Engaging Students in Video Conference Lessons

To get started, read the guide Tips & Tricks: Teachers Educating on Zoom for suggestions on how to lead engaging lessons in a video conferencing environment. 1 While some of the terminology is Zoom-specific, the concepts apply to any video conferencing platform.

Also, check out Maggie Brennan’s 8 Tips to Improve Your Online Classes for tips to keep in mind for any video conferencing session. 2

Ask Questions

Share Silently

Chat

You can ask students to type their responses to a question into the chat box of the video conferencing platform you are using.

Padlet

In a physical classroom, you may have collected ideas from all students on sticky notes, then asked students to group or categorize them. You can design a similar activity using Padlet by sharing the link in your video conference and having students open Padlet in a separate window.

Watch this 2-minute video from Common Sense Education to see Padlet in action. 3

Slides

You might normally think of Google Slides or PowerPoint as a presentation tool, but you can also use collaborative slide decks to ensure that all students’ voices are heard.

Read Google Slides: Ask and Respond Template by Alice Keeler for an explanation of how to use Google Slides to collect student responses. 4 Select View > Grid View to display all responses at once.

You can do the same thing in PowerPoint Online if your district uses Office 365. Download the Question and Answer Template, add it to your Office 365 account, and share it with your students. Select View > Slide Sorter to display all responses at once.

Share Out Loud

If students are using their webcams, you can ask them to raise their hand when they want to speak, just as they would in a physical classroom.

Some video conferencing platforms have a “Raise Hand” feature. When students press this button, you will receive an alert that they wish to speak. Learn about this feature in Zoom 5 and in Blackboard Collaborate. 6

You can also use the chat in your video conferencing platform to manage the conversation. Ask students to indicate in the chat if they would like to respond or ask a question. To save time, you can ask students to use “?” to indicate they have a question and “!” to indicate that they have a comment.

Interactive Presentations

As always, make sure any tool you wish you to use is approved in your district.

Pear Deck: In some districts, students can access Pear Deck through their Clever or Classlink login page. Watch this 1-minute video from Pear Deck to learn how the tool works. 7

You can also view a playlist of video tips for using Pear Deck for remote learning. 8

Nearpod: In some districts, students can access Nearpod through their Clever or Classlink login page. Watch this 2-minute video from Nearpod to learn how the tool works. 9

Host a Discussion

Teacher-Led

If students are using their webcams, you can ask them to raise their hand when they want to speak, just as they would in a physical classroom.

Some video conferencing platforms have a “Raise Hand” feature. When students press this button, you will receive an alert that they wish to speak. Learn about this feature in Zoom 10 and in Blackboard Collaborate. 11

You can also use the chat in your video conferencing platform to manage the conversation. Ask students to indicate in the chat if they would like to respond or ask a question. To save time, you can ask students to use “?” to indicate they have a question and “!” to indicate that they have a comment.

Student-Led

Students can participate in a fishbowl discussion or Socratic seminar via video conference. Rather than having students sit in two circles, divide students into participants and observers. Observers should remain on mute the entire time; participants can unmute themselves as needed. Watch this 1-minute video from Edutopia to learn how this strategy works. 12

Demonstrate or Collaborate with a Whiteboard

Select the video conferencing platform your district uses.

Polls and Games for Formative Assessment

Polls

Some (but not all) video conferencing platforms have a polling feature included. Select the video conferencing platform your district uses.

You can also create brief forms to use as polls during your meeting. (Students will need to open the form in a separate window.) Select the tool used in your district.

There are also third-party polling apps that you can use in video conferences, such as Poll Everywhere. (Students will need to open the form in a separate window.) As always, make sure any tool you wish you to use is approved in your district. Watch this 2-minute video from Poll Everywhere to learn how the tool works. 13

Games

You and your students will need to have two windows open – one for the video conference and one for the game you have chosen.

A screenshot shows a split screen layout. A video conference appears on the left half of the screen. An online game appears on the right side of the screen.

Some popular game options are included below. As always, make sure any tool you wish you to use is approved in your district.

