Virtual learning has its ups and downs, but unfortunately, I have been experiencing more downs than ups. From connection glitches to students not knowing how to open an Internet browser, I am experiencing it all. The shift into the virtual world has added a lot to our teacher plates, and we are running out of space for ourselves. With this cloud of technological doom looming over our heads, making our lessons engaging and interactive has become a bit of a drag. Fear not! I am happy to share with you some virtual teaching ideas that will certainly make your life a lot easier.
Platforms for Virtual Learning:
There are some platforms out there that have been undeniably sent by the teacher gods to save our mental health. Here are my three favorite free sites to use while virtual learning:
- Seesaw — With a huge library of lessons organized by grade level or subject, you can really get your students engaged. This platform allows students to interact with the lesson — circle or type answers, record themselves, move pieces, etc. Additionally, you can record yourself giving instructions to the students! Use it as a “worksheet” substitute to track progress and practice.
- Nearpod — This is essentially a website that allows you to use a PowerPoint with checks for understanding embedded between the slides. Again, there’s a big library of lessons already made for you to use, or you can upload your own. You can add checks for understanding between each slide involving multiple-choice, short answers, drawing, bulletin board collaboration, etc. I use this when I’m presenting new material. Those interactive checks to see if my students are understanding help me see if students are internalizing the concepts.
- Quizizz — We need to assess, but it can be a pain to make your own online quiz. This site also has a library of premade quizzes for quick assessments, or you can make your own. It has all different subjects and content areas for all grades.
Videos for Virtual Learning:
Sometimes, it’s okay to put up a video for the whole class to engage with. It saves your voice and keeps the kids excited about being in class while virtually learning. I use these videos typically on Fridays just to wind down with the students:
- Art for Kids Hub — this YouTube series is AMAZING. Step-by-step video tutorials to follow along and draw just about anything for all ages! The artist goes very slowly, and you can always pause the video when necessary, and the drawings always turn out great. Trust me on this one. Screen share any of their videos over Zoom and the kids will have a blast drawing with you.
- Riddle Me This — Students need to interact and socialize with their peers. I use this channel on YouTube to play riddles for my students. I put them in different breakout rooms on Zoom so they discuss what they think the solution is. Then, they come back to the main Zoom with their ideas. They get REALLY into it, but I suggest screening the entire video before class to make sure the content is age-appropriate for your group, as some of these riddles involve being a detective to a murder.
Interactive PowerPoint Ideas:
I have always taught using PowerPoints, and sometimes I am lost without them. I don’t want to let them go just because we are virtual. Here are some ideas on how to surely bring your PowerPoints to life in the virtual setting:
- Four Corners — From ice breakers to reviews, we have all without a doubt used the four corners to get students moving. In the virtual setting, it’s a bit hard to get students to move out of their chairs when the lesson is on their screen. With virtual 4 corners, just substitute the corners for fingers! Have them hold up the answer to the camera, and that’s generally it! They are moving and participating. Use it as a fun activity for reviews, practice, or getting to know each other.
- Design a classroom — In PowerPoint, you can actually create a lovely classroom setting. Search for “hardwood floors, blackboard, brick wall, sofa, rug, bookcase, lamp, and plants,” then paste them into a PowerPoint presentation to create a classroom. I also downloaded and used Bitmoji to insert “myself” into the class. Once I assembled the class, I copied it to all the slides, then added a text box to the blackboard. It looks like you’re virtually delivering and writing in a real classroom, which is perfect for virtual learning!
- What’s in the box? — I found this game off of a website and have loved it ever since. The post-its surrounding the box are clues. Students choose a post-it and read out the clues. This is a great opportunity to add some complex sentences and vocabulary and to get kids to practice reading out loud. What’s more, it’s a lot of fun! One by one, we take off the post-its. After we have revealed the statements, I ask them to write in the chatbox on Zoom their guess for the big box. After I have all the guesses, we reveal the mystery! Search “what’s in the box ppt game” in Google to get this template and customize it for your students.
It can seem like the ideas for virtual learning and teaching are limited, but I hope these suggestions got your creative juices flowing! Check out some of these options and let me know how they worked for you. If you have any other cool things you’re doing in your virtual classroom, don’t be afraid to comment!