I have always loved doing classroom transformations with my students. But when the pandemic hit, I wondered if there was a way to turn them into a digital format. I worked on the idea for several months and figured out how to do a digital classroom transformation. This guide will walk you step by step through how to do a digital classroom transformation.
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Why Try a Digital Classroom Transformation?
There are many benefits to completing a classroom transformation on the computer rather than on paper. First, you are able to save yourself energy, money, and time printing out all of the components. You don’t have to run to the copy machine to make sure you have enough copies. Simply hop on Google Classroom and assign the slides digitally to your class. Watch them all work in real-time right in front of your eyes all at the same time. No more worrying about going over your copy limit or if the printer will run out of ink.
Another benefit of completing a room transformation digitally is no-name papers don’t exist! You may be thinking that type of scenario doesn’t exist! This alternate reality actually exists when you use Google Classroom. When you use Google Slides to do a digital classroom transformation, everyone’s name is automatically on every page. Students can’t lose their papers around the room and don’t need to redo a challenge if they lose their paper halfway through. Google Slides also automatically saves your work every few seconds so no work is ever lost.
Digital classroom transformations can also cut down on decorations (if that’s what you prefer). Not every teacher enjoys decorating their classroom and that’s okay! You don’t have to decorate your room at all if you don’t want to with virtual background sites like SnapCam. Simply choose a virtual background that you’d like your students to see you in (like the beach or a coffee shop) and you’re ready to begin your digital classroom transformation (watch me use SnapCam for digital classroom transformations HERE!).
Using digital classroom transformations can also benefit multiple learning styles. If a student is struggling to write with a pencil, they may do better with typing and interactive pieces they can drag and drop. You can print copies for the few students who need hands-on practice and assign everyone else’s assignments via Google Classroom. Students can work together online as well. If they’re in the same room, they can put their computers next to each other. If they’re working from separate spaces, you can assign them the assignment together so they both have access or put them in a digital break-out room. That way, they aren’t missing out on any of the collaboration they would receive in the classroom.
Additionally, students aren’t distracted by other groups around the room when they are in digital break-out rooms. They aren’t waiting in a line for you to help and chatting with peers while they wait their turn. When a classroom transformation is in a digital format, those distractions are no longer a problem.
How to Start a Digital Classroom Transformation
Step One: Choose a Theme
The first thing you need to do is decide what theme you want your digital classroom transformation to be. You can find pre-made classroom transformations for grades K-5 right here.
For this example, I’m going to use Surgery Day! The first thing to do is make a slide to project when your students first enter the classroom. Whether they are entering your Zoom Call, Google Meet, or coming into the classroom in person, you need to have instructions ready for students to see. I like to make a slide that excites students and gets them prepped for the day ahead.
If you’re struggling to come up with an idea or theme for your room transformation, you may find these 40 free Room Transformation Slides beneficial!
Step Two: Decide what Academic Content to Include
Once you’ve decided on a theme, it’s time to start making your content! I like to make each digital activity line up with our theme of the day. So, on Doctor Day, students in my class typically have ten slides to complete that relate to surgery! Or, if you don’t want to make up your own content, you can always use pre-made classroom transformations that are ready for you.
Step Three: Set-Up Classroom Behavior Expectations
Just like you would in a “in-person room transformation”, you want to set up behavior expectations for students when they are completing a digital classroom transformation. If you expect students to complete tasks individually, let them know that. If they can work together in break-out rooms, tell them that information up front. Make students aware of how many academic challenges they need to complete to finish for the day and hold students accountable if they get off-task.
Another important piece to remember is that students may not be able to complete the amount of work online that they could be doing in person. Working on a computer is tiring, especially in the younger grades. If I’m doing a classroom transformation with printable materials, I may have my students complete ten challenges. However, if they are working on the computer, I may assign 6 challenges instead. Be flexible and assign what you think would work best for your class. It may take a few digital classroom transformations before you find that “sweet-spot” that works well for your students.
Step Four: Have a Reward in Place at the End
I have found that students are highly motivated during digital classroom transformations when there is a small prize in place at the end. This doesn’t need to be anything fancy and can be something simple like a coupon or certificate.
For Doctor Day, I award my students with a digital doctor certificate when they finish all of their challenges. They may redeem this certificate anytime during the rest of the year for a homework pass. My class loves earning these certificates!
Step Five: Think About Fast Finishers
No matter what theme you decide upon, you will have students that finish earlier than the rest of your class. Having an activity in place for those students is crucial for a number of reasons. First, you don’t want them to become bored or distract others. Second, you will have to worry about those students in the middle of helping other students if you do not have a plan in place. Finally, having an activity in place for fast finishers can provide enrichment or extension activities that high-ability students really enjoy.
I like to have my students learn more about the theme of the day with a Google Slides “Mystery Find” Activity I assign them in Google Classroom (this also comes in printable posters or QR codes). Students who finish early are assigned the slides where they click on each slide to try and find the fun fact hiding on each page.
On the slide, students click around the room to find the fun fact. If they click on the wrong spot, this message will appear.
But, if they click on the right spot in the picture, a fun fact will appear. I have them copy down the fun fact on a piece of notebook paper or type up the fun facts they learn in a Google doc.
It’s a great way to keep fast-finisher students engaged while giving students who work at a slower pace time to finish the main set of activities.
Classroom Transformations By Grade Level
Want to try out a classroom transformation in your classroom? I have pre-made, ready to go room transformations in both print and digital formats for grades K-5.
You may also like to read more about Doctor Day in detail right here.
Want to add some fun decorations to your next room transformation? I’ve got you covered right here with my Classroom Transformation Decoration Lists!