By David Sua
Are your students tuning out during the day?
There are a variety of ways that technology can help them stay motivated. Read on for easy-to-use tips for teaching during the COVID-19 lockdown. We will break down how to optimize your workflow — and continue inspiring your students to keep learning during these challenging times.
Here are some tips to keep your online class engaging and inclusive:
Schedule a Healthy Snack Time
Research shows that hunger may impact a student’s emotional development and academic performance. Create a 15-minutes snack break in the morning or afternoon to ensure that they have the nutrition and energy to power through your lesson.
Host a Stretch Break
Just as we make time for meals, students can benefit from the opportunity to take a breather — especially in-between long remote sessions. Think about hosting these stretch breaks at the same time as lunch or recess.
Keep Saying Please and Thank-You
As millions of students adapt to new tools and technologies, that doesn’t mean that common courtesy gets thrown out the window. During online sessions, many students — and adults may speak rapidly and use a louder or more assertive tone of voice. Ask all students to raise their hands before speaking. They can even schedule a private chat after the lesson for specific questions that may not need an immediate answer.
Let Everyone Have A Turn
During group sessions, the loudest people tend to dominate the conversation. Consider asking these individuals to turn the question over to another peer and limiting answers with a timer to allow everyone to speak.
You can even prevent students from talking over each other by muting speakers and encouraging them to use emojis or polls to indicate what they may be feeling about specific topics. For large groups, you can also use breakout rooms to allow more personalized and in-depth interactions.
Change Out of Your Pajamas
While it may be tempting to roll out of bed in the same clothes you slept in, that wouldn’t be setting the best example for young learners. Encourage students and parents to show up to your lessons just as they would for an in-person class or parent-teacher meeting.
Use a Sturdy Desk
Ask parents to set up their child’s learning station at the same place each day. If possible, they should also remove toys, games, and other items that may serve as a distraction. Encourage a straight posture and eye contact throughout the lesson as well to show your respect for each other and the importance of classroom time.
Put Up Virtual Backgrounds
These can take pressure away from students and parents to share their personal space. They can further protect their privacy by removing family pictures and other personally-identifiable information from the background. When choosing a virtual background, a good rule of thumb is to use images that are not distracting to the eye and appropriate for an educational context.
Host a Virtual Field Trip
If attention is waning during your lessons, it may be time for your classroom to go on a journey. Here are a few virtual visits you can take today:
- The Exploratorium — featuring online activities in the sciences, arts, and mathematics.
- The Conservatory of Flowers Adaptation Field Trip Program — offering third thru fifth-grade students an engaging overview of how tropical plants adapt for survival.
- The Monterey Bay Aquarium — delivering narrated feedings for a diverse range of animals — from moon jellies to sea otters.
Enhance Remote Classes with Games
Are certain concepts just not sticking with your students? Consider implementing gamification in your lesson plan. Gamification is incorporating a sense of play, questioning, and experimentation to help individuals solve problems collaboratively and creatively. You can create a sense of friendly competition with cooperative games, flashcards, pop quizzes, and more.
Here are some popular gamification tools used in classrooms today:
- BrainPop — playful and reflective activities, available in major languages such as Spanish, French, Mandarin, and English
- ClassDojo — an online communications platform helping teachers keep in touch with students and parents through interactive activities and digital portfolios
- Socrative — dynamic tools for tracking student engagement in real-time
Make Things Visual
Graphic design tools like Canva, Figma, and Crello are great for creating eye-catching worksheets, presentations, lesson plans, and other handouts. With a bit more effort, you can also be on your way to leveraging these teaching materials on marketplaces like Teachers Pay Teachers and Teachers Notebook.
Update Your Technology
Our final piece of advice is to lean on technology to keep your lesson planning and teaching as stress-free as possible. When the tech you use becomes overwhelming, it may also be time to consider expert IT consultation on what blend of software, devices, and apps are needed to help your students achieve their goals.
This is where Nerd Crossing comes in. With over ten years of experience with charter schools, public and private educational institutions, we know a thing or two about how to optimize virtual classrooms at all scales. Whether you are looking to limit student distraction, streamline administration, or looking for faster device performance and connectivity — we are here for you!