Teaching Remotely with Tynker: Robert Velamisa

Teaching Remotely with Tynker: Robert Velamisa

Teaching Remotely with Tynker: Robert Velamisa

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@ps268brooklyn
P.S. 268 The Emma Lazarus School
Brooklyn, NY

At The Emma Lazarus School (P.S. 268) in Brooklyn, teacher Robert Velamisa is discovering the challenges of transitioning to remote learning. From making sure kids have internet access and compatible devices to posting and grading online assignments, every day offers new insight on teaching from home. Here are a few tips Robert shared about how he’s creating his virtual classroom – and how Tynker is making it easier!

Tip #1: Ease students into new topics 

Robert makes it easier for students to comprehend new content and concepts by creating multiple videos for students each day. “First, I record a broad general introduction about what they should be looking for each lesson without any specifics. When I give them that focus they’re off on their own,” Robert explains. Throughout the day, Robert gets questions, letting him know which aspects the students are struggling with. He then uses these questions to inspire his afternoon videos. “At the end of the day, I answer them in a video walkthrough on some of the levels that the students were having difficulty with.”

Tip #2: Stay connected with your students

Working with students remotely allows the students a great deal of autonomy, but Robert stressed how important it is to keep the lines of communication open and continue to have individual interaction. “I try to make my interactions with my students as personal as possible. The students already feel isolated so I will answer every question I get even if it’s to say ‘I don’t know the answer to that but I’ll get back to you.’”

“Students like to know that their hard work is being acknowledged so I’ve also been saving their report cards as PDFs and emailing it to them as progress reports,” Robert tells us. “This encourages them to continue their efforts and also to let some students who are slacking know that I’m aware of that also.”

Tip #3: Learn from Oops!

“When the students are working independently it’s hard to know who is understanding the concepts,” Robert explains. “We teach the growth mindset at our school and how perseverance is a big part of it [Editor: Learn more about the Growth Mindset in Prof. Carol Dweck’s TED Talk]. Still, some students don’t feel accomplished unless they feel they can tackle the assignment with no mistakes. They hate when they see ‘Oops!’ on their screen. I always tell them that those ‘Oops!’ are an opportunity to learn something new.” Learning coding is all about trial-and-error and, of course, error is a big part of that. Coding remotely, without the safety net of a teacher on hand, goes a long way to getting students used to making mistakes and learning from them.   

“I want to reiterate how much Tynker has been a blessing to my school,” Robert told us in closing. “Tynker has allowed me to give my students access to a quality coding program while I am also tasked with trying to get families, staff, and students acclimated to this new way of remote learning. I felt tremendous guilt not being able to give my students my normal attention but I’ve seen how they are growing accustomed to figuring things out on their own and that was an unexpected benefit of me not being over their shoulders all the time.”

 Enjoyed this blog? Get more great tips from fellow educators in our Remote Teaching with Tynker blog series.
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Tynker enables children to learn computer programming in a fun and imaginative way. More than 60 million kids worldwide have started learning to code using Tynker.