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Quarantine Online Teaching
How are you coping with online teaching in quarantine? In these precarious, intense, COVID-19 times, can anyone really feel normal?
Over the last 6 to 9 weeks depending on where in the world you are, I’m sure you’ve probably had to change your game a little. You’ve had to learn some new skills and master Zoom and Google Meet, right? Well, this post is full of tips to help you end the semester (and start the next one) strong. It’s looking more and more likely that our online teaching quests, even for universities, will be extended or blended for Fall 2020.
If you’re wondering where I’ve been, I have to admit it’s been a struggle managing everything lately. However, I’ve decided this blog has to be one of my priorities. I sincerely miss writing posts and hearing back from all of you!

Quarantine Online Teaching Tips

So, I’ve put together a list of 5 of my favourite online teaching ideas. If both you and your students are feeling a little exhausted about this new setup, here’s help:

1. Gamification in Online Teaching

Now, if you’re a loyal reader of this blog, you’ve heard me rave and rant about online teaching games in the past (and offline ones, too!).  What better way to engage students that provide them with games?

Here are a few tried and tested online teaching games I love to use:

  •  Mind Games –   This website is incredible for crossword puzzles, word searches, puzzles, kid’s board games, and more.  I especially love the vocabulary games. They allow students to have a lot of fun online, too!
  •  Hangman and Word Games on Zoom –   To make it even simpler, use  Zoom‘s whiteboard feature to draw up a hangman or word game. For example, you can “find as many words as you can, using the letters of a longer word”.  So, using a word like “communication”, have students scramble the letters and make wors like “mat” or “moat”. Be sure to use Zoom’s “remote control” feature to let your students participate, too.
  •  Speaking Board Game –  Of course, I often default to my trusty Speaking Board Game. This was my first printable for this site, way back a few years ago!).  All you have to do it upload the .pdf and share your screen. Then, use  Zoom’s “Annotate” feature to let students draw their “playing piece”, too.  Don’t forget to use an online dice roller to play the game!

Free Printables Library

By the way, both kids and adults love games. So don’t forget to check the links above out with your adult ESL students, too!

5 Teach Online Tips

2. Movies & Comics for Homework

Just last week, I was chatting to one eleven-year-old I am now teaching online who seemed so stressed about his schoolwork. In fact, his mom asked me to play as many games as possible. The rest of the day, he had been overwhelmed with school meetings and homework.  Some schools here in Barcelona seem to be opting out of the “Zoom” format. Instead, they are assigning piles of work for kids to do on their own!

So, I used a few helpers to incorporate movies, cartoons, and comics into the mix!

Zoom, Netflix Party & Other Online Teaching Helpers

First of all, I’m sure a lot of you are using Netflix. I find it’s the perfect way to keep students engaged. Homework assigments like “watch this movie” or an episode of The Magic Schoolbus can be a hit.  In fact, I have my First Certificate students write movie reviews to practice for Written Essay #2!

Now, Netflix, iTunes and others seem to have gotten smarter over the last couple months, and blocked screen sharing via Zoom and Skype. So while you can’t watch a movie online with your students, you can assign it for homework and discuss it the next class.  Alternatively, check out the  Netflix Party extension to watch together (and chat about vocabulary words).

Be sure to suggest relevant and exciting movies your student is sure to love, though.  How do you know? Ask! I find the better you know them personally, the better online teaching goes.



3.Involve the Family in Online Teaching Presentations


Well, I’ll fully admit that this one is new!  Actually, I just decided to use this a few weeks ago, smack in the middle of COVID-19 quarantine. A student who loves animals wanted to see a video about marine animals. So, I asked him to choose a particular animal, and we started to learn more about Humpback Whales in English.

Then, I gave him a Google Slides assignment. We worked on it over three classes, and created a wonderful presentation about a topic he loved.  What was even better was the “presentation” we gave with his family as an audience.  Online teaching and online audience! It was a fantastic success and I can only recommend it.

What’s more is I could teach my student new vocabulary words, how to give a good presentation, and how to use a thesaurus all online, and all with the same topic. His family was proud, and I was a happy online teacher!


5 Online Resources For Your ESL Class

4.Theme-based Online Teaching

One of the new ideas I’ve had for online teaching this term has been co-creating projects together with students.  Google Slides is a great way to do this effectively. It’s free, too.

Some themes you might want to consider are:

  • Your student’s favourite characters from novels or films
  • COVID-19 and its effect on our lives  (one of my students is currently doing a mental health and anxiety project based on this theme!)
  • How To Quarantine Videos  (e.g. recipes they’ve learned, new skills they’ve learned, etc.)
  • Quarantine Poetry and feelings journals (let your students express their emotions creatively)
  • Many, many more  (share yours in the comments!)


5. Use Quarantine As a Learning Opportunity

Online Teaching Tip #5 is closely linked to Tip #4 above – use this quarantine time as a learning opportunity!  Yes, we’re in a crisis.  We’re also at a point where we can educate ourselves and our students about what’s important in life.
Here are a few essay or project topics:
  • How will we exit quarantine? Will we be the same people as before?
  • What’s the most important part of your life? Have your thoughts changed since school went online?
  • If you could tell the world one message about what you’ve learned in quarantine, what would it be? (Do a Google Slides presentation – 5 minutes long).
I hope those 5 tips were helpful! Don’t forget to check out my other posts on Online Teaching Tips and Online ESL Teaching Tips for more ideas.
Of course, you can always reach out to me in the comments below, or on social media to discuss more.

Staying Strong in Quarantine Teaching

Has COVID-19 done to you what it’s done to me? Left you as a restless, somewhat depressed, uncertain, super busy teacher?
Here’s what I think:
We need to do more than visualize our future selves and stay positive.  If you know me, you know I love to set goals and visualize my future the way I want it.  (Actually, I’ve done a great lesson on vision boards I did with my students online, which I’ll share with you in my next post).

Sometimes, though, visualizing just isn’t enough.

One of my good blogger friends,  Patrice Palmer over at Teacher to Teacherpreneur specializes in teacher self-care. Often, she posts resources that remind me to slow down and take care of yourselfI find this one tough!
We also need to have empathy and understanding of where people are at. In fact, experts such as  Indira Aimee Rai over at The Elephant Journal remind us that we need to stop romanticizing lockdown.   
While lockdown could be a break for some, for others it’s a mental health crisis in the making. (For teachers it’s at the least, a lot more work!).
If you live alone, are suffering from trauma, are not good with technology, crave conversations, or are an exercise fiend, for example, the past two and a half months might have been tough. Some countries have allowed exercise outdoors the whole time, and others, like Spain, only did so after seven weeks inside.
The quote on my Instagram this week was a great one from Sangu Delle – “When it comes to mental health, ignorance eviscerates empathy”. If you haven’t seen his TED Talk on Mental Health and the stigma that surrounds it, be sure to check it out!
It’s also a great one to use with students. My student doing a presentation of COVID-19 Mental Health using Google Slides is excited to learn more about this topic through stories like Sangu Delle’s.
What are your quarantine teaching tips?
Depending on where in the world you are, you’ve likely been online teaching for 4 to 9 weeks! I’d love to hear from you, so please, comment below and let us know 🙂
Happy Teaching!
P.S. Photo lovers, today’s main image is a photo I took of a mural at a war museum in Budapest, Hungary in summer 2019.

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