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Four Paths to Successful Online Teaching and Learning

Educators across the country have been thrust into what is, for many, uncharted territory. Luckily, National Math and Science Initiative Coach Jason Walker shared some of the best methods for virtual instruction in a recent Educational Talk, “Going Virtual: Pandemic and Beyond.”

“I believe that what students will experience this year has the potential to transform how students learn and how teachers educate,” Walker said. “If we do our due diligence, we will be able to see the evolution of a great classroom into a powerhouse classroom that schools all around the world can look to as a successful model that they want to simulate.”

Blended Learning

The blended learning strategy – taking the best of both digital and traditional teaching methods – is a great approach, regardless of whether students are in a classroom. That’s because it balances between digital tools and activities and face-to-face time with the students – even if the faces are on a screen.

Walker said no number of third-party videos, lab simulations or online activities can replace a teacher. Students still need to see their teachers, make connections with them and hear their lessons. That’s why blended learning can be so powerful. Students get the advantage of a connected and invested educator while also reaping the benefit of online tools and digital resources.

Flipped Classroom

In a flipped classroom, students prepare to participate in class by watching video lessons, reading articles or doing other tasks that inform the activities that will take place during class time. Again, this concept was originally designed for a mix of in-person instruction and homework but can effectively be applied to remote learning.

This method allows students to spend more of their class time working on applications of what they learned in their homework, even if the class time is remote.

Station Rotation

Applied to an online setting, station rotation can be just as impactful as it is in the classroom. For example, one group of students can be working on a virtual lab project while others are in a breakout session with the instructor and a third group watches and discusses an instructional video. This allows every student to have face time with the teacher and with their classmates, while also maximizing the amount of time available.


This acronym stands for Question, Investigation, Video, Elaboration, Review, Summary quiz. The Qu.I.V.E.R.S. model can be an excellent way to bring some structure and dynamism to an online class session. The class begins with a question – it should be a question that engages the students and points toward what the class session will be focused around. The investigation follows. It can be done many ways, but the point is to give the students an opportunity to start looking for the answer. That may be in research materials, it may be in activities, as long as the students are working to investigate and find the answers themselves. Next, the instructor would introduce a video, either self-made or found from a third party, that teaches the concepts called into question at the beginning of class. Following the video, the teacher would elaborate more into vague areas or points of confusion. Then the class reviews the material together – again many methods may be used for reviewing the lesson. Finally, when the instructor senses that the material has been learned, a summary quiz is given to assess learning.

In a virtual learning setting, Qu.I.V.E.R.S. is an interesting, interactive and dynamic method of teaching.

Whichever method teachers choose for virtual instruction, Walker’s encouragement is universal: Embrace the change. This is an opportunity for education to reach new heights, a disruption that opens the door for educators all over the world to rethink how students can learn more effectively.

“This whole year will be an excellent opportunity to remove ourselves from the normal status quo” Walker said. “This is our opportunity to rethink the way education occurs.”

Jason Walker is the manager of secondary science curriculum for IDEA Public Schools. He’s also among some 400 accomplished educators who help deliver NMSI training to teachers across the country.


NMSI has planning guides, lessons and curated resources for AP teachers in a range of math and science subjects. Get yours today or buy an educative curricular kit for your student’s favorite teacher.