One of the most challenging aspects of a classroom is getting students to participate in a lesson. As schools begin incorporating more online elements, this challenge has only seemed to increase. Digital and remote learning platforms can create added communication barriers that aren’t present in a traditional classroom. Communication barriers like being unable to see facial expressions, body language, or not knowing when to speak are just a few examples that can have a significant impact on how well students will learn. To learn more about how to improve your classroom discussions, the classroom technology experts at SchoolMart have come up with seven lesson styles that can improve your online and hybrid engagement in and out of the virtual classroom.
Holding class via live video chat gives everyone a sense of familiarity. Some teachers find it beneficial to take their in-person lessons and translate them virtually. The strategies below will help you accomplish that while making it easier to engage and gain participation from the students through the computer.
Spider Web Discussions
Before class starts, have students answer individually a series of questions related to your lesson for the day. Once class starts, your students will have an open discussion answering the prompted questions. As the conversation continues, require a student to track the flow of the conversation on paper which will result in a spider web. Once the conversation is over, review the spider web and discuss ideas on how or why the conversation flowed one way or another. This discussion method allows students to speak on their ideas and opinions to learn more about their classmates’ perspectives.
Show-and-Tell With a Twist
Have your students find a photo or piece of art related to a given topic before the start of class. Ask your students to write and explain what they are looking at, things they notice, how it makes them feel, and what questions they still have regarding the art. When class begins, have them share with the class their chosen art and their response to the questions. This will help break the ice without the worry of answering the questions incorrectly. In addition, students are more willing to answer pre-planned questions rather than unplanned questions that prove challenging for students’ participation.
Utilizing Chat Features
Something as simple as utilizing the chat emojis, like thumbs up or down, will help students communicate whether they understand a concept or not. The more you require your students to use the chat to respond or share their answers, the more likely it will create a sense of comfortability around the chat. Which in return, will help students feel like they can elaborate on ideas or ask questions. Additionally, for younger students, it provides them with more keyboard practice that will help develop their computer skills.
Break Out Rooms to Allow Deeper Discussions
Creating smaller break-out rooms during your lesson will allow the students to engage with one another as they would in a traditional classroom, but in a smaller setting. Grouping the students will help them feel more comfortable participating, creating relationships, and sharing new ideas or concerns that can further their learning.
The think-pair-share method is a great way to encourage engagement in a hybrid or online environment. First, provide students with a prompt, then place them into smaller breakout rooms so that they can share and record answers on a google document with their group. This encourages students to share ideas on the topics and provides them with multiple ways to do so, whether that be in writing or aloud to the class.
Although some teachers might believe that synchronous discussions are better for participation and engagement, Asynchronous strategies allow students who are shy or less comfortable to open up on their terms. Most students end up being more engaging and comfortable knowing that the pressure of public speaking isn’t a requirement.
Most discussion boards assigned to students only require a prompted question and a response. Though this is an acceptable way of using discussion boards, it lacks communication and engagement between students. Instead, try requiring the students to answer the question in addition to commenting on another student’s materials. This helps to create a back and forth flow of dialogue eventually opening the door to more engaging and thought-provoking discussions. This will help students hear their peers’ opinions and connect with them virtually.
Online Moving Stations
Traditional brainstorming stations are set up around a classroom where students visit each station with their small group. At each station, students will learn about a topic, brainstorm ideas, and respond to specific questions as a group. This strategy can be completed asynchronously through google documents by creating a series of google slides that include different topics. Each group will leave their thoughts on the slides and must comment on the other groups’ responses. This strategy allows students to engage with their classmates virtually, similar to how they would in a traditional classroom.
Contact SchoolMart To Learn More
Online and hybrid learning doesn’t have to be challenging for the students or the teachers. Implementing these strategies will create a comfortable and engaging environment for students and teachers to thrive while learning virtually. Whether you need more information on how to maximize these strategies in the classroom or looking for necessary technology, SchoolMart is always here to help. Call 1-800-285-2662 or contact us today!