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Tips to Improve Student Engagement in the Classroom

“The true strength in our classroom lies in collaboration between learners and not in the knowledge of one expert” - Unknown. 

An engaging classroom helps students learn things more efficiently. A student who is engaged typically has the best learning outcomes. It is therefore very important for teachers to make their classroom as engaging as possible. An engaging classroom has several important benefits such as: 

  1. It increases students’ interest in learning

  2. It motivates students to be communicative which, in turn, develops communication and collaboration skills

  3. It increases competency across skills and subjects

So, how can teachers make the classroom engaging for all students? Let's look at a few ways to achieve maximum student engagement in the classroom.

1) Conduct Group Activities

Group activities are a great way to achieve collaborative learning among your students. When students are put into groups, learning becomes fun and  in better productivity.

Conducting group activities is considered to be a very effective method to motivate students, encourage active learning, and improve communication as well as decision-making skills. Group activities not only enhance the communication skills of students but also encourage the students’ to listen more carefully. Some examples of group activities that could be conducted in the classroom are group discussions, information-exchange activities, group presentations, role plays, debates, etc.

2) Ask Open-Ended Questions

An open-ended question is one that cannot be answered with a “yes” or “no”. Closed-ended questions, naturally, are those questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no” such as, “Do you like math?”, “Have you done your homework?” etc. Open-ended questions are a simple yet very powerful way to transform the way students think and communicate.  They encourage students to think, analyse, use language and to express themselves by giving longer answers that help build a wider range of vocabulary. Open-ended questioning has various benefits for students such as: 

a) Encourages students to think more and better 

b) Supports students in coming up with their own ideas and explanations 

c) Develops vocabulary 

d) Develops the habit of thinking of something new or different

e) Improves problem-solving skills.

Teachers should avoid asking questions that have just a single word answer. Also, ask students to explain their answers, which makes the student extend his or her level of thinking and understanding.

3) Gamify Learning

Games and activities are a great way to keep students engaged in the classroom. Since games have that fun element, students stay hooked to them and naturally  participate in the learning process with more interest. Because games have a competitive element to them, learning will be more motivating and bring better engagement. They also are a great way to enhance problem solving, thinking and collaborative skills among students. Teachers can look to gamify certain topics in their subjects regularly which is accomplished best with activities such asstories, competitions, quizzes, puzzles etc.

4) Understand Your Students’ Interests

Understanding the individual you are teaching is very important. Our education system unfortunately considers the entire classroom as as one single unit. But that is not so. The classroom is composed of unique individuals, each with their own personality, likes and dislikes, skills, talents, and abilities. If you look closely and genuinely try to understand each one of your students you will be able to see the uniqueness in each of them. Some may excel with the traditional methods but others may fall behind in the same traditional classroom. Understanding how each of your students’ learns is key to customising your teaching accordingly to enable every student to stay engaged and succeed

5) Encourage Students to Present their Work

Presentations are a great way for students to come up with their own creative ideas. Presentations enable students to explain their understanding of a certain topic and also gives them the platform to improve their public speaking skills, which is very crucial in today’s world. Presentations help students build communication skills and confidence as well as encourage peer learning, collaboration, teamwork, brainstorming, and problem solving - all of which are critical 21st century skills. And of course, presentations are an intrinsic motivation for students to learn and understand topics.  

6) Give and receive feedback

Feedback is a great way for teachers to convey the positives and areas of concern to a student. Having constant feedback sessions with each student will enhance your relationship with the student. Outlining the positives and pointing out the areas of improvement will help the student to grow in a constructive and systematic way. The same holds good for teachers, too. Getting to know about your teaching from your own students will help you understand where you can improve to better teach your students.

What More Can A Teacher Do?

As in every profession, upskilling is important. The same applies to the one profession that teaches every other profession. Today's generation of students are not made for a classroom that uses traditional teaching methods. Teachers must know the latest pedagogy strategies and teaching tools and methods to teach their students. 

