Within the last few years, teachers worldwide have found themselves suddenly leading remote learning classes, often with mixed results. Of course, teachers, parents, and students everywhere are grateful that they have the opportunity to keep teaching and learning outside of a physical classroom, but that doesn’t mean it has been an easy transition.
Many teachers were not prepared for the challenges that come along with online learning and virtual classrooms, especially when it comes to issues with student behavior and lack of engagement. As a result, they simply cannot use a lot of the same tactics for distance learning that have proven to be successful in a physical classroom, like separating students from their distractions.
Fortunately, we have come up with a list of 15 strategies to help teachers engage students during remote learning sessions and hopefully get them excited and interested in school again (at least, as much as they can be!). Now, some of these ideas are specific to a Zoom meeting, as it is one of the most popular choices for schools at this time, but most of them can also be adapted to fit other platforms.
Check out our 15 Zoom ideas for teachers below!
Zoom Ideas for Teachers
1. Share Screens
Screen sharing in a Zoom classroom is especially useful if you have a screen with instructions, pictures, or even a whole slide show that you want to share with your students. It allows them to follow along with your lecture or remind them what you’re talking about if they get distracted during class.
2. Annotation Tools
While you’re sharing your screen, consider enabling the annotation tools so you can highlight and/or write over any photos, slideshows, or websites you may share with your students. This can help guide their attention to where it needs to be during your lessons.
You can use the whiteboard like you would a blackboard in a physical classroom. The drawing features may take a little getting used to, but if you have a stylus or Apple Pencil, it can make things much easier. You can even let your students use the whiteboard, too (if you trust them!).
4. Zoom Breakout Rooms
Zoom breakout rooms allow your students to gather in small groups for class-related discussions. You can either manually or automatically assign students into different groups within Zoom, and as a moderator, you can join and swap students out of groups as necessary. Students will enjoy interacting with their classmates again and get a break from listening to you speak!
This is great for reviewing material if your students have an upcoming test. If you’re interested in doing a student-paced or live quiz, try using a free program like Quizziz.
6. 20 Questions
This can be another great way of reviewing concepts learned in class. You or a student can think of something relating to a certain lesson, and then others can ask yes or no questions to figure out the answer. Finally, they can raise their hands, whether virtually or physically, to take turns.
7. Surveys or Polls
The “raise my hand” button can also be a great way for gathering student feedback on all kinds of topics, as long as you are looking for brief responses. Use this to see whether or not students understand certain concepts or simply as a way to see who is paying attention! You can always sign up for a free teacher account on Nearpod if you want to be able to better track responses.
8. Interactive Presentations
Nearpod is also a great tool to use for interactive presentations. You can use collaborative boards, check out 3D models, and even host a virtual field trip with your students. They can follow along with your presentation on one screen while listening to your voice on another.
9. Student Presentations
Give yourself a break and let your Zoom class do some presentations! This may work best for older students, as you can assign or allow them to choose a topic related to your current lessons and let them teach the class. They can use Google Slides to create presentations and share their screens in class.
10. Virtual Flashcards
If you’re looking to practice terms, vocabulary, and/or definitions, try using virtual flashcards. You can use them with your whole class or as a breakout room activity. Try the free guessing games of Charades, Password, and Taboo on Fishbowl.
11. Zoom Scavenger Hunt
A Zoom scavenger hunt provides the perfect opportunity for students to get up from their seats and move around their homes. Just make sure you are not picking specific items for them to find, as not all households will have the same things. This is a great idea for a Zoom game to get the students up and out of their seats while still actively learning.
Breaks are just as important with online learning as they are with in-person learning, so why not host something like a virtual dance party? GoNoodle allows you to do just that, and it’s easy enough to use it in your Zoom call. Just open up one of their dances and then share your screen!
13. I Spy
If you’re looking for more of a stay-in-your-seat kind of activity to give your students a quick break, try playing I Spy. You could do this by identifying something in a student’s background and having the class figure out whose background it is by searching everyone’s videos. You could even do this with virtual backgrounds if you wanted to switch things up!
14. Show and Tell
A favorite among younger students, this gives them a chance to be the center of attention and show off some of their favorite things at home. This can be used as an incentive for good behavior and hard work during class.
15. Allow for Pauses
You don’t have to fill every single minute of class with content. It is important to let students sit and reflect throughout their lessons. You can use a countdown timer to let them know when you need their attention again on a video, slide, or something like Classroomscreen.