Keeping Up with Student Engagement: Distance Learning Edition

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In the classroom, I had a plethora of student engagement techniques. A ticket system, table tallies and a raffle were only the beginning. I had a Shout Out Wall, a prize box and were giving growth mindset compliments left and right. 

All of that came to a screeching halt when COVID-19 hit. I was no longer the smiling face my students saw in the morning and it was devastating for both me and my students.

Alexandra is my name and positive reinforcement is my game. Well, it’s more of a student engagement strategy and a way of life for me. Not being able to smile and ask my students how they are is taking a toll on all of us. When we first started distance learning, students were participating and it was great, but as we were curving in on Week 4, the disengagement was hitting pretty fast. 

virtual ticket system

Less and less students were showing up to the meets, students were turning in work without completing it or reading directions and there was a lull in positivity (for obvious reasons). I had to find a way to boost the morale and motivation in my classroom and fast. 

Virtual Ticket System

I thought of all the things that I have used in my brick and mortar classroom and thought there has to be a way to bring this to my digital classroom. Cue – my Virtual Ticket System.

I created a Virtual Ticket System on Google Slides where students can view and see when they were getting tickets. It wasn’t as fun as me calling them out for their awesome work and walking around with my ticket scarf, but it seems to be getting us by. 

With the names of the students who received tickets for the week, I put them on a virtual spinner. I use and spin the spinner during our Google Meet on Friday’s and the kids love it! 

Of course they asked the inevitable question – what do you win? To that I say – at the end of the month, all the winners will have a live Kahoot game with me and the other fifth grade teachers.

shout out wall

Shout Out Wall

That brings me to my Shout Out Wall. It was my favorite bulletin board in my classroom. Students were so excited to put a post-it up giving their friends a compliment and I loved it too. 

To combat this, I converted yet another physical school thing to the virtual world. Again, I used Google Slides to help me out. (Speaking of, I have a mini-course on all things for using Google Slides, you can check that out here!)

I took a picture of the beloved bulletin board and set it as the background and creating an assignment where all students can edit it. It has been a hit and keeps growing since distance learning started and even admin have participated.

Table tallies seem to be the only thing that I cannot bring to my virtual world because students are no longer sitting in collaborative groups. If you have any suggestions for that please let me know!

I hope these student engagement strategies help you combat the disengagement of distance learning. Try to see the silver lining in all of this and stay positive, if not for you for your kiddos! They need to understand that this is just a moment in time, not forever (hopefully!).



Picture of author, Alexandra.

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Hi, I'm Alexandra!

I am a fourth-grade math teacher turned elementary tech teacher. I help upper elementary math teachers like YOU get organized digitally and engage students with digital tools. When I’m not teaching, you can find me taking long walks with my dog, Frannie, or travelling (especially to Disney World)!