We at Learning matters have curated the perfect program for schools who wish to upskill their teachers in order to bring in highest levels of student engagement and therefore sustainable success to their school. Get in touch with us today to help your teachers reach their potential best.

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Top 5 Tips to Build Better Teacher-Student Relationships in your School

Research suggests that students who have very positive interactions with their teachers are highly successful academically. That is, positive teacher-student interactions have been shown to improve student learning outcomes and grades. This is because when students genuinely enjoy interacting with their teachers, they become more confident about the subject and are more motivated in their academics. 

Therefore it is very important for teachers to make every effort to build positive relationships with students. While this does not come naturally to every teacher it can indeed be built and cultivated with guidance from the top management in the school. After all, it is the leadership who sets the tone for the environment and atmosphere in the school. So, how can your staff work towards cultivating better relationships with their students? Here are the top 5 tips. 

1) Create a Positive Atmosphere in the Classroom

Happy students = happy learners. And how do we make students happy? By engaging them with a variety of activities. Teachers who keep the classroom lively, cheerful and active with various fun activities engage their students at higher rates. This helps create a positive atmosphere which in turn, helps the teacher to connect better with their students. Encourage your academic coordinators to come up with a list of 5-minute activities that teachers can use as ‘brain breaks’ at the beginning of classes or during transitions. Encourage your staff to share activities that students particularly enjoy with one another.

2) Listen actively

Listening with attention, interest and intent to students and genuinely understanding them is one of the most crucial and easiest ways to evaluate not only their interests but also areas of challenges and concerns. This helps the teacher to come up with better ways to make the learning process more engaging for their students. 

One way to do this is to encourage your teachers to set aside some time every week as an “Open Door” time during which those students who would like to share challenges or concerns may do so in private. Remember to set some guidelines around these sessions. Many schools have a counselor on staff - a dedicated person to counsel students. But if you don't have a counselor, that’s perfectly alright. You yourself can take up this role or encourage a coordinator or any teacher who has the natural ability to connect well with students, to become the official “listener”. 

3) Personalize Teaching

Not every student learns in the same way. If you monitor your students closely, you will notice the uniqueness of each one of your students’. Personalizing learning is an efficient way to enhance the scope of learning for a student. It helps build a better connection with your students as they will have the confidence that they can learn efficiently.

4) Talk More Than Just Academics

Teachers should bring in much more than just academics into the classroom. Sharing and discussing a variety of topics that range from personal and inspirational to success will help to enhance the bond between teachers and students. There are many simple ways to inculcate this. One way is to encourage a daily “news hour” during the zero period. Class teachers can designate 5 minutes to discuss a world event of special interest. Another way is for subject teachers to dedicate the first or last 5 minutes of the session as a “share” session. Students can take turns to share something of importance to them. Teachers can set guidelines around these including time limits, what topics are allowed/not allowed, as well as how others are permitted to react. Such extra-curricular discussions help students learn important life skills such as respect and understanding of diversity, empathy, responsibility, and taking alternative perspectives, to name just a few,

5) Motivate! Motivate! Motivate!

Students who are motivated are typically the ones who actively define and seek success. Having a constant source of motivation from their teachers, with whom they spend the most time during the school years, will go a very long way. Teachers should motivate their students not just in academics but also in sports and other extracurricular activities to boost their confidence and also support a healthy lifestyle for students. Encourage your staff to make a note of students’ special interests, skills and strengths and to find opportunities for students to further develop these. A strong emphasis on health, sport, and a variety of arts in the school culture is important to set a strong foundation for motivation.

Start!

To start and bring about positive change, one has to take the first step. If you’re unsure how to take the first step, we are here to take it with you. Our StarTeacher program has supported many school management teams in establishing a culture of positive teacher-student relationships. They now report that students’ learning outcomes have dramatically improved. We would love to help you do the same in your institution. WhatsApp us today to find out how StarTeacher can bring about guaranteed positive change in your school.  

