It’s no secret that teaching is hard work—and that was before distance learning arrived on the scene en masse.

If the new format is throwing you for a loop, you’re not alone. Teachers, kids, and caregivers are all navigating unfamiliar territory.

In taking Galileo-style learning virtual, we’ve learned a few things about keeping kids engaged over a screen. Check out these distance learning tips for educators, straight from Camp Galileo Anywhere instructors.

Starting with Sparkle

Some learners love a good synchronous lesson, while others need a little convincing to warm to the idea. Kicking off a lesson with a little something extra can help all students feel welcomed and engaged from the jump.

Pump up the Jams.

Playing upbeat music can help energize your students while also getting them on the same page through a shared experience. If you’re on the lookout for a kid-friendly playlist, these are some good options.

Break the Ice.

Spend a few minutes at the top to be together as people. This can help support the formation of connections between your students and a shared class identity. Try these old favorites:

  • Would You Rather questions (Ex: Would you rather be stranded on an arctic ice planet or a fiery magma planet?)
  • Either/Or questions (Ex: Ice cream or cake? Cats or dogs?)
  • Find some common ground (Ex: We all have at least one sibling)
  • Twenty Questions (Tip: Choose a person, place or thing related to your lesson.)
Dress to Impress.

Now’s the time to dig through that stash of old Halloween costumes. Whether it’s a lab coat for your elementary students’ science rotation or a draped bedsheet to discuss the Roman Empire, a little flair can go a long way.

Camp Galileo Anywhere | Aviator Adventure - Live online class for kindergarteners

Facilitating Discussions

It can be challenging to create a shared space that encourages discussion online. Here are some suggestions for meeting your students where they’re at.

Sound Off.

Will you manage muting and unmuting, or will your students? How will you take questions? Whatever your system, set clear expectations with your learners.

Raise ‘Em High.

Just like in the classroom, remind learners to raise their hands if they want to share. Some things never change.

Chat it Up.

If your platform has a chat feature, consider making that an alternative way for older learners to contribute to the conversation.

Guiding Activities

Keeping everyone on track can be a challenge when you’re not physically in the same space as campers. Here are some tips and tricks.

Break It Down.

Wherever possible, break your activities down into extremely small chunks so that you’re able to give your students one direction at a time. This is particularly helpful for younger learners.

Repeat Yourself.

Recap your directions several times. This will support any students who may have missed an instruction the first time around but feel too shy to speak up.

Give the Signal.

Teach your students a couple of attention getters with visual cues. For example, when you say, “Paws!,” your students might raise their hands with their fingers curled. Beyond the fun factor, this helps you see that your learners’ hands are free and that they’re ready to listen.

Show, Don’t Tell.

When students are working on the same project, have them hold up their projects after each step. This not only keeps them engaged in the activity, but also helps you see that everyone is on track and understand if some students need more time.

Just for Fun

Throw in a Theme Day.

Want to liven up a Wednesday? Invite your learners to dress to a theme they can easily find in their existing wardrobes. Pajama Day, Favorite Color Day, Wacky Hair Day, Mismatch Day, and Sports Day are all great options.

Get Goofy.

For some students, school on a video call can be a self-conscious experience. Help put learners at ease by injecting a little silliness.

Camp Galileo Anywhere offers engaging online classes for Pre-K – 8th graders to supplement the school day. Single-session and multi-day offerings are enrolling now.