Get started teaching online with PlanBee
The demands placed on teachers during school closures are greater than ever, with many expected to teach children in-person at school as well as delivering online learning to pupils at home. PlanBee can help lighten the load with fully-prepared lessons that are ideal for use in-class or online.
Pupils can be taught PlanBee lessons remotely using simple technology and free software. The slides and worksheets included with every lesson can be easily shared and completed at home.
If you would prefer to have this information in video form then watch this video
PlanBee lessons are flexible. The slides can be shared during a live or recorded video lesson, or sent to parents so they can be read through with their children prior to your live lesson. The activities included can be easily adapted for learning at home, especially for pupils who are unable to print or have limited access to resources such as art materials.
The files are all saved as PDFs. This means they can be viewed on any device, either in a web browser or with a built-in software, and it makes them accessible for pupils no matter what technology they have available.
The worksheets and resources can be annotated by pupils who are unable to print the PDFs and most of the activities can be completed by referring to the resources and using a pencil and paper. For a step-by-step walkthrough showing how to annotate PDFs watch this video.
Recording the teaching input
Our top tips for recording your teaching videos are:
- Light yourself!
- Get as much light in the room as possible, especially in front and/or to the side of you
- Avoid having a light source, like a window, behind you because you will be silhouetted on the recording
- Position your camera
- If you are using a laptop, raise it up (with a laptop stand, or a pile of books) so the webcam is level with your eyes. This helps to avoid the 'up the nose' angle!
- Record yourself once, then watch the video back. You will probably notice a dozen things you want to change e.g. speaking too slowly, quickly or quietly, touching your face lots, moving around too much or something in the background of your shot.
- Think about the audio, can you be heard? Will background noises be distracting for your pupils?
- To start with you may need to record a video several times before you're happy with your performance, but it will quickly improve. Remember you don’t need to become a TV presenter and produce flawless videos, just make sure you are able to clearly convey your teaching points concisely.
- Present like a pro!
- Practise looking directly at the camera as much as possible, rather than at yourself or your notes on screen. It's much more engaging!
- Avoid reading a script word for word if you can help it - it's much more natural and enjoyable for your pupils if you speak less formally and more conversationally.
Sharing your resources and recordings
Some schools have online learning portals such as Google Classroom or Seesaw setup for their staff and pupils to use. We have an overview of the different options in this Remote Teaching and Learning Blog.
The simplest way to share the lesson resources with your pupils is with a public folder on your cloud drive e.g Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive or Dropbox. Whichever you choose, make sure you create a new folder specifically for your lesson, and label/rename files so it's very clear what they are. Make a note of the filenames. Ensure sharing settings are correctly set for the folder so that parents and pupils can access it. Put your PlanBee slides and worksheets in this folder, along with any other videos you have recorded.
Email the link to the folder to your parents/pupils, along with any instructions e.g. to look at the slides before your video call or livestream.
In terms of receiving work from pupils, you could instruct them to place files such as Word documents directly into your public folder, however if you do this pupils will be able to view and download each others' work. If you want assignments to remain private, pupils can email you directly with their work attached.
The video call live lesson
This section will probably take place on a Zoom call, Microsoft Teams call or in a Google video Meet. It is the perfect time to demonstrate new skills, further explain concepts, or ask your pupils to answer some of the questions shown on the slides included with your PlanBee lesson. You could also explain the independent learning tasks you set and field questions before sending children off to learn independently, or work quietly while on the call so you can share and discuss their work together.
We would recommend children join the video call muted and unmute themselves when they need to speak. This should cut back on some background noise and improve the quality of the call for the pupils.
You may encounter pupils and parents with technical issues or misconceptions about the task you've set. Take a deep breath and set your expectations appropriately. You can't offer the same level of support to your pupils as you would in school, so it's best to accept that and set a task that they CAN do.
Some of your pupils won't have the facility to print worksheets, so you should plan accordingly. Again, this is where PlanBee can save you time and enhance your teaching and learning. You could instruct all pupils to work on plain or lined paper, or in a word processor if they have access to devices with keyboards e.g. laptops or chromebooks. Simply show the PlanBee worksheet as an exemplar, and instruct pupils to use it as a reference and present their work in a similar way. This works really well for almost all writing or drawing tasks.
If pupils are working on paper, you can ask them to read their work aloud during the lesson or take a photograph of it and email it to you.
Livestreaming versus a group video call
There are some circumstances where it might be preferable to livestream via a site such as YouTube, rather than do a group video call via Zoom or Skype with your class. For example, if
- You are teaching a very large cohort which becomes unmanageable via group call
- You have some pupils joining you 'live', and others which must do the lesson at a different time
- Your lesson needs to be snappy and short, without interruption
The advantages of a live stream are that you can record as you stream, and the recording will be available via the same link as soon as you finish the stream. This is great for recording a lesson which pupils can re-watch, or catch up with, later.
If pupils can log in to the live stream service with an account their parents have created, they can participate in the live chat. This is a great way to interact with pupils without having a screen full of passively listening faces. Having to type responses forces your pupils to think about what they are going to say more carefully, and be mindful of allowing others to 'speak' via the chat window.
Lastly - it's really easy to do on the fly, almost anywhere - you can just start streaming via your phone. Might be good if you want to show your pupils something outside during the lesson.
Marking and giving feedback
PlanBee has created assessment grids for every single PlanBee scheme of work. You can use them like a mark book for the lessons you teach, annotating them with your own grades for each pupil, each lesson. These assessment grids can be downloaded for free on each product page. Just scroll down to the second grey tab called ‘Free Assessment Grid’ and download the PDF in seconds.
To help you plan ahead, we've also created overviews of all PlanBee schemes. Look ahead and see what's covered in the next lesson. The brief description and list of resources should be enough to get you thinking about how you may need to tweak things for remote learning, rather than having to pore over all of the detailed planning. Another time-saving resource! Again this overview can be downloaded for free on each product page. Just scroll down to the first grey tab called ‘Free Overview (Medium Term Plan)’ and download the PDF in seconds.
Here at PlanBee our aim is to improve the work-life balance of teachers. If there is something we can do to help you please let us know.