The first goal of having an online classroom is to gain the attention of your students and then keep that engagement, which is a daunting task, even in person. The difficulty of this can vary depending on the age of the students you teach and the subject. But don’t worry. The internet has a lot of tools to help make your work easier.
Once you have made it through the technicalities of figuring out which platform you want to use, and setting up the classroom, you need to create your material in an interesting and purposeful way. This is going to require a bit more work on your part so that you can find out what your students engage with when online, or what they find the most interesting. It also helps if you know what is currently trending in the entertainment world.
This type of groundwork will help you to connect your students, and using the references in your work makes it easy for them to connect with your lessons. Students will always react in a positive way to a person who understand them, so find out what kinds of things they enjoy.
Getting Your Course Materials Together
The internet has provided us with easy access to loads of information that is waiting for you to explore. Come up with a list of sites that contains information that connected to your class and scroll through them on a regular basis to find new material that your students could benefit from. When you are getting your materials together, consider these things:
- Know Your Students
Before you start your class, it is a good idea to make sure you know your students by name. Arrange to meet with your students a week before the official start date, and talk to them to get a good understanding of what makes them tick. Some schools may have an in-person meet the teaching. If not, try having an online session. This is going to give you a good understanding as to who your students are and you can then create your learning objectives before making your lesson plan.
- Have Emotionally Satisfying Content
Your students will respond better when they are emotionally invested in the class. When you insert these memorable moments into your life, it makes it easier for them to remember and recall hard concepts. For example, if you teach math and your students like sports, come up with a way to use their favorite sports in your lesson.
- Breakdown Your Lesson to Make Them Digestible
Before we get into any more “fun” stuff, you have to make sure that you work on your timing. Timing is everything in online teaching, and you may find you have to break up your online lessons differently than you would have for in-person classes.
As a basic rule, it’s best if you keep a fast pace and to break up your lessons into small and easily digestible chunks. This means you should avoid lengthy explanations and slides with a whole bunch of text. You should mix up the tempo of the lesson by adding in various activities to help the time fly by for the students.
- Fun Graphs
It’s just plain dull to scroll through slides of text over and over again. This is where you need to introduce some fun things like GIF images, memes, or short clips of a movie. And when your students are working on solving a problem, you can use some fun timers as a countdown.
- Adapting In-Class Activities
It is normal to give students some quiet time to work along or read when in-person. But this doesn’t translate well for online classes. Long, dense text is difficult to read on a screen, and silence also doesn’t do well in virtual classrooms as it gives the students an excuse for their attention to drift.
You must plan activities that will keep your students actively talking, clicking, or typing throughout your lesson. This can be accomplished by asking a bunch of questions, playing games, and making sure they have material things that they can do like drawing or typing. When you are planning your lesson, make sure that your students will have to say something every three minutes or so.
- Flashcards and Games for Memorization
We already know that flashcards are great study tools to help students memorize and remember the things that they are studying. When you in an online setting, there are additional features that make flashcards even more useful. There is a website called Cram that allows you to make flashcards and add audio clips to the cards that can help your students learn what they are practicing.
Games are also a great way to keep things interesting. If you are teaching your students spelling, have a spelling bee. If you are working on math, you can have a math bee as well. Instead of them getting eliminated for misspelling a word, they get eliminated when they solve a math problem wrong.
- Make Sure The Feel Valued
For the student studying at home, isolation can be a big factor in making them lose motivation. They may feel as if nobody will notice or even care if they don’t go to class. They could also find it tempting to just not login to class because they feel tired.
The best way, as a teacher, that you can fix this, is to make sure they feel valued in your class. How can this be done? Here are a few ways:
- Aim to be an encouraging, positive presence.
- Give them regular feedback.
- Find out about their interests and work them into your lessons.
- Follow up about a previous lesson so that your students know you’re on top of what they should be doing.
- Use their names during the lessons.
- Set Goals
Goals will keep your students focused and provide them with a sense of purpose. One way to introduce these short-term goals in your class is to give each lesson a clear outline that you share with your students so that they can keep track of where they are in the learning process.
Then, think of the best way to reward them for finishing a task. This could be through positive feedback, playing games, points, badges, or doing some fun learning activities that your students enjoy. Long-term goals may go too far into the future, which makes them less effective, but try to take some time to check in with your students and come up with goals together for one month, three months, and six months.
- Interactive Quizzes
The second most important thing about an online class is to make sure you test your students. Giving them some fun quizzes can help prepare them for the big tests and will help to keep them hooked. You can make these quizzes work like games. A weekly quiz can keep your students in line with what you are working on in class. When you turn a quiz into a game, it will make it easy to learn and to excite your students.
Everybody likes to be rewarded for the things they do, and students are no different. When students are rewarded for their hard work and consistency, it motivates them to perform even better. One way to come up with a reward system is to have a special evaluation twice a month to keep your students on their toes and drive competition. You can then keep a leader board of students in order of how they performed after every quiz. This can motivate the students to do better so that they can move up the leader board.
- Give Them Choices
One way teachers can engage their students is to offer their students the ability to make choices. Choice can be a great motivator because it fosters independence and interest. When you are planning out an activity, try coming up with a choice board. Draw a tic-tac-toe board and then in it, write out nine different tasks for your students to do. The idea is that the students should complete three tasks in a row.
Use Gmail Features
Students love it when they are given tools that help make learning easy. Google provides you with lots of free tools that can help to assist you in your online classes. The following are some ways you should use Google to manage your classes.
- Have your students create a new email address that they will use for your class.
- Use Google Drive to add your notes and lectures after classes so that your students can study them.
- Use Google Hangouts to give your students some private feedback.
- Make copies of your tests that puts the questions in different order, so that there isn’t any overlap during a test.
- Use Google Sheets to help keep track of their daily progress, grades, attendance, and so on.
- Use the Google Calendar to schedule assignment dates and important tests and then set reminders for your students.
- Have a group chat with students each week to discuss their experience and how to improve your classes.
Online classes may be very different than in-person classes and limit some of what you can do, but you can still make it interesting for you and your students. With a little time and effort, you can keep your students attention and make sure that they stay engaged during class.