I hear you. It is hard. I know some of you are teaching a live class in person AND at the same time remote kids. If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed. It is ok and it is normal. You are doing what no one else can. I mean, that is usually what teachers do anyway. ALL TEACHERS ARE MY SUPERHERO! Believe me when I tell you I hear you and I am trying my best to support you.

I have been creating online resources to use in your classroom with your students in person and support your remote students learning as well.

What I am hearing most from parents and teachers is the difficulty of building classroom community with different sets of students.

So how do we get students to feel like part of a community – the ones in the classroom and remote?

ENCOURAGE DISCUSSION

Make sure you have some sort of discussion board with questions posted. Students need to interact on these threads. Do not make everything in GOOGLE FORMS or email. Students need to see what others are saying and they need to interact with other students. THIS IS SOOOO IMPORTANT. Also do not turn off threads.

Make sure you are using these threads to get feedback daily on what you are working on. If you don’t want to just use discussion boards (I think they are the easiest for teachers and students) you can use flipgrid. I personally would suggest to start using discussion boards daily and weekly have a flipgrid that students need to submit so students can also associate a face and sound to the discussion board comments.

I CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH. DISCUSSION AMONGST THE STUDENTS IS IMPERITIVE TO A SUCCESSFUL CLASSROOM COMMUNTIY!! ((In caps because I am literally begging you to do this).

Discussions should be content based as well as community building.

HAVE STUDENTS WORK IN PAIRS

Using google slides, assign 2 people to meet in zoom and work on a task just like you would in the classroom. Assign it just like you would any other paired activity except they will work in slides.

WORK COLLABORATIVELY

Give students a project that they need to work on as a group. You can use google docs to design a task and have students add their additions to the task. Use COMMENT MODE only – then you will go in add approve all the additions to set task. When completed you will have a fully functional document. For example, you can have them work on a research project. You can add questions or research topics to a page and each student can add their research.

You can also have students write a collaborative story. You start the writing and then whatever student is on can add to that line. It is all edited in real time – kind of like chat. After the class story is written, you can assign students to edit it, draw illustrations for it, audio record it. SO MANY POSSIBILITIES.

GAMES

Play games. There are so many games that can be played online.

Draw This: Have each student get a sheet of paper. One person will describe a picture (such as a snowman) and the students will each draw using the directions provided by the person with access to the picture. At the end everyone can show their drawing.  They can also take a picture of it and you can add them all to the slides. This is a great communication activity too.

ABC Hunt: Choose a random letter, have the students show something from their immediate environment that starts with that letter. You can also play a variation of this such as something red, etc.

Alphabet Chain: Start with the letter A and go around naming a category item by that letter. Category examples could be animals, vegetables, furniture, etc.

I know it isn’t easy but try to think of our “new normal” in a different way. Get excited. Try out different things. It might not work out but it is better than doing the same old boring techniques.

Get excited. It is a time to stretch yourself professionally and learn new ways to teach using new tech. Scary- yes. Exciting- yes. Can you do it – YES!!

Here is a freebie I made for you – there are different activities that can be used individually to encourage interactivity and community building. Make a copy, delete the pages you don’t want, send them to your students. Some are for specifically used during breakout sessions so you can have students interview each other and fill out the slide together and hand it in. They get talking, they get to know each other.

online community building ideas

Yes, there is a lot of content to be covered but if students are not connecting with each other – it is going to be tough. Make sure to incorporate community building in each week.