5 Ways to Engage Students During Telepractice  

April 10, 2023By: Kristy Sprague, M.Ed., Ed.S.

When engaging students during telepractice it is important to incorporate the same level of expectations that you would have in a brick-and-mortar setting. Create a list of virtual classroom/session expectations and hold students accountable to meet them. Creating rules and guidelines together will help students hold themselves accountable.

Activities to Engage Your Students

Listed below are a few activities that can help keep students on task and engaged during lessons across all subjects.

1. Have Open Discussions

Once you have established safe and healthy ground rules, you can allow students to have more open discussions and use the chat with emojis to express or provide comments and reactions. Having students respond in the chat with appropriate comments can keep students engaged while they are teaching each other or while listening to the Teacher or Service provider. Plan to teach students how you want them to respond in the chat before a lesson.  Keeping students engaged starts with ensuring they know their roles and how they should respond or react to information.

2. Breakout Rooms

Use breakout rooms to allow students to collaborate on assignments.  The more independence and collaboration opportunities the teacher creates the more students can engage with each other.

3. Flip the Classroom

Allow students to teach each other in small groups. Provide the content you would like them to read, assign groups, and give each student a role. The reader for each section or page, the note taker or writer, the presenter, and the timekeeper. After the teacher provides content and examples of each task, allow students to enter breakout rooms and start their assigned job. After the time is up the presenter should report back to the whole group. Each presenter must teach the rest of the group about the assigned reading material reviewed in their small group.

These jobs should rotate every day and of course, take students’ strengths and weaknesses into consideration when creating the job list. With younger elementary students Provide them with a paragraph or two sentences, in each group, one student can identify CVC words in a sentence while another student highlights all upper-case letters using zoom annotate features, and another student can circle all the punctuation in a paragraph.

4. Lesson Wrap Up

At the end of each lesson create an opportunity for students to respond to a post. Using a Whiteboard or another application such as Padlet, allowing students to respond virtually and see each other’s responses, and give positive feedback to at least two other students. Younger students can respond to a post such as “3 things you learned today” or “What was your favorite part of the lesson?” An example of younger Elementary students using the keyboard is typing a sentence using a new vocabulary word from today’s lesson or typing a word using the letter of the day. Responding to students and seeing another student provide feedback creates a positive interaction and engagement between students.

5. Peer Sharing

Sharing a project or group project and providing feedback is always engaging. Have students share their screen and their projects with one another. This will create dialogue and conversation with students and allow them to collaborate, problem-solve, and improve their writing or math strategies. Lower elementary students could also draw a picture and share it with the class or find an object that starts with the same sound at home or in the classroom, students really enjoy show and tell. 

Final Thoughts

Engaging students can be difficult onsite and during telepractice. Don’t be discouraged it’s important to be flexible and talk to paraprofessionals or parents to aid or provide help. Be open to trying new things. If working with one student one to one, build a relationship and provide options, ask students things they enjoy and games they like to play. Always listen to the students and parents and incorporate students’ interests to keep them engaged during activities.

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