< Back

10 Things We Know About Successful Online Teaching and Learning

In education reform circles, the National Math and Science Initiative is known for its effective teacher training and student study resources – particularly its in-person events. Less known is our work and success in training teachers through online cohorts and teaching Advanced Placement® courses through virtual classes.
We’ve learned a few things through those experiences. Here are 10 things we know about online teaching and learning:

Try to keep your daily routine consistent

Try it out: If you routinely start class with bell ringer, do the same for your online course If you don’t have a set routine, a new one might be to ask students to share what they see outside their window to break the ice.

Encourage social engagement by creating opportunities for class-wide and small group discussions

Try it out: If your online platform doesn’t accommodate break-out sessions, invite students to log-in at different times so you can mix and mingle students and give them a few minutes of open-talk time.

Stay connected with fellow teachers to crowdsource effective online learning opportunities

Try it out: Search Facebook or another social platform for teacher groups focused on your grade level and subject. Join one and engage other teachers for tips, lessons or activities.

Take advantage of “learning outside the classroom” by giving students things they can experience at home or outside and then share online

Try it out: Send students on a scavenger hunt inside or around their homes for items that relate to the lesson of the day.

Take advantage of livestream and recorded resources from museums and science centers

Try it out: Ask your teacher networking group or search online for livestream and recorded events, such as those listed by Meredith Corp.

Design lessons with mini-checkpoints and quizzes to ensure learning

Try it out: Quizlet and other platforms have free versions for quizzes and puzzles. You can ask students to screenshot their score or a “finished!” screen and submit for participation credit.

Identify and share links to additional resources if students aren’t absorbing the material

Try it out: Khan Academy is just one service provider that has online lessons and guides for students. If you’re part of a NMSI school or district, you have access to additional student and teacher resources. Email customerservice@nms.org for instructions on how to access materials or more information on what’s available.

Be available for one-on-one and small group discussions

Try it out: Set office hours in the morning and afternoon. You can even mirror your study hall and tutoring hours, so the opportunities are familiar to your students.

Encourage students to minimize distractions during online learning

Try it out: If you’re online with your students, remind them to put away other devices and consider taking small breaks for them to check in. If you’re recording lessons, slip in an occasional reminder. Hearing your voice repeating something you routinely say in class will help create a sense of continuity.

Encourage and support your students’ families

Try it out: Following your district and campus guidelines, email or call parents just to check in. Listen to their concerns and assure them that together, you all are working hard for their students.

How are you adapting your classroom to this new normal? What's been working? Share advice and pose your challenges with our experts on Facebook and Twitter.