Tips for Starting the Year in Virtual Mode
During the first weeks of school, we are building our learning community. Doing this in a virtual setting presents new challenges. Here are 3 tips for setting up your class community.
Music has the ability to change the brain. In the mornings on the way to school, I throw myself a "personal pep rally" to get my mind and attitude positive for my students and colleagues. We can do this for students as they walk through the door or come into our classroom or Zoom session. When you share a screen in Zoom, be sure to check the box on the share screen that says "Share Computer Sound." This allows you to mute, but the music plays through to students.
Also playing calming music as they work is a great "take a deep breathe" opportunity for kids. Play a classical music playlist on low in the background. I love playing The Piano Guys soundtrack on Amazon Music or The One Voice Children's Choir.
Allow for Talk Time
It is so important that our students get a chance to socialize this year. They have been home for months now and some have not had much interaction with others, much less the outside world. Plan to give students a time to talk and connect with others in their class. For virtual classrooms, you can put them into breakout rooms on Zoom and have them chat about a question.
Games change the brain as well. Play games to start the day off, during middle of the day as a brain break, or to end the day. I want my students to build relationships with their peers and myself on day one of the year. I found this free game online called People Bingo. Students fill out the bingo cards with classmates' (and the teacher's) names by finding out who can answer yes to each of the questions. For example, Who has a birthday in November? Students fill in a classmates name in that box on their bingo card.