School has changed dramatically in the past few years. The pandemic meant that classrooms needed to make a quick shift to new technologies that could help keep kids in school. Of all the tools that have popped up, Zoom is probably the most popular. The video chat service is a great tool for the office and it’s even better for schools. Zoom is free to download for students, and as long as you’ve got a screen and an internet connection, kids can attend all their classes from the safety of their own homes.
The shift hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows though! Teachers all over Australia have had to adapt their lesson plans to keep up with eLearning in the age of Zoom.
How to Run Zoom Lessons
When you’ve spent years perfecting your classroom presence, making the switch to Zoom can be daunting. As powerful as the platform is, it totally changes the way lessons are delivered, and creates some new challenges.. To help you run a successful lesson over Zoom, here are a few simple tricks to engage students and make the class a success:
1. Outline Expectations at the Start of the Lesson
Giving your students goals they can hit is one of the best tools you have for Zoom lessons. Share the schedule and talk briefly about what your expectations are. Having a schedule gives your class structure and gives your students an opportunity to keep track as the class progresses.
2. Incorporate Movement
Keeping the class engaged will be one of the biggest challenges you may face. Put yourself in the shoes of your students and imagine what it’s like, switching from the classroom environment to learning from home. They’ve gone from having the stimulation of in-person lessons, friends and structured periods, to days spent in front of a computer screen at home. Incorporating some movement into lessons can help manage their focus – ask them to stand up or encourage them to get up and get a glass of water; even a minute of movement will help refocus their energy.
3. The Whiteboard Feature is Your Friend!
One of Zoom’s best features is the built-in whiteboard. Click “Share Screen” and select the Whiteboard option. The whiteboard is a great tool that teachers can draw and type on. The best part is that you can share the whiteboard so students can also draw on it. It can be used for learning, games and social activities.
Teachers can choose who has permission to draw on the whiteboard, and you can keep control by removing the drawings of individual students at the click of a button. It’s a great way to bring fun and interactivity to lessons and mimic the feeling of a classroom whiteboard.
4. Include Other Resources with Screen Sharing
Screen sharing isn’t limited to the whiteboard. You can use it to share your whole screen or even just particular windows with your students. The possibilities are endless, and screen sharing is a great way to bring outside materials into the classroom. Think: PDFs, slide shows, websites and even Youtube videos. If you’re going to be using these outside resources then it’s a good idea to have them open before the lesson starts so you can share them when you’re ready.
5. Use the Annotate Feature
Screen sharing breaks up the lesson and takes the pressure off having to be on camera the whole time, but it doesn’t mean you have to switch to reading off a PowerPoint presentation! The annotate feature lets you turn your mouse into a pen and make marks on any screen you’re sharing. You can highlight, draw, and type to bring attention to what you’re discussing. Teachers can also grant permission to students to add annotations of their own, boosting that interactive element.
What Are the Benefits of Zoom Learning
Zoom lessons can be an adjustment, and not just for students!
But there are a few benefits to spending time on Zoom that you can’t get any other way. For one, the change of pace is a challenge. It teaches students about the need to adapt and adjust as things change. While it can feel like the pandemic is under control, Zoom and online learning are unlikely to go away, and it’s something that kids are going to come across time and again throughout their lives.
The shift away from teacher supervision also gives kids a chance to learn a little more self-sufficiency. Taking responsibility is a life skill that can have huge benefits; improving confidence, interpersonal skills and reducing stress. When students have the freedom to manage their own time, performance and attendance, it’s a chance to take ownership of their lives in a way that classroom learning doesn’t allow.
Trying to Keep Your Students Engaged? Try Street Science!
Engaging your class can be tough when there’s a screen between you. If you’re struggling to keep their attention, Street Science has tools that can help! We’ve designed our Classroom Kits to fit with the Australian curriculum. They’re a simple way for teachers to get their hands on our specially designed classes and bring some fun into their next Zoom class! If you’d like Street Science to get more involved, consider a subscription to our Learning Lab. Our expert educators have designed their material to be fun and engaging and keep your kids’ attention, even over Zoom. Get in touch with us for more information about our eLearning resources!