Organizing a Week of Teaching

Link to a Word Document with a Module Template Creation Guide.

When you design your course, we recommend that your content be “chunked” into discrete, manageable units of learning. Whatever you decide to call it – a module, session, unit, or section, the most important thing to remember is to present materials to your students in a meaningful and helpful way. Treat it as a “learning guide” to help students make connections with what they are studying to their future endeavors by writing narrative pieces that include important and worthwhile instructions/ references.

One way to do this is to follow a weekly format that aims for each weeks’ layout to be similar, and predictable. A recommended format for a week is to provide the following:

Teaching Notes

This is a private section to leave notes for yourself (or other instructors) to guide you through facilitating the specific week. It can range from reminders to make a special announcement for an assignment that is outside a regularly scheduled deadline to a script with PPT slides to make a needed video or lecture presentation. While this section will not be seen by the students, we consider it important to include this section to help you keep track of facilitating notes and potential pitfalls to avoid.

Overview

The Overview section begins with a 1-2 short paragraph narrative, which provides the context or “glue” for the module’s content and learning activities. Speak directly to the students and include information that frames the content in your voice and with your perspective on the content. Include any critical information that may have been traditionally delivered orally in the face-to-face classroom. This might include illustrative stories or examples, challenges students may encounter with key concepts, typical misconceptions, an overview of the module’s activities, and so on.  If this section becomes too lengthy, you might also elect to include specific portions within the context of the rest of the module sections.

Weekly Learning Outcomes/Objectives

Unit-level objectives that describe what students should be able to do by the end of this specific week.

After completion of this week’s activities, you should be able to:

  • Identify….
  • Analyze…
  • Please refer to the Bloom’s taxonomy list for other learning verbs.

These weekly objectives should draw a clear connecting line to the overall course learning outcomes.

Required (& Recommended) Readings and Resources

Elaborate on the information provided in the Syllabus by explaining why, how, and in what order students should work through the resource materials. For example, if you include a YouTube video as a course resource, briefly explain your rationale for selecting that particular video, information students should pay close attention, etc.

Instructional Materials

This section can be excluded if all your instructional materials for the week is in the Readings and Resources section. If you want to call special attention to something specific, you can have it here as a separate section. In a typical synchronous delivery modality, your content may be given as an interactive lecture, balancing passive and active learning. HyFlex and Hybrid courses include both online and in-class delivery simultaneously, strategies for content delivery will necessarily incorporate various educational frameworks and technologies. One strategy is taking the Flipped Classroom approach. Do not simply repeat the information students already encountered in the readings and resources. Focus on:

  • Expanding their understanding by providing important background information
  • Clarifying important concepts by explaining them in a new way
  • Connecting new information to previously learned concepts
  • Providing real-life examples
  • Prompting students to connect content with their lived experiences

Learning Activities/Assignments

This section provides students with opportunities to interact with content, peers, and the instructor. Now that students have worked through the reference and instructional materials, what will they DO? Activities should be relevant, preparing students for success in their evaluated coursework and in their future professions. Activities may be completed by individuals, small groups, or the entire class. They may include personal reflection, class discussion, concept mapping, case study, simulation, educational games, interviews, as well as evaluated course components such as assignments and quizzes.

This section should be used for anything that is graded. The format for assignment activities you choose to implement in your course should be consistent so that students do not get confused. This consistency will allow students to focus on the content and activities rather than the format or the need to search for extra details.  For each learning activity/assignment, you will need to provide clear instruction for interactivity, submission, and criteria for assessment. This may be stated in your syllabus, but it is good practice to repeat details here.

See the following example for a discussion activity.

Activity Type (Discussion): (Include a descriptive name for activity)

Use the space to describe activity/assignment. This includes:

  • Context for assignment and how assignment relates to reading, other course activities, and/or objective(s).
  • Details about how to perform the assignment
  • Link or reference to assessment criteria or rubric
  • Information about where to submit and if and how to respond to classmates
  • When the assignment is due.

Include due dates. for example, for a discussion activity, you will want to provide:

  • Post your initial thoughts to the discussion board by day of week at Noon.
  • Respond to at least two of your peers by some other day later in the week at Noon.

Provide a rubric or assessment details:

  • This activity will be graded out X points, following this breakdown….

Repeat instruction set for as many activities/assignments you plan for the week.

Checklist for the Week

Provide a list summarizing the important due dates for the week. For example,

  • Post-initial thoughts to the discussion by Thursday
  • Post your field observation to the blog by Thursday
  • Post responses to at least two of your colleagues’ discussion posts by Sunday
  • Post comments on at least two of your classmates’ blog post by Sunday.

Link to a Word Document with a Module Template Creation Guide.

