Plan engaging classes in Zoom

The four example Zoom sessions below illustrate how class time can be planned to engage students. Each example begins with a summary, which is followed by a description of what would happen before (if applicable), during, and after the session. Since focusing on a screen for extended periods can be tiring, the examples illustrate Zoom sessions of 60 minutes or less. We imagine you will adapt the examples by adding, removing or substituting activities to best support student learning in your course(s).

In each example:

  • Asterisks (*) denote opportunities for creating parallel activities in myCourses Discussions so that students who can not attend Zoom sessions can participate asynchronously.

  • TA in superscript (TA) denotes tasks that you might want to assign to a Teaching Assistant, such as moderating the chat and managing breakout rooms. If you don’t have a Teaching Assistant, you can certainly manage these tasks on your own.

You must assign Teaching Assistants the “Host” role in Zoom if you would like them to manage breakout rooms.

The examples involve breakout rooms in Zoom. Note that:

Since sitting at a computer and being online for extended periods may cause students physical discomfort and “Zoom fatigue,” consider suggesting to students that they take a break and perhaps do a physical stretch at the end of each Zoom session.

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Examples

This largely lecture-based session incorporates several interactive lecture strategies, including a modified version of the 10-2 interactive lecture strategy. This session may be especially well suited for large classes.

Interactive lecture

During the session (~50 minutes)

Minutes

What

How

Details

5

Welcome and check-in

Type in chat or raise hand to speak*

Share with students how you’re doing and allow students to do the same.

12

Situating and lecture

 

Show an illustration on screen that situates today’s content in the course so far. Introduce content.

1

Think break

 

Ask a question. Allow 20 seconds for students to think about it before you go on to address it.

10

Lecture

 

Address the question as you continue with content.

5

Picture prompt*

Give students a few minutes to think and then have them type in chat or raise hand to speak*.

 

Alternative: Randomly assign students to breakout roomsTA.

Show students an image—related to course content—with no explanation. Ask them to identify/explain it and justify their answers.

If you opt for the breakout rooms alternative, allow time afterward for students to report back and share their ideas.

12

Lecture and wrap up

 

Address students’ responses to the image as you continue with content. Summarize the session activities. Let students know what to prepare for the next class meeting. Direct students to homework instructions in myCourses.

5

Exit cards*

Post to a myCourses discussion forum and then exit class.

Show on the screen or write on the whiteboard a prompt that relates to the day’s topic(s) or anticipates upcoming content. Ask students to respond to the prompt in myCourses. Decide whether you would like submissions to be anonymous. (Anonymous submissions can be enabled in myCourses.)

After the session

  • If you would like to keep a record of student interaction during the Zoom session, save the chat transcript in a folder related to your course.

  • Review students’ exit cards.

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Interactive lecture and small group discussion

This example incorporates interactive lecture—with polling—and small group discussion. This session can work well in any type of class.

During the session (~55 minutes)

(Adapted from a University of Minnesota example)

Minutes

What

How

Details

5

Welcome and check-in

Type in chat or raise hand to speak*

Share with students how you’re doing and allow students to do the same.

2

Introduction of topic

Poll*

Ask a question that engages students by making the topic personally relevant to them.

10

Lecture

 

Use the annotation features in Zoom to mark up your slides.

2

Knowledge probe

Poll*

Ask one of more questions to check students’ knowledge of an important concept/theory.

10

Small group discussion*

Randomly assign students to breakout rooms.TA

Ask students to address the polling question(s). Each group should appoint a “reporter” to summarize the main points of their discussion. (If this activity occurs frequently throughout the semester, students should be encouraged to rotate the role of “reporter.”)

10

Debrief

Report in chat or raise hand to speak*

With students back in the main Zoom room, comment as appropriate on what students report.

2

Muddiest point

Type in chat*

 

Ask students to write what seemed most confusing to them – the “muddiest point” of the class session. Encourage students to be specific when identifying the source of confusion.

Alternatively, have students submit their “muddiest points” to you through myCourses. Begin the next class by reviewing selected “muddiest points” and using students’ feedback as entry points for discussion of areas that multiple students found to be unclear. With this option, the following debrief can be eliminated.

10

Debrief

 

Address the areas of confusion.

5

Wrap up and next steps

 

Summarize the session activities. Let students know what to prepare for the next class meeting. Direct students to homework instructions in myCourses.

After the session

  • If you would like to keep a record of student interaction during the Zoom session, save the chat transcript in a folder related to your course.

