The covid-19 pandemic has brought the entire world to a standstill. With social distancing becoming the new norm, a lot of schools and universities have closed their campuses to prevent the spread of the virus. Due to this reason, about 1.2 billion children have been put out of their classrooms. But, to ensure that the learning process doesn’t get derailed, most of the institutes, schools, and universities have shifted their classrooms online. This is the reason the online learning industry has seen exponential growth in the past few months.
Teaching tough subjects like Math is difficult in a virtual setup. Math has a lot of tough concepts that need a proper explanation for students to understand them. Thus, it is important to maintain student engagement in virtual math classes. If the students get bored in the class, they will lose interest and might unenroll themselves from the online class. Collaborative activities are very effective in improving engagement in an online math class. Here are some of the activities that will help you in making your math class interactive and effective.
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Teach essential content
Teaching in the digital domain demands teachers to make a crisp curriculum about the concepts they want the students to master. For some concepts, observation or exposure might be sufficient to spark interest. Thus, you can teach some fundamental concepts that need mastery, and share other functions or ideas that are good to know. Moreover, your content must be short and to the point. Focus on one concept in the class, rather than rushing through an entire chapter. Make your sessions interactive by asking a few questions in between to drive discussions. Brainstorming is a great collaborative activity to bring clarity to the student’s thought process.
Create collaboration opportunities
In a virtual setup, you will have to intentionally design your curriculum for interaction. This will help you in creating a structure that empowers the students. You can divide students into groups and assign math projects to them. Encourage them to create a video or a presentation to share their project details in the class. Create a discussion forum for your online class, so that the students don’t have to rely on you to get their queries answered. They can work among themselves and get their doubts cleared. Moreover, while working in groups, the students will learn different problem-solving approaches that will improve their thought process. They will also learn leadership and time management skills while working in groups.
Focus on practice
Eliminate the concept of homework so that students don’t have to work individually anymore. Assess them on the effort that they have put in solving a problem rather than the final answer they are getting. By focusing on practicing you are encouraging students to go deep in understanding the concepts, rather than mugging it. Incentivize them if they are able to figure out a novel solving technique while working in groups. Give them the freedom to work in groups while solving a problem in the class. The more they practice together, the more effective your online sessions become.
Having students review each other’s work is one of the best ways to ensure that students learn from individual feedback. To execute this activity, you can anonymously pair students to review each other’s work. Share tools like assessment guidelines, sample reviews, etc. for students to assess their peer’s work and give constructive feedback. By sharing and receiving in-depth feedback the students learn more about the topic.
Scaffolding is a unique technique that encourages collaborative learning. It is a learning strategy where you teach harder concepts on top of simpler ones. This helps students in understanding complex math concepts. To implement this collaborative technique, set clear expectations, and share good examples of student inputs and share them with the entire class. You can use the 7 norms of collaboration to decide what you want the discussions to look like.
In class discussions, mostly the loudest and confident students participate. The shy students refrain from speaking and hence their ideas go in vain. The class brainstorming sessions are a necessity to generate new ideas, concepts, and questions that the students have. In this process, it won’t be fair to leave out the quietest students. Brainwriting is a simple method to encourage students to generate ideas before the discussion session. Thus, you can share the discussion topic before the online session and give students time to study on their own. Ask every student to submit their idea before the session. Readout all the ideas in the class and pick the best ones. This process ensures that every student’s voice is given fair weightage.
Games have always been a fun and exciting activity for students. Tutors think that augmented learning is hard to implement, but in the current virtual setup, it’s even easier to conduct this activity in the class. A lot of online websites offer some math-based learning games for students to play and learn concepts. You can pick the games that suit the course objectives and student’s learning requirements. Keep a scorecard tracker to ensure that all the students are engaged in the activity. Healthy competition is good for your online class as it motivates students and teaches them various life skills.
Smaller group discussions
Not all the students are comfortable speaking up in large groups. Most of these students are shy and hesitate to voice their ideas in larger groups. To complete a fair assessment, it is important to address every student’s ideas and thoughts. To do this, you can break your class into smaller groups to ensure every student has a voice. The discussions can then be facilitated by a moderator or a teaching assistant picked by you. You will be able to manage the class better and help struggling students.
The sudden shift to online learning hasn’t been easy. Collaborative techniques can make the online math classes effective as students feel involved and engaged even in a virtual meeting. Thus, carefully plan your sessions and use the right tools to increase student engagement in your online class.