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Distance Learning Tips

How can we assist you in Distance Learning? Take our survey!

Get Started:

Teachers

  1. Create a Google Classroom
  2. Record a Video
  3. Share a video with your students/parents in Google Classroom

Administrators:

  1. Identify the Learning Platform you want to use (Zoom, Google, other)
  2. Identify the devices students will be on
  3. Prepare student accounts and devices for the learning platform.
  4. Create a “how to/tip sheet” for parents and one for teachers. You can check out ours here: Distance Learning Tips for Teachers & Parents.
  5. Provide training (we are holding webinars as needed!) for teachers

Webinar Information

We currently do not have any webinars scheduled. If you would like to suggest a topic for a webinar or request that we hold another, please let us know by filling out the form below.

Previous topics include:

  • How to start a distance learning program
  • Options for recording lessons
  • Google Classroom
  • Resources for distance learning

We are happy to host webinars daily if there is continued interest. If you would like to suggest a topic for a webinar, please fill out this form.

Do's and Don'ts

Do’s

  1. Have devices available for students to take home if they don’t have access to a device at home.
  2. Have a Take-Home device agreement that parents and students sign before checking out a device.
  3. Keep meeting links the same so it is easy for parents to find them and whitelist them at a work location if necessary
  4. Record sessions and upload them to a Google Drive folder or Youtube channel shared with students and parents
  5. Provide a tip sheet for parents with login advice, general troubleshooting and ways to get support
    1. Beehively can help you customize one for your school!
  6. Share student usernames/email addresses and passwords with parents ahead of time so that they are prepared to help students login
  7. Be patient!!
  8. Reach out to your Beehively team at any time for help, advice or support :)

Don’ts

  1. Expect everything to be seamless
  2. Be afraid of video. It’s ok.

Virtual Classroom & Video Recording Platforms

We recommend that schools look at two platforms for holding virtual classes and explore the option of pre-recorded videos. There are some advantages to exploring and setting up both platforms in anticipation of a possible school closure. Your Beehively team can help you set up one or both platforms to your school. In addition, both offer free options to help support schools during this difficult time.

Keep in mind that younger students may not be able to join a video call without significant parental support. For these students, pre-recorded options and assignments based on interactive online applications may be a better solution.

  • RECOMMENDED: Pre-recorded videos with Youtube and/or Loom
    • Teachers can record short lessons and upload them as private Youtube videos.
    • These videos can be shared in Google classroom to parents and students.
    • This option provides a low-tech option. Parents (and most students) know how to access Youtube and watch videos. This means that less training is required and younger students may be able to watch these lessons on their own.
    • Record easy videos and screencasts with Loom. Unlimited accounts are free for education users.
  • Live meetings with Zoom for Education: https://zoom.us/education
    • NOT RECOMMENDED AT THIS TIME: Typical Annual License Cost - $1800
      • Up to 20 meetings at a time
      • Up to 300 participants in a meeting
      • No time limit
    • RECOMMENDED: Basic Free Account - FREE
      • Zoom is removing the time limit on FREE accounts for schools shut down due to Coronavirus
      • Request form - https://zoom.us/docs/ent/school-verification.html
      • Details on Free Accounts can be found on this page - https://zoom.us/pricing
        • Up to 100 participants (plenty for one classroom)
        • Unlimited number of meetings
      • IMPORTANT: Each teacher must use his/her school email to sign up for an account
    • Strong Support Center here - Zoom Help Center
      • Beehively/Beehively have used Zoom for our own internal meetings as well as customer meetings so we are all trained on the product and can easily assist you and your school in setting up meetings or preparing teachers
  • Video Calls with Google Hangouts Meet
    • Google is removing limitations for schools as they face shutdowns for Coronavirus through 7/1/2020- Connecting businesses and educators with advanced Hangouts Meet capabilities
      • Allowing for larger meetings up to 250 participants
      • Up to 100,000 total people streaming from your domain at once (exponentially more than a schools will need)
      • Ability to record meetings and save them in Drive

Best Place to Post Announcements and Homework

We recommend that schools use Google Classroom to post all assignments for students and to use Beehively class pages to communicate with parents. Below are some recommendations around communication.

  • Teachers should plan to email parents at the end of each day using their Beehively class page. This allows parents to receive an email and also be able to reference back to the class page to review any communications.
    • review what was assigned to students (and where to find it)
    • preview what will be discussed/reviewed the next day
    • provide the link (Google or Zoom) for the virtual class the next day
      • Try to keep this link the same
  • Teachers should be ready to see an increased number of emails from parents with questions or clarifications around assignments or lessons. Since students will be learning at home parents will be able to “watch” the lessons which brings an entirely new dynamic to teaching.
  • Make sure that all assignments posted in Google have clear instructions, examples (if appropriate) and any necessary attachments
  • Consider giving students direct access to teachers, if students can’t email teachers now discuss the option of removing this block. If teachers do not want to provide students with their email a new email could be set up for teachers just to use temporarily while school is closed.
  • Teachers should not give our personal phone numbers, make sure to keep clear boundaries around when a teacher is available and working in this remote environment.
  • Consider holding an online session 2-3 a week similar to “open office hours” where teachers are available and online and students can log on for help or to ask questions.

