Solutions for the concurrent classroom

November 10, 2020 / By

Schools and districts are grappling with the very challenging learning scenarios the pandemic has created. One of the most challenging environments teachers are being asked to teach in are concurrent or “hyflex” classrooms. The name suggests hybrid or a high-flexibility approach, but ironically it’s not as easy as the name connotes. 

In this environment, teachers are responsible for simultaneously teaching students in-person, in a brick and mortar classroom and remotely online. I want to acknowledge the extremely tough situation this is and also offer some support and ideas for teaching in a concurrent classroom using a mixture of asynchronous and synchronous learning structures. 

Prerecorded instructional video

Attempting to explain a concept or model a math problem presents a challenge while doing both in-person and online. The online students feel disadvantaged while not being able to have equal access to the teacher. To ensure both in-person and online students receive equitable instruction, consider creating an instructional video that would be viewed by all students outside of the synchronous classroom setting. By creating an instructional video, you’re able to create equal opportunities for both in-person and online students to engage. Additionally, instructional videos work well if you’re doing a flipped classroom model. 

By recording the direct asynchronous instruction portion for students to watch prior to the synchronous meeting (online or in-person) teachers are better able to provide equitable experiences for students as they are all receiving the same content in the same manner.  This also allows teachers to focus synchronous time (in-person or online), on SEL connection, application of concepts, creativity time, and collaboration in small groups. 

Some Tips for Creating Instructional Videos:

  • Don’t plan the videos as whole replacements for traditional lessons. The final instructional video for a concept should be 6 to 9 minutes long (concise, interactive, comprehensive and impactful). 
  • Focus on skills and concepts and how you want students to engage (instructional strategies: questioning, cooperative learning, creation of products, etc.).
  • Always include a personal touch, like a greeting or gesture you and your students share. 

This is an opportunity for you and your students to learn, grow, and have fun together! For more tips on instructional videos, check out 5 tips to help you create an instructional video. 

Collaboration

Collaboration can and should occur in online or in-person environments. If you have students working in-person they can be concurrently collaborating with students at home using WeVideo, Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Meet, etc. The key is to ensure collaborative environments have some guidance from the teacher. Students need plenty of autonomy, but that autonomy works best if you’ve provided clear instructions on the task, an interesting problem to solve, or question prompts that allow for multiple solutions. 

New feature: Collaborate and edit in real time

Student Products

If teaching in a concurrent classroom, it will be challenging for students at home to hear what students are saying in the classroom and vice versa. Additionally, students engage more when they’re able to see visual representations of their peers’ responses. Video creations are effective for short responses or for larger student presentations and are effective even in a traditional in-person classroom setting. Videos can be posted in Google Drive or Google Classroom, and students are given a timeframe of when videos should be viewed. Teachers should provide rubrics for students to peer review their videos and provide a clear structure for how feedback will be given. 

Think Alouds and Read Alouds

Think Alouds and Read Alouds can be quite engaging for asynchronous instruction because it provides more time for students to reflect on problems we’re solving or the text we’re reading. It also provides flexibility for the student as they get to choose when they’re ready to interact, and because they can go back and listen to parts of the video as many times as they want. 

When thinking aloud, it’s helpful for students to see representations. Conduct a screen record right from the WeVideo platform. Then open up Google Jamboard and model a math problem or create a concept map around a new vocabulary word. When you’re finished the recording is automatically inserted into your instructional video. 

Think alouds allow you to integrate research-based strategies (like KWLs, questioning, close reading, Frayer models,  reasoning through math problems, etc.) right into your instructional video, allowing all students to engage asynchronously no matter if you’re concurrent, online, or in-person. 

When recording reading aloud, make sure you pause often, thinking aloud or asking questions. Tell your students to pause or insert 30 seconds of soft music into the video. 

Example prompts:

  • I think this about the story so far…
  • This story reminds me of…
  • I need more information about…
  • I reread that part because…
  • The author is writing about this because…
  • I was confused by…
  • I think the most interesting part is… because…
  • That is interesting because…
  • I wonder why…
  • I just thought of…

Feedback, SEL, and  Assessment

Videos provide students with solutions as they communicate with teachers about how they’re feeling and about how they’re progressing in their learning. This allows students in the concurrent classroom equal opportunities to demonstrate learning.  Students might record themselves reading a passage to you, or they might want to create their own podcasts. They could record a science experiment and insert their conclusions in the video using creative digital media. Here are some additional ideas on student-created projects. 

For more resources, check out Remote and Blended Learning with WeVideo

Remote and Blended Learning is challenging enough, but concurrent learning brings in a whole new level of challenges. I hope these ideas will support you in reaching all of your students and will spawn some additional ways you create on your own of how we can use asynchronous learning (recorded videos) in tandem with meaningful synchronous connections. 

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