Five Tips for Community Building in a Distance Learning Classroom
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Teachers often find themselves looking for ways to build a classroom community. Building a classroom community sets the tone for the days ahead. The teacher strives to engage the students in activities to build a community of learners where each student feels valued and respected. The essential element of a classroom community is the teacher (Booth-Church, 2003). This article will provide five tips for building a classroom community in the distance learning setting with suggestions on how to use them in elementary - high school settings.
1. Create a Welcome Video: Create a welcome video to share with the students. Use this video to introduce yourself and share fun facts about yourself. Use this time to let them know that you are a support to each one of them. Encourage the students to create a video of themselves to share with the class, as well. Create a weekly video to check in with the students. Use this time to recap the week’s learning and any highlights of students showing acts of kindness. This could also serve as the weekly newsletter for the classroom. Teachers and students can use Zoom to create their videos. The videos can be recorded and downloaded to send to the students through email. Middle school and high school students may want to use Flipgrid.com to create their videos. Teachers can also add students to the Marco Polo app where students can record a video sharing about themselves.
2. Share a Favorite Book or Quote: During the online virtual meeting, invite students to share objects connected to their favorite book. The objects can be items from around their house or they can be visual images they have illustrated. This is a great way to have students learn about each other and for the teacher to learn about the types of books students enjoy reading. To continue the sharing of books, create a Google document with book recommendations to share with the students. Encourage them to add to the virtual bulletin board the books they are reading with others. A template example is provided below. A modification version of this activity for the middle school and high school students is to share a favorite quote and what the quote means to them. Students at all grade levels can also share their favorite book or quote using Flipgrid.com.