The pandemic may have closed classrooms, but we can still open the door to learning with quality virtual instruction. In the midst of the online learning process, creating inspiring opportunities that will engage both students and parents is key. Here are a few tips for making the virtual classroom easy to navigate for parents, intriguing for students, and engaging for all!
Tips for Engaging Parents in the Virtual Classroom:
- Make it User Friendly
Parents are juggling ever-changing schedules for work, school, and everything in between. Communicate clearly and make the virtual landscape as easy to navigate as possible. Set up specific schedules and means of communication. Schedule a Monday morning email blast that shares the week’s overview and areas of study, or do a mid-week check-in with brief updates.
- Keep Communication Active and Ongoing
Interactive communication is important, so you might want to survey parents to see what methods or assignments are most successful. Provide information in a variety of ways. Email, Google Classroom, texts, Zoom, or classroom blogs can be great tools for keeping parents aware of areas of study and resources that will support students’ learning.
- Stay Flexible
Flexibility helps to alleviate stress, so make assignments and due dates open-ended. Most parents are not trained educators, so provide rubrics that spell out the expectations for assignments and allow some choice throughout the process.
Tips for Engaging Students in the Virtual Classroom:
- Make Assignments Intriguing
Working online can be difficult for young learners, so strive to make assignments interesting. Provide multiple activities, resources, and opportunities to move from the screen to hands-on learning experiences. Play learning games, go on scavenger word hunts, provide real-life math problem solving opportunities, collect data from family members and compile graphs, provide STEM Challenges, or create an art project that analyzes a favorite character from a story. Be creative and survey your students to find areas of interest and use those to drive your instruction.
- Make Tasks Open-Ended
Allow children a voice and a choice in their learning. Offer a variety of ways for students to show what they know about a topic you are studying. Integrate subjects and allow a variety of ways for young learners to show what they know. Students can take a photo of their creations and post or email them to be shared and assessed. Empowering children with a choice in their learning will spark interest and provide them with more opportunities to experience success.
- Stay Connected
We may be far apart, but we can remain close at heart! Make sure to stay connected with young learners. They need to see that you still care about a lost tooth, a new pet, or the earning of a new karate belt. Take time to connect and share experiences one on one, in small groups, or as a class. Set up a class stream or blog where students can share info or ask questions. Keeping communication alive will help to keep learning alive too.
The learning landscape has changed, but the desired product is the same. We want our children to have quality experiences that will delight, intrigue, build thinking, and inspire a love for learning that will last a lifetime. Let your joy for learning shine through your virtual classroom. You will inspire parents and students to see that discovery, problem solving, and real learning is alive and active wherever we are