Mar 30 2021

K–12 Teachers Share How They Keep Students Engaged While Learning Remotely

Faced with the constraints of delivering instruction from home and in virtual environments, educators have found unique and compelling ways to keep students engaged.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, as they say. For many teachers, who’ve been stuck at home instructing virtually for nearly a year and a half, making the most of tough circumstances brought on by the global pandemic isn’t just a coping mechanism — it’s also a source of light and inspiration for students who are lacking all of the tangible and intangible benefits of in-person instruction.

The impact teachers have on how students perceive and value the learning experience is incredibly powerful. A Gallup survey of 1,000 Massachusetts high school students, ages 14 to 18, about their attitudes toward remote learning demonstrates this succinctly. Even though 49 percent of students surveyed found completing schoolwork harder this year compared with the same time last year, 51 percent strongly believe they have at least one teacher who makes them “excited about the future.”

While we can’t go on a tour of every virtual classroom, we did scour Twitter for creative remote learning examples from teachers who surprised, delighted or simply made their students smile with the creative ways they tried to make remote learning a bit more engaging.

Create Immersive Stories for Students

Meredith Thorn, a special education teacher at North Brunswick Township Schools in New Jersey, makes stories more interactive for her students. She puts herself “in the book” by creating virtual backgrounds using the book’s pages. This makes reading remotely a more visual experience.

Meredith Thorn
Storytime is more fun when you jump inside the book.”

Meredith Thorn @MrsThornsWorld

Start the School Day with Zoom Filters

Zoom filters encourage student participation from the start of Patrick Clark’s class. An audiovisual broadcast teacher at Central High School in the Hopewell Valley Regional School District of New Jersey, he starts classes with fun filters. This sparks imagination and conversation, opening students up to engage for the duration of the class.

Celebrate the Little Things Together

Better late than never! Joy Kirr, a seventh grade English language arts teacher at Thomas Middle School, knows the mantra all too well as she proudly displays an ugly sweater weeks after the competition. Finding small moments to celebrate and showcase her holiday spirit makes class more welcoming for her students at Arlington Heights School District in Illinois.

Take Advantage of Your Technology

Interactive programs allow Spanish teacher Martha Jiménez-Ito and her students at Rio Mesa High School to draw and label monster faces to learn vocabulary. She makes the lesson even more engaging by encouraging students to vote for their favorite scary creation. Using the technology at her disposal to illustrate Spanish vocabulary creates a fun and memorable lesson for learners at Oxnard Union High School District in California.

Check out more of our informative remote learning stories and perspectives at edtechmag.com/k12/Remote-Learning.

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