Ideas for Building a Community of Learners in Virtual School

Check-In Prompt of the Day

How I Use This: I like to begin my first few lessons with a check-in prompt that students respond to in an editable Google Slides document. The prompts vary from general getting-to-know you questions, would-you-rather questions, or may review content from the previous day/week/month…etc.

I copy and paste my class roster into a table ahead of time so students can respond in the box next to their name. This additional step is useful because it saves time and allows me to quickly check for attendance. I usually have a follow up activity or warm up for students to start once they have completed the check-in.

Here are some check-in prompts I have used in the past:

I used this prompt on the second day of classes to ensure students take time to read over my course expectations.
I love seeing the creativity that students bring to this prompt. It gives me an idea of what students’ relationship with math is like.
Here’s one of my favourite math prompts from Howie Hua that often draws out common misconceptions and sparks good discussions about working with fractions.

Venn Diagram Activity

How I Use This: Students are placed in teams of 2 or 3 in randomized break out rooms and their goal is to find as many commonalities between all three members as possible within 10 minutes. They are only allowed to use images and/or symbols to represent ideas and cannot state commonalities that are obvious, or easy to guess (e.g. All are students at XYZ school, all males…etc.). I like the visual element because it makes the presentations more dynamic and interesting and students are not just reading from the slide.

Classroom Community Slides

How I Use This: I assign this as homework on the first day, although theoretically you can send this out to your students prior to the first day of classes. I like this activity because we are creating a yearbook of sorts that documents where learners are at in the beginning of the year. Students can also view and comment on each other’s slides. This idea was modified from Howie Hua’s Student Autobiographies.

To extend this activity beyond just the first two days, my plan is to create a series of Kahoot quizzes that feature five students each day, and these will act as my starter activity for each lesson (sample questions below).

[Update: I had students from each class volunteer to take over the Kahoot quiz creation and hosting—it’s been a blast!]

Access my slides template here.

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