This post accompanies episode 97 of the ESL Trailblazer series on ESL teaching online. You can find complimentary tips and tricks there too.
Emoticons for communication
They are available on most communication platforms so it doesn’t really matter which you use. They are useful though for getting feedback from your students. Simply put, you can pose questions verbally to your students and then get a show of hands on who agrees/disagrees. This can save quite a bit of time if you have a large classroom and gives you valuable feedback without wasting much time. Furthermore, you can use it to ask students to signal to you when they have completed a task/exercise or activity. This is how I use it mostly because it helps me avoid speaking to a sea of black screens and asking repeatedly if they have finished 🙂
Poll the class
This feature is on the ZOOM platform but I believe it’s barely used. It can add a nice little twist to your lesson by surveying the class on questions related to your lesson topic and springboard a conversation between teacher and student. It also takes the pulse of the class so to speak to see where they stand on certain issues. It can be used for debate style activities and further feedback like the emoticon hand-raising above, albeit with more options.
Recreate the pairs
You know that time spent making pairs and getting students to remember numbers or what not? Well, that’s all gone now.
The recreate button is a nice little weapon to have in your arsenal when making pairs and it’s just been updated as well. You can automatically ‘recreate’ the pairs each time you start a new breakout room session. It now also allows you to manually assign pairs or even let students pick the breakout room they want to enter. This seems minimal but I use it throughout a lesson to mix it up as much as possible, and students are not getting annoyed from physically moving around with their stuff all the time 🙂 Moreover, they get to work with many different people which keeps them on their toes and alert while forcing them to adjust the way they cooperate and communicate with each other.