How to Get Students to Online Lessons

Getting all your students to attend online classes can be frustrating. You may promise future consequences, but that’s also mostly negative – we need to encourage them! Instead, read books, assign weekly projects, teach a daily mini-lesson, with regular check-ins might work better.

Things like finance, food, rent, mortgage, health, uncertainty and fear are uppermost in most of the minds of our student’s families. So, why would students get themselves to online classes?

Why not grab attention with unusual activities? None of us can change another person but we can change ourselves. Stop trying to teach everything. Think outside the box, and make the activities so exciting and enticing, every student wants in. 

I was surfing Twitter and came across this inspirational story of an eighth-grade maths teachers’ motivating way of teaching online classes. She writes problems on her students’ driveways during her jogs. Students solve and post a photo to Google Classroom.

Inspirational Online Classes

Are Online Classes impossible with 100s?

If you have 100s of students or they all live far away from you, it’s still possible to do this. Write the problem on your drive in chalk, take a photo, post it on Google Classroom with the instructions for students to go outside and solve the problem using chalk. Students, take a picture and post it on Google Classroom before the next online class.

I hate Chalk

If you hate chalk, then use a window with those unique glass markers. Unfortunately, your students might not have them. Chalk is the simplest, and it gets students out in the sun for a while. If that’s too difficult, get them to do it on paper. Lower primary students could solve a problem in the sandbox outside. If no sand then just the ground soil outside. An older sibling or mum can take the photo or a video, but you would need to give more time. Online classes should not overtax your parents.

Project-Based Assignments equal successful online classes

Why not just set up project-based assignments, with a daily check-in. Try to make the project week long and incorporate as much of the curriculum as you can without overtaxing yourself or your students. These are strange times and online classes require some different ways of teaching. 

Perhaps if you’re a primary teacher, you could have your students make 3D models, we all know how to integrate writing and numeracy into this. Or study different cultures online as your students are online and have access to all sorts of links you could share with them. Online classes enable you to travel the world together, a new culture each week or every two weeks.

Start a Class Blog

Better still, start a blog, get students to read their favourite book and have weekly critiques on the class blog. Or set a book that all must read and have some activities students can choose from to complete by the end of the week. You could categorise the exercises, so students have to pick one mathematics activity that is associated with the book you’re reading, a SOCE activity, and English activity. I’ve used Edublog for quite some time now with success. They are free and school safe.

No Internet Access

If your students don’t have internet access project learning is the best way to go in my mind. Ask your students to write a play. The play could be about anything you wish. It could focus on a book you are reading aloud each day during online classes. Then discuss with the students that chapter, record the online discussion and post it as a podcast instead of pushing students to attend online classes. This way, students who only have phones can listen in and get inspiration from you and the other students. If they have no phone, record all the discussions for the week, then on the weekend make a CD and send a copy to each student that could not make the online classes. 

Use Podcasts for Students who have no internet access

Or have students produce podcasts about the book you’re reading and the books they’re reading. That is, have a class book running at the same time as students read their self chosen book. Again set up a choice of activities that students can choose from to complete. If you have students that thrive on a challenge have some or all activities, have two or three levels of completion. Students can then choose which level they wish to achieve. 

Daily Check-in for Online Classes

Attending online classes should be something your students look forward to and want to attend. Project assignments will make this an enjoyable time. Sharing and laughing about what they have been doing. A bit like a show and tell. The daily check-in can then be a shared realm where each student takes part as a teacher for a minute or two. You facilitate the project by giving a mini-lesson of 15 minutes each day which you can pre-record and have all sorts of fun stuff going on behind you on your virtual screen. Then your online classes will be less stressful. You will have fun and so will your students. If you’re using Zoom, you can record your mini-lesson ahead of time with a virtual screen.

Teaching from Home Infographic

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Read Aloud Outside Videos

Take a walk in the open somewhere that will link nicely with the book you want your class to read and record yourself reading aloud. You could read each chapter in a different setting and make separate recordings. Sometimes you could face them, or you could face away from them and create some mystery. Do the recordings all on the same day if you can to save time. Each day when you check in with your online classes, you will have a video ready to share with your students. They will see you in a new setting giving it a real talking point. They could even try to guess where. It will make the book come alive. 

By having students complete projects like this, you don’t have to run yourself crazy, trying to get materials to every student in your online classes. Parents will appreciate not having to find extra time to get the stuff. That equals success.

My advice is to use the time to do something different and make it fun

Spread the word . . .  .

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I am a K-12 Australian Teacher, originally from the UK. My Honours research investigated how teachers succeed in teaching English in a TEFL context. I lived and worked for 15 years in the Pacific Islands. During that time I was Principal of a school for 5 years, training teachers, teaching a class, and building a school from the ground up.