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5 ways online teaching should be different from face-to-face teaching

The concept of traditional education has changed radically in 2020 due to the pandemic. Now with the rise of various ed-tech learning solutions, being physically present in a classroom isn’t a requirement for learning anymore!

Pandemic or not, it’s safe to say that online teaching is here to stay as a full-time or some kind of hybrid learning model in the coming time. While technology is the main aspect, there are various other important factors that teachers need to pay heed to to ensure online teaching is different from face-to-face teaching. Why so? Because the online environment is drastically different from the traditional classroom environment, teachers need to develop a wide array of new teaching skills and strategies to compensate for the absence of a physical classroom and to ensure students are learning effectively in the new medium.

Here are 5 characteristics of the teaching-learning process in online teaching that should be different from face-to-face teaching.

1. More Emphasis on Community Building & Digital Competency

As a teacher, the utmost responsibility is to complete the syllabus on time. So, it’s common for many teachers to directly jump into teaching from day one. However, with online classes it’s important to devote the early weeks to building a sense of community so that students feel connected with their teachers and peers and therefore, more engaged in the process. Deeper engagement is a must for effective learning.

On the heels of this, it is equally important to ensure students’ comfort and competency in using the chosen online learning platform and tools. A detailed induction to the digital tools used in the classroom is necessary to acquaint students with the virtual classroom settings. It is natural to assume that most students are tech-savvy and that they need no induction on online classrooms. But, this is not always the case. There might be a few timid students who might not speak up and ask questions about the usage of online learning tools due to fear of embarrassment. Kick-starting the learning sessions with creative community-building experiences can help the children unwind among peers.

2. Focus on Streamlined Communication With Parents

Over-involvement of parents in online classes is a real problem. Teachers shouldn’t have to stress over helicopter parents. Schools should therefore facilitate a forum for both parents and teachers to creatively collaborate and build mutual trust.

Teachers must establish a consistent platform and predictable schedule for sharing information with parents. Rather than toggling around with messages and emails, a weekly update at the scheduled time and place will be much more effective and will reduce ad-hoc queries from parents. Also, setting clear expectations and boundaries for communication with both students and parents is important to avoid any kind of misunderstandings.

3. Greater Teacher Collaboration

Collaboration between teachers can ease the burden of online teaching while allowing one to explore more tools and techniques of teaching. Teachers need to work closely together to share their knowledge of digital tools and online teaching tips and techniques to reduce duplication of work and bring in greater efficiency and use of time. In fact, collaboration between teachers is much easier now in the virtual environment.

4. Simplify and Slow Down the Content; Build Critical Skills

The online space is not the ideal medium to cover large portions of content quickly. The physical gap between teachers and students magnifies certain negative aspects of online teaching. Teachers should be mindful of this and need to plan how to teach crucial content and important topics at a slow pace. Teachers also need to pay heed to aspects like the essential knowledge needed to go ahead to the next grade for a pupil as well as acquisition of crucial life- and knowledge skills like analyzing, constructing arguments, summarizing, etc. and build these critical skills through carefully-designed assignments.

5. Take a Backseat on Conventional Grading System

There have been vigorous arguments about how to manage grading in remote learning. Due to the nature of online learning, it would be better to accentuate formative feedback as students work through assignments and tasks, rather than simply grading them at the end. Most of the learning management systems have a feature to provide feedback. So, teachers can make the most of it by making sure to give periodical and meaningful feedback to students while creating avenues to receive feedback from the students and parents on the assignments.

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Voice-Assisted Technology to Transform Education in Rural India

Students and teachers at Sri Kanchi Sankara Vidyalaya in Thiruvidaimarudur, a village near Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, have been learning the basics of spoken English with Tara, an interactive, AI-enabled natural language voice recognition tool. The brainchild of Learning Matters, an award-winning education technology startup headquartered in Bangalore, India, Tara is powered by Amazon Alexa and AWS. This “machine teacher” has provided learners with a novel, engaging, fun, and judgement-free environment. The progress they have made in the acquisition of English vocabulary, comprehension skills, and confidence in speaking English publicly is testament to the fact that when a learner is truly engaged, outcomes will follow naturally.

