10 ideas for Zoom Classroom Meetings #RemoteLearning

I think we can all agree–remote learning is hard! But one of my favorite things during remote learning is meeting with my students during zoom calls. I miss them, and I love seeing their sweet little faces! But as much as I love meeting with them everyday, we need some novelty in our meetings.

In our district, we do not teach live during zoom calls. Not all kids can attend at the same time (especially if there are multiple kids in the house and not enough devices for everyone), so we record our lessons and our zoom calls are reserved for community meetings. That's why it needs to be fun, engaging, and build classroom community while we're apart.

Here are 10 ideas to keep things engaging and novel. The first 5 are easy, no-prep ideas. The next 5 include game boards you can download from me for free.

  1. Show and Tell: If your class is anything like mine, this happens whether you like it or not! You are essentially in their home, and they love showing you around and showing you their favorite toys. Go with it!
  2. Scavenger Hunt: I've seen this one all over the internet! It's very popular and fun for the kids. Ask them to go and find something in their house that is red, something that is small, something that is soft, something that they sleep with, something that they love, etc. I give them a time limit of 30 seconds or 1 minute, otherwise we end up sitting awkwardly waiting for everyone to come back! Just be cognizant to ask neutral questions that are culturally responsive. Not everyone has the same things in their house, so keep it open-ended.
  3. Joke Day: Ask students to tell a joke. This one is really fun! Try telling them ahead of time so they can find a good joke. I assigned them joke books to read on Epic and MyOn, and most kids came prepared with a joke!
  4. I Spy: This is a fun and easy way to choose who gets to speak next. I keep the clues about the students–I spy a girl; I spy someone who is wearing pink; I spy someone with brown hair, etc. The student who has been "spied" gets to give clues about the next person. When it is their turn, they get to share something. 
  5. Read Aloud: I did a read aloud with my students everyday when our learning was in-person, so why not virtually? I choose a chapter book with short chapters and read them a chapter each day. I like to combine this with one of the other games as well.                                                                                       
  6. Pictionary: This is a lot of fun! First, share the word with the student who will be drawing by sending a private chat message. Then have that student share his/her screen and choose "whiteboard." I choose 1 - 3 other students to unmute and guess the picture so it is easier to hear and everyone gets a turn. I set a timer on my phone for 45 seconds. If they do not guess the picture in 45 seconds, I let other students guess too. I came up with words and categories that were related to the standards and easy to draw. You can get my list of words here with more detailed directions. I played this with my students on zoom. I'm not sure if it will work on all virtual meeting platforms.                                                                                                                                                   
  7. Sweet Sight Word Shoppe: This game is played like hangman if you remember that old classic! There is a hidden sight word on each slide, and each letter in the word is covered with a box. If students guess the wrong letter, they must ‘eat’ a sweet treat (the teacher deletes a treat across the top). To win, students must guess all the letters in the word correctly before they run out of treats and get a stomachache! This is a great way to practice sight words, and you can sneak in a teaching point about syllables and that there is at least one vowel in each syllable. It helps them with strategy in the game, and it's a first grade standard! Use knowledge that every syllable must have a vowel sound to determine the number of syllables in a printed word. (CCSS: RF.1.3d) Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words. (CCSS: RF.1.3)                                                                                                             
  8. 4 Strikes and You're Out: This is another game that is played like hangman, but with math! There is a hidden number sentence on each slide, and each digit is covered with a box. If students guess the wrong digit, they get a strike. To win the game, students must guess all the digits correctly before they get 4 strikes and they’re out. This game builds number sense and computational fluency, including missing addends. More specific directions can be found in the download.  Understand that the two digits of a two-digit number represent amounts of tens and ones. (CCSS: 1.NBT.B.2) Add and subtract within 20, demonstrating fluency for addition and subtraction within 10. (CCSS: 1.OA.C.6)                                                                                      
  9. Math Bingo: This is another classic game that is fun to play on zoom!  Students find the sum of the math facts and cross out those numbers on their game board. The one who gets 3 in a row first wins! You could also play blackout and keep going until all the numbers on the board are full.  I have students draw a game board on a piece of paper at home and randomly fill in numbers that are between 1 and 20. This was definitely harder for my first graders than I thought, so we needed a lot of time just to set up our game boards! Once their game boards are made, draw a math fact and solve it together as a class. If that number is on their game board, they cross it out. This game gets easier the more you play it, but I recommend having an extra adult or 2 on hand when playing this game with young kids!    Add and subtract within 20, demonstrating fluency for addition and subtraction within 10. (CCSS: 1.OA.C.6)                                                  
  10. Memory: This game is just what it sounds like--memory. Match the Memory is a free website that lets you create memory games with words, pictures, or both. I created a sight word game (which you can find here) that has a sight word on each card that students have to match to the same word. Reading the same word over and over is great practice! I also created a math memory game (which you can find here) that has numbers up to 120 that students have to identify and match.  I also created a Math 2D Shape Memory Game with pictures (which you can find here). These memory games are easy to create and play, so you can try making one with your own content too. During a zoom meeting, I share my screen and click on the waffle with 9 squares in the right hand corner. This labels the cards with a number for the column and a letter for the row allowing students to tell you which 2 cards to flip over. Unfortunately, when you share your screen on a zoom call, you are the only one that can touch your screen, so students can guess, but they can't actually flip the cards over. But it's still a fun game to do as a class! Read grade-appropriate irregularly spelled words. (adapted from CCSS: RF.1.3g),* Count to 120, starting at any number less than 120. In this range, read and write numerals and represent a number of objects with a written numeral. (CCSS: 1.NBT.A.1), Distinguish between defining attributes (e.g., triangles are closed and three-sided) versus non-defining attributes (e.g., color, orientation, overall size); build and draw shapes to possess defining attributes. (CCSS: 1.G.A.1)

What do you do during your classroom zoom meetings? Whatever you choose to do, enjoy that time with your students!

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