Whether you are a teacher in a Jewish Day School, a Rebbe in a Yeshiva, or a principal in any community school, chances are you are using Zoom or Google Meet to teach these days. Here, at Yeshiva Toras Chaim Toras Emes, we chose to use Zoom. We made this decision based on the robust features Zoom comes with. But like any product, the features can only help if you know how to use them. Here are 5 features we think anyone running a classroom using Zoom should know:
Whether you are teaching using Zoom in Miami Beach, Boca Raton, Lakewood, Flatbush, or anywhere in the world, you may find these tips useful. Read until the end to get a bonus tip!
Spotlight video – Spotlight video is an “all eyes on me” feature. At any point the host, or co-host, can spotlight anyone’s video, be it a student or themselves. Spotlight video makes the video you are spotlighting the main video on everyone’s screen. If a student is in gallery mode, viewing all the other kids in his class, it will switch his view to “speaker mode” and put the spotlighted video front and center. It’s a great way to refocus your students onto yourself, or onto the participant you choose. So, whether you are calling on a student, or just want to refocus everyone’s attention to the “front of the class”, use the spotlight. Read more about spotlight video here.
Breakout Rooms – While teaching in Zoom, you can divide up your students to work in groups! Using this can greatly add to your students’ engagement. It’s an easy feature to use, and has already been enabled on all YTCTE accounts. As the meeting host you can manually divide your students into groups, or have them divided randomly, automatically. You can visit each group to see how they’re doing. If the students in one room need you while you are visiting a different breakout room, they have an option to ‘call for help’ and you’ll be notified. Here’s a video showing how to use breakout rooms (start watching from 2:25, since breakout rooms are already enabled on all ytcte zoom accounts). IMPORTANT: In order to ensure your students can’t share their screens with each other in the break out rooms, you should follow the steps found here.
Phone audio – While teaching, it is BEYOND important that the teacher’s voice is clear and steady. (We can’t stress this enough.) Internet tends to be flaky; going faster and slower randomly. This is usually fine and can go unnoticed, but when you are streaming and leading a zoom session, your internet fluctuations can easily ruin your class. Zoom has the ability for you to use your phone to call into the meeting, bypassing the whims of your internet connection. If you do it right, the sound from the phone will pair with your video on the screen, and it’ll look to everyone the same as if you were using your computer audio.
- Find the little mic icon on the bottom left of the screen. Press the little arrow next to it.
- Select ‘Use Phone as Audio’
- Follow the instructions. You’ll see a phone number to dial, a meeting ID to enter, and a participant ID to enter in order to pair your phone audio with your computer video. Feel free to read more about this on Zoom’s website.
Dual Screen – If your computer has a second screen, it’s best to utilize both during your lesson! You can share your screen, and also continue to see all of your students. Or, you can spotlight a video while still seeing all your students on the other screen. To enable the dual monitors feature for your own use:
1. Sign into Zoom Client. (Not zoom.us. Open the Zoom Program on your computer)
2. Click your profile picture then click Settings.
3. Click the General tab.
4. Navigate to the ‘Use dual monitors’ option and verify that the setting is enabled.
Click here for more instructions on Zoom’s website.
Disable Participant Annotation – When you are sharing your screen, you have the ability to annotate on your screen. While this can be a fabulous teaching tool, the issue is that your students also have the ability to annotate on your screen; unless you block it. It’s imperative to set this setting as soon as you start sharing your screen to make sure your students can’t color on your screen. Having students draw on your screen in middle of class can ruin the entire lesson. Here’s how to stop it:
- Start sharing your screen in your meeting.
- From the bar located at the top of your screen (sometimes it’s on the bottom), click “More”
- Click “Disable Attendee Annotation” from the drop-down
BONUS TIP: Understand that Zoom is a business tool – Zoom is designed to be used by adults collaborating together. It’s not meant to be an education tool. It’s not designed with settings to stop kids from being silly. While the engineers at Zoom race to add features that help a teacher run a classroom, there are still many areas that lack some basic classroom management tools. Try to work around the small issues and praise the Lord we aren’t making you use Google Meet. 🙂