Community Building Ideas For Distance Learning

If your school is not transitioning back to the classroom fully this fall, you may be anxious about how you can develop and build community with students you’ve never met! Building relationships online can be challenging, but helping your students have a sense of community and belonging is possible during distance learning. Check out these 5 community building ideas for distance learning.

All About Me Presentations

To begin your school year, have your students create presentations about themselves and present to the class via Zoom or Google Meet. If you prefer to do this asynchronously, your students can share to Google Classroom, Seesaw, or another preferred distance learning platform. Before you have your students create a presentation, make one to share all about you!

Make it simple with these all about me presentation templates. Complete with planning sheets and technology directions, students can create their presentations on PicCollage, DoodleBuddy, or Google Slides. 

All About Me presentations will help your students get to know each other and you virtually. By finding out what they have in common and their unique differences, your students will be practicing community building without even knowing it!

Digital Escapes

Another of the community building ideas for distance learning is a digital escape. Students are yearning to interact with one another. Digital escapes make that possible! Start building community in your classroom with these fun, collaborative games. 

What is a digital escape? A digital classroom escape is an interactive activity in which teams of students use clues to solve challenges. In addition, they are perfect for distance learning because they don’t require any equipment like traditional escape rooms. Also, your students can work together to problem solve via your virtual learning platform. 

First, provide the students with a link to the Digital Escape Room, and they’ll enter the codes (answers) on the Google Form provided. Have the students participate via Google Classroom, or if you’re able to have adults supervise or your district allows students to Zoom on their own, try Zoom’s Breakout Rooms. 

To begin, try the back to school digital escape challenge. Another great escape is the Growth Mindset digital escape.

Digital Math Scavenger Hunt

Oh, how I love when classroom community building ideas meet Math! This digital math scavenger hunt (on Google Slides or PowerPoint) lets your students find objects in their home that show that they know math standards. For example, one slide says “The next item you’ll need to wrangle is something that simply forms a right angle.” Not only do the slides have cute little rhymes, they get your learners moving and thinking.

Provide an editable answer sheet (included) for each group, and let them competition and team building begin. . .all while reviewing important math skills!

Logic Puzzlers

Two heads (or more) are better than one! That’s why I love using logic puzzlers in groups. This free first day fiasco logic puzzler is one of my favorites to use with small groups. Your students will figure out “Emily’s” class schedule based on clues using deductive reasoning. 

Set this up on Google Classroom or have students work in real-time together on Zoom or Google Meet!

Virtual Meetings

It’s fair to say that the best times in distance learning for many students were the live, synchronous meetings.  Make an effort to connect with your students daily (or at least a couple times per week if you’re in a self-contained content area). Not only are they connecting with you, they’re getting to interact with their peers. They miss each other, and even if it’s virtual, they need this community building and face-to-face time.

Here are some ideas for Zoom or Google Meets that don’t necessarily involve teaching content.

  • Morning Meetings/Check-ins—our Number Talks resources are great for collaborative morning work that build number sense!
  • Lunch Bunch Groups
  • Game Time
  • Show and Tell

Use these 5 community building ideas for distance learning to help your students (and you) stay connected during this time. When you’re back in the classroom, you’ll already have a strong foundation when it’s time for hugs and high fives once again! 

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