All teachers in the nation engaged in distance learning with students this Spring it was an experience that I will never forget. In fact, that experience has led me to rethink many of my routines and procedures for my virtual classroom. I want to increase engagement and build community during our Google Meets.
My students and I had been together since August so our community had been established so maintaining that was not as difficult. This time around I will be meeting my students virtually for the first time so building community and relationships are vital not to mention having engaging virtual meetings.
In my district, as of now, we use Google Meet and so far the new updates have not been released, so the following ways do not include break out rooms or an integrated whiteboard. Don’t worry once those features are accessible or my district switches to Zoom I will write an updated blog post!
If you are new to my site, I am obsessed with Jamboard. If you are not familiar with Google Jamboard, check out this post to learn more about it. Jamboard is a digital whiteboard that allows for real-time interaction and so much more. I have created simple Jams that feature games like bingo, checkers, and Pictionary. I have included these Jams 👇🏼 on the Wakelet below.
Access the Jamboard Collection of Resources on Wakelet!
Use Jams to help break the ice with students in real-time. Have students post pictures of their favorite items. Try an activity called “Things That Rock”, a lesson from *Eduprotocols book 1.
Place images (on each frame) on the Jam, determine a colored sticky note to represent if it “ROCKS ” or not. When students see the image they will place a sticky note to the left or right to indicate if it ROCKS or not. After students have chosen their side; call on a few so that they can discuss their choices. Doing this activity throughout the week will provide great insight and understanding of how and why students feel the way they do. Examples of prompts and images could be :
- Distance Learning
- Group projects
- Working alone
- Reading a book
I am planning on writing more posts about how versatile Jamboard is. In the meantime, think about common icebreakers that could be converted digitally using Jamboard. Share those activities or pin those activities on my Pinterest board for Google Jamboard. I would love to see and share them!
Flippity is near and dear to my heart. I remember when it first was launched and only have several items to choose from. Now it has expanded to so many options. Flippity is a website that uses Google Sheets to turn them into amazing tools from a random name picker to quiz show and so much more.
I used Flippity Random Name Picker in my classroom and every day during distance learning. My students and I came up with different ways to sign off during our Google Meets. We came up with:
- Last Name
- First Name
- Class number
- Favorite color
- Favorite movie genre
At the end of our sessions together it was a student’s job to remind me of the Wheel! I had already filled in the spreadsheet or I would add a new category right then and there.
Publishing the sheet to the web is super important. Do not worry Flippity has all the steps listed and a demo for you as well.
When the wheel stops, the category appears and I would take over from there. For example, when it landed on birthday, I would say, “If your birth date is a prime number, you may sign off”. I would change it up so it would not be just their birthday month over and over. We would get creative like rhyming birthday months. Most of the time it would be just us laughing and we loved it! Sigh…I miss them!
We used Flippity Random Name Picker for spirit days, student of the week, group projects and so much more. Try it out!
Another alternative is, not as robust, but still very useful is Classroomscreen.com
I will be devoting an entire post to PearDeck! PearDeck is effortless from using their flashcard factory to the Google Slide Add-on. I love being able to interact with my students in a fun and academic way. I would create my google slide on any topic and use the PearDeck Add-on for Google Slides to add interactive questions, formative assessments, and to provide wellness checks.
PearDeck provides teacher-paced lessons and student-paced as well which is so helpful in reaching students both synchronously and asynchronously. I enjoyed meeting with students that need my direct instruction and allow other students to work at their own pace.
PearDeck’s free version is plenty for when you are starting out and creating your lessons. It is very generous and using the free version of PearDeck suits my needs for now. Being an avid user, I know that I will outgrow the free version and will cross that bridge when I come to it.
Here is a special treat for you! I reached out to PearDeck (Thanks Susan!) and was given a link for you to have a free 90-day trial👇🏼! ENJOY!
Click for your FREE 90 DAY TRIAL: https://bit.ly/2CJ9v3X
So I have used Quizizz before and I enjoyed it but I just bypassed all of the features that it offered. Thankfully this past August, I had finished reading *Eduprotcols Field Guide Book 2 and realized that I was underutilized Quizizz. I implemented the Fast and the Curious protocol and had students practice skills over and over. Their improvement was phenomenal.
Quizizz provides real-time gameplay, practice, and homework links for the quiz that you create or edit/copy from their library of quizzes. It also integrates with Google Classroom…whoo hoo! Students will see their scores once they have completed the game both on their screen and in Google Classroom. In addition, students will have access to flashcards after they submit their responses which I have them do while we are waiting for others to finish the game.
I love that Quizizz provides a class average. When I am introducing a new topic or words and using Quizizz, as a class we would track and record our class average. Building that community that it was not about a student’s personal performance but increasing the class average is so empowering. I would have students ask if I could link the practice link and/or assign the homework link so that they would be ready for the test at the end of the week. My students were focused on raising the class average and I loved that!
Every Friday, our class would invite our Principals, P.E. Teacher, and other specialists to play “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader” quiz. My students loved it and we won every time!
If you are a Pinterest pinner, please consider joining the TechFairies Community Board to share ideas and all things educational. I hope to see you there!
Having activities that promote conversations are so crucial both in the classroom and during distance learning. Every week my students submitted their ideas for our weekly class spirit days via a Google Form but it was the discussion that we had during our morning meetings that were so insightful for choosing our spirit days.
During one of these virtual meetings, a student suggested playing Simon Says. Now to give you some background information, I adopted an idea from Kim Voge in which she gave her students 5-10 minutes each morning to play card games or board games to increase communication and community engagement.
My students were used to that and enjoyed the games I was doing using Jamboard. However when my student suggested Simon Says it made me realize that even a simple, low, or no tech activity will still work. We had a blast and I am sure their parents thought I was losing my mind…lol.
Here is a quick list of activities that help to promote conversations and loads of laughter:
- 2 Truths and a Lie
- I Spy
- Mad Libs
- 4 Corners
- Would you rather…
- Show and Tell
- Joke of the Day
- Lego Challenge
- Directed Draw using Art For Kids Hub
Students still need brain breaks during lessons especially since most districts like my own will be requiring that teachers provide instruction (synchronous and asynchronous) for at least 4 hours or more.
One of the ideas I want to do this new school year is to have students submit their favorite songs so we can listen to music while we are working. OR just have a quick dance party! I would be making sure that those songs are age-appropriate.
We continuously used GoNoodle all year long. During distance learning, fifth-graders were not as interested in it as they were in the classroom. So I “took” my class outside and use Flippity to pick one GoNoodle activity. I told my students that the best “GoNoddler” would pick the next activity or a different one. It worked! But I knew that it would not last so we developed ideas for movement-based activities that were as simple as hopping 10 times during a lesson. One of my favorites was as we were learning vocabulary words, we can up with movements for each word like jumping jacks every time that word was mentioned.
I did scavenger hunts and virtual field trips. This new year, I will have my students come up with more movement activities. I can not wait to see what they come up with.
As we embark on this new school year adventure, I hope these activities will help promote community, engagement, and relationships. I would love to hear what you did to increase engagement in your virtual classrooms!
*The following links are affiliate links. You can help support TechFairies and I will get a small commission of the sale with no additional cost to you. These affiliate links help to support my blog, channel, and planner habit. Hey, I am a teacher and I LOVE my pens and planners! Thank you so much!