Zoom for Beginners in Upper Elementary
Zoom: it’s not just an adjective that means to go quickly. It is one of the most popular platforms for engaging virtually with our students. Zoom is a very easy, user-friendly platform that will allow you to engage with your entire class. Here are some tips and tricks to help you implement Zoom in your classroom.
Test Zoom First
We all know what happens as teachers when we try something out with our students before we have used it ourselves! It’s usually not the best. Test out Zoom with family, friends, or coworkers before you try it out with your students. Practice scheduling a Zoom session. Test out your microphone and video. Think about any of the bugs that may arise when you Zoom with your students and figure them out first!
Think About Your Background and Lighting
Where will you be hosting your Zoom sessions? What will students see in your background? If you don’t have many choices of where you’ll be teaching virtually, consider using a virtual background! Zoom has a couple of backgrounds you can choose from but you can also upload your own! It could be a photo of your classroom or another amazing backdrop! (Imagine teaching from the beach. . .) You can find Zoom backgrounds by doing a simple search on Google.
Also, take some time to think about your lighting. Where in your house can you get the best lighting? Ideally, the best lighting is to the side and focused on your face; not overhead or behind you.
Use the Chat Feature
Prior to your first virtual class on Zoom, look at your settings. Have all of your students muted when they first come in (select “mute participants on entry” under Advanced Options when you schedule your meeting). Can you imagine 30 4th grade students all trying to talk at the same time? Students can ask their questions in the chat or virtually raise their hand (the “raise hand” feature is at the bottom of the window on the right-hand side of the screen).
Once you begin your meeting, you can change the chat settings in the chatbox so that the students may just chat with you. That keeps them on task and you won’t have to monitor side conversations or worry about private messages between students.
Use Your First Zoom Session to Teach Your Students about “Netiquette”
The virtual classroom is no different than the traditional classroom. You have to set norms and expectations! Review with students your expectations for your Zoom classes. How do we use the chat feature appropriately? When do we unmute ourselves? When might you turn your video off? Think of your students and the issues that may arise and plan accordingly.
Use the Gallery Feature
The gallery feature is one of the best aspects of Zoom! This allows you to see ALL of your students in a grid. Think of it as a large version of the intro to the Brady Bunch! It’s a great way to see how your students are engaged or if a student needs something. If your school and district allow it, take a screenshot or record a snapshot of your class at the end! It’s a great way to document this time of distance learning.
Overall, Zoom is a blast! In times when we can’t be together physically, Zoom allows classrooms to connect virtually. Just as with any new platform, learning Zoom can take time. Give yourself patience and grace, and enjoy your remote learning journey!