By now most people are familiar with the terms synchronous and asynchronous… and with the benefits and limitations of each type of online teaching.
Synchronous teaching lets us check for understanding, build habits of engagement and accountability, and gives us the chance to build connections with students. But it’s limited in the depth of the work you can assign. Some students don’t have reliable technology. And it’s exhausting. Four zoom calls a day would make a even a yogi shudder.
Asynchronous teaching can allow students to work at their own pace on deeper assignments. But it’s hard to know how they’re doing and whether they need help. And it can be a drain on energy too.
For these reasons we’ve been talking a lot about ways to maximize the synergies between the two models, and this video of Eric Snider’s class is a great example of what might be a ‘best of both worlds’ model.
The idea is that you could kick off class with a short synchronous lesson of say 20 sharp and very engaging minutes.
Then you could assign work for students to complete asynchronously. But you could have them “remain on the line” while they worked. That is, they could been on zoom with you still but working independently with you occasionally checking in with individuals or simply saying “I’m here if you need me.” Like live office hours. You could let students turn their cameras off or you could provide some soft accountability–as you’ll see Eric do–so they know you see them working by having hem leave them on.
Then at the end you could bring everyone back together to discuss what they did or review answers.
Here’s how Eric did that, most impressively, I might add, in a recent lesson on Rita Williams-Garcia’s One Crazy Summer:
The video starts with Eric playing the audiobook version of the novel over zoom to his students. You could do that–pretty engaging–but no reason you couldn’t read the text yourself.
I love the way Eric sets up the independent work: ‘it’s the climactic moment’ and he’s full of questions that make it seem fascinating (“Why does Fern keep barking?”) and like a big deal (“Get ready for a plot twist as you now read on your own…”).
Also like the clear-as-a-bell task directions that remain on the screen for students.
Love the moment when Eric reinforces kids who are focused and attentive to their reading “I see Armani..”
Love the way he asks them to “shoot him a chat” if they need more time… really taking advantage of his ability to assess where they are in real time.
Anyway I think there’s lots to reflect on here in watching Eric use this hybrid model. Hope it’s useful!
To learn more about the curriculum Eric is using, visit https://teachlikeachampion.org/reading-reconsidered-curriculum