Planning for Virtual Teaching & Learning

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Virtual Teaching and Learning Approaches

virtual-learning-infographicVirtual learning utilizes two modalities of online learning – asynchronous and synchronous learning.  Asynchronous learning means that the teacher is in control of students’ pacing and completing assignments or activities.  The student is able to access the content at any time.  Synchronous learning means that the student is live with the teacher at a specific time. Types of synchronous online learning could include video conferencing, teleconferencing, live chatting, and live-streaming.

Attribution: Tanya LeClair. "Virtual Learning: Different Approaches Benefit Different Learners." 

Tips for Teaching and Learning Online

best-practices-pngOnline teaching requires different skills and approaches for teachers. These resources will help teachers with guidance for teaching and learning online. In order to provide effective and high-quality instruction, teachers should consider using a variety of technologies and digital learning strategies in their instructional model and delivery. 

Attribution:  Andrew Salcido and Jessica Cole. “Best Practices for Teaching Online.” TeachOnline, 22 Aug. 2019,

Instructional Model & Delivery Planning


  • Ensure all technology is working properly prior to the start of the online lesson, including all necessary documents and presentations.
  • Teachers are encouraged to use applications and resources that students are familiar with in order to reduce anxiety in transitioning to a new online setting.
  • Ensure that students have an understanding of all features and functions of the platform. Be considerate and thoughtful as students adjust to a new learning process.
  • Differentiate activities to meet the needs of all learners in your classroom including English Learners (ELs), students with disabilities, and gifted populations. Consider cultural differences and include culturally relevant materials, artifacts, and pedagogy.


  • Communicate regularly based on class expectations.
  • Consider establishing office hours or support time for students to contact their teachers.
  • Be clear and consistent in online announcements.
  • Give simple and concise directions.
  • Explain the details of an assignment providing information on where to locate the assignment and when it is due.
  • Communicate and involve parents in the online learning process.

Engagement – quality virtual instruction

  • Provides a creative way for students to master content using a variety of instructional strategies.
  • Personalize instruction and give students the power to “own” their learning through providing choice.
  • Be selective and thoughtful with assignments.
  • Tasks should be manageable based on curriculum.
  • Differentiate based on student needs; coordinate and collaborate with teachers including EL teachers, special education teachers, gifted resource teachers, and others.
  • Teachers may also integrate a variety of learning experiences that integrate technology into daily instruction including:
  • authentic learning experiences;
  • inquiry-based learning;
  • online coursework;
  • online research;
  • project-based learning;
  • simulations;
  • virtual games; and
  • virtual learning experiences.

Digital Citizenship for Teachers

  • Follow school division policies and procedures outlined in a student code of conduct.
  • Review the school division’s AUP and policies related to use of  technology, online platforms & social media and online communications.
  • Foster online safety; communicate in a positive way that encourages students to participate.
  • Maintain and model professional and appropriate communication and behavior in the online environment.
  • Use reliable and credible internet resources. Follow school division policy for any resource that requires student information.
  • Follow school division policies on the use of student pictures, audio, and video in the online classroom.
  • Emphasize and model all copyright regulations and Fair Use guidelines.


  • Provide expectations and guidelines for assessing students.
  • Describe criteria broadly so that it can be demonstrated in multiple ways.
  • Give feedback in a timely manner.
  • Use flexible structures and rubrics that allow for a huge variety of experiences and resources. Place student reflection and self-assessment at the center of feedback.
  • Consider exploring the following innovative reflection opportunities and assessment formats for students:
  • activities that require student reflection;
  • authentic learning experiences;
  • career exploration;
  • creativity in learning;
  • critical thinking exercises;
  • inquiry-based learning;
  • outside investigations/explorations;
  • play-based learning;
  • project-based learning;
  • problem-solving activities;
  • technology-based direct instruction;
  • voice and choice for students (choice boards);
  • workplace readiness preparation; and
  • writing for a variety of purposes.

