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  • Writer's pictureRita D. Williams, Ph.D.

Who's Zoomin' Who?

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

Who would have thought Aretha Franklin’s 1985 hit, Who’s Zoomin’ Who, was both poetic and prophetic? Although we were not ready, COVID-19 forced us to quickly embrace…or at least tolerate video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Google Meets and Verve to educate our students as well as stay connected to colleagues.

Whether we like it or not, virtual learning is officially a part of our existence, and we have to continually find ways to leverage available platforms to optimize student engagement and classroom management. Since March, Zoom has graciously waived the cost of its Basic plan for all schools. Zoom offers features such as Screen Sharing, Whiteboard, Annotation, Chat, Reactions and Breakout Rooms that helps with such optimization.

Screen Sharing allows teachers and, if permitted by the teacher, students to share their computer or mobile phone screen. As such, PowerPoint presentations, instructional videos, educational websites, documents and other resources can be incorporated.

Teachers and students can write and make other marks on the Whiteboard. Although it is a challenge to write legibly, the Draw option, an Annotation tool, is a mechanism for students to show their mathematics calculations on the Whiteboard. As a mathematics educator, I definitely love that! ELA teachers can display passages of fiction or nonfiction via Screen Share then use Draw as well as Stamp, another tool, to annotate the text.

Teachers struggling with talkative learners can disable their students’ microphones. Chat permits students to communicate with the teacher and each other without speaking. Additionally, a teacher can limit students to chatting with her alone or disable the chat altogether. This is a way for the teacher to say, “I got the power!” (Oh Snap!)

As teachers lecture, students can use the Raise Hand option within the Participant List to signify they have a question. If all microphones are disabled, the teacher can unmute individual students as needed. Moreover, teachers can conduct formative assessments using the Thumbs Up Reaction or encourage students to provide positive feedback with the Clapping Hands Reaction.

We recently discovered Zoom’s Breakout Room feature, and without a doubt, our lives will never be the same. The feature allows the teacher to pre-assign students to small groups or enlist the platform to automatically create groups. With ease, teachers can:

  • Determine the number of students in each group.

  • Assign the time students will work in groups. After that time, students will automatically be redirected to the whole-class session.

  • Rotate from group to group to monitor learning.

  • Broadcast messages to provide further instructions simultaneously to all groups.

Talk about a virtual game-changer!

While virtual learning will never take the place of face-to-face instruction, Zoom has a variety of features to help teachers provide a viable, virtual learning environment. If your district or school has not provided such a platform, we encourage you to give Zoom a try. Once you do, we guarantee it will not be long until you are ready to be added to the list of Who’s Zoomin’ Who!

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