Using Small Signs To Encourage Student Participation In A Virtual Classroom
by TeachThought Staff
In 9 Principles Of Student Engagement In A Virtual Classroom, one of the strategies we offered was to “experiment with learning models that require active learning and participation from every student, every day.”
While the following example isn’t necessarily a ‘learning model,’ it does directly address student participation and even could be considered a kind of formative assessment strategy.
Zachary Ramsey, a doctoral student at the University of New Mexico and a former high school English teacher, recently shared a way to encourage student participation in a virtual classroom: signs.”If you’re going to do virtual synchronous instruction, consider having students make signs so they can spontaneously participate in discussions without always having to speak.”
Obviously these could be index cards or even hand signals but the signs look simple enough to make. Who knows how long they’d last but if they were effective enough, having a small run printed for your virtual classroom may be worth the small investment of money and possibly even something your school might fund.
More importantly is the function of the signs in your virtual classroom. At the most basic level, these could be thumbs up/thumbs sideways/thumbs down. They could also be question marks and exclamation points.
They could also be content-based as well. If you’re studying metaphors versus symbolism, you could have each student make a sign for each and during a read-aloud, have students hold up the sign for metaphor when they hear one and the sign for symbolism when they hear that. The same goes for listening for cause and effect, logical fallacies, evidence (or even rating the quality of the evidence they hear) and so on.
Zachary isn’t the first educator to have this idea but we loved the use of visuals combined with the simple design that uses a pencil and simple drawing. Give him a follow, won’t you?