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Tools for Starting Distance Learning Off Strong

  • by Kelly Harmon
  • Aug. 3, 2020, 1:01 p.m.

Written by Kelly Harmon

With many school systems starting off the fall semester with virtual learning, we wanted to provide you with ideas for making virtual learning smooth and interactive!


Setting Your Norms First

It is important to set your expectations or norms with students (and parents) first! Let students know what behavior and interaction is expected at the first meeting by Introducing yourself and your classroom norms. Hold a discussion about each norm you set. And be consistent! Students need consistency and structure.


Create a Class YouTube Channel

With a Google Account, you can watch and like videos and subscribe to channels. However, without a YouTube channel, you have no public presence on YouTube. Even if you have a Google Account, you need to create a YouTube channel to upload videos, comment, or make playlists. You can use a computer or the YouTube mobile site to create a new channel. You can add videos for students to watch before a lesson to build content knowledge or add videos if students want extension to the learning. Learn more about how to create a Youtube channel here.

Virtual Book Talks (or Book Hooks)

This year, teachers can start the year off by doing a book talk each time they meet. A book talk is a book advertisement. Think of the TV show Reading Rainbow and the book ads that they featured at the end of the show. Start the year off by showcasing your favorite books as a child. This is to get student interested in reading! You can then send students the YouTube link the book being read aloud or a link to an E Library, such as Tumble books.


Students can then take over and each week students can take turns sharing their own book talks and giving us a glimpse into their reading lives.


Shout Outs 

I love the ideas of having students sharing shoutouts to each other this year! Give students an opportunity to share a positive bit about each other. This will take some modeling by you the teacher at first but then student can take over with sharing shoutouts at the end of each virtual (or in person) day. Using a chatroom to share is an easy way or students can use Flip Grid to make videos for their classmates. 












Kelly Harmon and Randi Anderson

About The Authors

Kelly Harmon & Associates began in 2001 with a mission of instructional coaching and providing rich literacy resources for educators and parents. Our work incorporates research-based best practices for teaching and learning.

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