How To Engage Students In Online Learning
As teachers are preparing for anything this school year, I thought it would be helpful to hear how experienced educators used technology successfully during remote learning. Debbie from Live, Laugh. Love to Learn is a Google Certified educator. I invited her to share how she successfully uses technology to engage students during online learning.
How To Engage Students In Online Learning
Being able to access digital information is a critical skill for all students, now more than ever. My use of technology for instruction, assignments, and activities helped my students succeed during the sudden switch to remote learning.
Engaging students with digital activities can make learning fun and meaningful. Two of my favorite digital activities are also my students’ favorite activities! Because my students were used to using technology, we were able to switch to remote learning reasonably easily.
Research, writing, listening, speaking, and working together on a project combine to make a significant and engaging learning activity. Giving students a chance to work in partners or small groups is a great way to allow students to collaborate while engaging in content. Making it a digital project makes it easy for students to work together even when they aren’t in the same room.
I assign a collaborative project about once per month, and my favorite type of project to assign is a social studies research project. I give my students a list of topics and allow students to sign up for their choice. Students work together to complete a slideshow on their research topic and then present it to the class.
I use a signup sheet to assign partners or small groups to one topic. I assign each group a shared template using Google Slides (PowerPoint would work too.) The template guides students and helps them complete the research by breaking up their project into parts, and each group member is required to complete a piece.
In my classroom, we have done projects on early explorers, native tribes of early Florida, U.S. colonies, U.S. states, and countries.
When we suddenly had to switch to virtual learning, we were able to continue our monthly social studies projects. Instead of student choice, I assigned the groups and had my students share their email addresses with the others in their group. (If you have older students, cell phone numbers to text each other may be an option).
I met virtually with each group at least once a week (or more if needed) to make sure they were making progress and to provide feedback on their project. When the projects were complete, the student groups gave virtual presentations using screen shares during a live whole class virtual meeting.
Our collaborative research projects are always my students’ favorite assignments each year – they beg me to do more. Even in a remote virtual setting, collaborative projects were still my students’ favorite type of activity.
One of the best ways to engage students in online learning is by using games. There are so many options for online games in the classroom! Here are some of my students’ favorite games:
Online Quiz Games
Kahoot and Quizizz are both free online platforms with teacher-created “quizzes” available. You can use an existing Kahoot or Quizizz, edit one, or create your own. My students have even written review questions for our online quiz games.
Both games can be played “live” with a class or group of students or assigned to students to play on their own. My students love playing both “live” and on their own.
I use these games for review with my whole class or assign them as extra practice at a computer workstation. Both platforms work great for both face to face learning and virtual learning too!
Google Slides (and PowerPoint) are great platforms for creating digital games that are colorful, interactive, and fun to play. If you are tech-savvy and have the time, you can create your own standards-based practice games.
To make a review game, create a slide deck with multiple-choice questions about the content you want your students to practice or review. Link the multiple-choice answer buttons to a slide in the deck that tells students whether they are correct or to try again. This style of game is an excellent computer assignment for extra practice.
I also like to use a game show format and create a “Jeopardy” style game for the whole class to play in teams. This type of game is my favorite for making test-prep and review fun and engaging. Each group has a whiteboard and dry erase marker to show their answers. I like to have all teams show their responses simultaneously and award points to all correct answers. You could also have a bell or signal and only give points for the first correct answer. If you are playing the game online, students could write down their answers and track their scores on the honor system.
I love finding new ways to engage my students online. Collaborative projects and games are my absolute favorite ways to engage my learners, and they also happen to be my students’ favorite activities!
Question and Answer
Question and answer is a great way of changing the format of your lesson without a lot of prep work. All you need to do is prepare a few questions to ask throughout the lesson and open up the classroom for a short discussion around each. You could even have students write down their questions and randomly select them to discuss – a great way to check comprehension after a lesson and correct misconceptions.
In a flipped classroom, students come to class having already read/watched the content of the lesson, typically the night before. This way, students come to class ready to engage with the lesson’s activities or in a class discussion. In some flipped classrooms, students spend class time doing “homework,” leaving the teacher to help with one-on-one students.
I hope this list gives you a few ideas for switching up your lessons. What are your favorite ways to present to students?
Let me know in the comments below.
Debbie is a teacherpreneur and blogger who shares her ideas, tips, and resources for your classroom at Live Laugh Love to Learn. She is a former research scientist with over 14 years of experience teaching upper elementary students. Debbie currently teaches fourth grade in Florida and shares her passion for science and math with her students and in her resources. She also loves incorporating technology into her instruction and is a Level 1 Google Certified Educator. Follow her on her blog or social media links.