Modalities for Virtual & Hybrid Teaching Planning

Images used with permission from the Christensen Institute. Staker, H., & Horn, M. B. (2012). Classifying K-12 blended learning. Christensen Institute.

Fully Virtual

virtual-learnA student who is considered fully virtual means that all classes are completed online from home or another location, and the student is not required to attend any classes in a physical school building.

Station/Lab Rotations (Blended learning)

station-lab-rotationStudents rotate through a teacher-led station, collaborative work, and independent online instruction within a class period. The online station may be in a computer lab or in a classroom utilizing one-to-one devices, or a bank of devices, where students complete assignments or instructional explorations at their own pace.

Flex Model (Blended learning)

flexA ‘Flex’ model uses a LMS to deliver instructional content and activities. Student learning can be completed at their own pace and choice in online activities allows for differentiation. Student learning is supported by face-to-face instruction that is varied based on data. Teachers use flexible grouping to provide differentiated activities.

Flipped Classroom (Blended learning)

flippedIn ‘Flipped’ classrooms, students use online instructional resources that have been assigned through a LMS. Teachers support online learning with face-to-face instruction. The face-to-face time is structured to include activities, practice with feedback, and collaborative tasks/projects.

Samples of Blended Learning

Hybrid Instruction & Supports for Teachers

student-home-artThe hybrid model meshes the familiarity of established teacher directed instructional models with openness for additional student independence with context specific projects that apply content to the outside world. Students interact with carefully curated assignments to refine content mastery. They then work with their teachers and each other to periodically showcase learning in non-traditional and innovative ways. Educators who choose the hybrid model:

  • leverage their experience and skill as teachers to create innovative ways to explore prior and possibly uncovered content using multiple formats and/or platforms;
  • maximize learning gains via a combination of established essential knowledge and innovative challenges aligned to Virginia’s 5 C’s; and
  • provide ongoing feedback to students.

Digital Citizenship for Students

laptopStudents should be aware of the importance of digital citizenship and consider the following.

  • Review the school division’s Acceptable Use Policy.
  • Use appropriate language when speaking or writing; no profanity, obscenities, sexually explicit material, or expressions of bigotry, racism, and/or hate.
  • Exhibit behaviors that do not intimidate, bully, harass, or embarrass; consider the perspective of others when communicating.
  • Maintain individual anonymity and privacy and do not reveal personal addresses, phone numbers, social networking identities, or other personal information including passwords; do not use the accounts of others or trespass in the work, files, or folders of others.
  • Maintain a balance between online and offline time.
  • Use reliable and credible sources; be mindful of all copyright and Fair Use guidelines.

The proposed 2020 Digital Learning Integration Standards of Learning provide comprehensive standards statements. Additional components (learning priorities and performance indicators) are provided to assist in local implementation. Digital learning has the potential to empower students as learners by improving their functional literacy as digital citizens capable of constructing knowledge, designing innovative works, thinking computationally, creatively communicating, and collaborating with others locally, regionally, and globally.

Resources for Teachers

teacher-headphones-planResources are provided to help educators with the implementation of blended and virtual learning.

Teaching Digitally: A Free Resource Guide to help any K-12 Educator

Virtual & Co-teaching

Following are a few resources to assist co-teaching teams in thinking about ways to implement strategies for effective virtual co-teaching. By no means will they encompass all the creative approaches co-teaching teams are utilizing. Some resources to consider include:

  • Practical Access Podcasts – Drs. Lisa Dieker and Rebecca Hines
  • 3 Ways to Use Video Conferencing with Students Learning Remotely – This website does not specifically address co-teaching virtually, but it does address how to develop small group instruction and discussion through video conferencing (similar to parallel and station teaching). It also shares ideas for conferencing with students, which could be one way special educators could provide accommodations.

Resources for Parents & Families


To find additional information regarding virtual learning, the VDOE has provided additional resources in the Student and Family Virtual Learning Companion.