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  • Katie Powell

Virtual Busters

Updated: May 5

When I wrote Boredom Busters, I had no idea I should consider how to translate the activities into a virtual classroom setting. In all the adaptations I crafted, virtual adaptations are absent. I didn't know we'd need them.


And yet, here we are.


In this post, you'll find some preliminary ideas about how to adapt various Busters into our new virtual classrooms.


But before I go any further, I want to give a disclaimer:

If you're feeling overwhelmed, if you're barely keeping your head above water, then please just get through today. Please do not feel like you need to take on a single thing more. I am not sharing these ideas to create the impression that anyone SHOULD be using them. But I am mindful of the fact that there are readers of the book and subscribers of the site who used Busters regularly in their physical classrooms, so I want to do what I can to continue to support them now in their digital classrooms. These ideas will be here if and when you want them. Feel free to stop here, bookmark this page to review later, and call it a night. One day at a time, my friend. These are uncharted waters. Let's uncover one mile at a time.


Now, for those who are interested, here are my thoughts on adapting some of the Busters to a digital classroom.



If you're already familiar with these activities, the listed adaptations are ready to go. If these activities are new to you, use the links to explore the original versions and existing adaptations.

Lecture Busters

-Alphabet Soup: Use the "printable" for students to complete digitally, or post a letter for students to respond to using discussion tools on your favorite learning management system or response tool.

-Junk Drawer: Ditto. This one adapts pretty easily and will definitely engage students' creative thinking. Here's the printable that can be completed digitally, or students can type their thinking using your favorite tool. Here are the images.

-Meme Me: Students use an online meme generator to create a meme relevant to the lesson however you direct. Here's an existing tech tool to do so safely, from Meredith Akers. Alternatively, students can use digital drawing tools, such as those on Class Kick or Pear Deck or their own devices, to draw their own memes.

-Movie Night: Using whatever discussion tool you prefer, students type out a movie title that relates to the day's lesson. Or they could post a movie poster image. Here's the original printable, if that's of use for you.

-6 Degrees: Using your preferred discussion tool, students post an explanation of how two terms you selected are related. This is great for helping students see how their eLearning content fits within the content you'd been covering in class prior to these changes.

-Recipe Card: A deep way to summarize any topic. Post the digital version for students to complete.


Worksheet Busters

-Strike a Pose: This new version of the poses works in virtual classroom formats like Zoom and Meet.

-Sorting Activities: Many digital tools allow you to create manipulatives. If you're good with Google Slides, you can. Even easier, though, is a tool like Class Kick. The simplest, though, would be to have students type out their groups and explanations.

-Grocery List: You would create a list of what you're looking for, and students would list which problem numbers on the worksheet you posted would satisfy each list item. Easy to submit in any digital format that allows students to type.











-Giant Bull's-Eye: If you post a bull's-eye image and make manipulatives of A B C D answer choices, students can slide the answers on the bull's-eye much like we would with the cards in person. Class Kick is one service you can use to pretty easily create manipulatives. If you use Pear Deck, you can even use my pre-made slides! The approach with the fewest tech bells and whistles, though, would be to have students type out an explanation of which ring they would put an answer choice in and why. You could even pick one answer choice you want them to analyze, perhaps a common distractor, and have them explain that one choice's placement.



Homework Busters

-Post the Answers with Error Analysis: The day after giving a fairly traditional assignment or problem set, post a copy of the answer key and have students complete an error analysis. You can save your own copy of the error analysis page to assign to students.

-Homework Gallery Walk: Select a few problems from the assignment to have students digitally discuss. Post the problem using a discussion tool like the question tool on Google Classroom. Students post their answer to the problem, then respond to classmates. Defend, support, argue. You can even post specific metacognitive thought prompts for them to respond to.

What is your answer?

How do you know your answer is correct?

How do you know your answer is incorrect?

Show your work/page number/proof.

What was your error?

What is a strategy you used?

What is a resource you used?

What could you type into Google to find help for this problem?

What do you wish you had asked/understood yesterday to be able to do this problem?

What is an example that would have helped you with this problem?

What vocabulary terms/skills are important to this problem?

What did you find easy about the problem?

What did you find difficult about the problem?

How did your thinking about the problem change?

What other homework item is this problem similar to?

How are they similar?

If you gave this problem a title, what would it be?

How does this problem relate to something else you’ve learned?

What questions about this content do you still have?

What skills might someone need to already know to be able to do this problem?

What was a common error with this problem?

What tip would you give someone who was just learning this content?

How could you change this problem to make it easier/harder/deeper?

Why might you need this skill/knowledge outside of school?

-Homework Quizzes: The day after an assignment, post a 3-5 question quiz using a digital format like Formative, Google Forms, etc. Get automatic scores you can easily enter in your gradebook instead of grading the entire original assignment.

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