The gains shown by the students in Sri Kanchi Sankara Vidyalaya have been mirrored in other users of Tara - K-12 schools and NGOs alike - such as the Shifting Orbits Foundation and the Head Held High Foundation. Worldwide, English proficiency is the key to academic and career success. While students in urban India grow up with the ubiquitous presence of English in their lives, this is not so for those in tier-2 and 3 India. Tara’s primary target market is these under-resourced communities.

With the use of text-to-speech and speech-to-text, Tara has been teaching communicative English to students and teachers in the rural areas of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Over 30,000 students in schools with poor teacher-student ratios or lack of qualified teachers now have a “teacher” who can converse, repeat lessons, provide feedback, and correct mistakes repeatedly. Tara has not replaced teachers but rather empowered them with the flexibility to conduct classes with “her” help and to improve learning outcomes. She teaches learners how to communicate through a combination of lessons that include listening, speaking, reading, and writing (LSRW).

A member of the AWS EdStart Accelerator Program, Learning Matters turned to AWS and Amazon Alexa at the very beginning to quickly prototype Tara and go to market. Tara is a skill that is created with Alexa Voice Service and hosted on AWS platform. Tara back-end services, including the logic of all teacher and student interactions, are hosted on AWS Lambda. The team uses AWS documentation to help develop new modules and also uses AWS Cloud’s advances in AI and cloud computing to create professional development programmes for teachers.

Why AWS? AWS helped Learning Matters quickly prototype and test Tara. Moreover, time to market was drastically reduced with AWS. With AWS’s services being mature and elastic, the team is able to quickly configure Tara to required capacity and without encountering serious bug blockers. Moreover, the features provided by AWS come with rich documentation and they enable quick development of modules. Finally, the AWS forums help to have any queries clarified really quickly.

Learning from voice comes naturally for humans. After all, this is how we begin to learn language - by listening to and speaking with those around us. As we grow older, books ensure deeper engagement with language learning by bringing in the reading and writing components. Tara enhances learning not only among students but also amongst teachers. She makes high-quality educational solutions accessible and affordable to semi-urban and rural schools. Most importantly, she is a scalable and sustainable solution. There is no doubt that Tara has the power to create tidal waves of impact in teaching and learning in underserved India.

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Why are some kids thriving during remote learning?

COVID-19 has remodeled all facets of our daily lives. Teachers and students in particular have had to resort to virtual ways in order to engage, educate and be educated. While the rather forced transition to online teaching and learning hasn’t been easy on all students, there seem to be some who are surprisingly thriving in this medium. Let’s take a closer look at why some kids are doing exceedingly well in remote learning.

The Brighter Side

While the pandemic has shrunk the lives of many kids to just their homes and screens, not all kids are sad about it. So, what are the aspects of online learning that has aided some kids to thrive?

  • Support of Self-Pace
    Flexibility is the hallmark of e-learning. Students who do well in self-paced, flexible learning situations therefore thrive in this environment. It is this factor that hooks certain students in and keeps their attention span intact. As online materials and courses are accessible at any hour of the day, it makes students feel more in control. With recorded videos and e-notes available, students can replay and retain information anytime, in a better manner, and are able to learn at their own pace. This helps students take ownership as they’re no longer under the micromanagement of the regular school day in the teacher’s physical presence.

  • Dare we say, the Devil is in the Distractions
    It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that students have an immensely busy schedule during regular schooling. During the school day, students constantly remain on the go with sports, club meetings, extra-curricular activities, tuitions and more. But the restrictions imposed by the pandemic have cut short many of these activities enabling students to focus better on only their online classes and learning.

