Distance Learning

[Ask a Teacher] Taking on Remote Teaching: Teamwork

Jarrod Denson
Apr 23, 2020

How do we balance learning new technologies to support remote learning while staying sane in these uncertain times? 

One answer: Teamwork

During the coronavirus quarantine, my partner and I have been working from home with our 1-year-old son who, during this time, has decided to progress from crawling to running at a sprint.  Honestly, it’s been a real journey establishing a schedule with him, as well as making sure that he’s getting the space and grace a toddler needs to grow and be happy.  

As a result, we’ve had to constantly adapt and weave other things into his routine in order to keep him happy, our house moving, and us sane. “Music time” has evolved into “Music Time with Nonna” where we call my Mom and she sings nursery rhymes and plays instruments with him. “Afternoon Choice Time” has turned into “Help Mommy and Daddy with Household Chores” time, giving us much needed time to clean up the noodles on the floor from his lunch.  

Similarly, we can lean on other tools to help support our instruction or even level it up. I know that adding another tool can feel like adding irons to the fire, but by adding tools to use at the right time and place on Newsela, you can streamline your process while trying something new.


1. Asynchronous video

We can use recorded video to send our students instructions, examples, ideas and tons of information in a quick format. If we make it asynchronous, students will be able to review them at their own pace, watch them again and again, or keep them to look at later. Here is a tool and some ideas you can use to make awesome asynchronous videos with Newsela articles.

Newsela + FlipGrid

FlipGrid is very cool, just ask any Newsela nerd. We’ve gotten together and created a Grid of how-to videos about all kinds of fun stuff. This tool is a great way to have students give feedback, show what they know in a different way, or present and access information in ways that make sense for them.

Some ideas

  • Create a video discussion board to discuss topics from an article

  • Have students read articles aloud

  • Give students a space to make video answers to their Write prompts

  • New - Now students can cast their screen on FlipGrid to show themselves taking a Newsela quiz, reading articles, or giving how-tos on different parts of the site.

2. Synchronous video

Being able to see your students in real time can do wonders for the classroom community as well as clarity of instruction and ability to work with students in real time. While video chatting isn’t a full substitution for classroom instruction, it can be a great way to make instruction intentional and personal for students.

Newsela + Google Meet or Zoom

Google Meet and Zoom can both be a great way to connect with students personally, and Newsela has a great How-To for Zoom and a How-To for Google Hangouts that will help get you off the ground on how to use them.

Some ideas

  • Use Newsela’s Presenter Mode for read-alouds and whole-class instruction

  • Schedule progress check meetings with students and go over their Student Binders

  • Practice reading skills by going over the quiz questions at a higher level with the class before releasing them to complete it on their own.

3. Virtual classrooms

Creating a “place to put stuff” can be one of the greatest challenges of distance learning. But if you can get in a good groove, it can set your classroom up for long-term success.

Newsela + LMS

There are so many different great tools for organizing a digital classroom out there, and adding Newsela articles to these systems is a great way to build content into the digital environment as you would a physical one. We partner with and have great resources on setting up Newsela-fied classrooms in Google Classroom, Canvas and Schoology and work well in so many more.

Some ideas

  • Put your Newsela assignments in your virtual classroom to keep everything streamlined and in one place

  • Follow the process for Sharing an Assignment in Google Classroom with a Text Set or Collection in Newsela, but assign it as a “Material” to create a reference-able textbook in your classroom

  • Post your asynchronous videos to your classroom along with your Newsela Assignments to model for students

  • Check out our Little Lessons, videos designed for students that explain different parts of Newsela

Over the next few weeks, try one of these ideas to get your students connected and your creative juices flowing. It’s a great way to jump-start your distance learning and also help keep your students engaged and your process streamlined.

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