums to articulate and demonstrate learning.

Lastly, Flipgrid allows for students to work together in small groups or an entire class to collaborate or brainstorm. For example, when a teacher presents a prompt on the content, students can answer this prompt through their initial Flipgrid recorded response. Then, afterward, students can listen and respond to selected students for a small group activity or list to at least one-third of the class and then provide a written response.

Activating Prior Knowledge. Activating prior knowledge allows our students to utilize what they already know to help create a knowledge foundation on the content or skill being taught by their teacher. Doing this in an online setting can be done using a frontloading approach or a scaffolded approach. A frontloading approach can be best illustrated by providing students with a hook leading in tandem with a large bulk of the content to build a foundational association with the content. In an online class setting, this could be using a video, like found on Classhooks, of the content being alluded to or depicted on a TV sitcom. Or, in a similar manner, a YouTube video can be used that has been edited using Edpuzzle or Loom to ask students multiple choice, open-ended, or summarization review questions as the video progresses to activate their thought processes and working memory. Another example could be a Flipgrid teacher recorded response, which depicts a teacher modeling a think-aloud. Within this clip, the teacher asks their students to record their own think-aloud about the topic at hand. After their initial first response, students then can respond to several of their classmates think-aloud to develop an on-going discussion to further activate prior knowledge on the topic.

Scaffolding Content. For scaffolding content to work effectively as an instructional strategy for online learning, it can be embedded within asynchronous lessons. An example of this in action could be using an interactive slideshow where students are required to fill in various parts of it for notes. For example, if the content is on the Civil War, the first slide could be a link to a video  on the content students must respond to. Then, the next slide could be a graphic organizer in the form of a KWL or a Notice, Wonder, and, Know Chart where students must complete as they read and interact with the materials posted in the slideshow. At the end of the slideshow, students can respond to a writing prompt or be connected to a short assessment through a hyperlink to a Google Form, Quizzizz, Kahoot, or Formative quiz. Conversely, a teacher can present a prompt associated with a video that has been attached to a document, which would be utilizing the Think-Write-Pair-Share instructional strategy. The directions would tell the students they must watch the video, think, respond to the prompt, and then share their response in the form of a recorded video to at least two of their classmates that must respond to them in the form of an email or recorded video, students then revise their post, and then post it for the entire class to read or view on Google Classroom.

Active Participation during Synchronous Live Sessions: During synchronous sessions, the active participation of your students during the session is important to maintaining their engagement. One of the ways to ensure students are participating is to build a Google Slides presentation with the add-on G-Suite Pear Deck application. With Pear Deck, you can build interactive slideshows where students must respond to polls, multiple-choice questions, free-response questions, and drawing/draggable questions. In practice during a synchronous session, a teacher will share students the URL to where they can access the live slideshow. Then, instead of a teacher sharing their screen during the live synchronous session, students are viewing the live Pear Deck slideshow. As a result, the teacher on the backend of Pear Deck during the synchronous sessions can be presenting information as well as evaluating whether their students are engaged and answering the questions presented so they can assess their student’s learning. This can ensure your synchronous sessions are worthwhile in addition to provide data on student engagement as well as formative assessment data (as short quizzes can be built into your Pear Deck slides). Ultimately, by utilizing Pear Deck for your online live synchronous sessions, teachers can bolster active participation and student engagement. This will help students be more inclined to understand your directions for the content and asynchronous portions of your online class.

Summarization/Review: Summarization and review of content can be done in a multitude of ways. By summarizing and reviewing what has been covered, students can reflect and bring forth major ideas they have learned to future units of study. Additionally, teachers can review their students’ summaries and determine if there are any content gaps that must be filled through the re-teaching of content. Asynchronously, at the end of your slideshow for the unit or lesson, a link to a Google Form can be provided where students are required to summarize what they have learned. The names of the students, as well as their summaries, are recorded for the teacher to review. Or, a Google Doc or Slideshow can be posted as an assignment where students must develop their own infographic or slideshow that summarizes the major concepts discussed in the unit. Lastly, a teacher can instruct students to build a digital portfolio for the class over the course of the semester. Google Sites, WordPress, or Weebly are great website interfaces students can use to build a website that summaries their learning or skills learned in a class by allowing them to post/link student-created artifacts they have completed to demonstrate their learning. Furthermore, included in these website digital portfolios, teachers can instruct students to write a short blog post summarizing what they have learned in the unit of study. As you can see, there are a multitude of options available for teachers to instruct their students to summarize their learning. .

In a synchronous session, a teacher can employ Pear Deck and have students answer several free-response questions asking them to summarize their learning. Or, in a similar fashion, using Pear Deck or an application like PollEverywhere, teachers can pose a multiple-choice or open-ended question(s) that relate to the major themes discussed in a unit or lesson. Then, once the class is completed with answering these questions, the teacher can create breakout rooms or have a full class discussion on the questions to further dig deeper into student answers.

Metacognition. As with summary and review, metacognition is an opportunity for students to reflect on their progress and learning in a cognitively and socio-emotionally. It’s important for teachers to gauge their students’ learning through the reflection process as well as evaluate where individual students and the class are socio-emotionally; especially now during this crisis.

In practice, metacognition can take several forms. For example, a teacher can develop a survey on Google Forms (or SurveyMonkey, Formative, etc.) that allows students to answer on a weekly basis, which asks them a multitude of questions prompting them to reflect on their progress. Questions presented can ask students how much they understood the content, whether they liked how the information was presented, and how they can apply the information to real-life applications are great starters. Also, questions can ask students to select 3-5 of the most important concepts learned in the unit or lesson.

