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5 Ways To Enrich Virtual Learning

5 Ways To Enrich Virtual Learning

By Katie Corrao, 3rd Grade Teacher, Florida.

We are teaching in a new era. You have made history.  With virtual teaching, the thought of teaching all of the subject areas can be completely overwhelming.  Disseminating all of the important information students need for the following year may seem impossible, but it isn't.  Once the adventure is underway, you begin to adjust to this new way of teaching and thinking.  There is a world of possibilities waiting for you as an online teacher to enrich and empower your students. This process can be made more invigorating for yourself.  Here is a list of the top 5 ways I enriched my students when the possible seemed impossible.

1. STEAM Challenges. 

I am a true believer in the STEAM process.  The students get hands on experiences learning how to think critically, communicate, collaborate, and be creative. These are all important areas that modern day careers are looking for in their potential employees. 

I call STEAM projects “challenges” because they are a challenge of the student’s abilities to think, communicate, collaborate, and creatively create and manipulate the items they are presented in the project. To introduce a STEAM challenge,  I either use a picture book or connect it to a skill or concept we are learning in class. Books are incredibly easy to access virtually.  YouTube is an excellent resource for read-a-louds. Additionally, this can help your students earn AR points.

Think outside of the box with what curriculum resources you already have available. There are so many wonderful stories in your reading curriculum that can be incorporated into a STEAM challenge. If your students are learning about the Golden Gate Bridge, have your students create a bridge. Your Social Studies book is a remarkable tool to introduce STEAM challenges into the classroom. For example, if you are learning about monuments, have your students create monuments using index cards and tape.  If your students are learning about Native American tribes create a Native American structure using only natural resources that the students collect from outside their homes or communities.

Once you introduce the subject matter and engage the students, you have the students conduct the STEAM challenge while on Zoom, so they can share and collaborate with their peers for ideas and solutions with problem solving situations may present themselves.  I would demonstrate my critical thinking process during this virtual STEAM challenge as the students worked, I even involved my family in the challenges.  On Zoom, you can distribute the students in breakout rooms in Zoom so they can collaborate and work as a team, just like they would at school. If time is a concern, you can have the students work on the challenge at home and present their final product on Zoom with you asking follow up questions.

2. Cross Curriculum.

It is hard to fit all the requirements of your grade level in so why not combine subject areas.  I found art activities were the simplest to support what the students were learning in the classroom. My students created characters and settings from our stories used mixed mediums.  They created artwork to show what they learned from the story using only natural resources from their backyards.  We read a story about a little girl saving the world by recycling so they made new products using recycled materials. Each week, I worked with my art teacher in creating the assignments and grading the final products. 

3. Student Created Videos.

I don’t know about you, but grading assignments while virtually teaching can be taxing.  I decided to go an unconventional direction and I had my students make videos to show what they learned as a substitute of completing their reading comprehension assignments. My students read a story about how the Hawaiian Islands were created and what can be found on the islands.  My students then created videos about why I needed to visit Hawaii using story details.  Let me tell you, the videos were amazing. Each of the student’s personalities shined in their videos and you could witness the amazing facts and details they learned from the story.  Another example is when my students created videos persuading a friend why they should join them on an expedition to Mount Everest.  The kids had a blast making the videos, they included props and siblings.   I enjoyed watching them, and you can instantly see the fun they had in learning. 

4. Flip Grid

This is a free app that you can post questions and assignments.  The students or participants can upload videos that answer your question.  In the beginning of virtual learning I used this app as a way to connect my students together since they were unable to interact.  One they became familiar with this new virtual communication tool,  I began posting questions that went with our assignments. The assignments on the app were ones that had the students verbally express or demonstrate their learning through videos. The class was able to chat with one another and engage through written expression on each video post. This was also a great way to incorporate other subject areas such as music, PE, and art. It may also be used to display student work virtually.


5. Zoom Social Time.

I used Zoom daily to teach my students, but I also used it for social reasons.  My class would have “lunch bunch” sessions on Zoom. We would have our lunches and just chat.   We watched education movies and listened to books.  My students would use the website to share their pets, lives, and their favorite things. Engaging with your students on a personal level is sometimes more helpful and beneficial to their learning than sitting in the classroom.  Although it is virtually done, the connection is still there. 

Virtual leaning can be a valuable experience and a great way to think creatively in meeting the needs of our students in a new world. Embrace it and use it to guide you in this new way of teaching.




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