Skip to Content
Back to top
Innovative Instruction

Ask a Teacher: Taking on Remote Teaching - Routines

Emily Lepkowski
Apr 8, 2020

How do we balance learning new technologies to support remote learning while staying sane in these uncertain times? 

One answer: routines 

Last week, I read through a thread on Twitter written by a teacher and a caregiver. She was compassionately explaining how her profession had changed overnight because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the pressures she felt to remotely educate her sheltering-in-place students while also supporting her own children’s education.

How was she managing all of this? Her message was clear: routines help. 

In these uncertain times, finding what works for you, your students, and your family is #winning. My team at Newsela has been reflecting and connecting with thousands of educators to learn what is working for them. 

1. Create a flexible schedule and keep editing it. 

Just because we are no longer commuting to school does not mean you can’t set a structure to your day. This can be as simple as sticking to when you wake up in the morning and what time you go to bed to differentiate the weekends from the work days. For educators, we are reflecting on what will work for us and our families and then, what will work for our students. 

When school closures were first announced, Danielle Mastrogiovanni, a supervisor for humanities in New Brunswick, N.J., shared her daily schedule on Twitter. What I loved about this is that she edited it every day and kept posting about how it had evolved. She even labeled the places in the house where specific things would happen. My takeaway here is to: 

  1. Use your whole space

  2. Take all family members into account 

  3. Make changes over time

  4. We will get better at this

2. Consider a predictable structure for lessons and learning. 

Teachers are also thinking about schedules for our students. In my mind, these thoughts range from how I will structure my schedule for lessons and how long it will take for my students to complete their work for my class. Newsela Fellow Sarah Bayer, who teaches in Georgia, shared that she and her colleagues are creating lessons that give students four days worth of work that takes about 20-30 minutes to complete per class. This predictable routine is keeping students engaged with learning during this time. 

To that end, teachers also have to consider how to structure virtual lessons. Kristin Ziemke, who wrote Amplify: Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6, has shared a wealth of resources for educators to support distance learning. She recommends that virtual mini-lessons follow this predictable structure: greet, teach, show, do, keep thinking. How can these examples help you as you create a structure for your lessons? 

3. Have conversations about routines with your students. 

On our Expert Distance Learning Panel webinar last week, Andrew Marcineck shared how he creates Google hangout time slots on his calendar for students to sign up for drop-in office hours. This is one way to connect with students and have conversations about routines, not just lessons that you are sharing virtually. Newsela recently published articles on establishing routines and taking breaks throughout the day. The article on taking breaks reminded me that when my virtual meetings end early, I don’t have to answer emails, but rather I can stop to move around, tidy up, or simply breathe. How are you talking to your students about intentional breaks? 

4. Reflect on how routines affect your curriculum. 

More and more teachers are using Newsela for remote learning during this time so that also means more and more teachers are becoming Newsela Certified Educators. That community is sharing how they are sticking to their curriculum for remote learning. Sarah Enger, a 5th grade teacher in South Berwyn, Ill., shared her Text Set titled The Path to Freedom that she will use for instruction in Quarter 3. Her Text Set provides a strong example of how to leverage many tools, Newsela content, and a clear virtual learning schedule to meet the needs of students. In our Office Hours, we’ve also heard that some teachers are still teaching their novels and following their U.S. history scope and sequence.  Turning to Newsela as the content source and pairing it with a routine way to read an article or to share thinking like Sarah does in her Text Set will provide clarity for your students and their families.  

We’d love to know what routines are working for you. Tweet us @newsela and use the hashtag #remotelearning to share far and wide. 

Stay tuned every week for additional tips based on questions, challenges and successes that teachers share during their remote teaching experience.

