Educators know how challenging it can be to keep students engaged in class, and many of us learned that sustaining engagement in remote learning environment offers unique challenges. Classroom management takes on a whole new meaning when that classroom is managed through Zoom, Google Classroom, or other learning platforms.
With that in mind, we know that educators are reflecting on lessons learned from the rapid COVID-19 closures this past spring, while also looking ahead to the challenge of keeping students engaged as we enter into the school year.
In this short article, we will offer a few (slightly) unusual tips to keep your students engaged while learning from home. We know that schools cannot compromise when it comes to teaching and learning, no matter the challenge, so the real challenge is how we keep students engaged.
The big theme across these tips is fun. Utilizing tools, programs, and projects that students genuinely like goes a long way towards keeping them engaged. Let’s dive in…
Nobody loves a deadline, but they do have a way of amping up the excitement in the classroom. Time-limited STEM challenges can be a fun way to break up the routine and create a sense of urgency around learning. At CoderZ, we center the learning experience around projects and missions, which is a great set up for challenges.
If you are looking for some inspiration, check out this article that goes over gamified learning and its benefits.
Set up Virtual Hands-on learning
One of the major benefits of virtual coding and robotics is the ability to create a hands-on learning experience, even through distance learning. By letting your students program their very own virtual robot, they will experiment, fail, learn, experiment again, and ultimately prevail. Through a hands-on approach to coding and robotics, teachers will see students lean-in on the curriculum in support of completing their missions. Along the way, they are not only learning the standards, they are developing key 21st Century Skills, including problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, and more. By learning while doing, your students will get a clearer vision of the problems they’ll have to solve in the real world of the future.
Teamwork is one of the essential abilities the workforce will require from students in the near future. While working from home, encourage them to work in teams to complete activities, missions, and challenges. Or create a team-based project for students to work on collaboratively and encourage them to present results to the rest of the class. With a range of learning styles in every classroom (visual, aural, verbal, physical, and more), and by teaming up learners, you can motivate students to learn from each other. The beauty of a team construct – and the platforms now available to teachers – is that teams can be as engaging and exciting online as they are in class.
Let them play:
The underlying stress that many students are dealing with (and teachers) is a key reason that engagement must become the cornerstone of instruction. And, as part of that mantra, we think it’s okay to have fun. More than okay, in fact, it’s essential. Through compelling challenges, friendly in-class competitions, and yes, even deadlines, students can and should find fun in learning virtually.
We recognize that teachers have been utilizing many of the above practices for years, but in the context of COVID-19 and the shift towards virtual learning, we present these tips so that teachers can see beyond the Zoom session, go beyond the Google Classroom, and foster a sense of engagement that will benefit everyone.
You can start today. Don’t let COVID-19 stop you. Register today for a free trial of CoderZ and start experiencing how it feels to teach STEM through virtual robots in a gamified and mission-based online learning environment.