  • Sleep - the Best Self-Care!
    Just like many adults, children too can be night owls or early birds. The former are those who are very productive in the evening and nighttime. Most students are no longer waking up to a very early alarm clock now. The kids who have a hard time staying alert in their early morning classes are now able to get their work done in the evenings and nights. They are able to get their sleep at their own timetable now. Remote learning has provided such students with the desired flexibility that has boosted productivity.

  • Home - the Safe Haven!
    While much has been discussed about missing in-person connections and relationships at school, there are students who have benefited from this. Typically, these are students for whom school socialization is fraught with anxiety. Such as students with ADHD or students who have been victims of physical or verbal bullying while at school. For them, being able to learn from home, the ultimate safe space, is a huge relief. Learning in their ‘safe place’ has boosted their confidence and productivity.

So, is this a long-term Solution?

Remote learning has been a disaster for many students. But some kids have thrived. This somehow throws light on the lack of inclusivity in our education system as well.

Even as more schools are extending remote learning indefinitely, a lot of students just can’t wait to get back into the classroom. However, it is clear that even after it is deemed safe to return to school, it won’t be a complete return to what was considered normal.

Forms of remote learning have existed since the 19th century, but it was never mainstream. With the COVID era, we all have witnessed the rise of numerous online learning tools and platforms. It could be possible that remote learning, just like homeschooling, may be considered as a permanent viable option by many.

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Tips for Teachers: 5 Ways to Practice Mental Health and Wellness

In the wake of World Mental Health Day, we wanted to talk about something not a lot of people talk about. Why is it important for teachers to focus on their mental health and wellness? In your day-to-day juggle, it becomes very easy to put other people’s mental health and wellbeing needs ahead of your own. Just as during a flight safety briefing adults are reminded to secure their safety belts and oxygen masks first in any emergency before assisting others, the same holds good for mental health. Only when you are healthy and well can you care for others. How can you make sure you create a positive mental health culture in yourself as well as in your students?

Here are our Top 5 tips:

1. Be active, even at home

All of us have our own ways to de-stress and feel rejuvenated. The important things is to make the time to de-stress.

Here are our favorite, and easy, ways to de-stress:

  1. Go for a 10-minute walk.
  2. Pause, close your eyes and take ten deep breaths.
  3. Every 1 hour, take a screen-free break and move away from your computer screen or phone.
  4. Take care of your physical well-being by engaging in some routine exercise or activity.

2. Stay connected

Talking about work issues with a colleague or mentor is a great way to resolve a problem. Sometimes just expressing something out loud can help you untangle a tricky issue and your conversation partner might help you see something from a different point of view!

3. Maintain work-life balance

Be Present: Create clear boundaries between work and home. Trying to limit the amount of school work you bring home and creating an end-of-day ritual are a few ways to get started.

Set Realistic Expectations – It’s OK to Say ‘No’: While teachers are amazing multi-taskers, we are also (mere) humans. People will understand if you do not have time to take on another after-school activity, implement another classroom initiative, or mentor another student teacher.

4. Make the most of technological and online avenues for professional development

Connecting, sharing, and discussing with other educators through online groups and webinars will throw fresh perspectives on mundane tasks and activities, give you new ideas, and rejuvenate you. Sometimes, we all need to step aside from the path we're walking on to discover fresh, new ways of doing things.

5. Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness could be as simple as observing each child in your class without any judgment. Your class doesn’t have to be perfectly still and quiet for you to do this! Mindfulness is all about finding the calm amongst the chaos. You can further extend it by teaching mindfulness to your students which will result in increased focus, reduced stress, and an improvement in their academic performance.

What are some of the health and wellness tips you follow as a teacher? Do share them in the comments section.

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How Voice-Technology Can Reshape the Education System

"Hey Alexa, place an order for Kellogs cornflakes on Amazon Pantry, please."

Click on the play button to hear Alexa's response:

That’s it! Your requested product is on your doorstep within a couple of days after giving the voice command to Amazon Echo, a smart speaker, and a home assistant.

