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Many teachers make the mistake of thinking that online learning means that the teacher needs to drone on for the entire lesson with pupils looking at the screen with the teacher. Instead, it is important for you to mix up your teaching approach so that there is as much variety as possible. Here we are presenting the list of 10 possible online activities to make your virtual classroom as effective as an on-site one.
This article provides you with simple practical ideas to transform your ESL online teaching into an interactive fun and thrilling environment.
Different modes of online teaching
– Completing an activity and for students to then take photos of their work
– Asking students to record them doing something e.g. whilst on a scavenger hunt / constructing something etc.
– Completing a Google slide activity – there are many ready-made Google Slides that can be used, however, it is a simple programme to use to make your own
– Some online activities like video games or interactive games would also make a difference – often teachers put up a game and then everyone has to play it together – alter this through having individual games which can be differentiated according to ability
– Watch a teacher-made video – these do not have to be perfect but enable your students to interact with you in another format instead of simply seeing your face straight on during your online lessons
– Watch an educational video – use a video to explain things, giving students tasks to complete whilst watching or asking questions afterwards – to ensure that the videos are being watched with a purpose
– Choose a story that shows words – work with your students to read along with a story online
– Ask your students to teach something to their family member, stuffed animal or toy and record it – through teaching to others this really shows an understanding
– Encourage your students to create a collection of things/objects – this can be individually or as a group. For example, this week we are collecting things that are an interesting shape / the most useful things around your house etc.
– Take a virtual tour – with questions/things to draw, etc. as if it is a real field trip
Show and tell- one of the classic online activities
Show and tell is a great way to add excitement to your online learning. It encourages pupils to participate through the preparation of materials and explanations as well as developing listening and peaking skills.
In addition to the traditional show and tell in which students show something of interest, you can focus on specific aspects such as:
– Showing something that starts with a certain letter of the alphabet.
– Showing something that starts with the same letter as your first name
– Sharing a furry friend ( real or stuffed )
– Explaining why this is your favourite book
– Showing a non-living thing in your house
– Making and showing a drawing of your favourite animal and one interesting fact about it.
– Sharing something that is made of wood (or another material)
– Exploring something that can be recycled
– Showing something with numbers on it
– Showing something with a specific number on it (like 4)
Students are fed up with just sitting down so it is important to make sure that there is movement within the class. One simple way to do this is through scavenger hunts during which students look around their environment to find designated things.
The things to find can be related to the topics that you are studying, some other ideas are:
ABC – the teacher gives students a specific letter and the need to find things beginning with this letter/ letters
Numbers, letters or specific types of words in newspapers/magazines – for example, asking students to find nouns or verbs or articles with number words above twenty etc.
Books – ask your students to look through the book collection in their house and see if they can find for example:
A book with more than 100 pages
A book with less than 30 pages
A book about animals
A book with no words
A book in another language
A book about sports
Online learning can be stressful if it is a result of being forced d e.g. during COVID time. As a result, it is important that as a teacher you check in with students to make sure that they are OK mentally and include some online activities that will calm and relax you such as meditation – for example, a great children’s meditation is the butterfly body scan
There are a lot of resources and videos online – so take your time to find things that suit your own situation. Make sure the students have opportunities to relax
3. Special events
In addition to making your class more interesting through having a variety of teaching modes and a wide range of online activities, you can also make your classes more interesting through having a series of special events.
Special events break up the routine of the semester and give students something to look forward to. Whenever you are planning an online special event, make sure that you make and send invites to make your event appear more formal and special.
Simple ideas include:
- Memories day – students share their favourite memories from the week
- Dressing up day – designate one day a week when pupils will wear something special – think of special names for the day’s e.g. crazy hair Thursday / stripy Wednesday / bright Friday etc.
- Pet Parade – students to introduce a real or stuffed animal. The teacher plays music (as if it is a show) and students can either say something about their pet or demonstrate what they like about their pet etc.
- Photo Contest – have somewhere where students can put up photos on a theme and everyone can see each other’s
- Yoga/PE day – a day where there is a health and fitness emphasis
- Practical life day – ask your students to help with a chore around the house and document it through a video or a photo/picture
- Teach us Tuesday – on a rota basis, students share something that they can do that they would like to teach everyone
- Thirsty Thursday – when an educational video is played during the break time
When deciding on a special day you could also use international special days such as:
1 – New Year’s Day
4 – Trivia Day
5 – National Bird Day
10 -Houseplant Appreciation Day
25 – Opposites Day
2 -Groundhog’s Day
3 – Feed the Birds Day
12 -Chinese New Year
14 – Valentine’s Day
16 – Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday)
8- International Women’s Day
17 – St. Patrick’s Day
20 – International Earth Day – also called Sun-Earth Day
1- April Fool’s Day
22 – Earth Day (U.S.)
1 -May Day
4 -Star Wars Day
9 – Mother’s Day – second Sunday
9 -Lilac Sunday – second Sunday in May
15 – Armed Forces Day -third Saturday
6 D Day, WWII
19 -Juneteenth Day
20- Summer Solstice
20 Father’s Day – third Sunday
1- Canada Day (Dominion Day)
21- National Hot Dog Day – third Wednesday of month
22- Hammock Day …relax and enjoy!
1- National Mountain Climbing Day
3 -National Watermelon Day
13- Left Hander’s Day
28- Stuffed Green Bell Peppers Day
30- National Marshmallow Toasting Day
12- Grandparents Day
21- International Peace Day (UN)
24- Native American Day the fourth Friday of the month
1- International Day for the Elderly
1 -World Smile Day first Friday of the month
11 -Indigenous People Day second Monday of month
15 -Boss’s Day – Weekday closest to October 16
16- Sweetest Day 3rd Saturday
24 -United Nations Day
23- Make a Difference Day 4th Saturday
1-2 Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)
11 -Veteran’s Day
13 -Caregiver Appreciation Day
20- Universal Children’s Day
12- Poinsettia Day
26- Boxing Day – date can vary
27 National Fruitcake Day
31 New Year’s Eve
Overall, it is important to think of online learning as more than a simple set of lessons to plow through. Instead, consider the different ways that you can teach and the different online activities that you can use to encourage language development in a fun and interactive manner.