The Latest from @Newsela

It's easy to get caught up in the negative news lately, but many people are doing good to combat the fear and isolation of the coronavirus. Take Jodi Beder for example, who holds daily 30-minute cello concerts for her neighbors in Mount Rainier, MD 👉
May 26, 2020, 5:25 PM
Schools responded in many different ways to the unexpected shift to distance learning, and will likely take new approaches for going back to school. RSVP for one of several upcoming webinars to explore how Newsela can help you plan for re-entry 👉
May 26, 2020, 4:21 PM
Read the story of how three districts worked hard to transition as smoothly as possible to #distancelearning. While their strategies and tactics may differ, they share one thing in common: a dedication to supporting their student population’s needs.
May 26, 2020, 3:17 PM
Join us this Wednesday to learn how science and literacy share a symbiotic relationship in California 👉 We'll cover: - Engaging your Science students at 5 different levels - Phenomena-based NGSS activities - Real Classroom Practices - STEM Connections
May 26, 2020, 2:13 PM
Newsela Certified Educators drive school-wide innovation, especially when it comes to distance learning. Build your expertise in designing creative teaching applications with our instructional content 👉
May 26, 2020, 12:50 AM
Have questions about how to bring Social Studies to your classrooms with Equitable Learning? ⏰Tomorrow, join Newsela to review California's Social Studies Critical Standards and Equitable Distance Learning. Happening Tuesday, May 26 from 2-3PM PST 👉
May 25, 2020, 10:20 PM
This Memorial Day, students can read and reflect on the articles in this Text Set to honor the men and women who gave their lives defending the United States of America from the Revolutionary War to the war against terror 👉
May 25, 2020, 6:29 PM
You might think of "Minecraft" as just a silly video game, but it can actually offer educational content for students stuck at home. Learn about free downloadable worlds with lessons on biology, fractions and even a virtual tour of Washington, D.C. 👉
May 25, 2020, 4:21 PM
"We know that COVID-19 has been anxiety-provoking for everyone, and it's potentially scary and hard for children to understand. So we wanted to create a resource to help them." This Coronavirus coloring book is available in English, Spanish and Arabic 👉
May 25, 2020, 3:17 PM
Did you know the first candy in space was M&Ms? 🚀 Take students on a virtual field trip to the M&M Factory to learn all kinds of fun facts about the history this yummy candy and chocolate altogether! 🍫
May 25, 2020, 2:13 PM
What will post COVID-19 school look like? Whether virtual or in-person, the role of #edtech in classrooms will continue evolving. There will be challenges ahead — but bright spots as well. Here's how distance learning has proved four #edtech myths wrong.
May 24, 2020, 10:20 PM
Ever considered teaching U.S. History with "Hamilton" the Musical? 🎶 Using this collection of Newsela articles, students can gain an understanding of who Alexander Hamilton was and why the Founding Fathers are included throughout the play "Hamilton" 👉
May 24, 2020, 6:29 PM
So you've heard comics are just for kids? Think again! Read how a group of students and teachers at a Vermont college are using their artistic talents to leverage comics as an educational tool for people of all ages 👉
May 24, 2020, 5:25 PM
Planning for re-entry back to school? Register for one of our subject-specific webinars with our Teaching and Learning team to explore how Newsela can help you adjust to hybrid schedules.
May 24, 2020, 2:13 PM
When unexpected events force schools to close, there's no playbook for how to respond — but there are lessons learned. This case study looks at how 3 districts across the U.S. transitioned to distance learning, all while supporting student needs 👉
May 23, 2020, 6:29 PM
On this day in history—May 23, 1934—the law finally caught up with Bonnie and Clyde. Read the legendary story of these two lovers on the run and then reflect on the valuable lessons we can learn from their decisions 👉
May 23, 2020, 5:25 PM
Today marks the end of Ramadan—a month-long time of fasting, prayer and self-examination for Muslims. If you're looking to teach students the history, significance, and practices of Ramadan, here's a Newsela article to help 👉
May 23, 2020, 4:21 PM
Have you seen the latest expansions to Virtual Field Trips for Science? 🚌 🔬 Plan a 'visit' to museums like Berlin Natural History Museum and Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Or explore factories like M&M 🍫 and Toyota 🚙
May 23, 2020, 3:17 PM
Looking for a fun way to connect fiction and non-fiction in your classroom? 📚🔬 This Newsela article does the trick 👉 Scientists in the U.S. have named a new snake species after a character in the Harry Potter series.
May 23, 2020, 2:13 PM
Join us on May 27th to Learn How Science & Literacy Share a Symbiotic Relationship in California 👉 We'll be covering: - Engaging your Science students at 5 different levels - Phenomena-based NGSS activities - Real Classroom Practices - STEM Connections
May 22, 2020, 8:43 PM
Have questions about how to bring Social Studies to your classrooms with Equitable Learning? Join Newsela to review California's Social Studies Critical Standards and Equitable Distance Learning. Happening Tuesday, May 26 from 2-3PM PST 👉
May 22, 2020, 6:35 PM

The best lessons start with the best content.

Ready to bring great instructional content to your students?

Contact Sales