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Student Knowledge

Building Student Engagement from Interests

Written by Heather Locke
November 18, 2020

As the school year for me began virtually it was SO hard to think about not being able to see my kids in person and building those relationships.  I had to find ways to build that student knowledge so that in the virtual classroom I can find ways to engage and interact and keep them interested in logging into a computer everyday to see me and learn.  It has been hard and a lot of work but here is what I have done to try to get to know my students.

After the first couple weeks of school I created a student interest survey similar to the ones in the past.  What I found was they were not sure how to work on the document and submit it or they didn’t know they had to click to open it up and just submitted a blank document without every looking at it.  I tried sending it out multiple times, showing them and still nothing. So at this point I only had the knowledge from their past years at my school (I started in kindergarten), asking their teachers in the past about something specific I needed to know and just observing them in the classroom.

I waited and waited and eventually I learned about nearpod.  This is a life changing google add-on that directly embeds in Canvas and is easy for them and for me to create.  I had a sub for a week and kids has daily activities.  On one of the days they didn’t have a math independent sheet I loaded up the interest survey again, but this time it was a nearpod.  I had 4 kids to do and only 2 of them were even submitted.  This is just not going well.  At this point they are either not doing their work or just still, 11weeks into school, choosing not to navigate through their modules to get their work done.

I had to find a new approach, it might take longer for me to learn more detailed information but I will get to know them and be able to use this information if and when we return in the new semester OR to improve instruction virtually if we stay this way.  Each day we do our reading lessons on a nearpod and at the start I ask a question to help me get to know them.  Favorite things to eat, favorite books, favorite colors, favorite foods, favorite thing to write about, favorite subjects.  I ask lots of different questions each day.  At this point I am still gathering data and trying to build my next writing activities and reading lessons or projects from this.  Now I have finally gained some information from my kids that I can use, I am finally getting the responses I need from them.  Next step, put it all together and build from it.