What is the easiest way to bring more fun in the virtual classroom, to improve students’ collaboration skills and to challenge them to explore, participate and be curious? The answer is simple – make the best use of the breakout rooms during the online teaching sessions. This brilliant feature in the virtual classroom provides a separate virtual space where students can work either individually or in groups focused on the given assignment.
The breakout rooms in the virtual classroom open a wide diversity of possibilities for incorporating teamwork exercises, games and fun experiences, competitive projects and so much more. Before I share some of the best (and easy) activities you can include in your online teaching lessons, let’s summarize the benefits of this feature. The breakout rooms are fully equipped with everything students need during the online learning session – an online whiteboard, chat option, features for drawing, typing, doodling and many more. The teacher can easily monitor the activity in the breakout rooms for discipline and any issues or questions, but the main purpose of this feature is to provide a sense of autonomy in students to make them feel more comfortable and confident in expressing themselves.
- They are an amazing tool for enriching the collaboration skills of students of all ages.
- They are great for supporting class management. Online teachers can use the rooms for introducing new activities to switch the focus from one exercise to another. The breakout rooms are also a good option for separating students when they misbehave by giving them an individual assignment in this dedicated virtual space.
- Breakout rooms enrich students’ creativity by giving them the opportunity to focus better on the projects and the tasks. They are awesome for brainstorming sessions.
- They are a great feature to make sure that every student is heard and feels important. Breakout rooms are mainly used for small groups of students. This is a great opportunity to create a more comfortable setting for shy students to express themselves.
- The breakout rooms are incredible tools for improving students’ problem solving skills and to incorporate the ‘think-out-of-the-box’ approach.
- Breakout rooms are a wonderful feature for individual work by students as well, such as, working on a report, taking a test etc. without being distracted by the activities on the main online whiteboard.
What are the best ideas for breakout room activities that will bring your online teaching to the next level?
Brainstorming sessions have so much potential in online learning that you will not want to miss out on the benefits from it. Teachers can incorporate it in different ways and on practically every topic and subject even when teaching difficult concepts and material. Choose a word, expression or a problem you are discussing at class and ask your students to come up with all the ideas that come to their minds related to the topic. Divide the class into small groups and use the breakout rooms to let each team work on the assignment. The online whiteboard in each breakout room provides a great diversity of features for expressing ideas in the form of text, images, doodling, writing, making notes, etc. The only rule you can apply is that everybody needs to participate. After all teams are done, gather together on the main online whiteboard and share the best ideas.
teamwork makes the dream work. Present a problem related to the topic you are teaching to your students, divide them into teams and ask them to work together to find solutions. This activity has a vibe of competition as well which will motivate your students to work even harder and faster.
One of the most interesting and challenging activities in the virtual classroom is debates. What a better way to prepare for a debate than working in separate breakout rooms until it is time for debating.
Research for a project
One of the main benefits of the breakout rooms is that they provide a great environment for better focusing. Pair students with different interests and skills to work together on projects to add more points of view and different perspectives to the assignment. The process of researching develops a lot of skills in students, such as the possibility to filter information, problem solving, commitment, etc. Working in teams develops their collaboration skills and enriches their tolerance and understanding towards different points of view.
- Icebreaker games – the perfect way to motivate students to get to know each other. Playing games is fun and exciting. It is a great idea to mix educational games and activities, like Storytelling, Pictionary, Quizzes and etc. with more relaxed games that help students in building personal relationships and friendships, like Two Truths and a Lie, If I could Go Anywhere, Show and Tell (suitable for the younger students,) and etc. The teacher can swap people between the breakout rooms for every activity to give more possibilities for the students to express themselves, learn about other’s interests and ideas and get comfortable in class.
The breakout rooms have an amazing potential for incorporating more collaborative activities in the learning process and teaching students not only about the topic of the lesson but social skills, like working in teams, tolerance, understanding towards different ideas, empathy etc.