Hybrid & Remote Tools for Teachers

Although this page is aimed primarily at teachers, ensuring they know the core tools readily available, the information will likely be of use to parents who might be assisting their children in completing assignments as well.

The information below is not meant to be exhaustive. There are other websites and services out there. If you're already using something else with your students and it's working well and will naturally adapt to remote teaching, great, keep using it. But if you haven't done much in the way of digital delivery, the services listed below will give you a good start.

Your Hub

It's a good idea to have a centralized spot where students know they can find all important announcements, assignments, materials and other lesson information. There are many options out there. The two most widely used in our district are Google Classroom and Google Sites. One of the major benefits of these being that both are part of our district G Suite accounts, so you and your students can use them without additional accounts being necessary.

Either of these two could be used as your hub. Alternatively, some people use both, in conjunction with one another.

Google Classroom

Classroom is, in many ways, perfect for remote teaching. When you open a class, the first thing you and your students see is the Stream. Here you can post announcements and your students can see when you have put new materials or assignments up. The next tab is "Classwork," and here you can post assignments, collect them, grade them, and return them.

There is also a Google Classroom app available for all smartphones. As the teacher of a class, one of the things that app is great for is that you can record a video from your phone and instantly post it in Classroom. So if you needed to quickly clarify something, or make an announcement, rather than going through the steps of making a screencast and uploading it, you can just do it from the app.

Pro tip: When attaching a Google doc to an assignment, make sure you choose the option to "Make a copy for each student." This is the only way that students who do not have internet access at home will be able to open it ahead of time and then continue to work with it offline.

Pro tip: Students without reliable internet access at home need to open the Google docs you include in an assignment while they are somewhere with wi-fi access. As long as they have offline mode enabled, doing so saves the document to the hard drive on their Chromebook. That way they can work on it without internet access, and it will sync with the cloud as soon as their Chromebook is back on a wi-fi network.

Where is it?

You can go to classroom.google.com, or click on the "waffle" (3x3 grid) in the upper right of any Google page and then click on the Classroom icon.

How do we access it?

You and your students already have access through your G Suite account.

Google Sites

One thing that Classroom doesn't do so well is give you a class "file cabinet." What I mean by that is a place to store handouts, videos, etc., that students might need to refer to more often than just for a given assignment. I mentioned above that some people use both Classroom and Sites. They post announcements and assignments in Classroom, but use their Site as a vessel to hold materials and resources that are used repeatedly, or year after year. So in Classroom, your announcement or assignment might point them to your Site, with a hyperlink, and there they may be able to access the materials they'll need.

If you've never used Google Sites and aren't sure what a Google site looks like, you're looking at one right now. They're very easy to create, and you end up with something that looks decent.

Where is it?

Sites works completely from within Google Drive. To start a new site, just click on the "New" button in the upper left of Drive, move your mouse to "More," and then click on "Google Sites" in the new menu that slides out.

How do we access it?

You and your students already have access through your G Suite account.

Video Conferencing & Appointment Slots

For some things, there is no substitute for a conversation. We may not be able to be in the same room, but we can actually speak face-to-digital-face with a video call.

Google Meet

I like Meet quite a lot. It has a very easy to use interface, which is streamlined; there isn't a lot of clutter or options and tools that you don't need. It also gives you some versatility.

Please note: Hangouts (hangouts.google.com) and Meet (meet.google.com) are two different things. Students can join you in a Google Meet video call. Students do not have access to Google Hangouts.

Video Calls

There are a couple of ways you can start a meeting and get students to join. Watch the first video below demonstrates using Google Calendar to create an event with Google Meet built in, and how to go to Meet and start a session and then add participants.

In addition, Google Classroom now has the feature of offering you a static (unchanging) Meet code. If you choose to enable that, you and your students will see the link to the class Meet at the top of the Stream.

Note: students can join a meeting set up by a staff member, but they cannot start one themselves. If a student attempts to enter the Meet from Google Classroom and no staff member is already in that Meet, they will see this:

Pro tip: when you're finished talking with your students, either wait for them to disconnect, or click on the symbol on the top right that shows how many people are in the meeting. Then click the button on the far right of each student's name to remove them from the meeting.

Where is it?

meet.google.com

Or you can click on the "waffle," and find it there. In addition, you can also schedule Meets (calls or live streams) ahead of time within Google Calendar.

How do I access it?

It is included in your G Suite account, so no other login needed.

Appointment Slots in Google Calendar

With the switch to hybrid and remote learning, many meetings and things like parent conferences are no longer being held in person. You can use the built-in feature in Google Calendar to set up appointment slots that people can sign up for. I am including this in the section on video conferencing because after a person has signed up for a slot, you will see this appointment in your calendar. You can then edit that appointment, and click the blue button to add Google Meet video conferencing.

Note: whoever your audience is for signing up for appointment slots must have a Google Calendar account. They will not even be able to see the slots available without first signing into their Google Calendar account.

Note: you will click the edit button on each individual appointment after it has been added to your calendar and then click the button to add a Google Meet link. When you save, it will ask if you want to send an invite to the other person, and you will click 'yes.'

