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How I use Breakout Rooms in my Online Zoom Classes

classroom management edtech online education online learning tech in the classroom tech tips zoom Feb 16, 2021

Today, I was teaching and realized how much I was using Breakout Rooms during my Zoom class. 

So I thought I would share with you about how I use breakout rooms during my live classes!

During my 7th grade ELA class, we were finishing up an essay and so the students who were done were going to be doing some peer review and the others who were not done were going to be working on finishing up. 

I put the Special Education teacher and a para in a breakout room with the students who needed to finish writing. I kept the students who were doing peer review with me in the main room and had 1 more room where a para and 2 particularly high needs students were working together to just assemble the paper. 

While I was getting my students set up in the main room to do their peer review, one of the paras came and told me that a student was spamming the chat and being distracting. 

So, I put the student in yet another breakout room. Once I got the students in the main room going, I popped into that breakout room and talked to the student. I worked with her and got her to a good place. Then sent her back to the breakout room and I went back to the main room. 

This is a lot of moving parts, I know. But you can make it work! 

I also used breakout rooms with my 5th graders today. That was a bit easier because they were doing a think pair share with a partner so, with 15 students in the class, I made 7 rooms and had them automatically assigned so that it was totally random. 

I opened the rooms and once they all went, I had a student who was obviously not at his computer. And that meant a student was left without a partner. 

I quickly went to my rooms list and moved his partner into a different room, so that they weren't alone. Then when the time was up, I called them all back and we kept going with the lesson. 

The reason I tell you all this is because there are a few things I have learned in my time using Zoom and I want to share them with you. 

  1. Always make more Zoom rooms than you actually need because you can't add rooms later once they are opened. 
  2. Try to always have an adult in the breakout rooms unless you are doing partner time. (During partner time, there are too many rooms and during partner time they seem to do fine. If you have more than 2 in a room, unless they are super responsible, you will want to have an adult in there to keep the peace. 
  3. Feel free to move students around when needed!
  4. Always leave a group in the main room! (If a student comes late to class, they will get stuck in the waiting room and you won't know it if you are in a breakout room.)

If you are looking for a great way to have some fun with your students in Zoom, check out my FREE Zoom Scavenger Hunt. My students absolutely love it and are always asking when we can do it again!