This Week's App: Zoom

This week we are going to change it up a bit. Zoom is an app that just about everyone in 2020 had to become familiar with in some way or another. So instead of our regular what is it, how do you use it, and how do you get started page, we wanted to give just a few recommendations about how you can use Zoom well.

What are some Zoom best practices?

Zoom is a powerful tool, but is not the same as teaching in person, so how do you use it well?

  1. Do short bursts: It is easy for students to get tired of Zoom and to get distracted, so keep direction instruction to short bursts. This doesn't mean you have to get rid of content, but maybe think about chunking instruction into short sections and then switching to something else.
  2. Diversify, Diversify, Diversify: This goes hand in hand with short bursts, but don't do the same thing your whole session. It is good to diversify the kinds of activities you do. This practice is good in any teaching situation, but on Zoom it is vital!
  3. Have more breaks: In Zoom you can also overcome the fatigue of online meetings or instruction by planning breaks. They dont have to be long, but you can give students 5 mins to get up stretch, share with eachother, etc. They can be informal or even planned group time.
  4. Pause for questions: It can sometimes be harder to ask questions in Zoom. People feel awkward interrupting someone. So break for questions more often, even feel free to check in with students by name if they are comfortable and you have a smaller group.

What tools does Zoom have & how can I use them?

While most of us probably know Zoom at this point, there are a lot of tools that people forget they have at their fingertips that can be used to facilitate instruction or learning.

Zoom Annotation is a tool that is often overlooked. Did you know that you can annotate anything you share over Zoom and that others in your meeting can annotate as well? This is great if you ever want to share text, graphic, article, etc. and actually annotate over it. Just like in the classroom you can use your cursor to circle text, annotate on it, highlight things and even have your students do the same in smaller groups.

To learn more about it check out Zooms video How to Screen Share & Annotate.

Zoom Breakout Rooms are also another tool that is often underused. If you are not familiar with them, you can break your students out into smaller groups within a Zoom meeting. From there you have the ability to set timers for the group, send messages to them, and even pop in to see how they are doing. You can use this tool to break your students out into small groups to discuss something, do a think-pair-share activity, work on a project together, review a text or article together, etc.

Break your students out into small groups to discuss something, do a think-pair-share activity, work on a project together, review a text or article, and more.

Zoom Polling allows you to create short polls in your meetings and get feedback directly from your students. Not all schools will have this tool, so you might need to ask your administrator to see if it is available, but consider using this to pose questions to your students. This can create a form of interactivity to your Zoom meetings and give you a chance to get information on how your students are doing.

To learn more check out Zooms guide How to use Zoom Polling.

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