A weekly post about interesting articles, video, podcasts, and content I found over the past week. This week includes…

Tips for Facilitating Breakout Rooms

Jennifer Gonzalez has been releasing great episodes of her Cult of Pedagogy podcast this year. She has discussed strategies for creating a self-paced classroom, teaching when students are both at home and in the classroom, and recently she focused on strategies for facilitating breakout rooms. Here are some highlights from the episode:

Students are more likely to stay on task and complete work when they know they will be held accountable:

Groups are also usually more successful if students are expected to return with some sort of response or product to share with the larger class.

Version history is great in Google Docs but a quick and easy way to tell what each student contributed is to use font color:

…have each student type in a different color so you can see who contributed what…

It is difficult to monitor all of the breakout rooms at the same time and a great way to monitor students is to use collaborative technology:

Many teachers don’t always go into the rooms to visit, but instead monitor the work as it’s being done in a file. Here’s a brilliant idea: One teacher creates a single Google Slides presentation and assigns a different slide to each group for recording their work. Doing this allows the teacher to just scroll through the slides to monitor work in all groups at once, rather than toggling between files. If you go to the View menu and choose Grid View you can actually see thumbnails of all slides at once, which will give you a birds’ eye view of activity.

I also recently had a workshop where teachers were in breakout rooms and all in the same live Nearpod presentation. Teachers were completing stations in small groups and I utilized open-ended questions with a timer to monitor teachers and let them know when I would change the slide in the presentation. If I noticed several teachers in the group had not responded to the question at a certain point in the station I could join that room to provide support.

Modeling expectations is important. A fun way to do this is to create a mock breakout room with your colleagues:

Model the desired behaviors and practices for breakout rooms. One group of teachers recorded their own mock Zoom session to demonstrate these protocols and made that video available for students to watch.

I also think this would be a great task for teachers in a workshop. They could record a mock breakout room to demonstrate best practices.

Again, it is important to hold students accountable but not every group needs to report back every day:

It’s not necessary to have every single breakout group report back when everyone comes back to the main room; it’s ok to randomly pick a few groups to share, then get to other groups the next time around.

There were other great tips for whole group instruction during a synchronous session:

Instead of just throwing out a question and hoping someone volunteers to answer, ask something that everyone can respond to with a show of hands, then call on one person to elaborate. So rather than say, “How was everyone’s weekend?” you could say, “How many people watched a sporting event this weekend?”

Troubleshooting Technology Issues

Edpuzzle has a great article that tech coordinators can share with teachers to help them troubleshoot technology issues. These are often the first steps I tell teachers and/or students to follow when troubleshooting an issue:

  1. Update everything. Tech tools are always updating to improve their product. Make sure that you’ve got the latest version of things (browsers, software, etc.) so that things will run smoothly.
  • Enable cookies - Sounds like something Cookie Monster would say, right? Cookies are files created by sites you visit. They make your online experience easier by storing browsing information on your web browser. You need cookies to log in or sign up for most things. They are usually on by default for most browsers, but you should always check to make sure they are enabled on your device just in case.
  • Authorize pop-ups - If you like using Google Sign in, then you’re a fan of pop-ups. Edpuzzle uses pop-ups when interacting with other websites, like when you sign in with Google. Issues with logging in to a certain platform may be a result of ad blockers that you’ve installed. Make sure to authorize pop-ups by checking the instructions for your specific browser.

Google Docs Citations Tool

Google has had some pretty powerful citation tools built into the Explore tool for a while. Recently, Google added a new Citations tool that allows you to add in text citations and create a bibliography:

That’s it for this week. Have a good weekend.