This school year has brought in new challenges that keep us awake at night, as well as apart from what we’re used to do best: teaching students in a classroom.
Thankfully, tools like Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Google Meet let us continue our teaching our learners, even if they’re a bit afar. However, the strategies we used to keep our classes dynamic and engaged may not translate as well in a remote setting. Trying to translate these strategies may frustrate you, overwhelm your learners, and even give up eventually. Here are some ideas you can add to your Zoom, Meet and Teams remote classes to keep your students engaged, and to have successful remote classes.
Make Group Channels Or Breakout Rooms To Foster Group Conversations
After covering a topic, separate your students is small groups to discuss a set of questions. You can offer each group 2 or 3 questions from the topic that they can discuss without making the class sound like static. To make it part of an assessment or grade, you can tell your students you’re going to pop in these conversations and also show them what you’re looking for in their conversations similar to what you’re used to do in a normal setting. During this activity you can also offer feedback and support as needed. Smaller groups work because students can scaffold each other and won’t feel intimidated as opposed to talking to the whole classroom.
Another great idea is to assign a team captain who can help scaffold the students who might struggle a bit. As extra motivation, you can give these teams extra points, too.
Assign Roles To Students
Just as you assign a secretary to take notes during instruction, it is pretty easy to assign a student or group of students to different roles in the class. Is someone is the group tech savvy? Whenever a student is struggling with the technology, or having issues with finding a link to a file, this student can come to action. You can have a student keeping score on participation by giving him access to a shared Google sheet you can access at the end of the class. Have one or two write down the most important points of the class in a shred note that can be easily found or distributed between your students. The possibilities are endless.
Have students Create Polling Cards
Sometimes during instruction, we don’t need full answers from our students, and when it comes to simple questions, we normally ask our students to raise their hands if they agree with a certain part of the topic at hand. However, you’ll soon notice it’s the same students who normally participate in these impromptu polls. How can we solve this? Simple: Polling cards.
Polling cards will give all students the same opportunities to participate without shining a spotlight on him/her individually, as all the other students will be doing the same.
Tell students to create cards containing the letters “A”, “B”, “C” and “D” and every time you want to poll the class or ask a question, just make multiple choice questions and ask students to raise the card with their answer.
Asking questions on the fly? Have your students create “Yes” and “No” cards and ask them to raise them at the appropriate moment During an activity.
Introduce Games Between Topics Or Lessons
Games can be fun and engage students who might get bored during lengthy sessions or topics. Harnessing the lesson with a game can have the students laughing and sharing with their peers. Make a padlet and ask students to write one sentence. It could be about something they did last week, or their favorite vacation spot. When everyone has written their answer, pick one randomly and have students guess who wrote “I was sleeping all weekend” or ” I helped my sister with her homework”. Besides fun, students get a sense of familiarity and community, which make students feel confortable during sessions. As a result, student participation will go up.
Another fun game is asking your students to send you two truths and a lie, and present these to all the students as they debate which sentence is the lie.
These are just some ideas I have tried, but I’m sure you can come up with even more engaging activities