HyFlex Teaching Tips – Quick Technology Checklist

A few things to keep in mind when teaching using the HyFlex Media cart

Lesley Account and Login Credentials

Before everything else, you need to remember your Lesley username/password and have your multi-factor authentication device accessible.

HyFlex Cart

  • Whenever possible, reboot the HyFlex Media Cart in the classroom.
    • If the HyFlex Media Cart is already off when you enter your classroom, just turn it on and you should be good to go.
    • If the HyFlex Media Cart is on and logged in when you enter your classroom, please restart it following the directions (pdf).
  • When your class is over, please remember to shut down the HyFlex Media Cart before leaving.
  • You can move the cart, but it is limited to the tether attached to the cart.
    • Be careful to avoid rolling over any wires and cables.
    • The cart is heavy, please take care not to harm yourself or others.

Personal Computer/Laptop

  • If possible, reboot your personal computer/laptop before starting your teaching session.
    • There are many benefits of restarting your computer and sometimes, that is all it needs to take to fix many issues, for example, connectivity, memory, and other performance issues.
  • Connect to Lesley’s primary wireless network, Eduroam.
  • If you join the Zoom meeting from your personal computer, in addition to the HyFlex Cart, please remember to mute your microphone and silence your computer’s audio.

Online Meeting Space

  • Encourage everyone to test their microphone, web camera and speakers prior to or at the start of every virtual session.
    • If you’re able to, try to set up your classroom a few minutes early.
    • Remember to think about your background in the video. If you or your students are not in an environment that can be shared, try using a virtual background.
    • Remind your students to not sit directly in front, behind, or below a bright light source. Experiment with moving lamps and the camera until you can see your face brightly lit on screen. Covering a bright window or moving to another location may help.
  • Try to have your students attend your class meetings in a quiet, indoor location to control ambient noise.
    • If they’re unable to attend from a quiet location, ask them to mute microphone before joining the class meeting. You will be able to ask them to unmute when they need to speak.
    • If possible, have your students use a headset with headphones and a microphone for best quality audio.

Ways to Use “The Chat” in Person

As we transition back to traditional classrooms, we may find we’re missing the advantages the chat feature gave us while meeting virtually through an online meeting tool.

Adapting a few online chat activities, Chad Littlefield, Co-founder & Chief Experience Officer of We and Me, shares 3 Clever Ways To Use “The Chat” In Person” via YouTube.

His first way is to promote passing of notes. You will need to prepare a stack of note cards or a pad of paper. Strategically design pauses when teaching the content to have students write down a quick response to what has been said. Then pass those notes around with each other. Some advantages he mentions is that you make sure that everybody’s perspective is included, it is introvert-friendly, you exchange a lot of ideas quickly, and it is a fun, kinesthetic activity. (Tae-Jin’s bonus thought – you can collect and collate the notes for later use.)

Second Idea is to “popcorn” aha moments. Similar to the idea of passing notes, but instead of writing down and passing around responses, just quickly share out-loud to the whole group. The idea is to get lots of voices out quickly, ideally, within 2-3 minutes of sharing. (Tae-Jin’s bonus thought – do not be afraid of silence, and do not be discouraged if it doesn’t go as planned the first few times you try this type of activity. There is a learning curve for this type of response that everyone needs to overcome to become comfortable with speaking out.)

And finally, a twist on the Pair-Share activity. After doing the pair-share activity we’re familiar with, rather than sharing out what you said, have people share out what they heard someone else said. One advantage of this twist is that it promotes reflective listening and rewards your groups for listening.

What is the HyFlex Model?

“A Hybrid-Flexible (HyFlex) course design enables a flexible participation policy for students, whereby students may choose to attend face-to-face synchronous class sessions in-person (typically in a traditional classroom) or complete course learning activities online without physically attending class. Some HyFlex courses allow for further choice in the online delivery mode, allowing both synchronous and asynchronous participation.” (Beatty, 2019) 

Fundamental Values in Hybrid-Flexible Design 

  1. Learner Choice: Provide meaningful alternative participation modes and enable students to choose between participation modes daily, weekly, or topically. 
  2. Equivalency: Provide learning activities in all participation modes which lead to equivalent learning outcomes.
  3. Reusability: Utilize artifacts from learning activities in each participation mode as “learning objects’ for all students.
  4. Accessibility: Equip students with technology skills and equitable access to all participation modes.      

For more information on HyFlex course design, please refer to Brian Beatty’s ebook, Hybrid-Flexible Course Design. 

How does HyFlex differ from Hybrid Teaching? 

A hybrid course delivers instruction and learning activities both in-person and online, but not simultaneously. Hybrid courses should take advantage of the best features from both face-to-face and online learning, creating the “best of both worlds” within a single course.  

