A Term Online: Teaching Diary (#3)

I’m just about ready to spring-bounce off of this chair and fly away from this desk. Gotta get my ass off campus and back on home right now. You know the feeling.

BUT I’m going to make myself write a quickie ‘diary entry’ before I do because…well…I made it a damn ‘diary’ and that means you need to throw down entries. Frequently! Even if sometimes rushed, short ones.

That’s the nature of a diary/journal, right? And I know I’m not going to have the time or energy later. I’ve got errand running (gin), dog walking, dinner making, dinner having, garden watering, and a private lesson to do before 9pm and after that…well…let’s just say I’m probably* going to want to have a drink (that gin) and hit the hay after that!

*definitely.

Getting to it: I had my first 3rd lesson of the term this morning (I teach four sections of the same course) and it was by far the best online (Zoom) lesson yet. Why? It may have actually been because I was *the least prepared*! What do I mean by that? I mean it in a few connected ways. I mean….

  1. I didn’t spend much time planning it out until the last minute
  2. Because of #1, I didn’t over-plan. I ended up with a very simple, streamlined sequence of things
  3. My students having already been given a pretty thorough orientation on Zoom, things went smoothly there (audio, video, breakout rooms, using annotations, etc.)
  4. Not being over-prepared nor having over-planned, I felt a bit more ‘light’ and free to be responsive to the students
  5. The students seeming a bit more comfortable today in this third class (is 3 the magic number? Yes, it is, it’s the magic number), there was more to respond to.

So that’s good! Feels good to leave work (I’m giving myself 10 more minutes to complete and publish this!) without any nagging regrets connected to my live teaching today. Whoo-hoo!, he exclaimed in his diary. Cute. Maybe also all the time and effort I put into being uber-responsive in the forums and on the chat just got ’em feeling good. Or maybe they were always this cool and I was just in my head and paying attention to little negative things. It’s probably that, because it’s so often that.

Actually, I’m terms of planning and the amount required: the day before (yesterday) I’d produced a quite rich video text (a task model for videos they’ll be submitting 2 weeks from today). So really the name of the game (the aim) was simple: deliver the package (the model) so really a full hour + of today’s lesson I was able to plan in about 4 minutes using the ol’ PDP framework (pre-, during-, post-) around the video. And voila. If the text is rich and your P, and then some D, and then the other P are basically okay in relation to it…voila* indeed. (Too lazy to get the accent mark on that word).

(Lucy, my beagle, was in fact the star of my video – it’s almost cheating, she’s charming in any language).

If you’re a completist reader of this blog with a weirdly strong memory for the random things I put on it you’ll be familiar with my status as a ‘BPOPP’ or ‘BPOPPer’ or whatever I called it.

With that in mind, here, dear diary, is my self-reference lesson plan for this floating cloud of a lesson. Written shortly before class on a blank piece of paper.

And here is a mostly out-of-context bit of lesson content – what the Ss generated when they predicted what might be included in my ‘How to walk a dog’ tutorial video. And in red, some things I later commented on. In order to show this live during the lesson, by the way, I plugged in my phone, clicked ‘share screen’ and selected the phone. The phone then becomes a streaming document camera, and I trained it on the hand-written notes I’d made. I meant to ask the class for feedback to see if this was actually clear and working well on their end, but I forgot! Note to self: check up on that, because using my phone as a live document camera in Zoom could be handy in a number of situation (I also would like a..whatsitcalled..digital slate tablet thing to write on).

That also shows that I had 8 groups in 8 BRs. It’s about 5 students per group, 40 students more or less in these classes. It’s…enough. 😉

Now I’ve got three minutes according to my self-imposed time limit here. What else? I think I got more speaking out of them today because I emphasized the post-BR activity time – when speaking in whole-class was largely referencing something they’d already worked on and thought through, etc. and less on more challenging quick-fire prompts that required students to jump ‘forward’ into sharing an opinion, etc. I think I realized last week that I was expecting too much of them in the latter dynamic. I chalk this up to having recently been on a couple of online CELTAs with students from all over in a context that lent itself to more of that.

That’s it! I’m off commuting home now. Thank you, diary, for catching this end-of-thee-day entry. Maybe tomorrow I’ll even try this again, it could truly be a ‘diary’ then! We’ll see. We’ll see.

*Regular violas are wonderful but not as wonderful as the viola da gamba https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylpOO-7cyt0

3 thoughts on “A Term Online: Teaching Diary (#3)

    1. Seemed a little laggy though. Actually the way I was using it was more like an IHP, pointing at stuff with a pen under the camera. But just to share notes and then annotate in Zoom, maybe snapping pics and sharing immediately is best. Gonna try again tomorrow with the guerrilla camera move tho!

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