Adapt & Change


Making Your Online Learning More

Effective, Engaging, and Fun

While the challenges students face may vary as they enter an online classroom, one major hurdle for students to overcome is avoiding the many distractions available, so they can focus on the task at hand.  Teachers, too, can have a hard time in a virtual class discerning between those students who are following along and those whose attention is divided.  Here are some ways to keep yourself (or your students) engaged in an online classroom.
1) Practice with a Partner  

An effective way to stay engaged is to use paired practice for classroom exercises.  Working with partners, students are able to both listen and share their thoughts on a topic.  This collaborative approach gives them a chance to not only communicate their own ideas, but also reflect on an alternate viewpoint not previously considered.  Divergent views, in this case, are natural prompts for candid questions and discussions, leading students to reconsider their assumptions.  

The collaborative process of sharing ideas, questioning assumptions, and searching for answers will bring students a deeper, more precise understanding of the question at hand.  Plus, since there is always a new person to partner with, there need never be a dull moment.  Zoom’s breakout room feature is a great way to foster this one-on-one time, getting your students to speak, share, and collaborate together!
2) Get Interactive
Many remote learning tools enable students to convey meaning with more than just their words.  For example, interactive whiteboards allow students to visually communicate their ideas through illustrations, diagrams, and step-by-step solutions.  Quantitative subjects in particular receive a tremendous benefit from using these shareable visual work spaces in a collaborative environment.  By fostering discussion and providing them a visually stimulating, interactive environment, students may feel like they are playing a game rather than doing an assignment.
3) Support Your Team
Every student has their own zone of genius.  When a diverse team of students works together, each has an opportunity to share their unique strength with the team.  Students gifted in language arts can help their peers who may be more quantitatively inclined, and vice versa. The magic of collaborative learning comes alive in times like these, as each student is empowered to both teach and learn from their peers.  
Although the transition to online learning may be sudden for many students, it doesn’t have to be painful.  With the right practices and tools at their disposal, students can learn to teach, create, and share their knowledge with their peers.  The result is a collaborative environment that is not only effective and engaging, but also fun!

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