Here are some ideas that have been proven to make a positive difference for teachers and students doing online learning.
Brain breaks and self-regulation breaks – For both adults and children, research finds that taking breaks every 20 or 30 minutes rejuvenates working memory and calms our nervous systems. Embed regular self-regulation activities to get students to stand up, stretch and move, into the flow of your online days. 5-minute brain breaks can be led by students, allowing them to feel both more engaged and more of an integral part of the classroom community.
Here are a few brain-break and self-regulation game ideas:
- Simon Says or Follow the Leader (with hand and body movements in front of the screen; change leaders often).
- Downloadable Sound Discipline self-regulation tool cards: https://belongpartners.org/self-regulation-toolkit-cards/
- Self-regulation Spin the Wheel – https://wheelofnames.com/view/ms7-ygk/ – put your favorite self-regulation activities on the wheel, let the kids spin and lead the activities
Co-create agreements – To help build a solid community foundation, modify this agreements activity (page 37 of Positive Discipline in the School and Classroom Manual) for your online classroom. Ask your students the question, “What kind of classroom guidelines can we all agree on so that we can learn, teach, feel safe, get along and make this a great school year? If we only had about 4 guidelines, which might be the most important?” It is never too late to create agreements for your classroom community. Even if you didn’t start your school year with this practice, you can use this strategy now to help your students feel safe and connected in your online classroom.
- Brainstorm a list in the chat box or in a shared document. Take about 12-15 ideas.
- Create an anonymous, multiple answer poll with the student ideas. Read each idea out loud.
- Ask the students to vote for the 4 guidelines they feel are most important. Launch the poll and share the results with your class. Take a photo of the results to keep.
- Write out the 4 chosen guidelines on a shared document and ask the students if they can agree with each one, or how they might tweak it so it is something they can agree to. Once you have integrated their feedback, congratulate them on their guidelines!
- In following days, take each of the 4 agreements one by one and ask the students what each would look like or sound like in the virtual classroom. Students can draw or write about what each of the guidelines would look like or sound like in action.
- Ask students how they are doing (thumbs up, to the side or down) on a specific agreement during the day, then ask them to think of one thing they can do to help us meet the guideline better.