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[Classroom Tips] Keeping Students Engaged at the End of the Year – Virtually!

[Classroom Tips] Keeping Students Engaged at the End of the Year – Virtually!

This year is no different. Once the weather is gets warmer, students get antsier, and in our virtual world, keeping them engaged is harder than ever as the school year winds down. There’s no denying that teachers everywhere are starting to feel a little burnt out. Recently, our EdOptions Academy teachers shared a few of the tips and tricks they use to keep students engaged as the school year ends. Below are some of the highlights, but you can hear all their ideas and more in our webinar Best Practices for Taking Your Virtual Teaching to the Next Level.

Break out the Pinterest Awards

You and your students have worked HARD this year, so why not celebrate? You don’t need a large budget to reward your students for their hard work. Don’t reinvent the wheel, lean on the work of other incredible teachers who have put their creations on the internet for free to use. There are plenty of certificates and awards ranging from the serious, ‘perfect zoom attendance’ to the silly, ‘most creative video-assignment’ on Pinterest. Providing some sort of incentive for your students will help them stay focused and give them something to look forward to.

Embrace “Fun Fridays”

One popular idea from our EdOptions Academy teachers was to hold Fun Friday Zoom meetings. You can mix up the activities every Friday. Maybe one week you hold trivia on Kahoot. One week you can all wear costumes or silly hats! You could also start incorporating our free Virtual Backgrounds into your lessons. Another popular idea that’s popping up across the internet are scavenger hunts. In a Zoom scavenger hunt, give students a set amount of time to find an obscure object in their house. For example, have students try to find something with a date prior to 2018. Hopefully they don’t come back with anything in the kitchen! Fun Fridays can be a great way to connect with your students, and before you go, you can get in housekeeping reminders before the weekend!

Reflect

In the world of COVID-19, the popularity of journaling as self-care has boomed. It’s a really great way to get some social emotional learning into your virtual lessons. You can adapt reflection on the year in multiple ways. Our EdOptions Academy teacher, Meagan Torres, uses it as a way to close out the year with her students. She writes them personal letters about their growth, and how she enjoyed having them as a student. You can do that or have them write about their virtual learning experience, which doubles as a great idea for feedback and how you can improve. You could also have them write personal letters to each other. For those who are graduating or moving on to middle/high schools, this is a great idea for closure.

Break out the Bingo Cards

Who doesn’t love bingo!? Edmentum recently put together some free At-Home Bingo cards for you to play with your students or your fellow educators while working and learning from home. The bingo spaces are virtual learning themed, such as ‘Had a Pet Interrupt Class’ and ‘Completed an Assignment Early’ so chances are you and your students have done quite a few of these activities.

Plan Ahead

Your students most likely have questions about what the next grade level will look like, so provide a time for a Q&A to help them prepare for the new school year. For your younger students, see if you can schedule a zoom meeting with teachers of the next grade level where they can answer questions and look at what projects that grade worked on through the year.

For older students, provide an overview of what topics they will be covering next year, or use class time to answer questions about college or life outside of high school. At this time of year, there are a lot of things that are completely unknown about the future, especially for seniors, and it can feel overwhelming and scary for them. Provide some wisdom and words of encouragement to help calm some anxieties about what the future may look like. Share some of your own stories and what you’ve learned over the years with your students—they’ll be excited to hear it!

The end of this school year may be out of the ordinary for everyone, but you’ve all done an incredible job. Enjoy your summer vacation, you all deserve it!

haley.peterson@edmentum.com's picture

Haley Peterson studied Marketing at Winona State University in Minnesota, and has worked with Edmentum since March 2018. She currently serves as a Digital Marketing Specialist, and believes knowledge is power.