In the past few months of our Possip pulse checks, I’ve read a handful of parent comments about their child really excelling in virtual learning classes and how their student actually prefers remote learning over in-person school. However, those comments are few and far between. Most parents feel that virtual learning has been a flop for their child. Students are craving community, academic support, and relationships. Virtual teaching has also fallen short for educators who deeply miss students and the face-to-face connections within their intentionally planned learning environment.
The reality is that school is still not going to be the same for a while (if ever). Remote learning will require intentional planning to bring some joy into the online classroom. Here are five ideas to try in your synchronous virtual classroom:
Show and Tell in Remote Learning
Use the reality that students are working from their home to your advantage. “Show and Tell” can be a great engagement strategy and relationship building component to a lesson. Teachers could have the first few minutes of the lesson be a “show and tell” from a different student every day. Even better, have the show and tell connected to the lesson content. For example, if you were teaching a math problem on fractions, see if they can find an example of something in their house to demonstrate a fraction.
Have a Theme for Class
Spirit days are one of kids’ and teachers’ favorite days of the school year. Who says remote learning can’t be filled with fun, silly spirit? Think about different class themes you could have and use them to bring some joy-factor to class. Funny hat day? Tie dye day? A different color outfit every day of the week? The ideas are endless. Doing this is a fun way to have students excited to come to class. The theme could even be about the content being taught to get them excited about the daily objective! Anyone have an outfit for a geometric shape clothing day?
Use the Polling Feature
Using the Polling feature on Zoom can start out the class with a fun community-building activity and give students a voice to start out the day. You can build stronger relationships with students and find out more about their preferences, ideas, and interests. Questions could even be social-emotional check-ins or questions that can help you assess student prerequisite knowledge in a fun way.
Encourage Virtual Backgrounds
Virtual zoom backgrounds are a fun way to give students some creativity and joy during online class. Just like the “class theme” idea, virtual backgrounds could relate so the day’s objective, your unit theme, or a specific lens on your content. You can also hold a class competition or the best virtual background! Not only does this create a fun culture-building opportunity for your class, but it also can create somewhat of a “shield” for a low-income student’s living situation. Virtual learning really puts students’ homes on display, which can highlight inequities and create discomfort for students. Virtual backgrounds are a great way to help students all feel comfortable while on video.
Being in a virtual learning environment can actually help students feel more heard and seen by their teachers. Using the zoom chat feature to personally message them one-on-one for praise, assess understanding, or just check in! Students miss their teacher and having synchronous lessons with live points of communication with the teacher is crucial to feeling connected and positive about remote learning.
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