Are your kids starting to space out during their Zoom calls with their teachers? Do you find yourself interfering more with your children’s online learning than you used to? While there are benefits and disadvantages of online learning, it’s going to be incorporated into our children’s education regardless of what our opinions are. So, it’s imperative that we make online learning engaging, meaningful, and fun so that our students remain focused throughout the entire school day. There are three simple ways to alter the delivery of the academic content to keep students focused during online learning; We need to make connections, utilize the features of the video conference platform, and include games/friendly competition whenever possible.
One way to help keep your students focused is to make connections with them so they feel safe, heard, and so that they can relate to you personally in addition to the content. You can do this by incorporating memes, gifs, and images into your presentation slides. The less words the better, because students do not want to spend their entire day reading off of a computer screen. They’ll also be more likely to pay closer attention during your instruction because it’s not written down for them. For students who many need this accommodation, you can always send your slides after class and include in the notes section a more detailed description of the focus skill and specific examples from the lesson. You can also record your lessons. In addition to using images in your presentation, be sure to take the first 5-10 minutes of your class checking in with your students. This can be through a fun ice breaker activity or a quick share. When students know that you care about their personal life, they’ll be more willing to take academic risks to deepen their learning.
Another way to help keep your students focused during online learning is to utilize the features of your video conference platform. Some of these features include the chat feature, the remote control button, breakout rooms, and the annotate feature. When teachers first transitioned to online learning, they found these tools to be daunting. Now, it’s necessary to effectively show students how to correctly solve a math problem or read for context clues in a passage. The chat feature and remote control button gives students an opportunity to participate and interact with the content without physically being in person. Break out rooms give students the ability to work in groups and the teacher can check in with specific students (either individually or a few at a time) without interrupting the entire class. Most importantly, the annotate feature translates the computer screen into an online white board. When students can see the content manipulated, it becomes easier for them to understand what their teacher is trying to explain.
Lastly, be sure to include online learning games that are related to the content to reinforce the focus skill or encourage friendly competitions among your students. Games make the curriculum more exciting and in order to win the game, students must remain focused during the entire online session. You can hold an online scavenger hunt, host a game of Jeopardy, or make an online quiz where students need to have a “face off.” Here are some of the best online learning platforms to use to teach new skills or facilitate a game: Khan Academy, Quizlet, Coursera, Edulastic, Udemy, Kahoot, Google Classroom, and Prodigy.
Online learning for kids does not have to be boring, and there are tips/tricks to keep them engaged. We need to make connections, utilize the features of the video conference platform, and include games/friendly competition whenever possible. When our students are actively interacting with you, their classmates, and the curriculum you’ll have no problem keeping them focused!
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