Friday, June 19, 2020

Tips for Hosting A Virtual Watch Party

Innovative educators know that it can be powerful to host a watch party with students or colleagues. However just as you would never just play a video and walk away in the classroom, the same is true when hosting a virtual watch party.  To follow are some ways to ensure your watch party is a success.

Send Out an Invitation

Invite folks to your watch party and have a way for them to rsvp.  This may be a calendar invite in Microsoft Outlook or a scheduled assignment with a time in Google Classroom. Include watch party details which should indicate:

  • Day/date/time of event
    • Include both the pre-party time as well as the time for the event itself
  • Appropriate Links
    • Relevant website
    • Where to join the party
  • Cheering message to encourage everyone to join--C’mon! It’ll be a Blast!


Plan to start your party at least 15 minutes prior to when the watching will begin. This is when there will be a pre-party. This gives folks time to get in, get settled, and socialize. Have fun or inspirational music playing when folks enter to set the positive tone 

Go over features in your chosen platform. Show participants how to do the following:

  • Respond to a poll
  • React to comments
  • Mute / Unmute
  • Chat

During the Party

Make the experience fun, interactive and meaningful. Have polls and prompts for participants to reflect. Use the chat to discuss poll results and what you plan to share in reflections. Encourage participants to use reactions in response to what they are hearing. When there is a break, encourage participants to unmute their mics and share.

Use the frame, focus, follow up technique If you know what is happening in advance, you can use the frame, focus, and follow up technique developed by the EDC's Center for Children and Technology.  It includes the following elements:

  • Frame the video by letting viewers know what they are about to see.
  • Focus by letting viewers know guiding questions to focus on.
  • Follow up by letting viewers respond to those questions either via discussion board or in a video conference.

After Party

Encourage participants to grab a bite, a beverage, and/or take a bio break. Get that music back out.  Have some conversation prompts for participants to discuss. Here are some ideas:

  • A-ha’s!
    • An insight or learning about what was said 
    • Something that you will be processing
    • Something that resonated with you
  • Appreciations
    • Something you appreciated about what they said
    • Something that mattered to you
    • Something you are grateful for about what was said
  • Action
    • Name a specific action you are committing to 
Your Turn
What do you think? Are any of these tips ones you incorporate into video viewing with the students or staff you work with? Are there any you might want to try? Is there something you do that's missing from these tips?

Sunday, June 7, 2020

5 Tools for Virtual Yearbook Signing - All Free!

Virtual yearbook signing provides a great way for students to have those they care about from near and far share kind, inspiring, and important memories that marked their year. There are several ways to create a way to sign a personalized virtual yearbook.  

Google Slides

Use Google Slides for yearbook signing. Here's a sample of what that can look like. 

Google Docs

Google Docs provides a simple way to collect yearbook signatures and thoughts.  High school senior Adam Cantu explains how in the video below.


Flipgrid is a great way for students to collect thoughts and memories from friends, teachers, and family. The video below shows how.



Watch the video below to see how you can create a personal yearbook using Padlet. If you don't want to pay for a Padlet subscription, Linoit is a free alternative.  Want to see what it could look like? Here is real board from a high school.

Your turn

Might you use any of these ideas with your students? Are you doing something not listed here? Please share in the comments if you are.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Norms in the Online Classroom

Teaching students online is different than teaching face-to-face. Below are some norms to discuss with students that support effective classroom behavior.
  • What is appropriate attire?
  • How do you ask a question?
  • How do you give feedback?
  • When do you mute / unmute?
  • What are protocols to ensure we're not interrupting?
  • How do we make sure all voices are heard?
  • When do you use the chat?
  • When do you use backgrounds?
  • When do you use a camera?
  • What do students do when classes are recorded?
    • i.e. video, mute
Your turn
Have you developed some of these norms with your students? What's missing?

Friday, June 5, 2020

FREE Blended & #RemoteLearning Student Facing Activities from Teaching Matters

Teaching Matters has developed new student-facing activities for schools.  They contain topic-specific content, content to support ENL, and other specific needs.  Resources are developed as follows:

  • They are searchable, and filterable by teacher needs i.e. culturally responsive-sustaining education, English as a new Language, individualized education plan supports.
  • They are project/task specific.  These aren't 1-day activities, usually they are 5-10 days culminating in a project. 
  • They are flexible and adaptable (and always free).  Teachers own the activities, can edit and revise the content and assessments and can share or use them on any platform.

Teaching Matters is adding about 10 projects a day through June and the summer.  It is a great repository for summer school. It is also a repository for teachers to use as models as they continue their transition in blended instruction into next year.