Keeping students engaged in a virtual classroom is a challenge, but it is possible. Our engagement level is making students excited to join our live lessons or thinking about skipping.
While I don’t have 100% attendance for each class (I’m self-contained), I do see all of my students at some point during the day. Check out some of my engagement tactics and start using them in your virtual classroom this week!
Ditch the Routine
Routines are king in a physical classroom, but they can get old real quick online. If students know what to expect, they are less engaged and less likely to show up, especially if no one is making them. I usually keep the same routine for a week and then change it up.
Here’s what I mean by mixing it up.
- Sight Word Practice
- Phonics practice
- Short vowel practice
- Part of speech practice
- Writing practice
- Introduce Reading Skill of the Week
- Read Aloud, Applying Skill of the Week
- Sight Word Practice
I’ve noticed, if each week the kids don’t know what to expect, then my virtual attendance is better. And they have more fun because we aren’t doing the same thing every week. To reinforce what we did during Week 1, I have students complete Seesaw assignments on those skills, aka virtual centers.
Let them unmute themselves all at once a couple of times a day. Are they going to hear you? No, but this shouldn’t be a time when they need to hear you. Ask for a group response and tell them all to unmute themselves to respond.
I know this sounds chaotic, but it works. And if you let students know that they need to mute themselves once they respond, they will! Set your ground rules first. If my first graders can do it, so can yours!
I let my students unmute themselves when we are reviewing sight words, counting, and other times when I don’t need to hear them clearly. Is it noisy, yep. But this allows them to be loud and silly. AKA, they are engaged.
In upper grades, you could have them echo read. That way, they hear it once clearly, and then they can read it together.
Vary What is On Their Screen
This is an absolute MUST! Your students do not want to look at that perfect slide show every day for every lesson! That is so boring, ya’ll. And I know some teachers are doing this because ya’ll are super proud of them, showing them all over social media. Lol. And look, we do need slide shows, but that should not make up your entire lesson.
So, give them some variety. Show your face, show your hands working with manipulatives or writing, show a short video, show their work, make them the spotlight when answering a question. Changing up what they see is an easy way to keep them engaged.
Music can make anything more engaging, especially virtual learning! Here are some ways you can infuse music into your virtual class.
- Play music before class starts. I ask students to log-on 3-4 minutes before class; during this time, I play music while waiting for class to start.
- Use music as a timer. If I give the students time to work on something independently, I’ll tell them they have until the end of the song to get it done. They love this! At first, they dance more than work, but once they realize I won’t give them extra time, they get the work done.
- Use music as a brain break. Although our live lessons aren’t extremely long, I can read my virtual classroom and see that I need to re-engage them. This works like a charm.
We are not able to teach as much content online as we are in-person. So, ensuring that students are engaged in learning is important. Your students aren’t going to want to join your virtual class if you put them to sleep. Use these tips to keep students virtually engaged!
What are some ways you’re keeping students engaged online?