Distance Learning: 5 Ways to Keep Kids Engaged in Online Instruction


I've been scouring the internet, and here are five ways I've found so far to help kids stay engaged during online instruction. 

  • Chunk instruction: Segment content delivery or instruction into smaller segments, ideally no more 10-15 minutes for older elementary students. Then, give kids some kind of a break to process what they've heard, whether through adding to notes, taking a brain break, or ...
  • Frequent quizzing: Research shows that repeated quizzing placed in between lecture segments serve as both a learning and assessment tool. Studies have shown that students who were frequently quizzed learned more and reported greater satisfaction with their learning. Schedule regular, quick questions that test whether students understood the key lesson. You can use low-tech options, such as class discussion or the chat box. Or you can go more high-tech with Zoom polls, Google surveys, or a quick question embedded in a Nearpod.
  • Simple, accessible materials: 
    • Keep the number of links or websites you use to a manageable number for your students. Asking kids to navigate across multiple websites, especially if they are working from one screen, can be a barrier to getting the content down. C
    • Communicating clearly and well in advance which materials students will need to bring with them to learning sessions means it's less likely families will be confused and more likely that students will have what they need. 
    • For manipulatives and school supplies, consider asking students to keep school supplies and the entire manipulative kit you sent home together and nearby so they have easy access and everything is in one place. Amy Stevenson and Emily Stutz are going to explicitly show parents how they should organize all the materials they are sending home so that they are always available and ready to go.
  • Say their names: Whenever a virtual learner enters a Zoom session, be sure to explicitly say his or her name when you welcome them to class, and use their names frequently when you ask questions of the class. This practice can help students feel sincerely seen, increasing the likelihood that they'll stay engaged and accountable.
  • Keep videos short: Whether you're using them during synchronous or asynchronous instruction, kids are more likely to attend better to multiple, short videos than fewer, longer ones.

I know this is a topic that's top of mind for you guys based on the questions I'm getting, so stay tuned for more ideas as we find them!

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