Distance learning brings with it many adjustments, from settling into an at-home work environment and keeping kiddos occupied to managing assignments and establishing structure throughout the day. But with time, you and your students will get into a groove where your new, virtual form of instruction becomes (at least somewhat) the norm. Then comes another challenge: how do you keep students engaged from afar?
Maintaining student engagement is difficult enough when you’re teaching in a classroom. Throw in a virtual learning environment, and you’ve got an even bigger obstacle to overcome. To help, we’ve rounded up some tips that you can use to keep your students learning and engaged—even during remote instruction.
5 Ways to Boost Student Engagement
Interactive lessons.While teacher-driven lectures may seem like the easiest option for remote instruction, we encourage you to keep striving for a hands-on, interactive approach. Not only do educational trends show that student-led learning proves more effective than traditional, lecture-based methods, but it’s also more likely to keep your students stimulated and engaged in content when learning from home. How do you make virtual lessons interactive? This is where you can get creative—for instance:
- Start each day with an interesting ice-breaker question (their response can also double as a way to take attendance)
- Assign hands-on activities using common household objects
- Host a video chat where students can discuss and collaborate on projects
- Send students on a scientific scavenger hunt
- Ask students to interview a family member about a scientific topic
- Start a challenge (cooking, dancing, etc.) and share the science behind the selected activity. For example, why does water turn from liquid to gas when brought to a high temperature? Or, what causes sore muscles after exercise?
Multimedia.We’re all working and learning from a computer, so why not make use of the endless multimedia resources available on the internet? No, we’re not saying you should simply send your students a video and call it a day. Rather, we suggest that you use video and audio clips to enhance your lessons and offer students an elevated level of understanding.
Quick breaks.It’s not easy to sit down in front of a computer for hours on end, especially for kids! To take some pressure off of your students’ minds and bodies, allow for several 10- to 20-minute breaks throughout the day, where they can get some fresh air, burn off pent-up energy, stand up for a quick stretch, or simply step away from the computer. That way, when it’s time to return to their schoolwork, your students will feel recharged and ready to focus.
Virtual stickers.Never underestimate the value of a prize—even in digital form. To give your students something to work toward, send a congratulatory badge or sticker once they’ve submitted their assignment or completed a task. You’ll be surprised how quickly they’ll turn in their work!
Individualized support.Keep in mind that some students may not adjust to remote learning as easily as others. To offer your support, try scheduling individual check-ins with each of your students (or their parents for lower grade levels). During this time, ask your students/parents how they’re handling the new structure, what they’ve enjoyed, and what they’ve struggled with. This information will help you to differentiate assignments for certain students and craft upcoming lessons in a way that best suits the needs of your whole class for maximum engagement.
You’ve got a lot on your plate right now, and we know that student engagement is just one of many challenges you’re facing due to school closures. We will continue to provide as many resources as possible to support our teachers during this unprecedented time—keep an eye on our blog for more to come.