Sunday, October 25, 2020

An Easy Strategy to Help Online Students Stay Focused/Engaged

Here is a simple strategy that online teachers can employ to help students that are learning synchronously from home to stay engaged. 

At my school, we are teaching to students physically in the classroom and at the same time we are teaching to students synchronously joining the class from their homes. I tried this technique last week and it definitely made a difference in how quickly students at home unmuted their mics and responded.

I share my computer screen with students in class and at home, and when I use a document camera, I share that screen with both sets of students at the same time.

Instead of calling the student's name that I want to answer a question, I say, "#2 is for the student whose name I wrote". I say this whether the name I wrote is someone at home or at school in my classroom. Students in class need to stay engaged by following along with what I am projecting on the board and students at home must also be looking at the computer screen (not simply waiting for their name to be called before looking to see what question we are one).

Pictured below is a warm-up for Spanish 2. Students in school have a 1/2 sheet of paper that they write on; students at home should be completing it as a Schoology assignment. I used the document camera as we went over the answers and I wrote the names on my copy of the warm-up. When we are reading or working on something from google drive or a word document, I type the student's name directly on the document.

There are students that say what they are doing at home instead of giving the class their full attention. I have had students tells me they have a friend over at their house, they're baking cookies, they have the screen minimized and are playing an online game, plus other things that we won't get into. Writing the names on the document to "call" on students, worked this week. We'll see how long it is beneficial.

If all your online students are 100% engaged during your synchronous class (my classes are 72 minutes), then that leads me to one of two conclusions: (1) You are simply amazing and should write a book! or (2) they are not 100% engaged but you don't realize it...yet.

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