Alexa, Siri or the ever-reliable Google Maps guiding you to your destination are some of the applications of voice technology popularly known to us. But the potential of voice technology is much more than this. COVID-19 has already fuelled the next wave of innovation in the education sector. While we are just about adapting to virtual learning, voice technology combined with the power of artificial intelligence is already springing up to be a key force in teaching and learning.

Educators and ed-tech companies alike are incessantly working on innovations to making teaching and learning more effective in current times.

Students in Sri Kanchi Sankara Vidyalaya, Thiruvidaimarudur, Kumbakonam learning English from Tara

While e-learning in the form of video-based or visual learning has been instrumental in aiding the learning process during the pandemic, its accessibility is questionable. While students in private schools can attend online classes fairly easily and with all the necessary equipment, those in rural schools are facing multiple challenges with unreliable internet connectivity, minimal to poor access to necessary platforms for e-learning, and the high-cost factor of devices.

As video-based learning requires a strong internet connection, it becomes a hurdle for teachers and students in semi-urban and rural India to completely rely on it. Most of the private schools rich with resources are effectively making use of Google Classrooms, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Blackboard, Tata Class Edge, etc., However, teachers and students of the semi-urban and rural regions don’t have access to technology and high-quality solutions and training like their urban counterparts.

Is there a feasible solution to this challenge? Yes. The answer is voice technology.

Why Voice Technology?

Students in Sri Kanchi Sankara Vidyalaya, Ganapathy Agraharam, Kumbakonam learning from Tara

When compared to visual learning, voice-assisted technology is not only economical and easily accessible but also comes with its own set of unique benefits. Here are a few of them:

  1. Voice-assisted technology is very light on hardware as users only need a small device that supports voice, such as an EchoDot, that is easily portable.

  2. Voice-enabled devices have very simple interfaces. So there is no intimidation or fear for people who aren’t as tech-savvy as others.

  3. The bandwidth required for voice-enabled technology to function seamlessly is much less than that required for video-based learning. 512 Mbps is the minimum bandwidth needed so even a 3G connection is sufficient.

  4. Many voice devices come with battery back-up and so, a consistent electricity supply is not required.

  5. Because of factors #1, 2, 3, and 4 above, this technology is much more easily deployed than other technology solutions.

  6. Voice-assisted learning solutions make use of the most natural way in which human beings learn - through listening and speaking. We all learn languages like this. So, using conversation-style learning, which is what voice technology is based on, ensures learning that is natural and effective.

  7. Voice technology isn’t just a passive interface. When it is pedagogically-sound and thoughtfully-designed, the interface will not only tell learners they are incorrect but also explain why and correct them.

  8. Voice technology can repeat lessons, exercises, and assessments as many times as learners need, without any fatigue. 

  9. Voice technology provides a non-judgmental environment for learners to confidently make mistakes and learn. With a voice teacher, there is no fear of embarrassment or making mistakes.

  10. Voice technology supports individualized learning as well as pair, small-group, and large-group learning. One device can serve a class of 30-50 students because of the excellent mic array that can pick up voices from larger ranges. Imagine a class of 30 students clustered around one smartphone on a video call. There’s no comparison.

  11. With big players bringing in voice technology in multiple Indian languages, learning is not restricted only to English.

  12. It is easily extendable to any academic subject and any use case.

  13. There is no concern about children being exposed to longer screen time. The ‘only audio' medium gives no chance to get distracted with visuals and therefore, kids become more attentive.

Voice technology will become the Frontrunner in Education

With minimal features but maximum capability and impact, there is no doubt that voice technology powered by AI has greater ROI and is going to be the next big education trend. Not only can it enhance learning among students but also amongst teachers. It makes high-quality educational solutions accessible and affordable to semi-urban and rural schools. Most importantly, it makes solutions scalable and sustainable.

Most of us have a ubiquitous image of e-learning which is visual-based. However, to ensure that no child (or teacher) is deprived of learning and that they realize their full potential, we must look towards and support voice technology in education.

