Engaging students before and after Zoom Sessions

When we do zoom sessions in the Hands up Project, we generally try to build in activities for students to do before the sessions (as preparation) and after the sessions (as a follow up). This is a great way to keep the students engaged with English for longer, and to make the online link ups very meaningful and student-centred. This post by long term volunteer Inas Younis in Khan Younis, Gaza has lots of great ways to do this. Over to you Inas….  

As one of the English teachers, involved in making live zoom sessions with a partner outside Palestine, I realised that  it’s so important to think of more ways to involve your students as much as possible in these sessions.  I believe that the special opportunity to communicate with a speaker of English outside of Palestine really adds a lot to their acquirement of the language.

puppets 1

This year I had some special wonderful sessions with Sara Wood ,  a British teacher who lives in Spain .My students and I enjoyed these sessions a lot. They added a lot of things to our experience.

During these sessions , my main aim was to get my students  to learn as much as they can. As I believe in the great results of  active learning, I was always thinking of ways to involve them positively as much as I can. Here are some ideas:

1- Before every session, me and Sara plan  together what we will talk about . She sometimes sends me an email of the activities we’re planning to do. Also, she asks about my suggestions at the end.

2- After receiving  the email I meet my students and give them an idea about the topic or the activities of the next  session. Then,  depending on the topic, I ask them to search for something on  Google or draw some pictures or write a short story. These things are all in preparation for the session.

In one of our sessions , I asked them to draw some pictures which start with the first letter of their names. Then they have to write a short story  using the names of these pictures.  Actually, it was really a nice activity as they practiced many different skills.

3- Another activity which was very useful for my students is the adjectives activity . It was Sara’s idea to make all the session about learning some adjectives. She sent me these adjectives by email and I asked the students to find out their meanings. Also , Sara suggested to ask them to think of one person they know who these adjectives apply to. Students wrote about their fathers , uncles and friends. Additionally , they prepared some silent sketches demonstrating these adjectives which Sarah would have to guess in the sessions.

4- In the same session, Sara told me that she will talk to them about space. So they printed some pictures and wrote some words about space life.

5- Another activity was when Sara told the girls a Chinese story about a family of rats and she asked the students to think of how this story could end. Then they prepared to perform the story with puppets that they made themselves. Two students who are good at drawing volunteered to draw the pictures and make the puppets, and I helped them to write the script. Then I asked them about the end and we agreed to end it the way you will see in the following video.

Also in the video you’ll see some information that they prepared about our festivals to tell Sara. Then they gave a quiz to test her on what they had told her. Sara, also told them about one of her favourite British festivals – “Bonfire Night”. It was a nice new information for me and my students.


4 thoughts on “Engaging students before and after Zoom Sessions

  1. All fantastic ideas. I think it’s great if the students and Palestinian teacher can prepare activities for the volunteer too! Thanks for sharing!


  2. Thanks Nick for.sharing this outstanding practices 🙂
    Thank.you.and well.done Inas and the girls , this is wonderful❤
    Actually , I like the activity of adjectives .It’s really engaging and to.the point.I would like.to add something related to.this Inas 🙂How about sharing these two activities with you about adjectives also:
    1) Creating still.images about adjectives as follows : .- Divide the class into groups
    – Give each group one adjective to create a still.image about .e.g wonderful
    – Ask.each group to.share the still.image of this adjective with the class and HUP volunteer .You can ask the rest of the class to.give their feedback.about this for.more engagement .
    2) Ask your students who share the first letter of their names to write a.one _ line story starting with this.letter. this can enhance their HOTs as well .
    You are doing really well all .Keep.it up❤


  3. We showed our reactions through an activity we did that was to pass a deck of cards to the team and we wrote the reactions it was a great experience and the teams interacted wonderfully ❤️😍👏🏻


    1. Thanks for your comment Sara. So this was an activity that you did in one of your HUP sessions, right? Can you explain how the activity works?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s