Monday, September 14, 2020

Personalize Home Learning With These 3 Tips

 Personalize Home Learning With These 3 Tips

The challenge of education seems a bit more challenging these days. Teachers are faced with the hurdle of providing content to students outside the classroom setting. Teachers can no longer rely on systems based on the physical appearance of the classroom such as posters, or word walls. The look and feel of a digital classroom contrasts sharply with the bright and colorful decorations at school. Online classrooms may seem dry and impersonal without the comforts of our room where we were able to welcome each of our students with a smile and a hug or handshake. 

In a time when our students need more hope and reassurance, teachers can seek to contribute through consistency, continuity, and positivity. These tips will help you recapture some of the personal touches that we lose when transitioning from face to face learning into a distance learning environment.

Leveraging technology to personalize the delivery of your online content

Tip 1: Use screen capture recording tools to demonstrate online content to students. When possible use your voice to narrate or annotate a digital resource or lesson. The familiar and reassuring voice of a teacher can mean the difference between frustration and fun. When introducing a lesson or topic, you can use a tool like or if you are using an iOS device, Quicktime screen recorder is a great way to capture your voice and what is happening on your screen.

Screencastify offers several embedded tools to assist demonstration while simultaneously recording your screen and voice. For example, when recording your screen, engage the annotation tool to annotate directly on a window or your desktop. Further personalize your recording by including the option to embed a webcam which will open a small window showing your face while you record. There is also a premium feature to edit and have unlimited recording time. If you can use Quicktime to screencast, then you can also edit your recordings.

Tip 2: Use consistent branding in all of your online platforms. When possible, use your classroom theme. For instance, in my son’s school most teachers have an animal associated with their last name. For example, Thomason’s Tigers, or Lang’s Llamas, or any non-alliterative theme you may have. It can even be a content specific theme. 

Usually, if you use a resource like Google Classroom or many of the Google apps for education, there is a way that you can upload and select your own headers, colors, and themes which does not require much time or effort. In other apps such as FlipGrid, you can add stickers to your grids. If you want to create your own web page, Google sites, Wix, and many others enable you to personalize your page to a great extent with a wide variety of formatting options. If you have or want to create your YouTube channel, add a banner so it is easily recognizable.

If you have not yet created your “brand”, free and easy to use software like, Google Drawings, or Adobe Spark Poster will help you to create stunning graphics that will visually engage and re-connect students with you virtually. 

Tip 3: Use free and easy apps to connect with your students as often as you can. There are so many great apps out there that give teachers the chance to connect with their students. Some of them will allow you to connect in real time- synchronously, and others not in real time- asynchronously. Make use of any of these so that your students can see and hear from you as often as possible. Whether it is just for fun, or if you have more of an academic purpose, nothing beats being able to continue the student-teacher interaction.

Many teachers are turning to Zoom Meetings, and Google Meets to keep in contact with their students and parents. There are many ways to structure these online meetings. If you have time to meet with your students individually or all together these are great tools to use. You can make use of either of these with the seamless Google Calendar integration with a standing meeting time or appointment slots.  

The educational process is taking on a different look and feel, but the love and passion that we bring to each learning opportunity still needs to be included with every lesson. We may not be able to hug our students as we once did, but we can still provide them with the smile and reassuring voice of their teacher using these tips.