In these strange and unusual times we are being asked to teach, or at least provide, lessons remotely. Such a task comes with complex issues about how to get your work to students, how to communicate with them and how to provide feedback to them. As I have the time to do so, I thought I’d write an article on how we can approach teaching remotely.
Students without access to the internet
Let’s tackle this one first because it is the most problematic. So many suggestions for how to approach teaching remotely are based on students having access to the internet. But that isn’t always going to be the case. And sadly, in many countries around the world, schools have already been forced to shut. But if your school isn’t shut yet, then there is still time to make sure you have something in place for students who don’t have access to the internet.
The only option you have is to send them home with work to do, so you need to get prepared with resources. From the way schools have shut so far, there is little or no warning. So give your students the work the next time you see them.
So you could send them home with a generic revision booklet, like this one available on TES.com: https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/drama-revision-booklet-6179074. You could send them home with past papers from your exam board or copies of set texts to read with a list of questions to answer. For something more practical, you could send them home with a monologue to learn and prepare to perform on their return.
Students with limited internet access
The opportunities with the internet are obviously greater but we need to be careful. Some students may very limited access to the internet, or indeed a computer, so be prepared to accept work in whatever format possible. Not everyone has a smart phone and limitless broadband. Here are some ideas for setting work that can be done on paper or a computer but without constant access to the internet.
Link the work you intend to set to the work the students have already done. This is particularly important for younger students, who might not have as many lessons those working towards qualifications. Simple ideas such as if you’ve taught a play, ask them to write a scene in that style or write an additional scene. It isn’t just completing an activity for the sake of it. The students need to demonstrate that they have understood the original genre in order to be able to complete the new activity.
Set work that brings two prior topics together. For example, if you’ve done a topic on stage design and you’ve just studied a play then combine these two by asking students to design a costume or set for the play. Again, it is an activity that demonstrates their understanding of the two topics and produces something which evidences their own independent thought process.
One very good use of time for students is to research into whatever their next study is going to be on. They can take the time to research into a practitioner, play or genre to create a fact file or poster about that research. Whilst this isn’t demonstrating knowledge, it will help develop new knowledge which you can draw from once the students are back in drama studios.
Set the students a practical challenge of either devising their own monologue or producing a published one. This might be useful for students who are working towards studying a text.
Set Text Work
This is a good opportunity for students to do some of the not so exciting hard work on set texts. Things like creating character profiles or scene breakdowns. Create some graphic organisers if you can so the students have a guide to what they might be working towards. Whatever they create needs to be used when the students return so that their responses and understanding can be corrected.
Practice Papers and other essay based work
There is always the option to send everyone a past paper or essay question for students to complete. However, like all the previous ideas, any work that the students generate has to be honored, used and/or fed back on. It is unfair and inappropriate to set them work that has no value or meaning to them or their studies.
Use the cloud
There are so many ways that you can share work these days via the cloud. Every system has some sort of cloud sharing format that you can utilize and ask students to upload their work onto. That way students can upload their work and you can feedback on it by editing it.
There are so many platforms that I’m not going to detail how to use each one. Instead here are some links to YouTube videos on how to set them up if you don’t know how to do so already:
Google Drive: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7TrFgIfcA8
OneDrive Sharing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIQHN0jEvzY
Students with limitless internet access
Here are some options for students who have no problem with how much they can access the internet.
Quizlet and Study Stack
Quizlet and Study Stack are but two of many different websites that allow you to create cue cards and tests for information on Key Terminology or Texts. It is good and for all the settings you need, free. You can access Quizlet here: https://quizlet.com/ and Study Stack here: https://www.studystack.com/
You create the flashcards and then send a link to them to your students where they will be able to quiz themselves on it. I don’t know about Study Stack, but on Quizlet the students themselves can create cue cards too. If your school had Frog or another online learning platform, then you may already have access to something similar on there.
YouTube and live theatre
If your students have good access to the internet you might want to consider asking them to watch some live theatre. For the duration of this situation, Digitial Theatre Plus have said that UK based schools can have free access to much of their online content. But failing that, YouTube can provide a good answer for that. There are a great number of student productions which have been filmed and published onto YouTube. These are great to watch because sometimes they are more relevant to the standards our students create than professional shows.
Make your own presentations
For many years I have made flipped learning videos for my students. They are great because you can return to them again and again. A simple search on YouTube can reveal a good number of videos which have already been produced by others. But it isn’t difficult to make your own presentations using PowerPoint and a website called ScreenCast-o-Matic. I wrote a tutorial on how to use it several years ago so check that out here.
Google Classroom is an online platform you can launch your own online classroom. You set tasks and within the platform students complete the task and everything remains in the cloud. It is a fantastic resource but does require constant internet access from both the teacher and the student. Here is a useful tutorial on YouTube.