  • Review students’ “muddiest points.”

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Student interaction and discussion

This example illustrates a strategy that encourages students to prepare for a high level of student interaction through small group discussion. This session may be especially well suited for seminars and conferences.

Before the session

  • Assign students a text to read or a video to watch, along with the task of identifying the three most important aspects for them and the two most confusing aspects for them (this is a variation of the 3-2-1 strategy).

  • In myCourses, create group-restricted discussion topicsTA, where students will post the important aspects and aspects of confusion.

  • Let students know you will ask them to access myCourses during the fixed session.

During the session (~60 min)

Minutes

What

How

Details

5

Welcome and check-in

Type in chat or raise hand to speak*

Share with students how you’re doing and allow students to do the same.

3

Situating

 

Show an illustration on screen that situates today’s content in the course so far.

5

Reading

myCourses Discussion forum

Ask students to read their group members’ important aspects and aspects of confusion in myCourses.

20

Small-group discussion

Break students into pre-assigned breakout roomsTA (same groups as in the myCourses group-restricted discussion)

Ask students to:

  1. reach consensus on the three most important aspects and post their agreed-upon list to myCourses;

  2. help each other understand the confusing aspects;

  3. make a list of confusing aspects that could not be resolved and post the list to myCourses.

15

Debrief/mini-lecture

Students can post questions by typing in chat TA or raising hand to speak*

With students back in the main Zoom room, recap important aspects; address remaining areas of confusion; emphasize connections between key course concepts and the assigned reading/video; provide examples to enhance student understanding.

5

One-sentence summary

Type in chat or raise hand to speak*

Ask students to summarize the day’s topic in one sentence.

5

Wrap up and next steps

Poll*

Pose a question that will pique students’ curiosity about upcoming course content. Let students know what to prepare for the next class meeting. Direct students to homework instructions in myCourses.

After the session

  • If you would like to keep a record of student interaction during the Zoom session, save the chat transcript in a folder related to your course.

  • Review students’ one-sentence summaries.

  • Review students’ responses to the polling question.

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Problem-solving practice in groups

This example illustrates how class time can be structured for students to practice problem solving. Timing will depend heavily on the nature of the problems. This session may be especially well suited for conferences and tutorials.

Before the session

  • Assign students problems to solve. The type of problem you assign (e.g., case study, scenario, equation, experimental design question) will depend on your discipline. The number of problems you assign in this session may depend on the type of problem.

  • Ask students to submit their solutions to you through the Assignments tool in myCourses. Ensure students are aware of the submission deadline by putting a link in the myCourses Calendar and/or creating a myCourses Announcement. Explain to students that this submission should be their best attempt and it will not be assessed. In class, students will work with peers to solve the problems. After class, they will have the opportunity to revise their solutions and resubmit them for assessment. Let students know that only submissions from students who submitted an initial ‘best attempt’ will be assessed. This condition should motivate students to submit their best attempt even though it will not be assessed.

During the session (~60 min)

Minutes

What

How

Details

5

Welcome and check-in

Type in chat or raise hand to speak*

Share with students how you’re doing and allow students to do the same.

10

Problem 1: Peer feedback and brainstorming

Randomly assign students to breakout roomsTA in pairs or groups of three for peer feedback on their solutions. Students can orally describe their solutions or share text on their screens.

Ask students to get feedback from each other on their respective solutions and brainstorm alternative solutions. Depending on the problem type, it may be appropriate to provide students with questions to guide the peer feedback.

(See guidelines for engaging students in peer feedback on pp. 7-10 of this resource document.)

15

Debrief

Report in chat or raise hand to speak*

With students back in the main Zoom room, ask for solutions and questions.

10

Problem 2: Peer feedback and brainstorming

Randomly assign students to breakout roomsTA in pairs or groups of three for peer feedback on their solutions. Students can orally describe their solutions or share text on their screens.

Ask students to get feedback from each other on their respective solutions and brainstorm alternative solutions.

 

15

Debrief

Report in chat or raise hand to speak*

With students back in the main Zoom room, ask for solutions and questions.

5

Wrap up and next steps

 

Let students know what to prepare for the next class meeting. Direct students to homework instructions in myCourses: They should revise their solutions and submit them through the Assignments tool in myCourses.

After the session

  • Students revise their solutions and resubmit them for assessment.

  • If you would like to keep a record of student interaction during the Zoom session, save the chat transcript in a folder related to your course.

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