7 Strategies to Keep Distracted Students Focused During Distance Learning

7 Strategies to Keep Distracted Students Focused During Distance Learning

Now that you’ve been teaching virtually for a little while, you may have noticed some of your more distracted students are having a tough time staying engaged. They may need some additional tools or strategies to help them stay focused and learning throughout distance learning. We’ve put together a list of resources to help distracted learners focus on their schoolwork and stay engaged while working remotely.

Strategies to keep even the most distracted learners focused

1. Use Google Forms to do hourly or daily check-ins

When you are in a brick and mortar setting, you can check in with your students all day long, but it is quite challenging to do this virtually. Now you can create a Google Form for something as simple as an hourly check-in to make sure your students are engaged in their learning.

You can start with a basic form, then add questions such as “where are you at with your work?” and “do you need help with anything?” You can send your form to your whole class or just specific students that may need this additional check-in.

2. Implement visual timers

Learners who are easily distracted love using a visual timer in the classroom and you can add one to your distance learning class too. This will make it simple for students to know how long they are working on a specific task so they can focus on just one task at a time. Here’s how:

  • If you are sharing a presentation with your class, then simply add the timer into the presentation file so students can see it throughout.
  • If your students are working on a task, then you can share your screen with a visual timer on it from one of these sites: here or here.

3. Take a brain break

Distance learning can become boring and students may disengage after long periods of staring at a screen. Schedule brain breaks into your daily instruction so students can get up, move around, and turn off their brains for a few minutes before getting back to learning.

4. Make (virtual) fidget spinners cool again

Virtual fidget spinner_7 Strategies to Keep Distracted Students Focused During Distance Learning

Remember those often annoying fidget spinners that students thought were so cool a few years back? Bring them back to popularity with a virtual version. They are shown to increase concentration and attention to academic tasks. Here are a few you can try out with your students:

5. Virtual To-Do List

MyHomework app
MyHomework app

Does a to-do list help you when you have a lot to get done? It can be a wonderful tool for your students to use, too. There are plenty of apps available that will help students create to-do lists and stay on task. Try one of these apps:

  • MyHomework is a free app that lets students track their homework, use time-blocking, and receive homework reminders. You can create your own account on teacher.io to sync with the student app as well!
  • Microsoft To-Do is a simple way for your students to create a to-do list to manage tasks that need to be completed. You could even incorporate a lesson to teach them independent functioning skills and how to use this app from home.

6. Use virtual rewards

Never forget the value of positive feedback for your students. Students love to hear that they are doing a good job on their work. It keeps them motivated, focused, and wanting to do more. This can be as simple as verbal praise, a quick message using your platform’s chatbox, or using virtual rewards. Check out a few easy ways to give virtual rewards:

  • Class Dojo Points- Award students with individual or group points for good behavior. Parents will love to see how well their children are doing in school!
  • Virtual Reward Coupons- Give your students a virtual reward like bringing a stuffed animal to online class or have a virtual dance party. You can make your own coupons like the one below to send to students too!
  • Digital Stickers in Google Classroom- Add stickers to your students’ work after they’ve submitted it and they will love to see which ones they can collect!

7. Put stickers on your face!

This sounds silly, but teachers all over social media swear it works! Every time a student speaks during online learning, the teacher places a sticker on their own face. Students love this and it really keeps the interest of even the most distracted learners!

It isn’t easy to keep all of your students engaged and learning when you are teaching virtually, but it can be done. Try out a few of these ideas to see how much better your students focus with just a little extra help!


7 Strategies to Keep Distracted Students Focused During Distance Learning

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Michael Marcal

Michael Marcal is a special education advocate for parents and a former special education teacher from PreK through 8th Grade in Orlando, Florida. He enjoys baseball, exercising and theme parks! Michael also loves to travel, especially on cruises.

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