What are strategies to motivate students during distance learning?

Have you reached the point in your remote learning school year where motivation is waning? Often as educators, we need to steer our students towards motivation. We’ve rounded up a few tips from some of the awesome Teachers in the TeacherMade community. The best advice comes from real Teachers, after all. 

Distance Learning with TeacherMade

Provide meaningful feedback to students

When you create online interactive worksheets for your students, you have to be able to provide meaningful feedback to your students. Providing feedback does a lot for motivation because it shows your students that you are paying attention, and it is one of the most effective ways to correct student learning.

Model skills and behaviors in the hybrid, remote learning class

Modeling skills and behaviors in the remote learning class reinforces a growth mindset. Tiffany S., a high school science Teacher, breaks down how she does this in her classroom:

“When reviewing information that is situational, I instruct students to annotate in a very specific manner to demonstrate not only their understanding of how to read for data but also the application and synthesis of their understanding of what specific types of data they are being exposed to.  For example, I will ask students to highlight all biological evidence in red, trace evidence in yellow, and transient evidence in green.  I then ask them to underline any type of evidence that would be considered individual and circle the names of any individuals providing testimonial evidence.  This method helps students to differentiate amongst the vast amount of information that is provided within a crime scene as well as offers a method for organization.  That, in turn, allows students to visualize the strength of the evidence as they go back to review the background upon identifying each item.  

I have found that this leads to much more thoughtful and accurate claims of responsible parties within the scenario.  Before, it was always a struggle to get students to support their “who did it” claims with actual evidential links.  It was even harder to have them explain how and why the evidence linked a suspect to a crime or victim.  Using these tools provides students with a quick, color-coded reference that can be inserted into their explanations.  As for the explanations themselves, I have used a combination of open responses and audio uploads.  The availability to do either opens up opportunities for those students that are more comfortable talking through an explanation as opposed to expressing themselves in writing.”

All of this is done using the TeacherMade app. We not only make it easy to create interactive worksheets, but your students have plenty of tools for annotation.

Have a good hook at the beginning of class to make the lesson relevant

Sometimes, a lesson hits better if you frame it in the right way. A good lesson hook will pull your students into where you are going. Science Teacher, Tiffany S., gives this example of using a simple activity for Bell Work to get her students interested in a forensic class:

“Specific to class opener activities in which students have to find details that vary between two pictures, I have found that the hot spots on TeacherMade are good to speed up the observation activity.  The purpose of these activities is to “wake the brain” at the beginning of class as well as get students familiar with the detail-oriented observations they will need to use when matching fingerprints or looking for clues within a crime scene.  A non-tech version of this activity involves projecting the pictures on a classroom screen and asking for verbal identifications of differences.  This can work well with exceptions coming from those 11th/12th graders that are ‘too cool’ to participate, those that are too anxious to suggest a difference and potentially be wrong, as well as those that are not willing to look closely enough to notice fine details.  By converting the exercise to a TeacherMade activity and putting keyed hot spots all over, students get the opportunity to hunt for and analyze which areas are actually different.  The individual component also actually makes the activity go faster because there is anonymity provided as students work at their own computers.

Part of the professional responsibility domain is demonstrating a commitment to personal growth. Using data collected from TeacherMade can help. TeacherMade presents data after student assessment. Use this data to inform decisions about ways to plan professional development opportunities.

Offer rewards and praise, even if it is through an online learning platform

TeacherMade’s audio feature allows you to coach your students verbally. Recording your own voice helps students understand better. You can offer praise, coaching, and extra help this way. Your students will feel more connected to you in the online classroom. Jen T., an elementary Teacher, explains how she uses this feature:

“Adding teacher audio to digital worksheets is an effective way to support struggling readers and/or auditory learners. When I create my worksheet on TeacherMade, I will add teacher audio next to the directions.  Students click on the speaker symbol 🔊 and will be able to hear my voice reading the directions. Quite honestly, this little trick benefits all learners because third graders are notorious for skipping right over directions! They seem to be a little more interested in hearing directions than reading them.

To further support students, I may add teacher audio throughout the entire worksheet. Do you have a struggling reader? You can add teacher audio to math worksheets and read each problem out loud to students, thus allowing students to focus on math concepts and not language. Do you have a particularly challenging text? Add teacher audio to the text and read it out loud to the students, and they can follow along. Or perhaps there is a particularly challenging passage that may be difficult for students to interpret? Add teacher audio explaining complex storylines or themes. You can even add teacher audio to selected vocabulary words! I have placed audio next to words that I think might be unfamiliar to my students. When they click on the speaker symbol, they hear my voice saying the word, definition and using it in a sentence. I have found there are numerous ways to incorporate teacher audio into my TeacherMade digital documents. Each supports students’ learning and encourages my students to slow down and think about their learning.”

Keep parents informed to keep motivation happening at home

Parents can stay more connected using TeacherMade. First, TeacherMade keeps your remote classroom organized so everyone is on the right page. After students complete the worksheet, they can be auto-scored so parents can see students’ progress. Teacher Maria G. explains why this helps her classroom:

It also helped parents at home too. If the children could not be online, parents knew that the worksheets were set up in an independent way. They were not required to read the sheet to them because the students could use the sound bites to read it themselves. I didn’t know how appreciated this was until a parent told me at the end of the school year.”

Build a sense of community through your online classroom

TeacherMade helps you create an authentic online learning experience. It’s easy to create meaningful assignments with TeacherMade. Your students will not feel frustrated with TeacherMade’s intuitive system, and you will see a higher level of engagement on online assignments.