Effective student collaboration and teamwork can seem like the hardest thing to achieve in a virtual setting. However, it need not be.
Source: Windows. Unsplash, 2020.
While the decisions about mixed versus ability groups are yours, there is a way to put students into 'breakout room' groups while in a virtual setting. Creating breakout rooms essentially means creating separate calls, linked to your class-wide call, that smaller numbers of students can be placed into. This means you can create 2, 3, 4, or more areas for students to enter, engage and collaborate in. You can move from room to room checking understanding, scaffolding and challenging where necessary.
For Zoom, the guide and video from Zoom itself is still one of the best I have found:
For Google Meet, the official breakout room function is currently only available to schools with the Enterprise for Education license:
You can find some useful ideas for breakout rooms here:
Kagan structures will be known to many of you. This video by Kagan Publishing and Professional Development provides a useful overview/reminder.
I have been trying some methods with my own students, with mixed success. However, I promise that the ideas below are ones that have generally worked well in terms of learning and engagement!
Boy, do I love Google Apps for Education (now called G Suite). I have been using them regularly for years, and when I worked in a Microsoft School I also used their suite heavily (I couldn't possibly say which I prefer the most 😉). Not only do they help with engagement, but you can feedback to them real-time. G Suite can act as a record of work completion/feedback/progress, and have been useful in some parent meetings where I was asked to prove that little Johnny wasn't doing any work.
I'd need to write another guide or two in order to take you through the basics of online collaborative documents, so if you really don't know much about what I am writing about then grab a coffee, find a quiet space for an hour or two and get going:
Now I'm going to assume you know how to open and share a collaborative document. Here are some 'dos and don'ts' to improve engagement: