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Tips for Engaging Students in Live Virtual Instruction
Tips for Engaging Students in Live Virtual Instruction

How to make your online classes fun and engaging!

Sarah McGull avatar
Written by Sarah McGull
Updated over a week ago

Engage students in Live Virtual Instruction

Are you holding live online classes with your students? Read on for tips for engaging students while teaching virtually!

🌟 Change the view

Video conferencing tools, such as Zoom and Google Meets, allow you to change your view of everyone in the meeting. "Gallery" or "Grid" view is a fun way to see everyone on one screen (make sure you help your students to put the meeting into the same view). When everyone can see one another, you can run some fun activities such as:

  • Brainstorming: Have students write a one- or two-word response to a prompt on a sheet of paper, and have them hold that up to the camera!

  • Polling: Have students hold up 1, 2, or 3 fingers to indicate which option they choose. Or have them do an action - e.g. hold your nose for option A, pull your ears for option B, or put your hands on your head for option C.

  • Group dance: Have everybody groove along to a piece of music for a wiggle break.

🌟 Share your screen

Most video conferencing tools allow you to share your screen, opening up endless possibilities for teaching! You can flip through a presentation, play a video, or demonstrate how to use a new website.

When holding discussions or reading something as a class, you can also share your screen to show a random name picker, so that all your students can see whose turn is next.

To take the fun up a notch, have students share their screens! Ask students to share something they've created online, and explain its features or the process they followed.

🌟 Use Formative for quick, live assessment

Embed formative assessment opportunities throughout your online class to ensure that you're meeting everyone's needs and keeping them engaged with the material.

Every formative you create is a live document, so you can have students log in and open a blank formative, and then add questions to it during the class! Your students' responses will appear on your screen in real time, so you can instantly see who has grasped a concept, and who needs more help.

🌟 Interact on whiteboards

In many video conferencing tools, you can draw on a whiteboard and enable others to draw, too. Some fun ways to use this include:

  • Write a problem or a diagram with a deliberate mistake. Then ask for volunteers to circle the error and explain it to the class.

  • Create a graffiti wall! Have students write their ideas or responses to something - all on the same board!

  • Use the whiteboard as an anchor chart for the lesson. As you model or elicit a new concept, add it to the whiteboard with student-generated examples or quotes from the text. 

  • Draw a continuum with "0" at one end and "10" at the other. Ask students to rate their understanding by drawing a "X" on the continuum.

🌟 Differentiate with breakout rooms

Many video conferencing tools allow you to place students into separate digital "rooms." This allows students to discuss and collaborate in small groups, before coming back to the main class to share. 

Give students a clear task to achieve in these breakout rooms, and consider having other teachers supervise the rooms to ensure security.

🌟 Discuss student work together

Formative allows you to hide student names and to sort names randomly in View Responses. This allows you to share responses to a question without compromising student privacy. Try sharing your View Responses screen and discussing them together - how could we rank these responses? What is similar and different between these responses?

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