Zoom Zoom Zoom Zoom I Want You In My Classroom

September 26, 2020

With live classes  hosted through Zoom, establishing norms and familiarizing myself with its features have been part of my first weeks of teaching.

My K-8 school is 100% virtual and has opted for primarily synchronous learning. I teach three 90 minutes blocks of six grade ELA plus I host a 30 minute morning meeting each day. We are hosting our live class sessions using Zoom. A lot of time this week was spent on establishing norms for online learning and familiarizing students with the features of Zoom.

My Zoom Class Norms
1. Be respectful, patient, and understanding.
2. Be engaged and participate appropriately.
3. While your camera or microphone is on, eliminate distractors for you and other students, such as food, drink, other electronic devices, background noise, and excessive movement.
4. Use the raise hand feature to ask questions or share during discussions.
5. If you need to step out of our meeting for any reason, please send me a private message in the chat to let me know.

I have really emphasized to my students that this is new for all of us and uncomfortable for many of us (including me!). I give my students a range of ways to participate just as I would in an in person class. Sometimes I cold call, sometimes I ask for volunteers, and sometimes they can shout it out. They can always choose whether they'd like to use their microphone or the chat. While I LOVE actually seeing my students' faces, I also find it highly distracting and invasive, so I'm not pushing students to turn their cameras on.

Zoom Features I've Found Helpful
1. The chat is wonderful for so many reasons. Students can put their questions there and then I can answer them when I've finished talking through something. Students can also send a message to just me if they don't want to ask in front of everyone or if they need to let me know something that just pertains to them. My school has disabled students' ability to privately message each other.

2. Using @studentname when I'm responding to chat questions or comments that are visible to everyone is something I'm still working on doing consistently, but really helps navigate the flow of conversation in the chat.

3. The raise your hand feature is great for asking for having students indicate that they would like to ask a question or want to share. Many of my students have their cameras off and because I'm almost always sharing my screen, it makes it difficult to see if they are physically raising their hand.

4. The yes/no reactions have been perfect for polling students on who is ready to move on, has an assignment completed, etc.

5. I'm using the clock reaction to allow students to indicate when they need more time to open up materials or complete an assignment (I haven't figured out what to use the coffee mug for).

6. When students are having technical difficulties, I use the Screen Share feature to let a student demonstrate what things look like on the student end. When I'm working one on one with a student, I also have them share their screen so I can walk them through something step by step and actually see wha they are doing.

7. To limit shenanigans, I have enabled the settings that prevent students' from changing their names once they've entered the Zoom meeting (only I can do that) and if a student's camera is off, their name shows rather than a profile image.

Using Breakout Rooms
My goal is to structure my 90 minute block to accommodate a rotation model of teaching. I'll work with three small groups each class for 20 minutes each. However, my school is currently requiring students to be logged into Zoom for the full class time and doesn’t allow us to have students in breakout rooms unsupervised, which makes my goal somewhat complicated. So far I've come up with two work arounds.

1. Using the waiting room - I put all of students in the waiting room except the small group of students I want to work with.

Positives:
  • Students are still logged in to Zoom and I can bring them back into the main meeting room at any time.
  • I can switch the students that I want to work with in a small group without having to return everyone to the meeting and no one is left unattended.
Negatives:
  • Students have to email me if they have a question or need help with anything, and I have to be keeping an eye on my emails. 
  • I have to select students one by one to put them in the waiting room.

2. Utilize individual breakout rooms - Similar to putting all of the students in the waiting room, I can put all of the students into individual breakout rooms except the small group of students I want to work with.

Positives:
  • Students are still logged in to Zoom and I can bring them back into the main meeting room at any time.
  • Students can also send me a message from their breakout rooms to let me know that they need help.
Negatives:
  • I can’t leave the group I am working with unattended to pop into an individual breakout room.
  • I have to manually put students into breakout rooms since not all students are going into individual breakout rooms.
  • I have to return all students from their breakout rooms to the main Zoom meeting if I want to switch who I am working with.
With live classes  hosted through Zoom, establishing norms and familiarizing myself with its features have been part of my first weeks of teaching.

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