Teaching group classes on Zoom

In this lesson, we will learn about how to manage group classes on Zoom, with advice suitable for both small and large groups.

The magic mute button!

One of the most important classroom management tools for group classes is the “mute” button! This prevents students talking over each other and ensures everyone can have their fair time to speak. Muting students also prevents background noise from disturbing the class.

The mute button can be found in various places (see screenshot for both the gallery and screensharing views):

  • Next to students’ names in the participants list
  • Next to students’ videos in the gallery

There is also a “mute all” button in the participants list, which is useful in larger classes or at the beginning of a class.

The “hands up” feature

Encourage students to use the “hands up” button (found under the “reactions” tab) if they wish to ask a question or contribute to the discussion. In smaller classes, they could also simply physically raise their hand on the camera – however the button has the added advantage of sending a notification to the teacher so you can more easily identify who would like to speak.

Whole class responses

In larger groups, there are often fewer opportunities for individual students to speak and respond to questions. Rather than taking turns to answer questions, you can design them such that all students can participate simultaneously.

Voting activities and multiple choice quizzes can allow all students to answer simultaneously by showing their answers on their fingers (holding up 1-4 fingers on their hands). Alternatively, replace the numbers with emojis from the Zoom “reactions” list or use true/ false questions which students can indicate their answers to via hand motions.

For gap fill or similar short-answer questions, you can ask students to send you their answers via private message in the chat. Give them a short time limit (maybe around 5 seconds to keep the pace up) to type their answer before sharing the correct response on the screen.

Online quizzes

For a more interactive and fun experience, you can also run online quizzes using tools such as Kahoot, Quizlet or Quizizz. These are great to review key ideas at the end of a lesson or topic, and can also be sent to students after the class as a homework task.

These quiz websites allow you to create simple quizzes online, which students can complete on their phones or computers. They include “gamification” elements such as points and a live leaderboard to improve class engagement.

If you are hosting the quiz live on Zoom, you can choose to screenshare the live leaderboard, or simply leave Zoom on the standard gallery view while students complete the questions on their own devices. Once you have launched the quiz, make sure to send students the link via the Zoom chat so they can join in.

Breakout rooms

Breakout rooms are smaller Zoom rooms you can separate your students into for small group activities. This could be anything from collaborating on a task or presentation to practicing a dialogue or mini debate together. Feel free to check out this video from Zoom on how to use breakout rooms:

Breakout rooms tend to work best with teenage or adult students, who have the maturity to work together in teams on a task with less supervision from the teacher. Note that while you can hop between the rooms to check how your students are getting on, you are not able to view all rooms simultaneously.

Here are some top tips for making the most of breakout rooms:

  • Give students a clear task to complete, e.g. send a worksheet or summary information in the chat
  • Keep the number of students in each breakout room as small as possible
  • Have a tight time limit for the breakout room tasks
  • Jump between the breakout rooms yourself to check students are remaining focused and offer feedback/ suggestions

After bringing students back from the breakout room task, it is generally good practice to ask each group to briefly present their work to the class. Alternatively, in larger classes you could pick a few individuals to share their team’s ideas. This allows you to check that they have indeed completed the task and provides you with opportunities to provide feedback.

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