Friday, June 21, 2024

Letting Students Choose Their Breakout Room

Since the start of the distance learning I have tried various instructional strategies to get students to collaborate in zoom breakout rooms, all with varying success. Here is my new favorite technique: I let students choose their breakout rooms! I start by introducing the task I want all students to complete and then share the slide below. They can choose to collaborate with their classmates in one of three rooms: Chatty, Collaborative, or Quiet.

You will notice each room has its own description about how to collaborate. Students shared they enjoyed collaborating with students who worked in a similar way, and they felt less awkward knowing the breakout room environment. Initially, I had some concerns that one room would have an influx of students, but that was not the case. Surprisingly, it divides nicely into about thirds. While they work I pop into breakout rooms offering support, asking questions, checking for understanding, etc. I really enjoy only having to visit 3 rooms. I feel like I am able to spend more instructional minutes with each group.

Here is how to do this.

  1. Create a task you want students to complete. I usually keep this to 10-15 minutes.
  2. Join your Zoom session and share the task with students.
  3. Click Breakout Rooms. Specify the number of rooms you would like to create. In this case 3.
  4. Select Let participants choose room and click Create
  5. Click Open All Rooms when you are ready for students to join. Don’t forget to share the slide so they know which room to select.

In typical distance learning fun there are always a few with #zoomproblems. Don’t worry. Have them tell you where they would like to go and you can still manually assign them.

I don’t always let them choose their breakout rooms, but it’s a great technique for certain tasks. Here is the google slide for editing: Choose Your Breakout Room . If you would like more strategies and resources similar to this one check our blog post on 3 Strategies for Increasing Synchronous Instruction.

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