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How to start your First Online Class via Zoom

    How to start your first online class using Zoom? There are three things you want to do: Number one, check your students’ audio and video that it’s working properly; number two, you want to prepare your students for class, you don’t want them shy and not talking that very first class; number three, you want to get them used to the platform they going to use whether it be Zoom, Skype or some other online teaching platform.

    Preparation is always the key

    Send your students an email or message on other social media tell them to install the program, to register, and then to practice with a friend to make sure everything works. Most people wait until the last minute to see if something works, so many of your students will wait two minutes before class to try and register and get into the program. Tell them you want them to practice with a friend before you start your very first class.

    I’ve seen it so many times when students try and get Zoom working and then say, “I’m sorry teacher it doesn’t work!” So, tell them to prepare by practicing it with a friend first. (For motivation you could say they must record their session.)

    Prepare students for that first class. Tell them that this case will be an introduction, you will ask them some questions and talk about the curriculum for the semester. Also, they have to prepare some questions for a partner, that’s what we’ll do in the first class.

    Then send them three basic questions, depending on their level of English. “Where are you from?” “What’s your favorite food?” and “What hobbies do you have?” Let them write those answers down so that when they are in that first Zoom class and you ask them questions, they don’t freeze up and don’t know what to say. Prepare your students for success!

    How to quickly take attendance

    Let’s go to Zoom and start the meeting/ class. The students join one by one in either the waiting room to be allowed in (depending on the invite and setting), or directly into the class. You can start greeting and asking them questions.

    The great thing is you’ve already given them some questions that they can prepare beforehand, so once they come in, you can say, “Hi what’s your name? Where are you from? What hobbies do you have?”

    When all the students are present you can do a screen grab to check later for class attendance register. (Use ‘alt shift’ and ‘TV’, or freeze the frame, then you just click and drag the area you want to save.) So now you have evidence of who was present and you don’t need to do roll call one-by-one, although you can still do that you can get the students used to it.

    Teaching students how to use Zoom

    Once all the students are present, introduce your class. You can say, “Hi, this is an English-speaking class,” and explain the curriculum to them. Show them the book that will be used and discuss what is expected of them. You want to get the students talking and you want to get them used to the platform.

    To do that, first teach them about share screen. Go to ‘share screen’, then click and go to whiteboard, share it and explain that both you and the students can write on it. Show the students what to do and let them practice doing it by writing their names on the whiteboard.  

    Once everyone is finished you save everyone’s names. Then go back to the share screen and show them how to use annotations. Next, show them one of the most important functions of Zoom and that is ‘breakout rooms’. We want to put them into different groups and then tell my students I want them to each interview a partner after five minutes want them to introduce their partners to the class.

    Do not assume, but explain and repeat

    Remember to repeat yourself to make sure the students understand first what the breakout group is and secondly what they must do when they are in their breakout groups. Tell them again, “Guys, I’m going to put you with a friend in a group in another room. You will be alone I want you to interview each other in English. Write down the answers. After 5 minutes we will continue and you must then introduce your partner to the class.”

    Help them by giving an example: “What’s your name?” “My name is Johnny.” “Where are you from?” “I’m from Seoul, South Korea.” “What’s your favourite food?” “My favorite food is pizza.” “What hobbies do you have?” “I like to play video games.”

    I then introduce my friend to the class: “This is my friend, his name is Johnny. He is from Seoul. His favourite food is pizza. He likes to play computer games.”

    In this example, students are assigned to four Breakout Rooms for group work.

    How to use breakout rooms

    So, now I’ve given them instructions, I have repeated it and I’ve shown them an example. Now they’re ready to do it. Then put them into different groups for the breakout rooms. You decide on how many rooms; the students can automatically be assigned to those rooms, or you can pre-determine which students must be together in a room.

    Once they’re in these breakout rooms, give them five minutes to work out their answers. You can visit each breakout room and check on them. To do is, you can stop the video and join each group to observe and help them. You can give them some tips and guidance, then go to the other rooms. After the 5 minutes close the breakout rooms. All the students will then pop back into the main room.

    How to work with a big class

    If you have a big class, you do not want all the students to introduce their partners, because if for example, you have 16 students, it would take way too long and the students will get bored with only one of them speaking at a time, so play a game to choose the students and for them to practice Zoom’s ‘chat function’.

    What I tell the students is, “There are 16 of you and that’s too many, only eight of you will introduce your partner. I want you to send me a number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.” They then have to figure out to use the ‘chat function’.

    Once the students have finished introducing their friends, you can end the class remind them what books they need and what to prepare for the next class.

    For a final game, tell the students that you will give one bonus point to the first student to give you a thumbs-up. Maybe one or two of them will give you a physical thumbs-up, you can then correct them and say, “No, I want you to give me a virtual thumbs-up on Zoom!”


    I hope this gives teachers an idea of how what to do for your very first class online and how to teach using Zoom. If you have some other ideas please put them in the comments below.

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