online classes

10 Ways to Shake Up Your Online Classes

Teaching Online Various

You have been teaching online for a while. Your students and you have a routine. That is great! It means that the class happens without as much thought and preparation. Routines make everyone feel secure.

That said, the routine can lead to the ultimate failure of your online classes: boredom.

In order to really change your student’s thinking, you might want to change the routine. Here are some ideas to help bust out of a ho-hum course.Play a game

Imagine that the conversation is a little dry and your online classes are a bit of a snoozer. What can you do? Send everyone off to play a fun (and educational) video game. I have a number of online games handy, ready to share with students whenever we need a little pick-me-up. Quizlet lets you make games that are specific to your studies.

Watch a really goofy, feel-good YouTube video

Sometimes when I need to lighten things up and put everyone in a better mood, I pull out a joyful YouTube video.

Ask a poll question

Here is how.

Begin a break-out sessions

The WizIQ classroom is equipped with break-out sessions. With the break out session, you can quickly and easily assign the students into small groups and ask them to discuss a topic. You can also give them a task, such as creating a time line of the book that you are reading or write an imaginary dialog between two characters. They are a quick and easy way to get your students interacting and creating. Here[1] is a tutorial on using the break-out rooms and here are some creative and 5 creative ideas for using the rooms.

Have some free time

Generally speaking, when you teach online, you are working with a limited amount of time, and you are best advised to make each minute productive. Sometimes, however, one student might need some individual help or there might be a technological glitch that you have to deal with. Don’t be afraid of free time, especially with young learners. Frequent breaks are essential to the learning process[2], and when kids get distracted, they return to the subject at hand with more depth and understanding than they had pre-disruption. Not often, but every now and then, I let my kids have writing control and they have a blast making smiley faces and graffiti all over the board.

Share a powerful meme

There is nothing like a meaningful quote and image to make people stop and think. Ask the students to turn on the private chat option and share their ideas with you before sharing them with the whole class. This gives everyone a chance to think before they are intimidated by the brilliance of someone else.

Shock them

Many of the classes that I teach are about social justice. There are so many gross atrocities in the world that it is easy to find really disturbing information. While I do not generally shock just for shock’s stake, when there is a truly heinous situation, it makes sense to share outrage with learners.

Give them an artistic assignment

Give them an idea, and send them to process it. I often give my students poems or texts and ask them to draw or doodle on them. It helps to make the assignment specific. I might say, “This poem is full of powerful images. Choose an image that speaks to you and draw it in the margins.”

Send them outside

This will really rock the online learner. Send them outside to do an artistic assignment. Have them report back in 20 minutes with a photo of their work.

Use Google Docs

This requires a bit of prep, as some students will not have a google docs platform. You will have to make sure that they are set up before class, otherwise, precious in-class time will be spent with the technology. However, once you have students set up, Google Docs is a stellar resource. I often have all of my students working on their writing simultaneously on their own pages. Then I pop into each one of their docs and provide advice or guidance. It would be a really great way to ask kids to reflect upon something interesting or practice their writing skills.

Changing up the routine allows for truly revolutionary thinking. Break out of the patterns that you have established and bring your students’ understanding to new heights. I hope these ideas help.



I am a teacher, hiker, mother, dancer and home-maker. I have taught pre-school through SAT prep. I am exploring ways to create on-line learning communities for home-schooled middle school and high school students. In particular, I am starting a low-residency on-line middle school. I would like to help young people explore important ideas while enjoying their lives! You can learn more about my programs at

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