Zoom Features for the Virtual Classroom pt.2

Zooming back to you for part 2 of this 3 part series on Zoom Features for the Virtual Classroom. Hopefully, you had a chance to take a look at part 1 all about the Zoom Desktop app, new updates, and using polls to support your students. Today, we are going to take a look at an oldie but goodie, Break Out Rooms. We will revisit some ways to use Breakout rooms to engage the students, but also take a look at a new setting for Breakout rooms and how it might be used in the classroom.

Breakout Rooms: New and Improved

Breakout rooms are another amazing way to engage students and allow them to “drive” in your virtual classroom. Using breakout rooms is not only a space for turn and talk, but also a feature that could be used to do collaborative group. Once in a breakout room, students could use the whiteboard feature and annotations to collaborate on an assignment. Students could even screen share a document while other group members annotate. This annotated document or white board could be saved by the student and shared with the teacher once students are back in the main room. These saved group documents could be used as assessment pieces or further discussion pieces.  

With the new update, breakout room settings now follow the main room settings. For students to share screen, annotate, or use white board, those settings would need to be turned on for your meetings from your account at Zoom.us.  

With the new update (see part 1 of this series, Zoom breakout rooms now have the option of self-select breakout rooms. Now, when you create your rooms, you can select “Let Participants Choose Room”. Student that have the desktop client (app)- not to be confused with an account- with an updated version will be able to choose what breakout room they would like to go to. 

  The possibilities are endless with this feature in supporting student choices and empowering the learner. One way this feature could be used with students is by proposing several different discussion questions and allowing students to choose which room they would like to be a part of. This might be a question they know a lot about OR a question that they want to challenge themselves with, to learn from others. Self-Selecting rooms could be used as the teaching strategy 4-corners or even giving students choice in a debate.

Another way teachers might use self-selecting rooms is by giving student choice in an area they want to grow in. An idea- breakout rooms for writing: intros, conclusions, and transitions- students would choose a room to share and hear peer’s writing to grow their own in these specific areas.  Self-selecting breakout rooms really open up a powerful way to motivate students through choice.

With self-selecting breakout rooms, once the rooms are created and you “Open All Rooms”, students will click breakout rooms in their tool bar and be given all of the choices. Students will enter the room by clicking a blue “Join” button beside the room they would like to select. Note: For students to self select, they must have the updated version of the Zoom Desktop app (not account) as mentioned in part 1 of this series.

Excited to see what creative ideas breakout rooms bring to your students and classroom. Join next time for the final post in the series, where new and improved video display features will be under the spotlight. Zoom on!

  1. I’m excited about this functionality, but are we supposed to have encouraged our students/families to download the Zoom desktop app? Was that previously communicated and I missed it?


    1. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say encourage… it can be helpful and offer up another way for students and families to connect.


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