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Teaching College TIP #03: Let Students Choose the Breakout Room

Want to Build Ownership and Autonomy? Designate Student Workstations

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by Norman Eng in Blog, Education
December 3, 2020 1 comment

When students are synchronously working on an assignment or task, give them a choice as to how they want to work.

One way is to create different breakout rooms or channels to decide which working situation they want to engage in:

TEACHER HELP ROOM. For students who want to get extra help from the teacher, they will join this room when they need to. Note: My students in the group rooms tended to invite me to their Room/Channel when they needed help instead of joining the teacher help room. This actually worked well too.

OPEN GROUP ROOM. For students who wish to turn on their camera and microphone to discuss the topic with other students.​ (Great for extroverts and those who need to share screens.)

QUIET GROUP ROOM. For students who want to work quietly with other students and only use the chat instead of cameras and videos.​ (Great for introverts!)

QUIET ROOM. For students who wish to work alone.

With these rooms or channels, the professor can move in and out to see how students progress, to ask for questions, or to clarify any issues.

Just make sure to enable the feature that allows participants to move from room to room. In Zoom (version 5.3.0 or later), this option is called Self-Select Breakout Rooms.

This method kept my students on task and work was completed within the given timeframes.

(I love this idea! It taps into so many best teaching practices: i.e., giving choice & autonomy, cultivating ownership, and implementing universal design. – Norman Eng)

**Thanks to Angela B., Sports and Recreation Management @ Lambton College, for this tip, as well as to Barbi Honeycutt’s Lecture Breaker’s Newsletter for inspiring Angela!

Thoughts? Please share below.

1 Comment
  1. Lukas says:

    Love this idea! I’ve always used breakouts for discussions on one particular topic/question. Having a “work time” – divided by the way students work – makes sense. Will try this and let you know. Keep these coming!

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7 PROVEN STEPS TO PLANNING, TEACHING, & ENGAGING YOUR STUDENTS

A Quick-Start Guide

GET IT NOW