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Five Free Virtual Tools to Keep Students Engaged

Without access to in-person schooling and the academic and social emotional supports that school provides, student engagement is more critical than ever.  

At City Year, we deploy teams of AmeriCorps members to serve in systemically under-resourced schools, supporting school staff and families to provide individualized supports in attendance, behavior, and course performance. As we navigate virtual learning this semester, we’re getting creative to keep our students in-school and on-track to graduate. Check out these free tools that our AmeriCorps members are using to engage their students virtually. 


 1. LightSpeed Systems 

Since the move to Distance Learning began, keeping students on track can be difficult. That is where LightSpeed Systems come in. With LightSpeed, you can keep an eye on class activity by monitoring student screens in real time. You can also share links, broadcast teacher or student screens, close tabs, and much more. With this engagement levels among students will soar to the speed of light! 


2. Kahoot!

Tired of paper flash cards and repetitive note takingTry using Kahoot to make studying fun! Kahoot is a trivia-based learning platform that will increase student engagement to the max. With a free sign upteachers, parents, and students can create quizzes in an instant to study for an upcoming test, break the ice with peers, gather opinions, and so much more.   


3. Clever 

Clever is an online portal that connects students, teachers, and families with single sign-on features and learning resources housed all in one place. Clever, isn’t it? Clever is user friendly, enabling families to get connected, support their student’s progress, keep track of assignments and view their grades. It’s free for districts and used by over 22 million students and teachers across the U.S. 


4. Pear Deck for Google Slides 

Think of your typical PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation. Just a collection of text with a few pictures. But what if you were able to add interactive Do Now’s where your students can type their answers in the presentation? Or even check for understanding as you’re presenting? Pear Deck for Google Slides does just that. As an add-on to Google slides, Pear Deck is a user-friendly way to beef up your class presentations—you can add audio, live quizzes, and access a teacher dashboard to check-in on class engagement and understanding. The possibilities are endless! 


5. Jam Board  

Jam Board is an interactive whiteboard that allows the student to write down their answers to problems on a primary virtual board for the class to see and interact withUsers can access Jam board on their computers, tablets, and phones, so it’s perfect for distance learning. Accessible for all ages, it allows you to quickly pull in images from a Google search, use the easy-to-read handwriting tool, and draw with a stylus but erase with your finger – just like a whiteboard. 


Kenneth Wilson is a Team Leader serving at Central High School.

Born and raised in Kansas City, Kenneth uses his background in digital media to creatively lead his team and support his students.  







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