In a HyFlex course, instruction and learning activities occur together in-person and online, in real-time. “The HyFlex approach provides students autonomy, flexibility, and seamless engagement, no matter where, how, or when they engage in the course. Central to this model is the principle that the learning is equivalent, regardless of the mode.” (EduCAUSE). 

 

Community Conversations: Using Class Time Strategically

On Tuesday, January 19, 2021, we held the first in a series of monthly roundtable discussions called, Community Conversations. We’re planning to host these faculty-led discussions on various teaching and learning topics throughout the Spring 2021 semester.

The topic of our first conversation, “Using Class Time Strategically,” was led by Jo-Anne Hart, Sue Cusack, Susan Patterson, and Diana Direiter. We had over 60 faculty join us throughout the hour, sharing their remote teaching and learning experiences.

Reflecting on your Course Materials

Jo-Anne started the conversation by sharing some questions she uses to help identify course elements to balance and boost the effectiveness of meeting synchronously and asynchronously. She reminded us that there is no clear-cut answer for every situation – No One Size Fits All.

Some example questions included:

  1. At what points in my material are student interaction and community most important to successful student learning in my specific class?
  2. Where it my material can I start something offline, in discussion-type mode, and pick it up in live session? Or vice versa?
  3. Where in my material is it key for students to engage with each other?

Co-Building Community Norms

Sue reminded us that “unstated norms in a virtual classroom will evolve, for better or worse.” (Fisher, Frey & Hattie, 2021) Start your course’s sense of community by having everyone collaborate to build out stated norms. She shared a few questions from Fisher, Frey and Hattie to help set the stage:

  • What habits and dispositions are needed to be successful learners? ​
  • What should they learn about themselves as learners? ​
  • How should they interact with you and others to maintain learning conditions? ​
  • What should they do with their learning? ​

She then asked the group, “What guidelines or norms do you think are important?” Here are a few of the responses:

  • Listening to others​
  • Lean In/ Lean out idea​
  • Be present…Defining what it means to “be present”
  • Careful not to interrupt​
  • Using proper pronouns
  • Practice Active Listening
  • Set rules for positive, constructive feedback
  • Establish guidelines for respect for differing opinions
  • Quick feedback

Five Steps to Stay Focused

Susan shared a teaching strategy that is akin to working out with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): Five Steps to Stay Focused When Teaching Online: Try Balancing High Intensity Activity with Periods of Recovery, from Ringal, Tarallo, & Green (Harvard Business Publishing, May 13, 2020). When  you plan a class meeting, treat it like a HIIT workout. For example, “if you have an hour of class time, think of ways to break it up into intervals of presentation, participation, reflection, and individual silent work and study with the educator on hand to answer any questions that arise.”

Susan shared an example of how she breaks up her 90 minute civics course into intervals of activity: agenda and welcome (rest), check in (warm up), introduction to the project (moderate), brainstorming (intense), stretch break (rest), report out ideas (moderate), breakout groups for discussion (intense), short discussion and Q&A (moderate), and an exit ticket (cool down).

Example of Susan's 90-minute civics class, broken into intervals of rest, warm up and cool down activities, moderate activity, and intense activity.

Example of Susan’s 90-minute civics class, broken into intervals of rest, warm up activity, moderate activity, intense activity, and a cool down activity.

Connecting Synchronous and Asynchronous Coursework

Diana shared some strategies for connecting synchronous and asynchronous coursework. Her key points were maintaining balance, connecting to the materials, and connecting to one another. She summed up these points with the three R’s from Katz and Jordon (2020):

Rhythm: Spread out the sync and async sessions.
Routine: Build consistency for the class, not the delivery.
Relationship: Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Community Discussion

The short presentations sparked a lot of interest from the participants and led to some great questions and discussion.

One participant asked Susan about the Mood Meter she mentioned as a way of quickly taking the current temperature of the class. Susan shared her favorite Mood Meter, but suggested doing a Google search to find one that would might work best for your class.

Another question that sparked a lot of interest was, “Is it better to record lectures ahead of time rather than deliver them live?” Opinions differed. Some faculty stated that their students preferred to have their lectures live on Zoom, while others stated that their students prefer them pre-recorded. But, as Jo-Anne mentioned at the beginning of the conversation, there is no one answer for every situation. It comes down to your learning outcomes and what will help your students reach them.

Stay Connected and Continue the Conversation

Our next conversation will take place on Tuesday, February 16 at 12:00 PM ET and will focus on Peer Review with Kimberly Lowe, Lisa Spitz, Summer Clark, and Bill Porter.

For more information, email elis@lesley.edu or join the Faculty Community Conversations Teams Channel. The Teams channel will feature all the presentation slides and a copy of the Zoom chat for each of the Community Conversations. You will be prompted to login with your Lesley University credentials to access the Teams channel.