Kahoot does not require students to log in to an account. In some districts, students can access Kahoot through their Clever or Classlink login page. Watch this 2-minute video from Kahoot to learn how the tool works in a remote environment. 14

Gimkit does not require students to log in to an account. (However, the free version is rather limited – you will only be able to create 5 games of your own.) Watch this 3-minute video from Brad Dale to learn how this tool works. 15

Quizlet Live does not require students to log in to an account. Watch this 2-minute video from Quizlet to learn how this tool works. 16

Quizizz does not require students to log in to an account. In some districts, students can access Quizizz through their Clever or Classlink login page. Watch this 2-minute videot from Quizizz to learn how this tool works. 17

Socrative does require students to log in to an account. In some districts, students can access Socrative through their Clever or Classlink login page. Watch this 2-minute video from masteryconnect to learn how Socrative works. 18

Provide Screen Breaks

As Angela Duckworth suggests in the article How to Decrease Screen Time for Students, cue students to look away from the screen from time to time during the video conferencing session. 19 You can ask them to jot down a question, draw a sketch of a concept, or even just stretch.

  1. Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (2020, April). Tips and tricks: Teachers educating on Zoom. https://zoom.us/docs/doc/Tips%20and%20Tricks%20for%20Teachers%20Educating%20on%20Zoom.pdf
  2. Brennan, M. (2020, April 10). 8 tips to improve your online classes. EdTechTeacher. https://edtechteacher.org/8-tips-to-improve-your-online-classes/
  3. Common Sense Education. (2016, July 12). How to promote student collaboration with Padlet {Video}. YouTube. https://youtu.be/4F60kOS5HYw
  4. Keeler, A. (2016, March 23). Google Slides: Ask and respond Template. Teacher tech with Alice Keeler. https://alicekeeler.com/2016/03/23/google-slides-ask-respond-template/
  5. Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (2020). Raising your hand in a webinar. Zoom help center. https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/205566129-Raising-your-hand-In-a-webinar
  6. Blackboard Inc. (2018). Manage attendees. Blackboard help. https://help.blackboard.com/Collaborate/Ultra/Moderator/Moderate_Sessions/Manage_Attendees
  7. Pear Deck. (2016, June 10). How Pear Deck works {Video}. YouTube. https://youtu.be/rj9Bs-FDaHs
  8. Pear Deck. (2020, June 8). Remote instruction with Pear Deck {YouTube Playlist}. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1lHHMSvWNHo2rFJ0HSYZkGl3c1cLLh2z
  9. Nearpod. (2019, January 7). Formative assessment with Nearpod {Video}. YouTube. https://youtu.be/oZOqAOf_lt4
  10. Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (2020). Raising your hand in a webinar. Zoom help center. https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/205566129-Raising-your-hand-In-a-webinar
  11. Blackboard Inc. (2018). Manage attendees. Blackboard help. https://help.blackboard.com/Collaborate/Ultra/Moderator/Moderate_Sessions/Manage_Attendees
  12. Edutopia. 60-second strategy: Fishbowl discussion {Video}. YouTube. https://youtu.be/JVCFGLVZA3w
  13. Poll Everywhere. (2016, September 14). How to create polls using Poll Everywhere {Video}. Vimeo. https://vimeo.com/178966513
  14. Kahoot. (2020, March 9). How to host a kahoot live over video with remote participants {Video}. YouTube. https://youtu.be/yCakppkF_kA
  15. Dale, B. {Brad Dale}. (2019, June 9). Gimkit – game show for the classroom that uses knowledge and strategy {Video}. YouTube. https://youtu.be/kOITwdkuKVw
  16. Quizlet. (2018, April 24). Quizlet Live: Instant classroom engagement {Video}. Vimeo. https://vimeo.com/266414654
  17. Quizizz. (2015, March 1). Quizizz walkthrough {Video}. YouTube. https://youtu.be/lvcLRA-VG1E
  18. masteryconnect. (2016, October 19). Socrative: A formative assessment tool for teachers {Video}. YouTube. https://youtu.be/upY8uG3NFfY
  19. Duckworth, A. (2020, April 24). How to decrease screen time for students. Ask a psychologist: Helping students thrive now, EdWeek. https://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/ask_a_psychologist/2020/04/how_to_decrease_screen_time_for_students.html
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