One of my goals for this year was focused around student involvement, engagement, and participation in all types of learning environments.
At the beginning of the year, the focus was more on the virtual learners in our hybrid model and ensuring their voices were being heard in a lesson. One strategy I used was an exit ticket where I had students answer 3 quick questions:
1. What did you learn today?
2. What questions do you have?
3. Do you need extra help?
These were quite useful as I was able to more quickly connect with students that needed support in learning the lesson. I was also able to clarify any questions in the following lesson if there were misunderstandings with the content.
As we then switched to fully remote learning, my focus switched slightly to balancing silence with student input. Now that everyone was remote, I sometimes found myself asking questions and getting no responses. The silence was intimidating at the beginning. How long should I wait for any response? How long do I wait before asking the question in a different way? Do I ask a completely different question?
So my work for the later part of the year has been on getting student input during the lesson and being mindful of the questions I ask. Having had the chance to work with a teaching intern, I was able to observe her try a few different strategies and have the chance to debrief what worked, what could change, etc.
We tried using the chat feature in Google Meets to get students to give answers. This is challenging in a math classroom as the chat works best for word answers and not math equations.
We tried a randomized wheel to randomly select students to answer a question. We made sure that the questions we asked were mostly based around past knowledge and not new content so that whoever was selected would be successful in answering. The surprising outcome to this was that when the wheel was not used, more students volunteered answers in that lesson.
I've tried a quick "show me thumbs up, thumbs sideways, thumbs down" to gauge understanding of the material. This is a good way to quickly get input and then follow up, if needed with students who may need further support.
These were just a few of the quick things we tried and could adapt to any class. I am still working on finding other ways to collect input from students in a virtual learning environment. As with many other moments in teaching, there is always something else to try...