Many schools and universities have announced that they are either continuing or returning to virtual learning amidst the ongoing pandemic. As many of our readers prepare to teach or learn virtually for a second full semester, we thought it was a good time to share the tools and strategies that have worked well in our own virtual classrooms—as well as in our partner schools—based on the conversations we’ve had with other educators.
We continue to experiment with new teaching tools and integrate them into our educational resources. As with in-person learning, we believe that asking for feedback and listening to our students is the best way to find out what works in the virtual classroom. If you are a teacher or student, what are the tools and strategies that have worked well in your experience? I’d love to hear from you, so please send me an email response.
Whether online or in-person, we are committed to supporting Jewish educators and making it easier to deliver high-quality learning experiences for our students. My colleague, Sara Himeles, unpacks seven valuable virtual teaching strategies below.
Teaching online and in-person are different, and each one requires a unique set of tools. Based on both our own teaching experiences and conversations we have had with educators at our partner schools, here are our favorite tools and strategies for delivering high-quality virtual learning experiences that keep our students engaged:
1. Flip your virtual classroom.
In a flipped classroom, students learn new topics before class by watching a video or online lecture, completing reading or doing a preparatory assignment. During class, students explore the topics in greater depth and apply the knowledge through active learning activities, including discussions, reflection, debates, presentations and critical thinking exercises.
Flipped instruction reverses the traditional classroom by moving frontal learning outside of class time and bringing activities for applying the information (which may have traditionally been considered homework) into the classroom:
The flipped classroom model offers many benefits. With videos and lectures shared outside of class as homework, teachers can create a more active learning environment in their virtual classroom and spend more time interacting with their students, checking for understanding and answering questions. Additionally, watching videos and lectures prior to class allows students to learn the material at their own pace.
Follow these steps to flip your classroom:
- Send the link to a video or a film, with review questions, to your students in advance.
- Prior to class, check to make sure your students have answered the questions and absorbed the material.
- From the resources accompanying the video or film, choose two discussion questions, one reflection question and one learning activity to get your students to dive deeper into the material.
- Implement your lesson plan and play our Kahoot! quiz for the video during class.
2. Play Kahoot! with your class.
Give your students a Kahoot! quiz to make virtual class time productive and fun. Send your students a video link to watch before class. Then, play the accompanying Kahoot! during class and join over 18,000 students who have engaged with our videos this way so far.
3. Host a podcast listening party.
Before class, ask your students to listen to an episode of “Unpacking Israeli History,” or play the episode and listen together during class time. After listening to the episode, use the discussion questions provided in our guide to facilitate a thoughtful conversation.
4. Host a video discussion using Flipgrid.
Pose a question to your class about any topic and ask your students to record a video response using Flipgrid. By planning their responses, your students will improve their ability to articulate their ideas. They can also learn to consider different viewpoints as they listen to responses from their peers.
5. Have your students collaborate with Padlet.
Padlet is a versatile, virtual bulletin board that allows students to add videos, text, links, documents and images to a wall and organize them. Since more than one person can contribute to a wall, the platform is ideal for collaboration and teamwork. Using Padlet, students can submit their responses to a prompt, collect their research for a shared project or post questions they have during class.
6. Create interactive learning experiences with NearPod.
With Nearpod, teachers can create interactive learning experiences using videos or their own PowerPoints or Google Slides. Nearpod’s interactive lessons contain virtual reality, 3D objects and more. Teachers can upload quizzes, open-ended questions, polls and drawing tools to assess student progress in real time.
7. Create visual learning experiences with Thinglink.
Thinglink enables teachers and students to create accessible, visual learning experiences. Users can augment images, videos and virtual tours with additional information and links. Teachers can use the site to create engaging learning materials, while students can tag images related to specific subjects with annotations and create multimedia presentations.