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Set Up Your Virtual Teaching Space Like a Pro



Back in March when schools closed suddenly and we went to distance learning, it was fine to whip up a teaching space at home. The couch, dining room table, or even bed became a makeshift virtual classroom. Well, now we have an opportunity to set up a legit virtual teaching space for the beginning of the next school year.
Back in March when schools closed suddenly and we went to distance learning, it was fine to whip up a teaching space at home. The couch, dining room table, or even bed became a makeshift virtual classroom. Well, now we have an opportunity to set up a legit virtual teaching space for the beginning of the next school year. 

Desk or Table for Virtual Teaching
Probably the first thing to think about is where you want to set up. You'll need a desk or table to work on that has enough space for all of your stuff. 
Tips and tricks for setting up a virtual teaching space this school year. Everything you need from the tech setup to backdrop ideas.
I'll get into it more in the Tech Setup section, but I like to have a separate keyboard and mouse when working with a laptop because I put my laptop up on a stand. It it way better for our necks, shoulders, eyes, hands, etc. to set it up this way plus having them separate means you won't accidentally shake the laptop during video recordings. 

This means I need space for all of these components on the top of my desk or table. 

While we are on the topic of desks, please invest in a good computer chair for the time spent at your desk. It makes a massive difference! 

Tech Setup for Virtual Teaching
*This section has affiliate links for Amazon. 
Laptop lifter is a game changer when you're sitting in front of a computer all day long. You can use pretty much anything to get the job done. I went with a canvas cube flipped upside down. Sometimes I'll use a box from a game. Basically anything that lifts the laptop about a foot and can support its weight. 
If you can, also get a second monitor! It make a big difference in productivity. If you do go with a second monitor setup, make sure both screens are about the same height. 

Lighting is so important when you're recording videos of yourself teaching. If you can sit near a window then the natural lighting will go a long way. You can also invest in a large or small ring light. 
You can grab a mini ring light that clamps right onto your laptop case to brighten your face. It doesn't do as well to light up your backdrop so keep that in mind. 

Microphone quality is important, but microphones don't have to be expensive. The one I use is $20 and can be found here on Amazon. You can also choose to use a headphone with microphone attached. This setup is really helpful if you want the audio to go through headphones (like if your significant other is working at home and doesn't need to hear your students reading to you). The headphone/mic combo is going to be more expensive and it is worth the investment to get a good one. 
Tips and tricks for setting up a virtual teaching space this school year. Everything you need from the tech setup to backdrop ideas.

Keyboard & Mouse are more important than you'd think. Sure you could use the one on the laptop, but if you use a laptop stand like I suggest then your shoulders will be very sore by the end of day 1. It also wiggles the laptop to need to touch it during a recording, which makes it harder for your students to focus on you. So I recommend a separate keyboard and mouse that sits right on the desk or table. 

A Tripod is important if you're making videos using your phone or iPad. I like a tripod kit like this one.  

Document Cameras are amazing for math instruction. There is only so much you can do with screencasting software. If you can't take yours home from school, then consider investing in one for home. You can also use an iPad or iPhone like a document camera as long as you have a way to connect it to your computer. 

The Backdrop for Teaching Virtually
I'm not trying to be dramatic, but the backdrop during video calls is super important. Now that you are going to set up your teaching space like a pro, your background needs to match your other efforts. 
Tips and tricks for setting up a virtual teaching space this school year. Everything you need from the tech setup to backdrop ideas.
For general classroom teachers I recommend a bulletin board or bulletin-board-like space using paper and borders, just like in the classroom. You can see that I have the keyboard as the backdrop, which is purposeful for teaching tech lessons so that I can quickly point out keys. 
A kit like this one is great for multiple purposes. I like the combo of the dry erase side and the cork board side for teaching virtually because then you can put up notes, posters, and teaching materials. 
Since you're working from home, this might now be the perfect time to use die-cut bulletin board letters to spell out your messages. It will save your precious printer ink! 

You'll likely switch out the content on the bulletin board way more often than you would in the classroom because you only have one of them. You can change it for different subject areas or teaching topics as needed and reference it during your videos. 

Something to keep in mind is glare on your bulletin board. In the classroom students can just move their head a little to see a poster better, but during a video they can't. If you have laminated materials, consider spraying them with a mattifying spray. 


Props for Virtual Teaching
Make sure everything you need is within reach. You'll lose your students' attention if you need to get up to grab something during a live video, and you'll waste time needing to edit out the part of a pre-recorded video. In the photos above you can see that I have my color-coded keyboards at arms reach ready to grab. 
I like to keep the current lesson's props right on my desk and then have a separate storage area for other materials including props I use regularly. 
I have started a curated list of Virtual Teaching Amazon Recommendations, which may be helpful to look through. Is there anything else I should add to the list? You can leave a comment on this blog post. 

I hope this post gave you some things to think about! I'd love to see what your virtual teaching space looks like. 

You might also like to read my Tips and Tricks for Distance Learning blog post. 
Tips and tricks for setting up a virtual teaching space this school year. Everything you need from the tech setup to backdrop ideas.



