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Adapting Common Classroom Activities

Suggestions and Resources for Online Adaptations of Face-to-Face Classroom Activities

Active-Learning Activities for Online Modalities

Active Learning while Physically Distanced. This crowd-sourced document, begun by Jennifer Baumgartner at Louisiana State University, offers useful suggestions for adapting a wide array of common active learning activities for synchronous, asynchronous, and physically distanced modalities.

Annotating Texts

Colleagues here and at other CUNY campuses have used various annotation programs, including to encourage close, critical reading. This tutorial from a CUNY Digital Fellow provides a complete walk-through of

Breakout Rooms

Many faculty use breakout rooms in Zoom or Blackboard Collaborate during synchronous sessions to allow for group discussion and work. Phillipa Pitts from Boston University offers suggestions for keeping those breakout groups on task.

Collaborative Writing

If you assign collaborative writing in your classes--asking students to compose sample paragraphs to practice quotation integration, for example--there are several ways to continue this practice online, even asynchronously.


A staple of ENG 125/126 and WRIT 300, the individual conference requires little in the way of adaptation to the online space. Some instructors find, however, that group conferences are especially productive for online classes because they allow the instructor and a small group of students to discuss common concerns in a group of paper drafts. This form of conference can also help foster engagement among students while also rendering the instructor’s workload more manageable.

Florida State University has a good overview of how to conduct different types of group conferences.

Tools in Blackboard for Activities

If you are basing your course in Blackboard, this table can help you determine which tools might be the most useful for a given activity.

To do this activity Consider one of these Blackboard tools
Collaborative Writing Wiki; Discussion Board
Instructor Feedback on Drafts Assignments; Blog; Discussion Board
Peer Review Peer Mark (Turnitin); Discussion Board; Blog
Reflection Blog; Discussion Board
Textual Discussion Discussion Board; Wiki; Blog (set to class entry)