Video Tools

If you've ever found yourself going to YouTube to watch a video because the written directions that came with your new whatever seem incomprehensible, you already know how many students will feel if you just put out written directions or instruction. Using video to explain a concept, or directions for an assignment, can be extremely helpful.

There are multiple ways you can record yourself that are easy to use, and a few of them are listed below. First, a piece of advice for those of you who are hesitant to record yourself because you "don't like the way you sound," or look, or whatever: get over it. You're doing this for the benefit of your students, which is the most important thing. Furthermore, that's the way you look and sound, we're used to it.

Screencastify

This is recording the screen of your computer while simultaneously recording your voice and/or video from your webcam. Screencasting can be extremely useful as an instructional tool. You can do things like open up a Google Slides presentation and record yourself going through it. This can be a stand-in for the type of direct instruction you might normally do in class. You could also show them a website you want them to use, or talk through the instructions for a Google Classroom assignment.

Where is it?

When you're ready to create a video, you just click the icon for it to the right of the address bar and go through the short steps to set it up. After you're done, your finished video will be saved to a folder in your Google Drive. So from there you can post it in Classroom or embed it in your Google Site.

How do we access it?

Click here to go to the Chrome Web Store page for the extension, and click the button that says "Add to Chrome." You'll be asked to give it permission to access your Drive. That's so when you record a video it can be saved directly there.


YouTube

Videos that you record using Screencastify can be used from within Drive, as noted above. Another option is to take those videos, or any other that you record in other ways, and upload them to your YouTube channel.

One advantage of this is the ability to organize multiple videos into playlists. You can then assign or share playlists with your students.

The other advantage, of course, is having access to countless videos created by other people. If you're looking to teach or remediate content, you might want to take a quick look to see what's already available.

For more information on how to use YouTube as an educator, as well as some great channels to get you started, check out this back issue of the MCSD Ed Tech Review.

Pro tip: When you're on the YouTube site, logged into your school YouTube account, and looking at a video you want your students to watch, you'll see a blue bar under the video that tells you whether it is approved for maloneschools.org. If it isn't, as a teacher, you can click the approve button to make sure your students will be able to open it and view it.

Where is it?

youtube.com

How do we access it?

YouTube is owned by Google, so you can use your G Suite account here as well. The first time you do this, if you're looking to upload your own videos, you will need to go through a few steps to set up your channel. The other thing you might need to do is verify your account. This will happen if you try to upload a video past a certain length. The verification process is basically instant. It just involves their system texting you a code.

Please note that due to federal privacy laws, students do not have the ability to create a channel and upload videos to their school account.

EDpuzzle

This site lets you take any video on YouTube and turn it into an interactive lesson by adding voice notes and questions (multiple-choice or written). As an added bonus, when creating your assignments, you can make it so students can't skip ahead in videos, though they can go back and re-watch portions.

Remember, when I say any video on YouTube, that would include videos that you have uploaded. So while you could use any of the great content that already exists on YouTube, you could record a short piece of direct instruction, and use that, adding questions for the students to answer in order to check for understanding.

Our district licenses the premium version, so you also have access to a large library of pre-made lessons and materials.

Where is it?

edpuzzle.com

How do we access it?

You'll just go to the site, click the button to log in, tell it you're a teacher, and then click the button to sign in with your Google account. The benefit of doing it that way, besides not having another account to remember, is that if you're using Google Classroom, you can import your class from there with the click of a button. This will also allow you to build your activity in EDpuzzle and then push it out to Classroom as an assignment without leaving the site.

If you're posting your assignments to Classroom, the link there will take students directly to the site. They'll log in using their Google account as well, which is really easy when you're on a Chromebook.

The video below gives you a quick overview. For more in depth information, check out this YouTube playlist put together by EDpuzzle specifically aimed at helping teachers with remote learning.

Checking for Student Progress and Understanding

Even though you won't be giving traditional tests or quizzes during this period of remote teaching, you will probably still want to get a feel for what and how well your students are learning. There are a number of tools you can use.

If you went through all of the tools above, you already saw a couple that combine content delivery with an assessment component, such as EDpuzzle. The ones below are more strictly focused on just assessment.

Google Forms

Created and stored within Google Drive, forms are a very easy way to deliver self-grading (at least the objective portions) assessments. You also have the option of creating a Google Forms quiz from right inside the classwork tab in Google Classroom, which makes the process even easier.

In order for students to take an assessment in Forms, they must have an active internet connection. They cannot be done offline.

Pro tip: If you make a long-ish assessment, make sure students know that they cannot start it and then come back to it at a later date. If they close the forms tab without clicking the submit button first, all of their work to that point is gone and they'll be starting over.

Pro tip: If your subject involves math, the EquatIO extension that the district pays for works within Forms. Look for the blue icon while you're writing an assessment and click on it to insert math. Students can do the same thing in writtin response questions; clicking the blue icon will let them insert math.

Where is it?

Google Drive, or you can create them in Google Classroom

How do I access it?

It's part of your G Suite account.