Classroom video calls. You can do this. Here’s how.

Educators have access to LOTS of video meeting platforms. Microsoft schools are likely using Teams video meetings or Skype. Google schools are going with Google Meet. Zoom, Blue Jeans and FaceTime are other options.

The question most teachers have isn’t which platform to use. It’s how to use it with their students.

The stereotype for remote learning is to do video lectures. Get students on a call. Teach them like you would from the front of the room. Students listen.

There are lots of ways to break out of that stereotype! In this post, you’ll find many options for using video meetings with your students. Some are more traditional. Some are just for fun! Check out this list and find what makes the most sense for you and your students.

1. Whole-class Instruction

Teach to the whole class. This is what people typically think of when they consider educational video meetings. However, it’s only one option (as you’ll see below). Keep direct instruction to a minimum and find ways to engage your students. If they struggled to follow along with direct instruction in the classroom, it’s likely they’ll have an even harder time remotely.

Consider using Pear Deck. Here is a video to get started with Pear Deck in Teams  and Pear Deck for Google Slides and here is an Overview Video of Pear Deck.

2. Small Group Instruction

Small groups can make personal interaction easier and more effective. Create your small groups intentionally. When you have them set, creating a private channel for that group in Microsoft Teams will make scheduling and launching meetings easier. 

Using Google Classroom? Consider setting up a temporary Class with just those kids – and then delete as needed. Make this a more fluid experience where kids come in and out of a special small group class you have set up.

3. Follow-up for Missing Assignments

If a subset of students haven’t turned in a particular activity or project, a small group meeting with those students can get them back on track. Consider awarding badges to students through Microsoft Teams or Classroom to get them engaged.  

Using Google? You can quickly see missing assignments and send email messages to those students and engage them in a smaller group.

All Platforms: Consider gamifying your classroom using sites like Class Dojo and Classcraft . These sites can increase engagement –very important during remote learning. Tip: Classcraft is offering their platform for free until the end of July 2020.

4. Class Check-in Call

When they can’t meet in person, students miss their classmates. They want to see their faces, hear their voices, and know that they’re safe. Schedule a check-in call with no other agenda than checking on each other and socializing. Your students will benefit – and they will thank you!

Use Flipgrid for asynchronous check-ins. For more on Flipgrid, check out this FREE online course.

5. Class Presentations

Giving students opportunities to present to each other helps them develop oral speaking skills. These presentations don’t have to be long or even formal PowerPoint or Google Slides presentations. Consider making a habit of having every student do a one-minute summary of what they’ve been working on or learning. When presenting is a regular part of class, students work on those speaking skills all the time.

In Microsoft PowerPoint: Have students use the Presenter Coach option to help students with their presentation skills.

In Google: Have students use Screencastify to record their screen and themselves with a webcam as they practice the presentation.

6. Read-Alouds

Read-alouds are good for all students – including older ones. According to the University of Iowa Center for Teaching, here are the evidence-based benefits of read-alouds:
  • Reading aloud creates a classroom community by establishing a known text that can be used as the basis for building on critical thinking skills that are related and unrelated to reading.

  • Discussions generated by reading aloud can be used to encourage listeners to construct meanings, connect ideas and experiences across texts, use their prior knowledge, and question unfamiliar words from the text.

  • Reading aloud gives students an opportunity to hear the instructor model fluency and expression in reading technical or literary language. “Through intonation, expression, and attention to punctuation, the reader demonstrates meaning embedded in the text.”

  • Reading aloud helps students learn how to use language to make sense of the world; it improves their information processing skills, vocabulary, and comprehension.

Please note: this is not popcorn reading. A good way to engage your students during a read-aloud is to start the process of sketchnoting with them. Here is a great article called A Simple Way to Get Your Students Sketchnoting.

7. Parent Check-ins

Make connections with parents. They’re an equal partner to ensure the success of their children. Keep them in the loop. Inform them of what their child has been doing right, as well as anything that needs to be addressed. When parents know how they can support learning from the home, it becomes natural and reinforces what’s taught in the classroom. 

