Let's face it - engagement during a virtual lesson can be challenging. Awarding participation points can make a big difference in keeping students involved in your class discussion.
Why it Works
Synchronous instruction works best when teachers talk less and students participate more. But it can be challenging to "break the ice" to get students comfortable turning on video, contributing to the discussion, and working together in small groups. Clear expectations and positive reinforcement will help you bring students out of their shells and create a culture of participation.
Create a "Participation" button on your school-wide rubric of behavior expectations. We recommend a point value of 1.
Pro Tip: Want even more useful data on class participation? Create multiple buttons that correspond to the different ways students can earn points for Participation. See Step 2 for ideas!
Introduce students to specific ways that they can participate in your class. As a rule of thumb, the best participation expectations are voluntary, specific, and meaningful. Here are a few examples to try:
- Cold Call. Select a student randomly to answer a question. To make it voluntary, allow students to "Pass" – but they won't earn a point! This works best if students know it's truly random and fair, so try LiveSchool's Random Student Selector feature.
- Turn On Video. There has been a lot of controversy about this one, but let's face it: seeing one another can help build your class community. Remember, keep it voluntary and show students the virtual background feature if they're not comfortable showing their homes.
- Small Group Success. Use Zoom or Teams to create small group breakout rooms around a specific problem or prompt. When your class comes back together to share, award points to all group members. Bonus: Introduce a Small Group Genius Award for above-and-beyond group work to get bonus points in addition to basic participation.
- Agree With a Teammate. Yep, simply agreeing is a valuable discussion skill – let's face it, even some adults could use work on this skill! Teach students agreement tactics like "I agree with ________. Another reason is because _________."
- Present a Different Opinion. Disagreeing is another important form of participation. When done well, constructive disagreements actually make class more engaging for students! Teach disagreement tactics like, "I hear _________'s point that _________. Another angle is that ________."
Award a point to students whenever they participate in the ways above. To save time, use LiveSchool's multi-select feature to build a list of students who are participating, then award each of them a point at the end of the discussion.
Whenever possible, include a comment with specific details! This extra effort on your part will pay dividends for parent communication, and when you need to pull data in Step 3.
Use your data! There are a few key reports you'll want to monitor:
- Use a Students Scoreboard to find students who are participating the least in their classes.
- Use a Rosters Scoreboard to compare participation trends in your different classes.
- Use a filtered Timeline to shout out specifics on student participation when talking to their parent or guardian.
Mix It Up!
Getting the hang of Participation? Take it up a notch with Participation Challenges. Place a new behavior on your rubric called "Participation Challenge" that is only used for high-effort participation. Give it a higher point value (like 3 points), then challenge your students:
- Volunteer to facilitate a discussion on an academic topic. Students should submit their discussion questions to you beforehand so you can make sure they're prepared.
- Tutor a peer in a breakout room. Make this a double opt-in: both the tutors and students being tutored need to sign up. Give both students the Participation Challenge bonus.
- Record a video challenge. Give students a fitness or academic challenge to complete after class. Award the points for students who submit their video before the next class period.
- Brainstorm your own challenge that takes participation to the next level!
Remember that voluntary engagement always beats forced participation.
Get creative, have fun, and remember – keep it positive! 🎉