Google Classroom Resources

  • We know that Google Classroom is a great resource, but if you have not set up a class before, it can be daunting. To help teachers out, we have compiled some resources on how to setup and use Google Classroom.
  • The first thing to do when setting up a classroom is make sure that all of your teachers are in the "classroom teachers" group in Google Admin. Beehively can help you to do this or, you can follow the instructions here.
  • Once you are a verified teacher, check out our folder: Google Classroom Resources. If you have more questions, let us know or join one of our webinars.
  • Share this presentation with your parents to introduce them to Google Classroom. It was made by a school district, but they removed their contact information.

Free Resources

Digital Field Trips

Online programs accessible from any type of device with a browser and internet connection

  • PBS | NOVA
    • Stream free science videos!
      • American Museum of Natural History
        Grade all, history/science
        Explore museum activities, articles, and more online. Posts assignments directly to classroom.
      • Math Games
        Grade all, Maths
        Free Common core math quizzes and tests for grades PK - 8
      • Typetastic
        Grade k-5, Typing
        Fun Typing games for kids (by Typing.com) (Free and ad-free for schools). Can be used for older students if typing level is appropriate. The activities for comfort with the different locations of letters on a keyboard can be done without a keyboard on a tablet.
      • Common Lit
        Grade 3-12
        Free collection of reading passsages in literary and nonfiction genres.
      • Kahn Academy: Common Core
        Grade All
        Full lessons mathematics lessons adhering to Common Core standards K - 12
      • Code.org
        Grade All
        Free Computer science curiculum for K - 8
      • EngageNY
        Grade K-8
        Common Core English and maths worksheets for K - 8
      • Adobe Spark
        Grade 3-12, all
        Create art, videos, projects, and designs simply
      • Canva
        Grade 4-12, reports/design
        Create digital designs from templates
      • Smithsonian Learning Lab
        Grade All, All
        Digital hub of 19 museums, 9 research centers, National Zoo, and more can be used for learning.
      • Go Noodle
        Grade K-6, All
        Movement based learning programs encouraging kids to get up and exercise and move around.
      • Be Internet Awesome
        Grade 2-12, Internet
        Website/Program/Game designed to educate kids about safely browsing the internet.
      • Storybird
        Grade k-8, Writing
        Give writing prompts to students
      • epic!
        Grade tk-4, Reading
        Digital library adding more books every day. Free for teachers with online sign-up. Parents pay a monthly fee for access outside of school hours.
      • Homer
        Grade tk-2, All
        Personalized learning suite including social emotional learning. Free for teachers with online sign-up.

Things to Keep in Mind

Home Networks

Any online learning platform with video, such as Zoom or Google Meet is taxing on a network, especially a home network. Remember that you may have some students in your community that have limited internet access or very minimal speeds at home. To help maximize the experience for these students consider having them turn off their cameras and just with audio. Recording these sessions and posting them in a place that students and parents can later access will also help in case a student is dropped from a session.

Work/Public Networks

As we all know, not all children will be able to stay home with a parent and it is possible that students may end up trying to join online learning from a parent’s workplace or other public area (Starbucks, local library, etc.). Often these businesses have network restrictions set up for the safety of their users and infrastructure so students may find that programs such as Google Meet or Zoom are blocked. Recording sessions will allow students who are blocked access to go back and watch what they missed. In addition, for parents who take their children to work, having the links for the meeting ahead of time will allow them to share that information with the IT department ahead to allow for easy access.

Parent Comfort Levels

Just like with your staff, parents will have a varying level of comfort with technology. More importantly, they will not all feel comfortable with the troubleshooting that often comes with trying to join online meetings. Some common issues that occur that users are often frustrated by:

  1. Audio Issues - Depending on the device students and teachers are on audio can easily become a challenge. After confirming your computer’s volume is up, the best recommendation for someone with audio trouble is to log out and back into the meeting. Parents may have to try a few times before they see success, which can be frustrating and cause parents to give up. It is also helpful to share with parents how they can chat with the teacher in a session to communicate they are having audio issues.
  2. Video Issues - Video can be taxing on a network and can cause connection issues. For any parent/student having trouble with video the recommendation should be to shut it off, this usually resolves connectivity issues.
  3. Understanding the Product - Users can often struggle with understanding how to mute/unmute themselves, see a link posted in chat or screenshare. If time allows, teachers could consider allowing groups of students to go to another room and practice using the features such as mute, chat, screenshare, before the school is closed.
  4. Software Issues - Each of these products have their own unique requirements, and while they will work on a wide variety of devices, keeping the devices students are on standardized and having a simple “How to Log In'' sheet will help. For example, Google Meet doesn’t work on Safari and Zoom requires an application on Chromebooks. Set students and parents up for success by sharing these tips in advance.

Access to Technology

While most students today have access to one or more devices at home, standardization is going to be important to the success of your online, distance learning. If possible, send all students home with a school-issued device that is the same (or at least the same among grade levels) so that teachers know what students are on and can help troubleshoot if needed.

  1. One challenge to this approach to consider ahead of time is that most schools store devices in a charging cart. These carts will need to have all the chargers removed so each student can take a charger home. This activity can easily take an hour or more per cart, as the chargers are often strung through the cart and zip-tied in the back. In addition, over time they become entangled. Make sure not to try and have students just “grab a charger from the cart” as they walk out of class, instead provide plenty of time.
  2. Make sure that any students taking devices home have a signed technology agreement on file with the school that goes through the acceptable use of school devices and expected standards of care. These agreements should be signed by both the student and at least one parent.