By Richard M. Cash, Ed.D., author of Self-Regulation in the Classroom: Helping Students Learn How to Learn
Part of our Cash in on Learning series by Richard M. Cash, Ed.D. Click to read other Cash in on Learning posts.
In March of this year, the world of education changed dramatically. Going from face-to-face instruction to virtual learning seemed like a good solution to continuing our students’ education. Working in our favor was the fact that most students are quite comfortable working with digital tools. And yet, as adept as kids are with virtual learning technology, keeping them actively engaged in instruction has been a struggle.
In most cases, it is not the instruction or lesson that is the problem. It may be that students don’t know how to regulate themselves to stay on task without the encouragement of a teacher. Therefore, I’ve put together 10 ideas to help students manage themselves during virtual learning. You can help your students:
1. Set a regular time for study/schooling each day. By setting a specific schedule and time to do what is being assigned, students feel a greater sense of normalcy.
2. Create a space where there are few distractions such as noise, clutter, other people, or visuals.
3. Manage their time during the study/schooling period. Especially during study time, kids should parcel out how much time they will spend on the work that needs to be completed. Encourage them to work on the hardest materials first and finish up with the easiest ones. Don’t spend too much time on any one piece of work—this will only cause students to become frustrated.
4. Organize themselves and their materials. Help them find a method that works best for them. File folders, boxes, virtual files, and jump drives are all examples of ways to organize materials. Begin each day with an organized space and an organized brain.
5. Know their preferred way of learning. Whether a student is an auditory, a visual, or a kinesthetic learner, they can apply that style when they are working. They may not always have the opportunity to learn in the way they like to learn, so encourage them to give themselves chances to work in their preferred way.
6. Take breaks during their study time. Encourage kids to take a two- to three-minute break every 20 minutes. The break can include a stretch, a quick look at emails or social media, or a trip to get a glass of water. It is important that students move often during the learning process.
7. Be responsive to their regulation. This means that students pay attention to when they are wasting time or procrastinating. Tell them: “Always do a check on your own management of yourself. When wasting time or procrastinating, take a moment to adjust what you are doing. Think about how you are feeling about what you are doing—what can you do to feel better? Think about the assignment you are working on—do you have the skills and resources to complete the work? Think about what you are thinking about when you are off task—what can you say to yourself to get you back on track?”
8. Plan to ask for help. Urge them to identify a person, website, or materials they can refer to or rely upon when they run into difficulties.
9. Assess themselves after they complete their study/schooling. One way to do this is by asking students to write five questions about the materials they covered (they don’t need to answer the questions; a well-worded question can tell them a lot about how much they know about a topic). Writing questions will also prepare students to ask you those questions the next time they are online. They can also use this strategy at the end of a chapter to check their understanding.
10. Reflect on their study/schooling time each day. Have students ask themselves:
- How does it feel now that the study/schooling is completed? What were my levels of motivation throughout the time? What can I do next time to make sure I feel good about what I am doing?
- What were things that distracted me? How did I manage my time and stay organized and on task? What will I do better next time?
- How did today’s study/schooling time help me become a better learner? What thinking tools did I practice during the day? What tools will I need next time?
Teaching and learning are emotional actions, but the virtual world doesn’t allow teachers to interact with students on personal and emotional levels. Until that time when face-to-face learning is again possible, providing your students with the habits of study can be a valuable lifelong skill.
Richard M. Cash, Ed.D., writes the monthly Cash in on Learning blog posts for Free Spirit Publishing. He has given hundreds of workshops, presentations, and staff development sessions throughout the United States and internationally.
Free Spirit books by Richard Cash:
We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.