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Membership of a co-operative like MyCoolClass has the benefit of removing many of the annoying parts of online teaching, like low pay and not being allowed a sip of water to ease your sore throat. But there is one problem that all online teachers have to deal with – technical issues. We do everything we can to avoid them but unfortunately sometimes they’re inevitable. Here are some teaching hacks that can be very useful in these situations.

When there is no sound

Word ladders are useful teaching hacks that teachers can implement while teaching learners
Draw a ladder on the whiteboard and write one word on the bottom rung. Ask your student to change, add or remove one letter, and write the new word on the next rung of the ladder. This game is useful for practising spelling and improving phonemic awareness.

Word chains
Write a word on the whiteboard and ask your student to think of a word starting with the last letter of your word. So if you write “tea”, your student needs to think of and write a word starting with “a”. This game is a very useful way of reviewing vocabulary.

Noughts and crosses/Tic tac toe
This is a very versatile game because you can write so many things in the squares. If you write a letter, you and your student need to think of a word starting with the letter to get the square. If you write a word, you could make a sentence, find a word that rhymes or identify a synonym or antonym. You could also write a word class and thing of a word from that class or write prefixes and suffixes and ask your student to complete the word. When there is no sound, ask your student to write their word or sentence next to the grid on the whiteboard, which also gives them extra writing practice.

Hangman/snowman
This classic game is popular with most students. Draw a line for each letter in your word and ask your students to guess the letters in the word. They need to correctly guess the word before you finish your drawing. Asking your students to choose the word is a good way of checking their spelling. When there is no sound, you and your student can simply write your guesses on the whiteboard.

Pictionary
Most students enjoy this game. Draw a picture on the whiteboard and your student needs to guess what you’re drawing. You can also draw a character or a scene from a story. Instead of saying your guesses out loud, you can write them on the whiteboard.

Word scramble is another important teaching hack that can be considered
One of the best teaching hacks is to practise spelling and vocabulary. Write out a word but put the letters in the wrong order. Your student needs to identify the word and put the letters in the correct order.

A similar game is writing out a long word and asking your student to make smaller words using those letters. So “enormous” becomes “or”, “mouse”, “rooms” and any other words your students can find.

Acrostic poem is one of the best teaching hacks that teachers can think of while teaching online
Writing an acrostic poem can be a fun way of reviewing vocabulary. Write a word vertically on the board and your student can write a sentence starting with each letter of the word.

Two truths and a lie
This game can be used in classes on almost any topic. You can use it to test your student’s knowledge of grammar rules, their reading comprehension or their spelling. Write two things that are true and one that is a lie. Your student needs to draw a circle around the lie. You can also write two correct sentences and one incorrect sentence.

When there is no picture

Twenty questions
This game is really useful for practising sentence structure and can be adapted for students at all levels. Your student needs to ask up to twenty questions about something you’re thinking of, to help them guess what it is. Or you can ask the questions, which will help you demonstrate the correct sentence structure to your students.

Categories
Think of a category like “colours”, “words with the ea sound”, “irregular verbs” or “Greek roots” and ask your student to name as many words as they can think of in that category.

A variation of this game is to say two words and ask your student to identify something the words have in common.

Story relay
Write a story together. Each person says one line of a story before the next person gets their turn. This is especially fun in group classes and is a good way of practising sentence structures.

Taboo
Ask your student to describe something without using certain words. So if you’ve asked your student to describe a cat, you might tell them they can’t use the words “tail” or “miaow.” This game is especially useful for improving vocabulary and practising synonyms. It can also be used when a student consistently uses the same word even when a synonym they know would be a better choice.

Role-plays are considered as important teaching hacks to deal with different circumstances in online teaching
This is and can help students practice for any situation they might encounter. You could practice ordering food, introducing a friend or asking for directions. For younger children, you can use puppets or toys to make the role plays more fun. You could also act out a poem you’ve read together, or what might happen after their favourite story ends.

When the internet connection is very slow or you need time to fix a technical issue

Picture dictation
Ask your student to draw a picture on a piece of paper. They then instruct you as you draw the same picture on the whiteboard. While your student is drawing, you can work on resolving the technical problem.

Show me a….
Ask the student to find something, like a book, something yellow or something that looks like a cat, and then show it to you.

If you have a young student and you think the connection problem might be caused by their internet connection, this game might resolve it if you ask them to show you their bedroom, kitchen, living room, etc.

Tongue twisters can be thought of as one of the useful teaching hacks
Write out a tongue twister and ask your student to practice it for a few minutes before they come back and repeat it for you.

Gap fills
If the internet is really bad, ask your student to write down what they hear you saying, and to try and fill in the gaps in the sentence. When the problem is resolved, or in the next class, you can discuss their answers. This activity is a good way of testing your student’s understanding of grammar and sentence structures.

While technical issues can be severe and consistent enough to disrupt an entire class, if they’re only for a short amount of time these activities can help you to teach a fun and productive lesson despite the problems with the picture or sound. And if they do disrupt the lesson so much that we don’t feel able to ask our students to pay for the class, we can hopefully still give our students some practice that they will enjoy.

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