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Distance learning in elementary school - part 2

How to make the online class motivating, to keep the attention of the youngest students and to make learning more active and engaging? Myra Auvergnat-Ringuette, 4th year teacher, presents her experience.

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By Myra Auvergnat-Ringuette, with the collaboration of Martine Rioux

Distance education is a challenge for everyone, but the task is all the more complex with the youngest. How to make the online class motivating, to keep students' attention and make learning more active and engaging? Two elementary school teachers shared their advice with us. Here are those of Myra Auvergnat-Ringuette, 4 year teacher at the Externat St-Jean-Berchmans, after those of Catherine Lapointe.

Online education with younger children usually takes place one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon, followed by self-employment and specialty courses (physical education, English, etc.) who kept the same schedule as at school. The teacher also provides times of availability to answer students' questions.

Listening to (parents and students)

  • In distance education, and especially with the little ones, it is important to team up with parents. It is more necessary than ever to bet on co-education, without overburdening parents either. For example, during a shift towards distance education, Myra invites parents to the first morning session to reassure them and invites them to ask their questions as a group.
  • In order to quickly collect the pulse from parents to find out "how are you", Myra uses a Google form that she modifies and sends them periodically. Here is an example that you can copy and adapt: Parent Questionnaire : e-learning experience 
  • Myra was already using another Google form in class to establish the class happiness index. It can also be used remotely. It is then the pupils who answer. Here is the example she offers: Student Questionnaire : index of happiness

To put into action

  • Use chat. In some video conferencing applications, students can write directly to the teacher without other students seeing the messages. Students can then be asked to answer simple questions in writing. The teacher then encourages all the students to respond.
  • Take quizzes. Students love to answer questionnaires, they engage in answering. Most questionnaire tools also have gamification elements that facilitate motivation. At the same time, this allows them to quickly validate their understanding of certain concepts.

Limit novelty

  • As far as possible, keep the same schedule, the same routines that the students knew in the classroom in the virtual world.
  • Pay attention to the transmission of new concepts at a distance. In these moments, you have to explain more, model, repeat and explain again. 


  • Once we have taken the time to explain how the sub-groups work, to describe the tasks to be accomplished and the expected results, sub-group work is a good way to allow students to discuss, to collaborate. It is then possible for the teacher to circulate between the teams, to write a message to everyone at the same time to remind them that they have X minutes left, etc. It's good for motivation! Sometimes the teacher leaves the choice of teams to the students, other times she imposes teams or she leaves the choice to chance.

Provide a clear work plan

  • Divide tasks into small pieces which will be easier to carry out by the pupils independently. Give as many instructions as possible during online lesson sessions and even record instructions that students can listen to asynchronously. Give concrete examples of the expected results. Name the intention, repeat it.
  • Take into account (at least try!) All family contexts. For example, many students do not have parental support to carry out the work plan. They must be able to complete it on their own.
  • Check (or ask parents to do it) that the work plan is done. Personally, I give a part to be done digitally that I check and I let the parents check the notebooks or sheets. Without always thinking about the evaluation. Instead, think about keeping track of student progress.

Above all, you have to remember that everyone is doing their best right now. The situation is far from ideal. Both teachers and students would prefer to be in class. We must try to stay the course while waiting for a return to school and leave the necessary space for the students and their parents to express their well-being or their discomfort. 

The final advice applies to everyone: remember to take care of yourself, ask others what they have done for fun and relaxation… and do it yourself! Go to the park without your phone ... or dance to your favorite music in your living room.

If you also have any tips to share to make distance learning more enjoyable and effective with the little ones, don't hesitate to share them with the École branchée team.

To read : Advice from Catherine Lapointe, 2nd year teacher at the Campanile school (CSS des Découvreurs)

Dimension (s) of digital competence related to this article
3- Exploit the potential of digital technology for learning

To see the Framework.

About the Author

Martine Rioux
Martine Rioux
After studying public communication, Martine worked as a journalist for various publications, before pursuing her career as an interactive communications consultant at La Capitale, a financial group, then at Québec Numérique, an organization she took over as general manager before making the jump. as political advisor in the office of the Minister for Digital Government Transformation. Today she is the online Editor-in-Chief and Special Projects Manager at l'École branchée. Her dream: that everyone has access to technology and can use it as a tool for learning and opening up to the world.

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