“Alexa, tell me a joke.” 4 ideas to bring fun into your virtual or hybrid classroom.

This school year has been crazy and as students trudge through this year, I am reminded that at the core students are in journalism classes because they enjoy them. There is something about the class that brings them joy or is seen as fun. In a “normal” school year I have a Rolodex of fun social activities to help motivate students. This could be cereal day or an old fashion game day. Uno gets intense! This year I have had to develop some new activities to spark that joy. 

Virtual Pictionary: This is easy. All each student needs is paper and a pencil. I allow my in-person students to use a whiteboard and marker. I use a word generator like thegamegal.com to select the word and then I email or text the word to the student drawing. The student draws the picture and students shout their guesses. You can switch it up with teams or individual students. I don’t spend a ton of time on it, but it is a quick mood lifter. You’ll be surprised how competitive students get. 

Virtual Scavenger Hunt: This activity can be educational or just for funsies. Create a simple slide show with a list of items students must find (toothbrush, pan, soap, towel, etc.). Reveal the item and the first person back on camera with the item gets the point. You can compete for extra credit points or any other arbitrary reward that motivates your students. It can be educational too. I have switched this up for photography and videography. I give students a type of shot (wide, medium, tight, angled, etc.) to shoot and set a 5-minute timer. Students use their device to shoot the shot, then using a QR code on the screen, they upload it to Padlet. 

Online Coloring Pages: This may sound elementary, but my students love this one. I give my in-person students printed pages and my online students use Color It By Numbers. This is a free online paint-by numbers site. It is surprisingly calming. This is a great way to begin or end class. Turn up some tunes and allow the students to color.

Joke of the Day: This is by far the easiest way to bring some fun and all you need is Alexa or Siri. Simply ask: “Alexa, tell me a joke.” or “Siri, tell me a joke.” She will share a fantastic dad joke that is cheesy and spectacular. I end my class every day with a joke and students remind me if I forget. There have been some pretty great ones too. For example, what do you call a singing computer? A-dell!

Overall, these activities are quick and easy. They take no more than 10-15 minutes, but it allows students to decompress. It breaks up the monotony of their other classes that are primarily lecture-based. Having fun doesn’t mean learning isn’t happening; the expectations are still the same, but it is okay to take a breather and enjoy the moment.

A.J. Chambers

Andrew "A.J." Chambers, CJE, is the Convergence Media director at Richland Northeast High School in Columbia, SC. He is the RNE-TV Live broadcast and The Saber online adviser. He has been teaching for 13 years and is a National Board Certified educator in Arts and Communications. He serves on the board of the South Carolina Scholastic Press Association and Southern Interscholastic Press Association. He is a JEA mentor and SC mentor. He was named the 2019 JEA Distinguished Broadcast Journalism Adviser of the Year and a 2016 JEA Special Recognition Broadcast Journalism Adviser of the year. His goal is to guide students toward their individualized path of storytelling.

A.J. Chambers has 3 posts and counting. See all posts by A.J. Chambers

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