Screen-Free Science Breaks For Virtual Learning

Screen Breaks for Virtual Teaching

A Quick Teaching Tip For The Virtual Classroom

I get it – everyone is a little over the computer screen. It can be exhausting (in a whole different way) to stare at your computer all day, turn all your thoughts and ideas into type-written words, and navigate slow-loading websites and a bazillion open windows.


And you know even better than I do, students are feeling it, too. 

So what can we do?

Believe it or not, even in this crazy situation, best practices are still best practices.

Just like you would break up the day in your 70 minute science class, break up your virtual classes, too!

Give your students a break from their devices and get them out of their chairs.

The next time you need to figure out what your students actually know or learned >> give them a new task!

Ask them to find examples (and perhaps non-examples) of whatever concept or term your class is studying in their own lives — in their homes, in their backyards, in their neighborhoods, at their after-school jobs, whatever they are doing.

Encourage students to journal, draw, or maybe even use an old-fashioned camera to document what they find — although another option is certainly to open that device back up for the logging of the phenomenon and explaining of their ideas.

For a fun twist, share the “snapshots” (descriptions, drawings, photos) students find without the explanations and ask the rest of the class to apply the science concepts to the snapshot.

Now you have a bank of phenomena for discussion and assessment of what you are learning, your students are leading the class and driving their learning forward, and everyone had some time to step away from Zoom. 

Why It Matters

Even if we are teaching virtually, our students don’t need to be in front of a screen the entire day. (In fact, there’s plenty of research that says that is not ideal for their development!) Let’s give them a break from devices, get them out of their chairs, and see what they have learned with this simple formative assessment. 


PS: A huge THANK YOU to you Dana Skillman for sharing her amazing vocabulary activity that served as the inspiration for this tip!

Ready to learn more?

Without a doubt, teaching virtually is TOUGH. But it isn’t a reason to abandon our best practices — incorporating phenomena, engaging students in exploration, fostering curiosity and discovery. 

Our students need us more than ever. 

If you’re wondering how you might continue to incorporate exploration into your virtual classroom, check out this blog post and video training