Increasing Engagement in Virtual Learning

In the past I would use some gamification to improve things that were an issue in the classroom. It is not uncommon for middle schoolers to come to class unprepared and struggle with transition time…they are gifted time wasters! I would establish competitions between class periods to battle it out each marking period for the prized donut breakfast with table cloths and everything. Cost me some money, but for me the investment was worth it.

I noticed this year, with my after school Reading Clinic being virtual, that kids were still coming, but I was getting smaller numbers and the active participation was a challenge compared to in-person learning of the past. So, I used two things that I’m pretty good at (patting self on back) and got to work.

First, my kids get a kick out of my over the top reminders and announcements. I enjoy making them…it’s like crafting for me. I post them each day in the Schoology Updates.

More examples…

Since I was already using my advertising skills and it was working…I started to add in some gamification to help with attendance too…enter Battle of the Teachers!

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Each night the kids in clinic were dying to know who was winning, and I would post updates in Schoology. I don’t know who got more competitive, the teachers or the kids! More and more started showing up so their teacher could win bragging rights and a sweet morning treat.

While more and more kids were showing up, we all know that that is not enough. I needed them to be active participants as well, so Battle of the Students was born. Students were given a point for showing up, a point for each thoughtful answer to a question in chat, and two points for posting live on our Jamboard which we used for discussions. The more points you earn, the more entries you get in a drawing at the end of the week for a $10 gift card. Since I always brought snacks to in person sessions (a student favorite) I decided to use the money I normally invested into a variety of gift cards. At the end of the week a name is randomly selected!

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The idea of working towards a prize was motivating for sure, but what I noticed was it opened the floodgates to some very thoughtful conversations and chats.

One example from a seventh grade chat they initiated on their own.

In this excerpt from a chat, I asked them to look through a particular lens for our text and they were responding what they were noticing along the way.

These chats and discussions then led to more participation on our Jamboard that opened even more discussion.

I’m still thinking of ways to keep the kids not only coming but engaged and actively participating and will continue to share as I learn, but I wanted you to see how novelty and some competition can help us achieve our goals.

If anyone has some great ideas to share, please do!

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