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Brittany Washburn
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Elementary Software Lessons Spiral Review


We use spiral review in other content areas to make sure students remember important information, so why not do the same with technology skills? These software lessons are done in sets of 4 for each program and then we come back to the same skill 2 more times throughout the school year. Keep reading to learn all about these technology lessons and get a coupon to save on the bundle.
We use spiral review in other content areas to make sure students remember important information, so why not do the same with technology skills? These software lessons are done in sets of 4 for each program and then we come back to the same skill 2 more times throughout the school year. Keep reading to learn all about these technology lessons and get a coupon to save on the bundle. 

What is included in each set of 12 lessons:

4 weeks of lessons for each type of software 

  • Word / Docs / Pages
  • PowerPoint / Slides / Keynote
  • Excel / Sheets / Numbers

These lessons are customizable for whatever software version you have, for a total of 36 weeks of lessons per grade level! 

Editable Lesson Plans:

We use spiral review in other content areas to make sure students remember important information, so why not do the same with technology skills? These software lessons are done in sets of 4 for each program and then we come back to the same skill 2 more times throughout the school year. Keep reading to learn all about these technology lessons and get a coupon to save on the bundle.

•Mini lesson

•Vocabulary

•Materials

•I Can Statements

•Lesson components

•Assessments

•Space for reflection

These lesson plans are provided in BOTH PowerPoint and Google Slides for your convenience. Since the text is all editable, you can adjust it to meet your needs. 

Editable Daily Messages:

We use spiral review in other content areas to make sure students remember important information, so why not do the same with technology skills? These software lessons are done in sets of 4 for each program and then we come back to the same skill 2 more times throughout the school year. Keep reading to learn all about these technology lessons and get a coupon to save on the bundle.

•Lesson Title

•Vocabulary

•Materials

•I Can Statements

•Lesson Question

•Space for you to add screenshots of your software program

Use the daily messages as part of your mini lesson for each activity. The text is editable and there is room for you to add your own images to go with the lesson. 

Student Templates Provided


•Templates are provided in BOTH Google Apps and Office 365 for your convenience.

*If you’re using Apple Software then the Office 365 will convert to it.

You get ALL of the student files! This is probably my favorite part of these software lessons. I am letting go of control ;-) and giving you everything you need in order to facilitate these lessons. You can put the files into your learning management system or onto a password protected page of your class websites to be able to share them with students. 

Student Assessments:

We use spiral review in other content areas to make sure students remember important information, so why not do the same with technology skills? These software lessons are done in sets of 4 for each program and then we come back to the same skill 2 more times throughout the school year. Keep reading to learn all about these technology lessons and get a coupon to save on the bundle.

•Formative assessment questions provided as editable Google Forms

Use the google forms to make sure your students are learning the skills. These are brief and meant to be used to inform your instruction. You may still choose to do longer unit assessments if you give grades. 

TEACHING TIPS

1. These lessons are the main activity for a class. I recommend planning a warm up activity (like 10 minutes of typing) and early finisher activities (here are sites you can use). You’re likely going to have some students complete the lesson in 5-10 minutes and others that will still be working when you say time is up.

2. In the lesson plans you’ll see me talk about screencasts you could make. You'll either need to demonstrate the activities live or make a screencast of instructions for each lesson. If you’ve never made them before, check out this blog post to learn more about it. Screencasts are a game changer!

3. You may upload the student templates to a learning management system or password protected page of your own website. As long as the files aren’t available publicly on the web then you’re following the terms of use. If you need ideas for how to share files with students, read this blog post.

4. The assessments are optional but will be helpful if technology is a graded subject. If you’re new to teaching technology and curious about grading these skills, read this blog post.

Next up are some FAQs about these lessons - 

WHO NEEDS THESE TECHNOLOGY LESSONS?

These software lessons are perfect for technology teachers, classroom teachers, media specialists, STEM teachers, or homeschool parents who want their students to know how to use technology to create content. By mastering these software programs, students will feel comfortable doing anything you ask them to do with it.

HOW ARE THESE DIFFERENT FROM YOUR TECHNOLOGY CURRICULUM?

The k5tech.net curriculum has warm ups and early finisher activities plus it is all housed on my website. These software lessons are just the main activity and assessments and I'm providing you with all of the files to put into your learning management system. The content in these software lessons does not overlap with the k5tech.net curriculum at all so you can use both.

Still have questions? Please ask them before purchasing!


Click on this picture to buy the Bundle, which is already discounted 20%, and save an additional 10% with the coupon code SOFTWARE10. 


Some feedback on the Bundle:

1. These lessons are amazing! Easy to use, ready to go with excellent directions and guidance. My Tech students are doing and learning soo much! I have never gone wrong when I use any of her lessons! Thank you!

2. Great resource! Cannot wait to use from the beginning of the school year with all grade levels.

3. I used one of the first lessons with my K/1 class through distance learning. I also did a screencast so that they could see how to do the assignment. This is an excellent resource that will keep my younger students busy while learning a lot in the process.

We use spiral review in other content areas to make sure students remember important information, so why not do the same with technology skills? These software lessons are done in sets of 4 for each program and then we come back to the same skill 2 more times throughout the school year. Keep reading to learn all about these technology lessons and get a coupon to save on the bundle.

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Brittany Washburn
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