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Remote Learning Activities that Foster Classroom Community

Getting started with classroom community!

If you haven’t seen it yet, we have a blog that discusses how to turn your classroom into a community of people who work together. 

Check out Building Community in the Classroom – The Key is Communication for more information on how to do that. All of the tips from that blog can easily be translated into an online or blended learning environment with some synchronous and asynchronous communication.

Now let’s jump into what you came here for, the activities that help build classroom community in a remote learning environment!

Activities that foster real classroom community online.

The classroom contract

What & why:

The first thing we always suggest is creating a classroom contract. This is a document that sets rules and intentions for the learning environment for the rest of the semester or year.

Students commit to a set of rules that they built. This lets you know what your students can manage and holds everyone accountable because you all made the rules together!

Synchronous or asynchronous: 

It can be done both ways! We suggest synchronously, that way students can see each other and easily converse about the best rules that suit their classroom.

For an asynchronous discussion use our RoundTable: Creating Our Classroom Contract

classroom community

Other suggestions and tips:

It always helps to have a list with a few examples, this will help to give students ideas and let them know what you’re thinking. Or if you have one rule you believe is a MUST HAVE that can be the first rule added.

Include a bonus rule that makes things fun! For example, every third Wednesday of the month is a themed day chosen by the class.

A letter to my teacher/class

What & why:

An icebreaker activity that opens the proverbial communication door. Students write a letter that tells you (and or the class) more about them. Strong communication is SO important in a blended or remote classroom setting when you’re not always together. It makes everyone feel connected!

Synchronous or asynchronous:

This activity is best done asynchronously. This gives students time to think about what they’d like to share.

Other suggestions and tips:

Use Parlay Online RoundTable to facilitate this discussion if the letter is to the class. Send a prompt with some suggestions or an example, (lead the charge and share a letter you wrote!) and then get your students to share by a certain time. Students can comment on each other’s letters and give Applause to fun and creative submissions.

Get students to include Two Truths and One Lie at the end of the letter, this is fun and always sparks discussion!

20 questions with the teacher

What & why:

Let your students get to know you! When your students know more about you they feel more comfortable communicating with you and are usually more invested in the class.

Synchronous or asynchronous:

We suggest asynchronous.

If you use Parlay you can answer student’s questions in the comments under their question. We also suggest that in this case, you don’t use the Parlay feature of hidden identities.

Other suggestions and tips:

Encourage students to share their ideas and welcome additional comments from students who didn’t ask the question. Build a dialogue!

If you’ve already created your classroom contract and everyone understands the importance of respect and building a community then there shouldn’t be a problem with any of the questions that you get asked.

Break into smaller discussion groups

What & why:

Having a discussion? Mix it up and break students up into smaller groups. Unique pairings of students will change up ideas, then you can bring everyone together and build on the group ideas for more variety in your discussion.

Synchronous or asynchronous:

This can be done either way! Whatever tool you use for discussions should be able to make this happen.

Other suggestions and tips:

If you do this synchronously, try to drop in on each of the smaller group discussions to get a feel for what they are thinking.

Classroom community circles

What & why:

This emulates a Harkness circle and is a super quick and easy weekly activity. All your students have to do is say one word about their weekend. This is a great exercise to see how your students are feeling and kicks the week off with connection.

Synchronous or asynchronous:

This can be done either way. But we suggest synchronous because it’s nice to see everyone at the beginning of the week.

Parent engagement

What & why:

Last but not least, make a connection with your student’s parents. Make sure they’re on your team. This is so important! Parents also want their kids to succeed, if you connect with them on a semi-regular basis they can support your teaching on the home-front.

Synchronous or asynchronous:

Again, this can be done either way, but we suggest that you meet at least once synchronously to get some face-to-face and build that connection. The rest of the time you can communicate asynchronously.

Honourable mentions.

Create a meet-up schedule:

A schedule will help to create check-in points for you and your students, helping them to keep organized and on task.

Hidden identities:

If you’re using Parlay to have your discussions we suggest keeping hidden (anonymous) identities on for the first few weeks or months. This can help students get comfortable sharing exactly what they think and builds up their confidence to share their ideas as themselves when hidden identities are turned off.

Tips from the Parlay community for ways to propel classroom community.

Here are some suggestions from our Parlay Teacher community!

  1. Instantaneous feedback (nudges), sending that private feedback in Online and particularly Live RoundTable. By doing this you’re affirming them and encouraging them to continue speaking up which enhances their sense of belonging.
  2. Ear icon helps students support one another. The ear icon in Live RoundTable allows students to uplift voices that don’t always put themselves in centre of circle. Peers can reward each other with ear icons and applause, a.k.a confetti.
  3. Here are some more tips from our top users at Parlay! They share how they have used the tool to help support classroom community:


Parlay supports remote learning communication.

Learn how here!