Zoom has become a hot topic in education due to the unfortunate pandemic of the Coronavirus, along with other video conferencing tools. With this increase in the use of Zoom, they took many steps to ensure educators could feel safe with their students with added security and settings. So when unfortunate circumstances arise, there are often advancements and updates to technology. Zoom was no different. Today I want to discuss 5 Powerful ways to use Zoom to teach.
So, first, what is Zoom? Zoom is a video conferencing or chat tool that allows teachers to connect with their students online with video and audio. Teachers simply can share a link and students can use that to access online learning with their teacher and classmates. It offers a variety of security settings to prevent hacking and also includes many other settings that can support teachers with classroom management with mute, private chat to teacher only and many more. Zoom has a variety of resources to get started with Zoom by just setting up your account and then accessing their resources.
So now let’s get into the 5 powerful ways to use Zoom to teach your students. The most powerful strategy for zoom is teaching a “live lesson” with your students because students want to see and hear from their teachers and work with their classmates. If possible to host live lessons, I believe this is one of the most important ways to continue to connect with your students and support them with online learning. Let’s dig deeper now into some powerful ways you can interact with your students on Zoom.
#1 Classroom Discussion
During a Zoom session you can continue to hold classroom discussions, just like you would in class and not just a question and answer session. Depending on the age of your students you can call on students to share ideas by muting and unmuting as a classroom management strategy or with older students let them pop in the conversation after setting up some ground rules. Either way you can continue the communication skills and talking that students need to continue to learn.
Another great strategy is the flipped classroom, where students watch a video or complete a reading and come with prepared questions ahead of time. Or you can now extend their learning with an activity and discussion where they apply that skill.
#2 Screen Share
Depending on your comfort level you may only allow you, the teacher to screen share so that you can teach your lesson in whatever method you prefer (PowerPoint, Google Slides, etc). This allows you to talk students through the content, watch a video with you and take notes and much more. And if you are feeling students are ready you can allow them to share their screen to show you their progress or work and coach them through.
The whiteboard tool can allow you to model on a whiteboard like you would in class while screen sharing. I used this to help my students work through punnett squares and balance chemical equations. So they were able to go through example problems with me and then work some on their own and share them.
I was also able to provide each student their own task card by posting a link in the chat and let them know which card I wanted them to do. Then students were able to share their screens to show how they tackled it.
#4 Integrate Other Tech Tools
(Nearpod or Peardeck, other)
One of the best things I ever did was teach a live lesson using Nearpod. Peardeck would work similarly. You can send students the link to your Live Lesson in the chat box and they can then copy and paste it in their web browser and be in the lesson alongside you. This allows them to hear you talk them through the lesson and ensure every student is seeing exactly what you want and participating visibly on your screen. Meanwhile, you are getting immediate feedback on how your lesson is going by being able to view every student’s work live on your teacher dashboard. And a super plus is that students are actively engaged as they type in and interact with the lesson. You can then immediately share student thinking or have them share their thinking while you display their response. Of course when sharing student work you want to have the classroom community established and/or remove student names–which is a feature of Nearpod. By using this tool, I felt confident that I was engaging my students during the difficult distance learning period and I was able to assess them in the process of the lesson. This means that I had data to support how all my students were doing and could immediately see who was being successful and who might need more support and plan for these.
#5 Collaboration with Partners and Teams
With Zoom we can often feel in isolation, meaning you realize that you are doing a lot of the talking. So one way to curb this is to use tools such as Nearpod and Peardeck. But you can also build this into your system easily. A few ways you can do this are adding the collaboration structures you would have in your class with partners and teams. Once you have established your rules and procedures you can explore with the Chat options and breakout room. Here are a few ways I did this.
Chat: At first I set the security settings so that students could not chat or it was to everyone or just me the host. But once I felt more comfortable I was able to establish partners. Students would know who their partner was and I could ask a question and their “Turn In Talk” was a private chat to their partner. On my share screen they would see the Partner A timer and then Partner B timer. Then I would call on students to share either what they shared or their partner shared. I could expand this to a group or even clock partners so they chat with a few people. If I was looking for brainstorming I would just use the Chat to everyone features so we all learn from others ideas.
Breakout Rooms: So I am not going to lie. I was terrified of putting middle school students in a breakout room with no adults. And I would have not done this in the first weeks without knowing my students and building the classroom community. But I finally got the courage to try it and it went amazing. If you are familiar with Kagan Cooperative Learning structures, it is always suggested that you do something non-academic first. So that is exactly what I did. I told students what I wanted them to discuss and then sent them to a breakout room for 2 minutes to complete a round robin share (this is when all students share their ideas aloud). Then we came back and shared out as a whole class. I also was able to email a document or share a document with students in their break out rooms, like a Would You Rather and let them go through that for a few minutes and then they came back to the whole group. I had teams work together in a digital escape room and had students work through a short assignment together after a mini lesson. I was able to bounce to the rooms and they could signal support if they got stuck. In all of these activities students had fun and did an amazing job.
What great things did you try in Zoom with your students? I would love to hear other great ideas!!