This year it’s essential that teachers focus on ways to make remote learning interesting and effective. Now’s the time to make a habit of finding ways to make virtual learning interesting and interactive, as some students in the ATT system have opted to learn from home this year and others have to stay home even for a slight cold. Plus, there’s the realistic possibility that some classes or schools will have to learn remotely at times this year.
To help provide teachers gain the tools necessary to make this unusual year successful, the ATT is offering teachers additional professional development opportunities. Recently, education consultant Lakey Silber met with teachers over Zoom to explore creative ways to make virtual learning exciting for students.
Practice using the virtual whiteboard whether it’s in-person or virtual
With the many types of different learners out there, having a visual component to any lesson can be both engaging and essential for some students. Take the time to practice on your own and with your students by writing your name, drawing, coloring and using the different tools offered.
Here are a few ways to use the whiteboard to make learning engaging:
- Hangman – Take turns coming up with the word the students guess and having students submit words to use.
- Pictionary – A fusion of words and pictures can be both fun and educational for students.
- I packed my bags to Israel – “And in it I put…” Followed by an object and the next student repeating the original object along with an addition.
- Picture by piece – Draw one part of a picture at a time and have the students copy each part. At the end, share the picture with the class.
- Alphabet four squares – A name, place, animal, think in four squares
Having access to a screen sharing feature offers many creative learning opportunities for the virtual classroom. Games such as Boggle, Scattergories and Secret Code can all be used while screen sharing. Putting up a maze on your screen allows the students to simultaneously journey to the completion together.
Sharing your screen can also be an engaging way to read a story together as a class. Read the story on slides so that the text and pictures are clear and vibrant to students. Screen sharing also allows the students to participate in a show and tell virtual experience.
More activities to use with a shared screen include:
- I spy
- Word find
- What is missing
- Can you guess the sound
- Show a part of an object and the students guess what it is
- Memory game
- Scavenger hunt
- Dots and boxes
- Find the hidden objects in the picture
There are enough options that you can incorporate many of these activities into daily lessons and see what works best with your class for the future.
Effectively playing games
Learning games are a tried and true method of teaching, and remote learning affords teachers many opportunities to incorporate fun and educational games into the mix.
Triviamaker.com has different game modes to make quizzing students on materials fun, social and engaging. Similarly, teachers can use Family Feud, multiple-choice activities or other trivia games. Powerpoint and other software enable teachers to easily create Jeopardy-style games to quiz students’ knowledge.
The picture story game is a very engaging and thoughtful exercise to do with students. For the game, each student receives a picture. Then, one student begins the story and each student continues the story with their individual picture.
Another option is to play “Last Letter.” To play, the teacher selects a category for the game. The first player names a word in that category. Then the next person names a word in that category that starts with the last letter of the previous word the person said. The game continues until everyone is stumped.
Art projects for virtual learning
Participating in arts and crafts projects is proven to reduce anxiety, and in a time of such uncertainty, students will certainly appreciate the change of pace. The projects don’t need to be so complicated either. Make a flying paper airplane, paper boat or a simple paper plate project like a smiling sun. Teachers can have the students draw a picture and cut it out to create their own puzzle.
Movement and exercise
With remote learning, the thought of sitting and staring at a screen for hours can be daunting for even the most patient students. Break up the learning with some movement and exercises as often as needed. Play “Simon Says,” and teachers can give students the opportunity to play “Simon.”
Freeze dance is a great way to incorporate music and energy into the learning experience. Put on music and let the students dance until it stops. Students can also dance with an object like a broom or a scarf to make it more interactive.
“5,4,3,2,1” is an exercise where the teacher proposes five different movements in descending order. Five jumping jacks, four spins around, three hops on one foot, two walks around the room and one high-five for a friend.
Movement and exercise can also mean using the time for relaxation and focus techniques. Practice breathing strategies with students such as smell the flower and blow the pinwheel. Have students breathe in while raising their hands and breathe out slowly putting their hands back down. Giving students clapping rhythms to copy or providing Youtube videos such as JJ Duchman’s “Keep School Fun” are also creative ways to keep students engaged.
Although nothing can replace the power of in-person learning, using creative and engaging activities can make the best of the virtual learning situation and give students a positive experience when they need it most.