COVID-19 pandemic has pushed us all out of our comfort zones and if you’re a teacher, you must be finding it hard to manage your students and make them learn remotely from your home. Fortunately, video conferencing tools like Google Meet exist to ensure you still have a strong bond with your students until you see them at school.
But having set up Google Meet for your class isn’t enough. You will need to do a little more than that to keep them engaged and productive. In this post, we’ll discuss a bunch of activities and ideas that you can follow to light up your teaching game and also make distance learning fun for the kids.
Related: Google Meet Tutorial for Teachers!
Start the class using innovative check-ins
Regardless of their age, kids often don’t disclose how they feel, and to motivate them to speak, you will need to start the day by asking them to check in to the class with different check-ins. You can assign how your kids check in based on an emoji, weather, or an animal they feel like and ask them to explain why they choose their check-ins. This way you can get to know what your students are up to and help you decide how you want to approach each one of them for the day.
Google Meet lets you share your face and the things on your computer screen to others and you can put that to use by letting your kids draw and also perform directed drawings. As a teacher, you can ask your kids to follow you while you draw and take a step by step approach so that they can tag along at a similar pace.
Directed drawings not only helps kids draw and understand things better, but it is also known to increase their listening skills and make them learn to follow you. You can also give them the freedom to draw anything to let them be creative after a few classes.
Play Pictionary with your students
If you want to use drawing as a tool to make your students learn things better, you can try a round of Pictionary. You can make use of Google Jamboard inside Meet as a whiteboard where your students can draw something while making others in your class guess what it is that’s being drawn. Students can take turns drawing and guessing and you can also join them to make this virtual Pictionary fun.
You can also play Charades the same way minus the drawing.
Make your kids read out stories/chapters
Learning to read is one of the most important things you can teach a child. While in a video chat with your students, you can ask one of them to read aloud to the class; it could be anything – stories, chapters, or parts of them. You can also ask students to take turns reading so all of your students get to increase their reading and listening skills.
Google Meet has a neat feature when video conferencing with several people. You can change the layout of your Google Meet session to show only the active speaker on the front. This will prepare your students for public speaking, so they don’t hesitate to speak in front of others when they go back to their daily routine.
Not all students act the same, some may be outspoken while some others can be a little shy when a camera is put in front of them. To make your kids settle in the new normal of remote learning, you can have your students share something that’s special to them and take turns while doing so.
You can encourage your students to share what they did during the day, bring their pets and talk about them, or play conversational activities like Would You Rather and 2 truths and a lie.
Eat lunch with your students
To make your students feel more comfortable with distance learning, you can eat lunch with them like you would in school. This way you can catch up on what your students are up to, encourage them to eat healthily, and help them socialize with other kids.
Take your kids to virtual field trips
Although you can do pretty much everything on Meet that you can do in a real classroom, taking field trips isn’t one of them and it’s certainly the most fun activity in a student’s life. Worry not! We even have got that covered for you. There are plenty of places that you can take your kids to zoos, aquariums to farms and museums. The following is a list of places you can take your kids on a virtual field trip to:
- San Diego Zoo
- Stellarium – a virtual planetarium
- Monterey Bay Aquarium
- Georgia Aquarium
- National Aquarium
- Farm Fresh 360
- Discovery Education
- Google Arts & Culture
You can access any of the above virtual tours for free and you can search for more on the web. To make your kids join you in virtual field trips, you can use Google Meet’s native “Share a Chrome tab” feature that will share the contents of your screen to your student’s screens with audio.
Sing songs and let your students join in
Children are known to engage better if there’s a musical activity. If you’ve known your students for a while now, you might have a customary song that you and your kids sing now and then. You and your students can join in while singing to children’s songs, popular hits that are appropriate for the age group, and familiar tunes to create a new song.
Play dress-up once a week
Dressing up is a fun exercise and a learning experience at the same time. You can pretend to be someone else for a day and you can be anything from a superhero to a role model whom you follow. You can conduct dressing-up and role-playing for your students to improve their relationship skills and character traits.
Kids will also learn a thing or two about the person or profession they’re playing, thus giving you a new way to teach them different things. By playing someone else’s character for a limited time, kids will develop a better understanding of others’ feelings, motivate them, and socialize with other kids of their age.
Give them a chance to say jokes
Besides singing and dress-ups, you can also say jokes and let your kids tell some to lighten the mood around your virtual classroom. If you set it up well, you can quickly increase your jokes’ effectiveness over witty one-liners. Scripting your jokes well will leave your students to listen to you more attentively and make them wonder if it’s a joke or a story you should take seriously.
Conduct “Do it at home” science or building experiments
You can assign your students to prepare their science projects from what they have at their disposal at home. Students can ask for help from their parents but if you wish to help them out yourself, you can set up a one-on-one meeting on Google Meet with the student to guide them into creating their project.
For younger kids, an alternative to science projects can be building something using Lego bricks. You can ask your students to build something overnight and exhibit their models in the next class.
Invite parents and teachers for a virtual “guest” speaker session
Many schools have their own version of “bring your parent/special friend to school” day that can help you teach your students about different professions and how those professionals live their lives, that’s the way to go. To bring a new perspective to teaching remotely, you can host the “bring your parent” day on Google Meet by inviting parents as guest speakers for the day and ask them to share a thing or two about their profession. You can also add other teachers as speakers for a session to make your classroom fun and interactive.
Encourage your students to be active with Scavenger Hunt
While joking around and playing brain games are certainly fun, kids also need to take part in physical activities to be healthy and fit while staying indoors. You can thus let your students take part in a game of Scavenger hunt and assign them a list of things with specific traits like a particular shape, color, length, sound they make, and how they feel. You can get ready-to-send scavenger hunt ideas right here and ask your kids to find all of the items listed overnight.
Create groups for discussion among your students
As a teacher, you can create learning circles and allot students inside them so that they can discuss a certain topic or do their assignment together. Creating discussion groups can be a structured way of teaching your students how to learn together so that they can gain more ideas than they would individually.
You can manually create multiple learning circles for your students with the help of Google Slides and Google Meet and assign your students to different groups.
Host a talent show every once in a while
You can allot a day or part of it in a week to host talent shows for your students. Talent shows can be an innovative way to see how your kids are shaping up and give you an idea of what you can teach them individually. You can ask your kids to prepare and share an activity that they would like to perform in front of other students like a magic trick, an art project, playing a musical instrument, singing, or dancing.
Ask your students what they want to learn
Now that you have explored almost everything you can do to teach your kids remotely, it’s important to know what your kids want to learn. Using Google Jamboard inside Meet, you can create a board where students can post their ideas and what they are willing to learn more about in your class. You can then follow up on topics that are being shared, research on them, and teach them.
Are you using Google Meet as a teacher? How are you coping with the remote teaching landscape? Let us know in the comments below.