How to Teach Great Middle and High School Classes Virtually
Touro’s Dr. Stuart Klammer Explains How to Use Excellent Teaching Techniques in an Online Classroom
Dr. Stuart Klammer, professor of Jewish Education at Touro Graduate School of Jewish Studies and dean of Touro College Israel, is a leading expert in education. A former teacher and principal, Dr. Klammer has developed recommendations for achieving excellence in virtual teaching to help educators adapt to the realities of the COVID pandemic. “There are three key elements of excellent teaching that every educator needs to include, whether in person or online. They are: checking for understanding, goal setting, and skillful use of multimedia,” he said. Dr. Klammer offers advice for incorporating these elements into virtual classrooms.
Check for understanding virtually
In classrooms, teachers check in with students throughout the lesson to make sure they understand the content. They provide feedback and offer additional information or challenges for students. Online this is even more important since it is more difficult to “read the room”. Teachers can ask students for a virtual “thumbs up” to check whether they understand a concept. Frequent low-stakes quizzes are also helpful to gauge understanding. Several online platforms make it easy to administer regular quizzes.
Set clear, unambiguous goals
Goals should be stated clearly in the syllabus or course outline and made available to everyone in the class. Teachers should refer to goals periodically during the classes. They can be included in PowerPoint presentations. Every assignment should be linked to a goal so students understand its purpose.
Use multimedia skillfully
Multimedia experiences engage students in traditional classrooms. It is actually easier to do this in a virtual classroom than a real one—there is no need to set up projects or screens or turn computers on and off. Software can be loaded in advance; teachers can share programs quickly and students can easily interact on their own computers. Dr. Klammer recommends several ways teachers can use multimedia to make classes engaging and effective.
- Show short video clips to grab student attention. Videos should be no more than 3 to 5 minutes long.
- Use online photos and graphics to illustrate a point. It is easy to do a quick Google search to find the right image to share in the middle of a class.
- Try a multiple-choice voting program such as Kahoots to review material by engaging students’ sense of fun and competition.
- Use programs like Quizlet to create digital flashcards that make reviewing information easier.
Switching from in-person to online teaching is a challenging endeavor, and the many teachers who have done so successfully deserve our support and appreciation. Their commitment to students shines through online as it did in person.