Increasing Student Engagement Using Virtual Connections

Adventist Learning Community

Integrating technology, along with incorporating student voice and choice, and implementing Project-Based Learning (PBL) are a few best practices for increasing student engagement. These best practices can all be facilitated through Adventist Teacher Connect (ATC). In addition to PBL, as mentioned in my previous post, ATC also allows teachers and classrooms to connect with other Adventist classrooms around the world to engage in meaningful and authentic learning experiences.

Here are a few steps on how to use ATC to connect with other teachers and classrooms:

  • Getting Started: Create your profile on ATC to introduce yourself to other teachers. Browse the ATC community of teachers that have joined with this purpose. To connect with a teacher, click on “connect” to send him/her an invitation e-mail to participate in a virtual connection with your class. Together, decide on what type of activity you will participate in and determine the date, time, and any other details needed. If time zones don’t allow for a virtual connection, record a video for your partner class.
  • Setting Up: Prepare students ahead of time and build excitement. Set up will depend on whether you are teaching remotely or back in the classroom. If you are at school, you can use a computer, smartphone or tablet and a projector or TV for students to view.
  • Planning your Virtual Connection: Communicate with your partner teacher and decide on the type of activity you will do together. What is the learning goal? Consider your subject, standards and particular unit content. Create a tentative agenda for the virtual connection. Allot time for each class to introduce themselves and to present their information. Allow time for both groups to take turns to ask questions at the end.
  • Student Jobs: Go over the agenda with your students so that each student understands what he/she is responsible for and knows when to speak. Assign each student an active role ahead of time. Greeters open the meeting and introduce the class. Presenters share prepared content with the other class. Interviewers ask predesignated questions. Photographers document the meeting while Scribes take notes or blog about the experience. The Social Media team can use the photos and notes to prepare posts to share in a newsletter or social platform. As the teacher, be ready to facilitate the call as needed. You may want to start the call and greet the partner teacher and class, and then allow students to continue with their roles. Find ideas for student roles in the teacher guide in ATC.
  • Virtual Connection Ideas: Connect for worship, share a devotional thought, sing and pray together. Conduct a live science experiment, share a video demonstration or a finished project. Give a presentation on a specific topic or conduct a language exchange (each class presents in the language they are studying). Interview the other class to learn about their culture, country, geography and language. Download the teacher guide in ATC for more ideas.

During your virtual connection, be patient if things don’t go as expected or if your partner class experiences difficulties. Be flexible as you facilitate learning experiences to engage students and create connections with new friends. Visit the Adventist Learning Community to join Adventist Teacher Connect.

Author

Paola Franco-Oudri, MAT, is Associate Director for the Adventist Learning Community of the North American Division. She has worked as an elementary teacher and has a passion for Adventist Education. Her goal is to inspire a love for learning and a love for Jesus in young people.

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