For Teachers: Fun Ways to Connect with Students Online using Google Classroom and Bitmojis

During this time of social distancing and online everything, traditional Sunday School methods aren’t always enough to meet the connect with students online SEOneeds of our church families. As many are searching for new online platforms, my educator mind has started going through things I have used to connect with my public school students during our time away from the school campus. My philosophy is if it works for teaching my English/Language Arts curriculum, then it should work for teaching Bible lessons as well. Connecting with students online has never been easier. Here are instructions on how to connect with students online using bitmojis and Google Classroom.

How to Connect with Students Online

One of the easiest sites to connect with students online is Google Classroom. (And it’s free!) With a Gmail account you can access Google Classroom through the Google menu. Once there, simply create a class. A class code will be automatically generated. Share that code with members of your class.

All about Google Classroom

Once you have created a class, the four sections to further develop the class are Stream, Classwork, People, and Grade Work.

1. Stream

Stream is the social aspect of the classroom. It is a place for announcements, resources, and a place for students to post—if this setting is enabled. Class members can comment on posts.

2. Classwork

Assignments are created in Classwork. Teachers use this section for private communication with students. For example, if a student doesn’t feel comfortable sharing

Connecting with students online has never been easier. . . . One of the easiest sites to connect with students online is Google Classroom.

with the whole class, the student could message the teacher privately. Typically in this section teachers create an assignment as an open-ended question for students to respond to create communication with each student Only teachers can see students’ responses. A review quiz can be created here. While Sunday school is different from students’ weekly school and we’re not seeking to create the same methods, adding a simple review quiz about the Sunday school lesson may be a good way to encourage students to do something with what they’ve learned. The key is to create one or two easy questions so students are sure to do well so you can celebrate their achievement and encourage them.

An additional feature in Classwork is Google Meet—a video option similar to Zoom. Google Meet is accessible only through Google and is only open to the members of your class.

3. People

The People section is where your students will appear when they use your class code. Here students can be invited to join the class. In the teacher section, a co-teacher can be added to the class and can be given the same access as the teacher. Both teachers can build material simultaneously for the lesson, or they could take turns teaching lessons.

4. Grade work

The last section is for grades, very useful in the public school setting. A Sunday school teacher might creatively use this section as a points system to motivate students.

Until normalcy returns, using Google classroom is a great way to connect with your students outside of the Sunday school classroom. Click To Tweet

For a Fun Twist: Add Bitmoji into Your Virtual Classroom

Is all of this sounding a little too much like schoolwork? For a fun twist (and to make this more user friendly for the youngest students), why not build your own Bitmoji classroom? There are many ways to make something like this, but I created mine through Google Slides. The room image exists

The church is much more than a building, so reach out and connect with your class in new and exciting ways.

on one slide, and everything else is placed on top as inserted images. I added links my kindergartners would enjoy, including a link to a Bible lesson the parent could read, online puzzles, online books, a prayer request board, music, and more. For this sample I used activity papers. The new digital Word Aflame activity papers could be uploaded in this section so your students could access them.

This digital class obviously does not take the place of assembling together with other believers. However, not everyone is able to do so at this time. Connecting virtually is far better than not connecting at all. Until normalcy returns, using Google classroom is a great way to connect with your students outside of the Sunday school classroom.

By sharing throughout the week and giving students the opportunity to connect with you, doors will open to interact with them in ways you may not have been able to in the church building. The church is much more than a building, so reach out and connect with your class in new and exciting ways.

Bio: Richelle Votaw is a field editor for The Discipleship Project. She is a Kindergarten Sunday school teacher at First Pentecostal Church of Denham Springs, Louisiana. She has a B.A. in Elementary Education and a M.Ed. in Educational Technology from Southeastern Louisiana University. She teaches 5th and 6th grade English & Language Arts.

Resources and Links

Richelle’s Bitmoji Classroom

Word Aflame Digital Activity Papers

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