Besides a weekly survey, teachers can ask their students socio-emotional and reflection questions that require metacognition on a Google Docs and student-built slides assignment in Google Classroom (or another learning management system that may be in use). Lastly, during synchronous live sessions, interactive slides like Pear Deck can have several pre-built reflection/socio-emotional questions into its interface, which teachers can quickly add to their slideshow. Therefore, when students answer these questions, teachers have a live stream of answers to gauge where the class and individual students are socio-emotionally.

Assessment. Assessment allows teachers to determine if their students have a grasp on the content or skills taught in their class. For online learning and face to face settings. teachers can develop formative and summative assessments using Google Forms, b.socrativ, and Formative. On these platforms, teachers can use pre-built assessments on the content or build their own assessments and align them to standards. Each of these edtech tools provides teachers to ask a multitude of questions ranging from multiple-choice, free response, and drag and drop multiple choice. What’s great about these tools is that student data is created once students complete the assessments, which then can be exported to a spreadsheet. Additionally, there are data visualizations regarding the types of questions students answered correctly vs. incorrectly. By analyzing the collected data from the entire class, individual students, and question types, it allows teachers to monitor and adjust instruction and provide additional support for students, if needed. 

For writing assignments, teachers can create rubrics on Google Forms, Google Classroom, or other learning management systems such as Blackboard and Canvas to assess student learning. Rubrics on learning management systems take the rubric grades and transfer them to the grade book, which makes grading writing much more efficient in terms of the time it takes logistically to enter grades.

During synchronous live sessions, teachers can use Pear Deck to assess their student’s responses live during the session using multiple-choice or free-response questions. Teachers can view the student responses collectively as a class or for individual students. As a result, teachers can then monitor and adjust their instruction, if needed.

Weekly Lesson Plan Outline Example

Now, after seeing how various instructional strategies that can be used in a face to face setting can be used in an online classroom setting using a variety of edtech tools, it’s time to see how weekly lessons can be developed for online learning. Similarly, this template can also be employed for a blended learning model whereby the online synchronous sessions turn into face to face instruction. When viewing the template presented, teachers can utilize this template by inserting the content/skills they would like to build into the lesson outline for the week. Throughout the lesson plan template, office hours are built into two days when students are doing their work asynchronously so they can receive additional support from their teacher. 

Monday: Synchronous Sessions – Pear Deck Slides, Checking in with Students, Reviewing the Week’s Asynchronous Directions. Pear Deck slides include socio-emotional check-in questions, assignment direction review questions, and a quickwrite responding to a prompt or video prompt.

Tuesday – Wednesday: Asynchronous – Content Frontload and Interactive Discussion Board. Students will have a Google Slideshow to fill out self-guided/independently posted on the learning management system. This slideshow will include hyperlinks to documents and videos relating to the content they are learning. In various areas of the slideshow, students must provide a written response, which may include completing several graphic organizers. Once students have completed the slideshow, students will be required to participate in an online discussion board using Flipgrid. Within Flipgrid, students will be required to respond to the initial prompt and then be asked to respond to at least two to three of their classmates.

Office Hours: 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. 

Wednesday/Thursday: Asynchronous – Student Assignment; Student Created Work Product. Students will be asked to take the content they interacted with on Tuesday/Wednesday to create a student work product. This assignment can be posted in your learning management system. In these assignments, you can give your students a choice to create a work product that incorporates the content discussed during the first three days of the week.  Teachers can provide students with the assignments choices to develop their own blog post, video recording, infographic, three – five-paragraph essay/response to a prompt, etc. There are many choices teachers can choose here based on their grade level, content, and student population. This assignment can be due Sunday at midnight or Friday at midnight depending on the teacher’s preference.

Office Hours: 1:00-2:00 p.m.

Thursday/Friday – Asynchronous/Synchronous – Assessment and Review. During these days, a teacher can assess their students’ learning by posting a teacher built assessment on their learning management system that gives students a testing window to complete it during a given time period. Then, once the assessment window is closed, a synchronous live class session can take place on Friday to review the results with students as well as re-teach any concepts within the content that need to be re-taught. Another method of assessment could take place in the live synchronous session where the teacher provides various assessment questions on Pear Deck their students will answer. Based on the assessment results, the teacher can then address specific questions students need further instruction on.



Throughout this conversation, I hope you can see how we can align various instructional strategies to the edtech tools we are using in our online class we are developing. It takes some thought, but on many levels, much of what we do in our face to face classes can be transferred over to your student’s online learning. Also, I hope the week-long lesson plan outline helps you in your weekly planning. I suggest two days of synchronous live sessions that are about 30 minutes to an hour long and three asynchronous days that give your students about 2-3 hours of work. For teachers, it will require a number of hours upfront to build your weekly lesson; what’s nice is that if you can build a number of weeks ahead, you can create a schedule of creating content, working with students during live sessions, communicating with students/parents, assessing student work and assessments, and office hours (which makes this very manageable). At the end of the day, we do not want to overwhelm our students as well as ourselves with our online classes.

I hope this has helped you during your transition to online teaching. If you have any suggestions regarding what I should discuss next in my posts, please contact me on Twitter @mattrhoads 1990 or via email. I would enjoy hearing your suggestions for future posts!

Published by Matthew Rhoads, Ed.D.

Innovator, EdTech Trainer and Leader, University Lecturer & Teacher Candidate Supervisor, Consultant, Author, and Podcaster

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