5 Fun Ways to Engage Students and Build a Thriving Virtual Community

By Doreen Wolfgram | August 09th, 2021 | No Comments

hero_image-Five fun ways

Take a moment to think about a thriving community; perhaps it’s a neighborhood, a school, or a club. What are some common features? Safe, active, and trusting are just a few words that might come to mind. A flourishing virtual community has some of these same characteristics.

 

The qualities of a successful community can be strengthened in your Edmodo class by implementing enjoyable and non-threatening ways for your students to communicate with you and each other. Students might not be motivated to log into their online class with only announcements, quizzes, or assignments in the home stream!  

 

The Power of a Post

An engaging post can start a conversation, produce a laugh or cause a student to feel connected to their classmates. Consistency is key! Students will begin to notice and look forward to exciting posts like “Monday Meme,” “Weird News,” or “Respond with a Sketch”! 

 

Here are five fun ways to engage students and build a thriving community in your virtual classroom.

 

Share a Meme

A meme is a humorous image, video, or phrase that is shared online and often includes an observation that will be recognized by readers as significant to the time/era, social situation, or everyday life experience. Sharing a meme, especially if it’s related to your content area or an upcoming school event, is an excellent way to engage students. You can find a relevant meme by searching “math memes” or “memes for kids,” for example.

 

Quick Tips for Choosing a Meme: 

  • Avoid memes that lean a particular way politically.
  • Avoid memes with religious symbols or images. 
  • Avoid memes that have images or content that is sexual or adult in nature.

Meme of a car taking an exit towards Edmodo

 

Create a Meme 

There are many free meme generators online, or you can create one using a program or app you might already have on your computer or mobile device.  Make it personal! Create a unique meme that includes your name, school/team name, or anything relevant to your students. Creating a meme that “only the students in this class will understand” builds a sincere sense of belonging, similar to the feeling you get from a private joke or story shared only among close friends.

Another option is to post a blank meme and ask students to send you the text in a direct message. Use your students’ ideas to create several meme variations, then share them in the post’s comment section the next day. Students will look forward to seeing the different meme versions and interact with “likes” and replies to the comments. 

 

Quick Tips for “Create a Meme” Post: 

  • Create a meme that references a specific school event such as prom, parent-teacher conference, or homecoming. 
  • Use pictures of yourself or a colleague, your classroom, school, or a local restaurant that’s popular with your students. These familiar images will spark ideas for the text in the meme.
  • Avoid creating a meme that could be considered mean-spirited or bullying, especially if it mentions a student’s name. 
  • To prevent students from sharing inappropriate memes in the class stream, you can preview and approve their work before publication by updating your class settings to moderate posts and replies. Students can also send you their meme using an Edmodo Direct Message, which you can share with the class after your approval. 
  • As a reminder, if you plan on downloading something from a website, we recommend you first review the site’s privacy policy and watch out for unusual pop-ups or redirection to another website. If this happens, close and avoid that website. 

Meme of a person choosing to push a button to study for a test or binge watch Netflix

 

Share a Weird News Article

Students of all ages enjoy reading strange true stories from around the world! A reluctant reader might see their classmates laughing or smiling at a news story and want to join in the discussion. Sharing a link to the news story in a post will allow students to open the article right from your class stream.

 

Quick Tips for “Share a Weird News Article”:

  • Find strange news stories by searching “weird news” online.
  • Use reputable websites to avoid trust and safety concerns.
  • Use the article as part of a writing prompt. Ask questions such as “What would you do in this situation?” or “What would you like to ask the author?”. Students can write their responses in the comment section. 

Edmodo Class post of teacher sharing an interesting article for "Weird News Wednesday"

 

Respond with a Sketch

Ask a question in a post and have students respond with a drawing in the comments. Visual learners will enjoy sharing their thinking in a way that supports their learning style. For non-visual learners, drawing a concept, flow chart, or story illustration pushes them to think differently, activating different areas of the brain. 

 

Quick Tips for “Respond with a Sketch” Post:

  • Students can take a picture of their drawing and share it in the comments of the post. 
  • Students may already have a drawing app on their computer or mobile device. Once they save their drawing, they can share it on Edmodo. 
  • Get other ideas for using this strategy by searching the topic, “making thinking visible.”

Edmodo student post which includes a sketch of the water cycle

 

Share a Class Poll 

One of the hallmarks of a thriving community is that people feel heard. Asking students their opinions about something shows you care about what they are thinking and feeling. Ask for your students’ choice on the next novel to read, their opinion on a recent news story, or their preference of class instructional activities. The possibilities are endless! Poll responses are anonymous, so students feel comfortable answering honestly. 

 

Quick Tips for “Share a Class Poll” Post: 

  • Use current lesson topics for question ideas. 
  • Use poll results to guide instructional decisions for reteaching, remediation, or moving onto the next lesson. 
  • Get feedback on an instructional strategy or activity. To receive the most authentic response, be sure to let students try the activity a few times before giving their opinion. 

Edmodo Class poll example

 

Creating fun and engaging posts will support your effort to build a safe, trusting, and active learning environment.

What are some creative ways you build a vibrant online community?

Please share in the comments! 





About the Author: Doreen Wolfgram

author

Doreen is an Education Writer at Edmodo and a Veteran Educator, experienced in both elementary and secondary levels in the USA and Germany. In her career, she has served as an Instructional Coach, Professional Development Coach, and Curriculum Specialist. She is passionate about using technology to create and grow a community of engaged learners worldwide.

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