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How to use Google Classroom: A Quick Guide for Teachers

The paradigm shift in teaching and learning has replaced the blackboard with various learning management platforms. Google Classroom is one of the most widely used platforms for learning and teaching. Google Classroom is part of the G Suite for Education (Google for Education) package that includes Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar, and other apps.

Why Google Classroom?

Compared to other LMS (Learning Management Systems) that have been popular over the past decade, Google Classroom is amazingly simple. Even though Google Classroom is more of a tool than an LMS, it is a ‘one-stop-shop’ for an organization. What’s more, it’s a free service for teachers and students. The (rather small) catch is that an individual cannot register until their school or organization signs up for the Google for Education package.

How to use Google Classroom effectively?

Online teaching has a lot to offer and one has to actually strive a bit to ace online classroom management. Teachers started with a lot of trepidation but are now getting accustomed to the usage of tools and techniques in online platforms.

However, effective management of online classrooms can only be achieved by understanding the nuances of using the particular platform. Here are a few tips to help one in this aspect. Chenda Jayachandran, Head Customer Engagement at Learning Matters has been training teachers for over two decades and swears by these tried-and-tested techniques. They may sound simple but are critical.

      1. Keep Parents in the Loop

In order to ensure smooth running of online classrooms, keeping the parents in the loop is a necessary step. Google Classroom has options for teachers to send out updates about students' classwork directly to the parents. Communication from school to home should be regular and consistent. It may consist of summaries of lessons completed, alerts or reminders for upcoming or missing submissions, and information about other class activities.

     2. Establish Effective Communication with Students

Establishing clear, direct, simple, and effective communication with students is also key to successful online teaching, Google Classroom has many in-built options to make this easy for teachers. In the “Students” tab, clicking the checkboxes above all of your students’ names highlights all the individuals. Clicking on “Actions” and “Email” helps in drawing attention to something you want to communicate to students. The “Move to top” button can be used when a student hasn’t submitted an assignment or to remind the students of the deadline for submission. Also, the “private comments” feature can be used to communicate with students to give feedback. In this way, Google Classroom simplifies communication with students.

     3. Connect with the Community

Teaching is more successful when it is collaborative. Google Classroom allows you to share your data with your school’s teaching community and collaborate with other teachers who teach the same grade level. You can invite teachers to join your class to help coordinate class activities. If you use Google Groups, you can also invite a group of co-teachers at the same time. Your G Suite administrator might only allow teachers and students from your school to join classes. Google Classroom makes it very easy for educators to collaborate in multiple ways. 

     4. Connect all your Resources with Google Classroom

To make the best use of the Google Classroom platform holistically, you can check out the supported integration of websites or apps available for Google Classroom. You can make use of several other in-built tools like Docs, Drive, and Calendar. Make effective use of Google Drive for collaborative writing, sharing, and commenting which provides students with the opportunities to receive immediate feedback on their assignments from teachers and classmates. By using the Calendar, teachers can streamline effective classroom management. For example, if you post an assignment with a due date, it's automatically added to the class calendar for your students to see. Furthermore, one can digitally organize, distribute, and collect assignments, course materials, and student work on time without any misses. 

Some apps partner with Google directly, while others create and publish their own third-party add-ons in the Chrome Store. For example, if you are looking for learning content online there are integrations with publishers such as Newsela, Khan Academy, and BrainPop. In order to make teaching effective with relevant videos and quizzes, you can check out Kengine - a video-enabled digital content and assessment platform. Kengine can be easily integrated with Google Classroom.

 

As the way students are learning is changing, a lot of other things are also constantly evolving with regard to teaching, too. Google Classroom has been introducing new features regularly to make teaching and learning easier. They take the user’s feedback very seriously. If you want to suggest a feature then go to classroom.google.com. In the bottom-left corner, click Help (?) > request feature. Enter your suggestion and then click Send.

