The talk about Online or Distance Learning is buzzing through schools and communities around the world. If you’re anxious about the change OR already there and need suggestions, this post is for you! It takes a change of mindset, but there are some great perks to it, too!
1.) Some learners (who are quiet in class) really thrive with a little extra time to process and less “on the spot” speaking.
2.) Learners can work at their own pace. They can pause a video, rewatch it, or move on when they are ready.
3.) They can choose to learn when they at their best (morning or night, in small or big doses).
4.) Planning becomes more about helping students learn – not keeping them busy or filling 50 minutes of class time.
Taking curriculum and coming up with something to put online so quickly feels daunting, but I see it as an opportunity.
Instead of getting through traditionally challenging months with exhausted students…you get to continue the learning at a new pace with more freedom to try new things. Most students, parents, and teachers have never done distance learning. No one expects it to look just like it would in a classroom; change is expected. So there’s the opportunity… you can try something different.

Option 1: Teach the same material with a  different method.

Teach your thematic unit, have proficiency targets, assess skills with a proficiency rubric…but let learners work through more of it on their own. Instead of you being their main source of language input… put your authentic resources to work. I started playing with Google Classroom and here’s a snapshot of what you could do to PLAN and ORGANIZE learning.

* This holds them accountable for what you asked them to read/listen to. Face-to-face chats don’t need to happen every day, but it’s nice to still give learners opportunities to interact with each other in the target language.

**You may need to cycle thru a few days of interpretive + interpersonal BEFORE moving on to a presentational task.


Option 2: Set them free with “20% Time” projects

The big idea is letting learners have a say in what they are learning. During the time away from school, students aren’t going to want to be doing random worksheets or rote memorization. There are a million other things students will get into with their new free time. Learning will be competing with TikTok, video games, Netflix, group texts and naps. This is serious competition. 

Giving students choice and voice with a little structure to keep them focused will get you more buy in, period. Think about planning a “choose your own adventure”  type of project that has them reading, writing, DOING/EXPERIENCING something they are passionate about, watching interesting videos, and sharing!


What if you had options for music/dance, health/science, sports/wellness? Surely this would give learners a chance to learn more about the target culture, recycle vocabulary and structures from the content (yours and other subject areas) and practice language in a new and meaningful way.

Embrace the challenges and changes and GROW with the flow!

(It could be worse… we could be doing make-up days all summer! There’s perspective for you!)