Lesson activities for various subjects and grades.

Book talk

This activity is great for groups reading the same book and is about the same distance from the end. Start with a group discussion of what’s been read so far and move on to a Book-It-style speed date where everyone must answer specific questions about a particular chapter, explaining how it impacted their thinking and bringing up details from the text. For a less stressful option, challenge students to create a book trailer–an online video summarizing the text and its most important points.

Debate club

Take time to step back from the current lesson and think about how wide-ranging, in-depth discussions on a certain topic would serve your goals for the day. You could offer an open forum on a hot-button item like whether all colleges should make AP courses available to students who really need them. In less than half a class period, your class is discussing a controversial issue and delving into the facts surrounding it.

Wardrobe change

Love that great idea your student shared? Here’s an easy way to quickly build on it. Ask the student to explain his or her idea one level deeper, using a handout or personal digital assistant to capture the idea as it develops.

Diffusion-chain reactions

Instead of students presenting their ideas to the class, have them set them up as diffusion chains in which other learners are presented with a series of ideas. They’re asked to offer feedback or alter the idea—for example, by filling in a missing key point. The goal is to spark new ideas and develop multiple points of view about an issue.

Competitor review and ratings

In a turn of user-generated content, allow students to leave reviews on the performance of their classmates in a competitive activity. A student pair can be graded together by a peer reviewer who is also part of a pair. This gives them a way to rate one another under observation that’s not through texting or in person. Again, have your students #hashtag their work.

Videos of interest

Ask students to create a playlist of videos they find interesting or that are related to your topic of study. Have them explain why some items were included and others left.

Skill-sharing workshop

After teaching a new skill, get students to teach their peers. This provides students with the opportunity to think about how to explain tricky ideas and gives them the chance to get feedback from their peers. If your students are online, a skills-sharing workshop like the one Dropbox offers will do the trick. (Dropbox’s ‘Sharing and Caring’ series lets you guide students through making support resources for each other.)

Online chat with Alexa or Siri

After learning basic digital literacy skills, have students record a short video of themselves asking Alexa or Siri a question.

Probing social environments

Students are asked to discuss the consequences of a large earthquake hitting Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Use the technology to track how learners from different parts of the world use language to express their thoughts. Assess their language using the technology and expand on their conversations.

Group activities

  • It’s been said that rich conversations happen at the edge. In this lesson, students are grouped into teams of two or three to explore interesting topics or themes. In the established video conferencing setting, you’re probably accustomed to inviting small groups to chat in breakout rooms or sharing a screen. Here are some alternatives: For teams of two Disadvantages: The team is only half present.
  • Advantages: Room for everyone. Each student can sit with a laptop and the teacher can share the screen by presenting slides. Breakout rooms work best in tandem with “last to speak wins”. In this case, the first time around, students enter the breakout room and have three minutes to create a plan and present it to the rest of the class. Then they can watch the class’s reactions and their own peers. The second time around, students enter the breakout room with a rebuttal to the original arguments. Smackdown contests and other creative head-to-head challenges are also fun!
  • For groups of three Having a third team member can be great for constructive feedback and meaningful back-and-forths. However, things can get sticky when no one wants to be the good guy. If you’re using breakout rooms, you can use features such as the vote to move. This feature lets students move from breakout rooms into other breakout rooms at predetermined times. Speaker A has three minutes to share their opinion, and then they wait in the background for a minute before they can answer questions. To move on in the conversation, they need to win a vote with Speaker B.

Immersive newspaper

Have students close their eyes and imagine a newspaper that uses technology to engage the audience in new ways. What would they change about how we consume news today? Think of the possibilities with virtual reality, 360 videos, or even virtual reality headsets that can transport people to distant places.

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