Get your Zoom on: 5 simple ways to get a Zoom class flowing.

A global pandemic thrust us into the abyss of e-learning and we either sank or swam. Well, we’re teachers, so we treaded water until we learned how to do an Olympic freestyle … that’s just how we do. 

It’s a good thing we practiced-up because it seems that e-learning is here to stay and growing in popularity. The one challenge that I hear most, though, when it comes to Zoom-based teaching, is getting the tone set at the beginning of class. Normally, getting students engaged in lessons can happen with a hook in a lesson to get them interested. Here’s the good news: This same technique can be applied to online teaching, though it may look different. Here are some ideas to hook students into Zoom lessons:

  • Meme Check-in Compile a collage of funny pictures/images of animals or memes on a slide and begin your lesson by having students choose one of the memes that represents how they are feeling that day. 
  • Would You Rather Begin the day with a “Would you rather” question. For example: “Would you rather smell bad or have walrus teeth?” Stumped? A quick search on the internet for “Would you rather” questions for kids will generate a ton of topics. You can even use this moment as a way to teach proper discussion and debate tactics. The key here is to use funny or relatable topics. Kids won’t want to miss the beginning of class if you ask them to debate the superiority of understanding what animals are saying over having the ability to be invisible.
  • Trivia Start class with a game, content-related or not. There are numerous game-based learning platforms, like Kahoot and Quizlet, offering live gaming options so you can control the pacing and have students compete in real time. 
  • I Spy Engage students and get them focused on the screen and each other with a simple game of I Spy. Students can take turns spying things in each other’s backgrounds. Alert kids ahead of time that the game will be happening so that they can find a spot they are comfortable with their peers looking at in-depth. 
  • Pictionary This can be used in the traditional and online classroom easily as a review game. Using a collaborative, virtual whiteboard can make the beginning of class a ton of fun by having kids compete in teams to guess what their peers are drawing. Pro tip: Use this activity to review vocabulary words from previous lessons.
  • Current Events Choose a video or news story to share with students. You can also assign this as an ongoing activity, giving students the task of presenting a current event on a pre-assigned day. They can comment or ask questions about the current event on a collaborative whiteboard, such as Jamboard.
  • 20 Questions This classic game is a fun way to kick off any class, in person or virtually. Have students guess something or someone you are thinking about by asking yes or no questions. The best part is that you can use this to review vocabulary or characters from a text. 
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