That’s why we’ve put together the following information as a guide and unique set of easy-to-use tools to make the most of the scarce but highly valued face-time you have with students. Here are 10 of our favorite resources available to teachers to enhance remote learning during this trying time.
Padlet allows educators to create 3 free virtual bulletin boards (which the site refers to as—you guessed it—padlets) once they sign up for an account. These padlets can be embedded into certain learning management systems, or simply shared through a link. Either way, it’s easy for teachers to provide access to students.
Even better, Padlet offers an array of options when it comes to engaging students with lessons. Some of the easiest ways to get students involved with lessons on Padlet are by creating:
- Exit tickets, which ask students about concepts they are struggling with, or something that they have learned.
- Student polls, which allow pupils to provide insight and opinions about a book they are currently reading, or even receive feedback about thesis statements and the like.
- Interactive discussions where students have the opportunity to engage in discourse like they would in an ordinary classroom setting.
- Student research padlets that empower them to upload their own resources depending on how the specific board is structured.
This game-based virtual learning platform gives teachers the option of developing their own games for students to meet the unique needs of their lesson plans, or browse and select existing games and utilize those—there are millions already in their library, so Kahoot offers a varied selection regardless of a teacher’s specific subject.
As a matter of fact, no matter what subject or language an educator is operating within, Kahoot does an excellent job of offering resources such as tutorials to make the experience as simple as possible. Those who are feeling adrift in the waters of distance learning will find a welcome life-raft with Kahoot; the site offers a starter guide chock full of valuable resources on the subject.
Teachers who want to ensure that their students have fun as they attempt to learn from afar will have great success keeping kids engaged with Kahoot, whether they create their own games from a template or capitalize on one from the robust library.
3. Wheel of Names
This free resource requires no registration, and it is especially effective in combination with other distance learning applications to enhance interactivity (such as an interactive whiteboard tool). Wheel of Names allows teachers to customize the wheel with words, phrases, and even pictures; a little creativity is all it takes to see that this tool can be used in practically limitless ways.
Setting Wheel of Names as a split-screen with another service gives teachers the opportunity to customize their lesson plans to their precise curriculums while also engaging students. For example, the wheel could be filled with transition words and phrases, accompanied in a split-screen by an interactive whiteboard that features a more comprehensive list of transition words and phrases. Students could take turns spinning the wheel, and then write sentences containing the words of phrases that the wheel lands on.
A whiteboard tool provided by Google, Jamboard’s main goal is to facilitate creation and collaboration—two things that teachers tend to find difficult when educating remotely. When using Jamboard, teachers have the opportunity to create their whiteboard, then invite students to collaborate through a link or email, or simply share the completed board as an image or PDF.
Educators who choose the latter option will have great success using their Jamboard slides with an additional service like Screencastify or Kami, which gives them the option to make notes and record their voices. Jamboard is a free resource that can be utilized to make any subject more interactive and effective while distance learning measures are in place.
Another excellent feature of Jamboard is the fact that it automatically saves documents to teachers’ Google drive accounts since it is a Google extension; this way, teachers never have to worry about losing track of which topics they’ve already covered.
Another educational game platform, Baamboozle can be fully customized depending on a teacher’s curriculum. Games on Baamboozle are designed to be whole-class activities in which the teacher often serves as the “judge” or referee, and so many educators have already created highly engaging games that there’s bound to be one that fits in with almost any lesson plan.
Though teachers have the option of engaging in these randomized games without signing up, they will need to create a Baamboozle account if they wish to create their own games. Accounts are free, and the platform is incredibly user-friendly.
Baamboozle games can be a perfect way to add some levity at the end of a lesson and to make sure that students have fully grasped the content covered for the day as well. For example, if a teacher has been discussing the difference between facts and opinions, they might structure a game in a way that it presents a statement, such as “jellybeans are delicious,” then allows students to choose whether they think that statement is a fact or an opinion.
A video discussion platform created by Microsoft, Flipgrid empowers educators and students to simulate the sort of contact they would have in an ordinary classroom or school setting by facilitating regular video communication. Basically, educators will post prompts or discussion questions, and students respond in kind with short video answers.
This gives learners the opportunity to feel as if they’re presenting their opinions in front of their class or teachers rather than simply typing them in front of a screen. Flipgrid even provides an activity center designed to help parents keep their children engaged while they’re physically out of the classroom.
Flipgrid has tools for educators teaching PreK all the way through college, so it’s a dynamic and valuable tool for teachers of all levels, and even families who are trying to find ways to keep education a central focus of their households during this trying time.
7. Interactive Google Slides
Another educational resource in the Google repertoire, Interactive Google Slides is precisely what it sounds like: a free service that allows educators to design slides that students can edit. When learners are able to manipulate items on the screen, they are necessarily much more engaged with the lesson because they are required to actively participate.
For example, an English teacher might create an Interactive Google Slide in which a letter is mimicked, but certain vital words are cut out from the text; students will have the opportunity to drag and drop the correct words in the appropriate box.
This resource is incredibly easy to navigate, and teachers with a Google account already have access to it, they need only create their slides and send the links to students.
The aptly-named Buzzinlive gives students the ability to virtually “buzz in” during a lesson. The site has both a host and participant view; educators will obviously want to select “host” in order to lead games when they visit the site. Being a host enables teachers to manipulate game settings such as how many buzzes are allowed per turn, as well as send students the code to join.
As students join with the code, teachers will see their names populate in the game lobby. Once all students have registered, teachers can begin asking questions; when students know the answers, they can buzz in to indicate.
This is simply a valuable tool to ensure that the class is keeping up with a lesson and feeling comfortable with the content covered; it also provides an element of fun that many virtual classroom resources are lacking, and a little levity can go a long way toward rousing students’ attention.
This free site is filled with downloadable game templates that can be populated with a teacher’s unique content, then re-uploaded to the site and shared with students from there. With more than 20 different types of games to choose from, there’s sure to be a template that will align with an educator’s subject or lesson plan on this platform.
One interesting way that teachers could choose to utilize Flippity.net is by having students volunteer to share their screens as they play the games; this is similar to asking students to complete a math problem on the whiteboard at the front of the class—it demonstrates that student’s knowledge, and serves as a teachable moment, but in this case, it’s also fun.
Teachers worried about pouring time and energy into creating games on a site that will just erase their efforts once they close out of the screen need only bookmark the page once they’ve created a template on Flippity.net; everything will remain populated from there on out.
10. Kami, Screencastify, and AWWapp
Though we have mentioned each of these tools previously, it’s worth noting them again as many of the resources on this list can be greatly enhanced with the help of one of these services. In fact, all of the resources mentioned above are recommended for use during video lessons; each of these tools has unique merits for blending interactivity and education that make them favorable in different scenarios.
No matter which of the first nine resources we mentioned a teacher chooses to utilize, there is a good chance that it could be greatly enhanced when combined with one of these tools.
There’s no question that teachers’ jobs have always been hard—there’s nothing quite so daunting as the responsibility of shaping young minds. Though many of us didn’t believe it possible, the work of educators has grown considerably more difficult in recent months, but the right resources can help relieve some of the pressure that many teachers are feeling, and make distance learning a more manageable task.
These tips and advice for remote teaching, complete with 10 of our favorite resources to make virtual education more engaging and integrated, will hopefully help dull the stress that so many teachers are experiencing on a regular basis. Although there is no telling for how long this new normal will remain in place, one thing is for certain: teachers are resilient and adaptable; together, we’ll forge a path through this uncertainty.