The past few years have been unpredictable, to say the least, and nobody has felt that more than teachers and students. Bouncing between in person and virtual learning presents teachers with all sorts of obstacles and has had a negative effect on student behavior. Teachers are the ones responsible for figuring out how to transform their classroom into a virtual experience without losing that positive culture and feeling of consistency.
Teachers are going above and beyond to do whatever they can to bring a sense of normalcy and positivity into virtual learning and I had the opportunity to learn from a teacher who is doing just that. Julie Williams teaches fifth grade in Ohio and shared with us her tips and tricks for how her classroom economy thrived during virtual learning.
Sending bonuses and fines is just as easy when you switch to virtual learning, but many of your usual classroom jobs may not look the same in a virtual classroom.
Julie found creative ways to incorporate new jobs that not only allowed students to take ownership in a virtual setting, but also made her life easier. For example, she hired a "Time Keeper" to help the class on track and monitor how much time they were spending on each activity.
Take a page out of Julies book and see which new virtual jobs could be helpful in your classroom. Creating meaningful jobs not only increases student investment and boost real-world learning opportunities, but they can also help reduce some of the pain points of virtual learning.
Prefer to keep the jobs you already have? Go through your existing job list and see how you can adjust the jobs students already have to fit a virtual setting. Just update your job description, and you are good to go!
Take a look at how we tweaked our suggested jobs to seamlessly integrate into your virtual classroom.
You may be thinking creating a new job list is great, but attendance is dismal, and I'm missing half of my class every day! If your attendance rates have been lower during virtual learning, you are not alone. Julie found a way to incentivize students to come to class every day and had great attendance even during her 2 weeks of virtual learning. She sent a daily participation bonus for students who show up to class which encouraged them to log in and participate every day.
Julie doubled down on the incentive to come to class every day and allowed students to use those daily bonuses for something specific and ~exclusive~. She offered a class party for students that had earned the daily bonus for all two weeks of virtual learning and they were then able to vote on which class party they wanted to have. Students even organized their own vote and had a security guard who monitored the whiteboard to ensure election integrity and make sure nobody was switching each others votes.
You can take your daily bonus to the next level by introducing a store item that students can only buy with the daily bonus dollars. For example, if you are giving a $5 bonus to students every day for two weeks of virtual learning, at the end of those two weeks, add a $50 homework pass or item of your choice to the school store for one day and one day only. Students won't want to miss out on that!
In addition to providing the limited edition reward, Julie also introduced a Jackpot reward. Let students know at the beginning of the week that at some point over the next five days, everyone present in class will earn a surprise "Jackpot" bonus. The catch is they don't know when that jackpot will be issued. This means that students need to be present at all times to receive the jackpot. We recommend making this jackpot a slightly larger bonus than usual and telling students the price of the bonus in the rollout so they know what they could be missing out on if they aren't in class. Feel free to issue more than one jackpot bonus per week to keep students on their toes 😉
We all know Zoom fatigue is real, and as much as you want to preserve learning time, that learning time simply isn't as effective if students are exhausted. You are better off taking a 5-minute break to refresh than trudging through a lesson that is bouncing right off students. Julie found that this break is a great time to use her new virtual jobs! Her "Time Keeper" helped hold the class accountable and reminded them to take a break at a specific time. Her class "Doctor" would also reenergize the class with a stretching session to get everyone up and moving.
You can use these breaks to allow all sorts of different jobs to present their expertise. Your "Environmental Specialist" can share some ways to be environmentally conscious, or have the "Librarian" share a book that the class might enjoy. This not only helps break up the day, but it also empowers students to be the ones leading the class!
Spending all day on Zoom can feel distant and lonely, so it is crucial to inject fun into the day! These moments of levity allow your class to connect and bring some of those personal touchpoints back into the classroom. It was clear that Julie goes out of her way to inject joy and positivity into her classroom. I mean how could you not have fun in her tropical theme classroom?
Looking for ways to bring joy into your own virtual classroom? Have a joke contest, get all of your students to show their pets to the class, or the "Class DJ" can spin some tunes, and you can have a dance party 🕺! And if none of that works, you could always try turning yourself into a potato.
A huge thank you to Julie for giving us peek into her classroom and for sharing these tips for how to make the transition to virtual learning virtually painless.
Please let us know if you have any other tips for using ClassEquity in a virtual setting by shooting us a message in the chat or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear from you!
Want to hear from other teachers? Check out how Keali is using ClassEquity to turn her classroom into a wizarding world!