Keep Moving Forward

One more month to go before this school year ends! One more month of navigating through this distance learning journey we are all on and awaiting to see just how long this journey will last. We do not know what the future holds, but it is important for us to continue to keep moving forward and end this school year strong. What we do know is that every person at Kaimuki Middle has done an amazing job in meeting the needs of our students and has made a positive impact.

As time has passed, a common concern of many is that less students are engaging in distance learning opportunities and that as each week goes by this problem will only worsen. The challenge posed to each teacher is how to increase student engagement?

Keep in mind that there is no easy answer to this and what works for one person may not work for another. Therefore, here are a few ideas on how to increase engagement while teaching virtually.

INTERACTIVE TOOLS

Even before COVID-19, there has been a push to utilize technology in the classroom to increase student engagement, provide formative assessment data and create a more student-centered learning environment. Nothing can compare to “in person” classroom instruction, but at a time like this it’s hard to ignore the benefits that some of these tools have to offer.

Peardeck:  An interactive presentation tool that allows teachers to create live presentation sessions that students join on their own device. Interactive elements within their slides include draggable dots, freehand drawing tools, and assessment questions. Student responses can be shared anonymously for the entire class either individually or as a class-aggregated data set. Questions can be pre-planned or asked on the fly. Peardeck integrates seamlessly with Google Drive and Google Classroom, allowing teachers to easily share slide decks, store student responses for analysis, and make it easier for students to join a session.

Nearpod: Another application similar to Peardeck that allows for the creation of interactive slide presentations. Nearpod has the ability to upload files (PPT, PDF, etc…) and connects with other services such as Google Drive, DropBox, Box, and OneDrive. You can also incorporate a variety of question formats including open-ended, poll, quiz, freehand draw, fill in the blank, and memory test. Nearpod also has the ability to incorporate a variety of multimedia content such as videos, websites, audio clips, PDF’s, and Twitter streams.

Nearpod has some great FREE lessons you may find useful too… check it out!

Mentimeter: Provides every student a voice, and stops only the loudest in the class from being heard. Test your students’ knowledge, gather feedback and ask them to reflect on polling features. Use word clouds, open-ended questions and more to start conversations and spark ideas in the classroom.

MUSIC

Music is universal, healing and touches everyone. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music. Therefore, incorporate music into your lessons and webex meetings.

Play music during the following times:

  • Opening of a webex– set the tone and play a happy song (ask students for song ideas)
  • Transition– when moving on to another part of the webex, play a song that will signal to students that a new part of the class will begin
  • Closing of a webex– end with a song that has a positive message (ask students for song ideas)
  • Keep them up– when you notice students are not engaging, put on a song such as “Put Your Hands Up (In The Air)” and dance
  • Drink your water– model for students to stand up and stretch, dance or move around and play a song that will remind them to drink water. Inform them that each time you play a song such as “Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls”, everyone is to stop what they are doing and drink water.

GAMES

Before any lesson begins, start with a short game. Some games that can be played on Webex include Gimme Gimme, Pictionary, Charades, Bingo, Would You Rather. In addition to having fun with each other, this will deepen relationships and also may encourage more students to engage in Webex meetings.

PBIS

Say what? PBIS in distance learning? YES!! It can be done.. and here are a few ideas.

Spotlight A Student: Select a student who has had the most work submissions in the week or improved the most in the week, change it up so students won’t know what you’re looking for. Make a slide that highlights their name and what they accomplished.

Comment of the Day: Based on the chats on Webex, pick a “Comment of the Day” from each session and recognize that student. Explain what was good about that comment.

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