Teaching at a Distance framework – I do, we do, you do

Teaching at a Distance framework – I do, we do, you do

By the OER Project Team

This blog provides an explanation of our guiding Teaching at a Distance (TaaD) framework, but we've got many more TaaD materials for you! Head on over to the TaaD Center for more (make sure you're logged into your OER Project account).

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!! That’s not just a fun childhood saying…it’s also a great mnemonic device for remembering the general structure of OER Project’s Teaching at a Distance Framework. This framework is a tool for helping you organize your instructional practices for teaching at a distance. The idea is to bucket content into three categories: I do, we do, and you do. “I do” are the things you will have to teach or introduce. “We do” are the things you might do with students, or that they do with one another. “You do” is student independent practice.

“I do” activities work well with introductory content and new classroom routines. An example would be something you present to students in a synchronous session through a short lecture or mini-lesson, but it may also be introduced asynchronously through a video you create, a short activity you have students engage in, or perhaps an instructive document. Early in the school year, when you’re introducing a lot of new content and routines, you’ll likely spend more of your time in the “I do” space. While the “I do” space aligns well with direct instruction, remember that direct instruction does not stand in opposition to being student-centered, an approach we value at the OER Project. Some students respond well to lecture, others response well to mini-lessons, some students do well with visuals… As you get to know your students, try to tailor the “I do” in ways that align to how your students learn best.

“We do” activities will often be applying skills or concepts that you taught during an “I do” session. This may be a mix of direct instruction and collaborative work, as you go back and forth between presenting new content and concepts and having students practice applying them. Asynchronous opportunities may include peer assessment, in which you ask students to work together passing around a shared doc, or could even just be engaging in a discussion forum. Synchronous “we do” activities may be completed in a whole class, with students working on shared documents. It might be consist of small-group work, with students working in breakout rooms, or staying in a whole class setting and working collaboratively on a shared document.

If you do have students working in small groups, one tip is to assign students roles within their groups. This will give them each a specific responsibility and help them understand how they can contribute—and what they will be held accountable for. This is especially important since you won’t be able to support all groups at the same time (as you usually in the physical classroom). Some examples of roles to assign are timekeeper, notetaker, manager/facilitator, spokesperson or presenter, and reflector or analyzer. As you get further into the course, consider assigning roles more related to course content—one person could make sure that the group is attending to sourcing, another periodization, another contextualization, and so on.

“You do” activities will be completed independently by students. It’s less likely these will happen during synchronous instruction. This category includes reading articles and watching videos (once students are comfortable with the Three Close Reads approach). Some repeated activities like Vocab Tracking, Making Claims, EP Notebook, and Redraw the Frames are also good opportunities for “you do” activities. This is also a great place to incorporate student choice. Check out our TaaD course plans for more ideas about student voice and choice options across all our OER Project courses.

As you all get more comfortable with teaching at a distance and students get more comfortable learning independently, we recommend you spend more time on “we do” and “you do” activities, and less time on the “I do.” Not only will this help students become more self-directed in their learning, it should make your load lighter as time passes! Try it out and give yourself the gift of time. And as always, let us know how this is working for you by sharing in the community and tagging your posts with “TaaD.”             

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Cover image: Educational teleconference during coronavirus pandemic. © Vladimir Vladimirov / Getty Images.