Editor’s Note:  I’ve been publishing a series of posts – both here and at Education Week – sharing teacher’s experiences dealing with the school closure crisis.

A previous post appearing here was headlined Guest Post: My School Was Closed Because Of COVID-19 & Here Is A Report About Our Online Teaching.

Today, Eva Buyuksimkesyan shares her experience…


Eva Buyuksimkesyan has been teaching English for more than 30 years. She has been delivering workshops to teachers and running creative writing and reading courses for children and teenagers since 2010. Currently, she is working at Bilgi University and  Esayan High School in Istanbul.  She also blogs at www.evasimkesyan.com in English and www.dream2edu.com in Turkish. You can find her at @dream2edu on Twitter.

I’ve been trying to integrate technology into my teaching since 2009 and I’m well aware that the internet is a great tool to bring the world to the classroom but the most important thing is the face to face interaction that we have with our students.

We are witnessing unordinary days that will be told and retold to our grandchildren. We are locked down in our rooms and as teachers, we are trying to stay calm and make things happen as they happen in the classroom. I know there are teachers who are used to it but for the majority, this is quite a new thing.

Although I’d like to be in the classroom with my students now, I’m happy that I can connect with them and try to support them as much as possible.

Well, let me briefly explain my situation and how I do things in my virtual classroom. We are a small school in Istanbul but luckily most of us are techy enough to survive these days. As a school we have been using Google Classroom and Google Apps. I am teaching a small group of students who are preparing for the national university exam which  takes place in June.  So for these kids the time is very important and also I should be careful to support them mentally as they’re stressed because of the exam. And with this Corona shutdown they are more vulnerable  than  the students who will continue their education next year in the high school. Thus, for me keeping their mood up and helping them to stay focused are the most important things.

Bearing in mind all those things, all I had to do was to carry the necessary things from my real classroom to my virtual one. I was planning to use Google Hangout but then Zoom’s decision changed my opinion. Now we, as a school, are using Zoom to deliver our lessons.

I make all my announcements using Google classroom. During our lessons I try to use other Web 2.0 tools to make my lessons as interactive as possible. When I’m explaining the lesson, I screen share and  go through a PowerPoint presentation or using a Google Document I write examples, explanations I ask my students to comment to give their examples and to share their ideas.  Google forms are really useful  to assign exercises. I also use Quizizz a lot  because it gives us the feeling of the real classroom, togetherness and a sense of normality.

Basically when planning a lesson,  the most important thing is to find a way to bring the students into the lesson, to enable them to participate.  We must be careful not to make them passive listeners. Using certain Web 2.0 tools will enable us to be active in the classroom. Mentimeter is one of them which helps  us brainstorm ideas, answer questions, get feedback and prevent students from being  passive listeners.

I think the key is to give  students a chance to be in the classroom, to interact with their peers and teachers, to share their ideas.  In the planning stage I believe we should also consider being clear and precise. So our motto should be ‘’less is more.’’ A clear  explanation of the topic,  a clear instruction for the task and  one or two  classroom activities created on a tool which enable interaction  will work until we all are back to normal.