Coronavirus has dramatically impacted the lives of kids and teens alike. In August 2020, I published the Teen’s Guide to Fun Social Distancing During COVID-19 to give advice to fellow teenagers on how to navigate their changed lives during the pandemic. As a fifteen-year-old, I understand the struggles students face and what they may like to see in this school year. Here is some advice for teachers and parents on making learning both fun, structured, and interesting for students.
Switch Activities Throughout the Lesson
Generation Z is extremely technologically oriented; however, with the vast knowledge technology brings, it also produces more distractions. Therefore, it’s important to keep a student involved with the online lesson. By alternating tasks, a student can feel engaged during the entire one-hour class and not have their mind wander off. Both children and teens can be less distracted if the teacher allows them to switch activities throughout their lesson. For example, in history class, a teacher may assign 15-20 minutes of reading, allow the student to research interesting terms online, then have the student watch a 7-minute video, and finally require the student to answer a few relevant free-response questions. While it’s important to alternate activities in a lesson, it’s also essential for teachers and parents to implement structure in a student’s daily routine where they do a certain class at a particular time. Making an online lesson both fun and structured is vital to a teen’s academic success.
Assigning a Year-Long Creative Project of the Student’s Choice
Another way to curb distraction and give students a purpose and outlet for expressing themselves is by assigning a project similar to a senior thesis. The student can choose a creative goal to accomplish by the end of the year. Allowing the student to choose what they’re passionate about, whether it’s creating a science research project, writing a movie screenplay, writing a book, or making a photography collection, gives them both independence and drive to follow their passions. Learning at home can give students more time to work on their individual passions, so it is important for educators to grant students the freedom to do something they can be proud of when quarantine is over.
Setting up a Peer Tutoring System
Elementary school students have been most affected by the impediment to education. Many parents can’t afford tutors and don’t have enough time between jobs to give their students one on one attention. Similarly, teachers only have the ability to instruct many students and don’t have enough time to give in-depth one-on-one instruction. However, many high school students are looking for volunteer opportunities to fulfill their school’s requirements and help others.
If educators connect a high school class with an elementary school class, any student who needs help can receive it with this system arranged by teachers. For example, a child in third grade can be paired up with a high school student who will help the younger one to excel in a particular subject. Parents can also ask around to see if their friends have children who may need help with certain subjects at school. This system can grow the tutor’s character and improve academic performance of the younger student while also giving both students social interaction. As someone who is currently teaching a younger student in Azerbaijan, I find that tutoring another student has also bettered my life.
Fun Online Educational Events
During COVID-19, many fun activities, like birthday parties and school events, have been canceled. However, if teachers can create events throughout the school year that can be conducted online, students would have something to look forward to and view school as a fun outlet during the pandemic. Whether it’s a science-themed party with fun facts and social interaction on an online platform or a musical celebration that teaches students about famous composers with interactive games, an exciting event can teach students new things. To review the topics learned throughout the week, a teacher may have a Q & A session with the students and, to stimulate participation, the students who ask the most interesting questions will earn points. A parent can even plan an online educational party and invite their child’s classmates and their parents. Bringing fun into learning is vital for a fun school year.
Educators and parents play an essential role in making this school year as productive as possible. This school year may not be typical, but students can still learn, find their passions and enjoy school.
Camille is the author of The Wishner’s Curse and The Wishner’s Masquerade. Her work has been internationally recognized by organizations including Scholastic Arts and Writing, Penguin Random House (Get Underlined Contest), Stanford, Lune Sparks, New Mexico Kids Magazine, Bow Seat Ocean Awareness, and Time Together Publishing.