Wait, Google Meet? What about Small Group Activities and Interactive Collaboration?

By Haiyun Lu

The preparation for teaching online is ramping up in my school.  The tech department and administrators have been super supportive.  At the same time, they have also provided an overwhelming amount of information regarding teaching online.  Supports, protocols, challenges, and unforeseen complications… have been pushed out on a regular basis.  This morning, I had three hours’ meeting back-to-back online.  Boy, my eyes got so fatigued to a point of getting watery.

I guess you have been reading tons of information regarding teaching online as well.  I’m going to keep this post short and simple.

We will be using Google Meet primarily to conduct online instruction.  There are so many wonders regarding Google Meet.  There are some inevitable challenges associated with it as well.  The biggest challenge is the lack of breakout sessions for small group activities/discussion.

How to get around that problem?

Here is a possible solution for small group speaking activities if you can’t use Zoom at your school either.

  1. Assign your students into different groups and number each of your groups.
  2. Create an individual Google Meet link for each group and post it on your course page.
  3. Design and post your small group activities.
  4. Set up a specific time for all students, and designate a group leader to bring everyone back.  Because they CAN’T be in two Meets at the same time.  They would need to log out the whole class meet and join the small group one; then log out the small group meet and rejoin your whole class.
  5. You can request them to record their Meet if you want to assess their speaking later.
  6. *** It looks like I need to modify the time which I set.  🙂

Possible solution for interactive/spontaneous responses & small group writing activities.

  1. Assign your students into different groups and number each of your groups.
  2. Create an individual Jamboard link (a Google product) for each class, and share the link with your students.
  3. In the same Jamboard, you could create many different frames/pages, each group could take one frame/page to do collaborative writing/chatting activities. To add more frames, simply click the frame icon in the top center.
  4. The physical Jamboard is very expensive to purchase, up to $5000.  The digital Jamboard doesn’t have all the features like in the physical device.  It is okay.  We do the best we can.  No need to cry over of anything.
  5. In a big class meet, students need to mute their mics to avoid echos, if a Jamboard is set up and shared with students, you can share your screen when you are using the Jamboard, all students would be able to see each other’s written response live.  I’m thinking of playing a Mafia game online with Jamboard.  Students can accuse  each other and give their rationale live there.  It would be so fun.

Additional spontaneous written response solutions:

  1. Students could use a small physical whiteboard.
  2. Students could use a drawing APP on their phone or iPad.
  3. Students could use a clipboard with white paper.
  4. Google doc/Google slide.
  5. Chat function (although small to read, difficult to monitor while you are speaking.)



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