It's the start of a new year and school is back on. Many of us are still teaching online, so we thought it would be a great time to inspire & help anyone teaching online to re-energise their digital classrooms. These ideas will increase classroom engagement and make your job teaching a more fun filled one.
Encourage More Student-led Activities
This is a commonly shared tip but just incase you haven't tried it yet, we wanted to encourage you to do so. Involving student ideas and putting students in-charge of some activities will excite them and create a collaborative enviroment. Here are a few ideas to do that digitally:
1. Anonymous Digital Suggestion Box
Create a way for students to share their opinion and feedback without being named. Many times students want to share their thoughts but are afraid to offend anyone or get reprimanded. Encouraging students to suggest ideas or rate lessons via an anonymous form can relieve the pressure. Try this Free Suggestion Box.
2. Student Skill Share Sessions
Each week, schedule a time and select a student to share a skill, hobby, or interest they have in a presentation. It's a chance to add an element of surprise and for the class to explore topics beyond the typical curriculum. The peer-to-peer teaching will encourage exploration of a variety of topics and will help with teacher workload.
3. Digital Time Capsule
Using any collaborative whiteboard software, ask students to contribute pictures, quotes, hopes, wishes, note to future-self and drawings on the shared document. Give the students some guiding prompts but encourage them to choose questions or themes. Explain that the document will be saved and shared with the class again at the end of the school year. Don't forget to put a reminder on you calendar at the end of the year to revisit the document.
4. YouTube Film Festival
Ask students to vote for a theme and each suggest a YouTube video that they feel the class would learn from or be inspired by. You will be surprise by how eager students are to share with their classmates. If your class is large, compile a list and make a voting poll for top 5 or top 10 videos. Organise a date where everyone meets on Zoom to watch the videos together via screen share. Encourage snacks and drinks to put everyone in the video watching mood. Hold group discussions after. You can turn this into a regular activity (like a book club).
Bring More Games Into The Classroom
If there has been anything that worked in my online classroom, it has been games! From my experience the best kinds are team games and collaborative games. Avoid any where there are singled-out individual losers. Students will stop participating once they realise there is no chance to win.
1. Appoint A Game Leader
There has been many occasions where I have students request games or design their own Kahoot quiz for the class to play. I suggest offering the opportunity for students to volunteer (or you can appoint them) to be the Game Leader every now and then. Their job is to suggest a game and facilitate. Teachers can support them with game ideas and facilitation where needed.
2. A Few Game Ideas If you are planning to add a few games without the fuss of monitoring a Student Game Leader, try facilitating one of the following games:
Virtual Pictionary: Skribbl or Sketchful are great tools to get the whole class playing Pictionary remotely
Zoom Treasure Hunt: Get your students up and running - our guide can be found here
Remote Bingo: Flippity is a great free tool. They have a template you can customise
Free Online Breakout Room: Try Marty & The Thief In The Night
Tell More Stories
No matter the age of your students, a good story helps people connect and be inspired. Stories have the power to evoke emotion, and as learning expert Jim Kwik explains "Information combined with emotion creates memory”. Try these ideas to bring more stories into your classroom:
Storytelling Dice: This is a great way to get the class collaborating on creative ideas. Using the images, get each student to make up a part of the story. Here's a great digital story dice by Dave Briss
Dessert Island Disc: Similar to the the famous BBC radio show, invite students to choose a song, a book and a luxury to take with them as they're castaway on a mythical desert island. This can be done as an icebreaker, or remote show and tell, since they have access to things in their home to share with the class.
Astra Nova Conundrums: Problem solving is a great skill to teach your students. The innovative Astra Nova School has a set of videos. The Conundrums involve open-ended critical thinking and ethics challenges. They encourage students to discuss as a team and think out of the box.
Draw Your Life: A popular trend on YouTube where the author narrates their life history, while drawing illustrations on a whiteboard. Using any digital drawing tool and a screen share students or teachers can express and connect with each other in an authentic way.