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NTI Student Support

Student Participation in Meaningful Engagement through Virtual Means

Have you ever...

  • Been online using a phone, tablet, or computer?
  • Read or sent an email or text?
  • Typed a document, developed a slide deck, or created some other thing using an electronic application?
  • Had a conversation with someone via FaceTime, Google Hangout, SeeSaw, Skype or some other app?
  • Recorded a video or taken a picture of something using a device of some sort?
  • Shared a picture, document, video, website link, or anything else with someone using a technology tool?
  • Watched a video or movie using a device?
  • Learned anything or shared what you learned about something when doing any of the above activities?
  • Used a technology device in any way and learned something from it?

If you can answer "Yes" to any one of the above questions, then chances are you have engaged in online learning -- especially if you created something that you shared with another person.  The learning you did just wasn't designed and implemented by one of your current teachers or another educator.

Now, there are plenty of reasons blended or virtual learning might happen in schools.  Here are examples of just a few reasons:

  • Suppose a school building has to close for a while because of snow or some kind of problem that makes the school building uninhabitable (think: loss of electricity, no water, and so on), and there's no interest in extending the school year for the students in that school.
  • Suppose  a student has a medical condition that makes it hard for them to be in school , and they're really interested in and capable of keeping up with classwork.
  • Suppose a student is interested in pursuing post-secondary education (and we certainly hope most students are!).  Most colleges and career preparation programs include online learning components.  Therefore, developing student expertise in online learning now prepares everyone for their future success in career, college, and life!

Educators are starting to think about ways to help kids participate in learning beyond the classroom, in the cloud.  Students will have the chance to show what they know virtually. Imagine the possibilities!

Tips & Tools for Students

Following "Netiquette"

First off, let's just be clear:  when anyone engages online, it's essential that everyone behaves appropriately.  Students must follow the Responsible Use Procedures that are included in the Acceptable Use Policy that everyone gets at the beginning of the year.  And it's not just students who have to follow those procedures, the adults do as well. As a quick reminder, when you're online, be sure to:

  • Use respectful behavior and language.  
  • Stick to appropriate topic discussions. 
  • Send only appropriate video transmissions.  
  • Use only appropriate icon, emoji, and avatar submissions.
  • Wear school appropriate clothing if you are attending meetings via video.
  • Be honest and do not plagiarize or copy others’ work -- in other words, use academic integrity.
  • Not falsify information about yourself or impersonate others online.

When everyone remembers to act kindly, show consideration for others, and treat one another online as you wish to be treated in person, we'll all be able to focus on learning.

If you want to read through the actual policies and expectations information regarding “digital citizenship” and “responsible use” can be found our website.

Establishing Your Learning Routine and Preparing Your Learning Space

Checking your District Gmail account every day is one thing.  Following through on all that you'll need to do at home when you're engaging in virtual learning is another.  If you've already set yourself up with good study habits, those habits will support learning in the cloud. Here are some things to think about when you engage in online learning:

  • Have a daily routine.  Stick to it.  Ask your parent or another important adult to help you develop your schedule if you need assistance.  Be sure your routine includes breaks, time to be active, and time to eat lunch.
  • Have a learning space.  Use this space when it's time to learn.

Be sure your learning space includes what you need to learn.  You'll need a computer, iPad, Chromebook, or other device.  You'll need paper, pencils and/or pens. You'll need tools to help you with math like a calculator, ruler, compass, and possibly manipulatives like counters.  You'll need your textbooks, trade books, composition notebooks, or any other curriculum materials that your teacher provides.

Don't be surprised when your parent or guardian asks you to make your learning space in a shared area of your home like at the kitchen table, a large kitchen counter, or a desk in a living room or family room.  The reality is that when your learning space is separate from your bedroom and distanced from the television, it triggers your brain that the space is for work and not play.  You really will be more productive.  And, like it or not, an online learning space in a shared area allows the adult(s) in your home to readily support your learning while also monitoring your online activity.  (Yes, they get to see what you do.)

Building a Daily Schedule

If you're wondering about the idea of a daily routine, keep reading...

More and more adults are able to work remotely.  In fact, some adults have jobs that are done entirely through virtual means.  These adults all have daily schedules or routines they use to help them stay focused and on task.  When you learn in the cloud, you're going to need to think about this too. To develop your daily schedule, think about what it's like during a typical school day.  Think about how teachers post schedules in the classroom or how bells remind students and staff when class is over. Think about your ability to stay focused and how long you know you can reasonably devote your full attention to a task.  Below is a sample daily schedule.  Your schedule will look different depending upon your family dynamics and your personal learning needs.

  • 07:30 AM - Get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, etc.
  • 08:15 AM - Organize learning space, turn on computer/device, log into Gmail
  • 08:30 AM - Review daily Gmail or Google Classroom announcement from teacher(s) and get necessary learning materials (books, workbooks, etc.)
  • 08:45 AM - Engage in first virtual session or chat session or video tutorial or whatever the topic is for the day
  • 09:30 AM - Begin assignments
  • 10:00 AM - Take quick stretch and nutrition break
  • 10:15 AM - Return to assignments, keep working, document learning in whatever way is required
  • 11:00 AM - Check Gmail or Google Classroom for any additional announcements
  • 11:15 AM - Lunch and movement (Take a walk. Dance. Do jumping jacks. Run. Follow an online workout routine.  Just move!)
  • 12:00 PM - Return to assignments, keep working, document learning in whatever way is required
  • 01:00 PM - Engage in second virtual session or chat session or video tutorial or whatever you know you've been asked to do
  • 01:45 PM - Take a quick stretch and nutrition break
  • 02:00 PM - Return to assignments, keep working, document learning in whatever way is required
  • 03:00 PM - Summarize your learning in whatever way your teacher(s) have requested, and submit your evidence online
  • 03:45 PM - Pat yourself on the back for a full day of virtual learning

Learning in the cloud is just as challenging and rigorous as a day of learning in the classroom.  Learning just happens in a different place. Like in school, your daily schedule might be a bit different on each day of the week.  There will be certain things such as your stretch and nutrition breaks as well as your lunchtime that you'll probably want to keep consistent.  What might change are the times you hop online for video sessions or online chats. The more time you spend learning virtually, the more you'll know about what works best for you in terms of keeping focused and on task. 

Being an Active Learner and Advocating for Your Learning Needs

Getting used to an online learning environment and participating in virtual learning might take a little while.  Some people will love it right away. Others might need some time to get used to how to participate in live video sessions or use a chat room.  If you're an "early adopter," be patient and remain kind to those who will take longer to adjust to a virtual learning environment. If you're one of the people who isn't as comfortable with technology or online learning as your peers, it's okay.  Stay positive. Be persistent.

“Support for Online Learning.” Northshore School District, 2018,