Last but not least, learning the nuances of Google Classroom is another skill set altogether. But, it can indeed be accomplished. If you are a novice in need of extended support on the usage of this platform, sign up for our in-depth demos and walkthroughs of Google Classroom. As the sessions are handled by Google Certified Experts, get ready to be trained by professionals. Now, anyone can become a pro at using Google Classroom!

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5 strategies to increase participation in your online classroom

The pandemic-led pivot to online learning hasn’t been easy on teachers or students. While students went from sitting in classrooms to being confined at home and learning online, teachers have had to figure out how to teach remotely and get accustomed to teaching online. Even though online teaching and learning began with trepidation, the current reality has brought in distance learning as an integral part of the education system. Online learning as a modality of teaching and learning is here to stay for a while and it is constantly evolving.

Even though online teaching has certain limitations, it also has a plethora of opportunities to explore. The virtual classroom has ensured that there is no back seat in online education. In fact, when done right, online education can be surprisingly intimate! With online classrooms, every student is in the front row! Check out these 5 handy strategies to make the most of online classrooms by increasing students participation:

1. Increase Teacher Presence

The online classroom shouldn’t feel like it’s running on auto-pilot mode. The instructor should make sure that students feel connected to him or her by having one-on-one conversations in the online classroom. The online class actually embodies the instructor’s personality—a major means of connection with the audience. So, instructors should go all out to keep the class alive with their unique style, be it puns or persona.

Furthermore, the instructor should make it easy for students to get in touch with them via emails or calls (if necessary). A regularly scheduled “office hour” to address concerns encourages students to speak up if they have challenges or questions. One can also create and share a document containing recurring student queries related to the course or assessments.

2. Space Out the Content

Information overload is a real phenomenon that can confuse students as well as lead to loss of interest. Neuroscience has proven that our attention span is, at max, 10 minutes. After that, our attention starts to wane. So, spacing out content and chunking it into 10-minute segments will give students the opportunity to recall and review information, therefore committing it to their long-term memory. To keep the content engaging for all, ensure to provide information in varied formats like videos, audio, text, voice-over slides, discussions and more. Teachers should be creative and have students take turns to present or ‘teach’ as well as try debates, online quizzes, polls and so on. Digital tools like Google Classroom can be a useful teaching aid.

3. Have a Call to Action

Instructors should make students take what they've learned and use it for a real purpose, as opposed to simply writing a paper or taking a test. Each lesson should consist of a piece of information and a related, meaningful student action. It need not necessarily be an elaborate project but can be about solving a problem, writing an opinion piece, providing relevant illustrations and so on. Engage more with students by asking open-ended questions that require a higher level of reflection and thinking.

4. Provide Meaningful Feedback

Feedback is an essential part of effective learning which can foster strong relationships among a teacher and a student. However, it is essential to make the process of providing feedback a positive, or at least a neutral, learning experience for the student. Unless, there are some serious issues to address in which case it should be handled privately. Feedback helps students feel a sense of progress and rescues them from isolation. To convey a personal sense of connection, instructors can use video every now and then to deliver feedback. As feedback works both ways, don’t forget to solicit feedback from your students too. This will help ensure they are meeting the needs of their audience and improving approach.

5. Include a Community Component

Online learning should be more than sitting in front of a computer. Real engagement involves becoming a part of the larger community of learners. A teacher can create a forum to facilitate students engaging with one another. This kind of community encourages the members to probe and learn more than the assigned course pedagogy. Students will also have more opportunities to connect with instructors and fellow students, discuss coursework and most importantly, become more engaged. Teachers and students share a common responsibility for creating and conserving this learning environment. Such online learning communities can be scholastically successful as well as life-altering at a personal level when created, nurtured, and sustained by all the members of the community.

Even though online classrooms are limited in some ways, they open a virtual doorway to new learning experiences. Making online classes interesting is harder and there’s an awful lot to learn as the online learning space is constantly evolving. All it takes is a digital mindset, the right tools, a focused approach, and enthusiasm to evolve with one’s students.