Tip: Use Flipgrid to allow parents to leave comments or kudos as you progress through remote learning. Keep the responses private however. 

8. Virtual Guest Speakers

Invite someone to join your Teams meeting or Google Meet to speak to your students. It doesn’t have to be anyone famous or high-profile (although that would be fun and it never hurts to ask!). Have some predetermined questions and let students ask questions through the chat or on camera. Go over norms and expectations with students before the call begins. 

Find virtual guest speakers: The Microsoft Educator Community has a database of hundreds of virtual guest speakers. Or you can just reach out to any individual yourself and ask!

9. Virtual Field Trips

Where could your students go in a Teams meeting? It could be as simple as the dentist office down the street, or as impressive as an international voyage!

Find virtual field trips: Check out the Microsoft Educator Community’s database of dozens of free virtual field trips. Or brainstorm people and places that would make for a great trip and just ask!
Google Arts and Culture is a great place to get started visiting hundreds of places of interest. Take your students to Paris for the day and visit The Louvre or Musee d’Orsay. Use this virtual trip for writing prompts or larger lesson ideas.

10. Collaborate with Another Class

Remote learning does not have to end our ability to collaborate with other classes; in fact, it makes it easier and much more fun. Find another class to meet with (maybe just another class in your own school or one in another country) and to work on a project together or just share ideas. Host a virtual town hall on learning remotely where students share their best practice ideas and how it is going. Can you imagine how cool it would be to hear from kids in Australia how their remote learning is going? This is a great way to get kids more excited and engaged. 

11. IEP Meetings

No need to stop IEP meetings or even pull-outs. Use a virtual meeting to make these extraordinary students feel that they are still connected and have the support they need. 

12. Office Hours

Virtual office hours are a hit during remote learning. Keep a consistent time and be there for your students so they know they can reach out at the same time each day. 

13. Would You Rather Debates

This activity asks students to evaluate choices and explain their thinking These questions are a great way to get a conversation started in a fun and interesting way. Don’t forget to ask students “Why?” after because this can be the best part of the conversation.

14. Twenty Questions

Have kids guess things like characters, time periods or scientific facts. Rules: Players take turns asking only  “yes” or “no” questions in an attempt to figure out the answer.  Ask as many as 20 questions.

15. Movie and Netflix Reviews

Help kids learn to communicate and write by doing mock movie reviews during a team meeting. Assign a few kids each session to go as a fun way to start a meeting or get a conversation started.

16. Virtual Talk Shows

Students take the place of characters, concepts, or even a time period in a virtual talk show. Each student takes the “hot-seat” to answer questions showing their comprehension of an idea from the viewpoint of a person or idea being studied in class.

17. Hot or Not

Students Use two pieces of paper and write Hot or Not and then as the teacher talks about ideas in content the kids decide whether this is Hot (good) or Not (not so good) and then defend their choices. One fun example would be on the topic of The Fall of the Roman Empire The idea could be higher taxes to help support the large Roman Military. Kids could decide if that is a HOT or NOT idea, and then explain why.

18. Two Truths and Lie

Students come to the meeting with Two Truths and a Lie about a literary character, historical figure or event, or math or science concept.Then see if the other students can figure which statement is the lie and why. You can even prepare a collaborative doc that students can see ahead of time.

19. Doodling Together

Students love to doodle and remote learning makes a great way to have them do this collaboratively. They can interpret stories, ideas or people and compare their doodles with their classmates.

Microsoft: Use OneNote and a collaborative notebook 

Google: Use a collaborative Jamboard 

Need more information? Get students Sketchnoting with these introductory videos and learn the why by watching Slyvia Duckworth explain the importance and research behind this strategy.  All this is curated into this Wakelet.

20. PowerPoint Brain Dump

Once your class is ready to start, find a volunteer who is ready to fun present and start the first random slide deck. The volunteer must then present on those slides to the group. You can give people an entire slide deck each or have them tap out to other members after a few slides. Keep the slides to a minimum by using only visuals. The key is getting people to improvise and have fun while practicing their communication skills under pressure!