How to Plan a Virtual Recess

Our district started the 2020-2021 school year in the full remote model. After about a month, we began offering virtual recess to students.  Our first one was well received, and we decided to keep going! I've listed the steps to show how we put virtual recess together. 

Planning a Virtual Recess - A How-To Guide

1. Identify facilitators 
    I asked my school counselor and school psychologist to help me facilitate virtual recess.  They were familiar faces to all or most of the students in my school, and were happy to have more opportunities to connect with students. 

2. Identify a platform
    We used Zoom for the meeting; use what your students are already familiar with. 

3. Choose a date and time
    Our district's remote plan allows for synchronous teaching four days a week, with a fifth reserved for    interventions, asynchronous catch-up, and teacher meetings.  We used the afternoon of the fifth day so as not to interfere with the meeting or intervention schedule. We broke our school up into grade bands and specified a meeting time for K-2, 3-5, and 6-8. We allotted 20 minutes for each grade band, which was a good amount of time. 

4. Invite students
   We created a template email with a link to our zoom, and sent it to each grade's homeroom teachers.  The homeroom teachers then forwarded the invitation to their families using whatever channels work best (email/Remind/Class Dojo, etc). 

5. Plan activities
    For our first virtual recess, we decided to do some general knowledge trivia using Kahoot.  Our K-2 students had a bit of trouble navigating between Zoom and Kahoot, but our 3rd-8th graders were more proficient and navigated easily.  Knowing that, we are adding a tutorial video to our next invitation to help the K-2 parents understand how to split their screens. Future activities include Pictionary, Would You Rather, and lots of other ice breaker style games. 

6. Host recess
    Virtual recess is definitely a multi-person event! My co-facilitators and I shared responsibilities for the waiting room, chat room, and running the Kahoot.  We did not have any issues with crowd management, as students by this point in the year were well versed in keeping themselves muted and unmuting when necessary. 

7. Debrief
After the meeting, we reflected and discussed what went well, what we would change, and how we could improve for the next virtual recess. 

Have you planned a virtual recess for your students? Let me know how it went!

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