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Preparing to Teach Remotely: Step by Step

Part of the Responsive Remote Instruction Collection

As they are trying to work towards educational equity, our partners are keeping care for all at the center, designing deeper instruction for worthwhile learning, and prioritizing those in their community with least access. In this way, educators can avoid exacerbating existing inequities.

Step-by-Step Planning for Responsive Remote Instruction 

This section is a suggested process for planning responsive remote instruction.  The steps below reflect EL Education’s 4 Ts (Topic, Target, Task, Text) for curriculum design and apply a remote instruction lens. 

We offer this from the perspective that it can be helpful to have a starting place, and some pre-identified questions, so that passionate educators, who are also dealing with this crisis in their own lives, don't get overwhelmed with possibilities and can instead focus their energy. We DON'T think every teacher needs to consider everything bulleted below, and would suggest teams identify the highest-leverage decisions/questions for their own contexts. 

Click here for a google doc version of these steps, with space to type.

Step 1: Identify the topic that will “bring students in.”

  • What matters to students right now?  
  • What topics could they engage in learning around that would foster agency and purpose?
  • What topics do you usually teach this time of year?   

Step 2: Identify the priority standards / targets to “build the skills students need now.”

  • Determine which targets (standards) are the priority
  • Keep each lesson down to ONE academic learning target 
  • Directly support goal-setting and reflection

Step 3: Determine how you and students will know if they were successful.  

 Determine what, by when, and how students will share their understanding. 


Step 4: Determine the tasks and the texts that will “engage students deeply.” 

  • Design a task aligned to the learning target that best supports students:
    • Through the learning process
    • To demonstrate their understanding
  • Determine synchronous or asynchronous learning strategies for engagement or a blend of the two.
  • Decide when instruction will pause for students for think time.
  • Identify when and how students will process with the teacher or with someone else.  
  • Identify when and where students will capture their understanding.   
  • Determine what students will read, watch, or listen to - will they need to access the entire piece or select excerpts? 
  • What will students focus their thinking on as they read, watch or listen? 
  • Determine how to support ALL students toward meeting the learning target (ie. scaffolding for some most, many or a few students). 
    • Scaffolds applied to text (ie. Digital read alouds, chunking into smaller parts)
    • Scaffolds applied to process (ie. Prompts for some students more abstract and for some more concrete, sentence starters)

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We are learning alongside you about what responsive remote instruction looks like during a crisis.  We would like to continue to build these Collections as our collective efforts evolve. We welcome your contributions: anything you have created to support students during this time is something someone else might learn from. Use this form or email Sarah Norris at snorris@eleducation.org.

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