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How Do I....????

While it might not be the same as the in-person experience, we can still facilitate active learning and engage our students in learning during our recitations and lectures. Ideas:

1) Zoom breakout rooms

If you are using Zoom, you can utilize Zoom breakout rooms, in which your students can be assigned (or randomly placed) in Zoom breakout rooms (you decide the number of rooms and for how long they'll be 'open'!) for discussion before coming back to the main Zoom meeting. You, and any other co-hosts (fellow TAs or instructors) can circulate among the Zoom breakout rooms and participate in the discussions. You can use these for students to participate in 'think-pair-share's, or group problem solving, before returning to the main Zoom meeting room.

2) Muddiest points

Students can be surveyed or can share in the Zoom chat box what their 'muddiest point' (i.e. the concept or topic that they understood the least) was from recitations, office hours or lecture that day. The most common muddiest points can help you to determine where to start your recitation, or how to plan where to begin the next recitation!

3) Collaborations in student-led meetings

Zoom - All Caltech students have their own Zoom accounts and can set up meetings to collaborate and work with each other. You can facilitate these connections using the discussion forum feature in Canvas, or whatever strategy might be appropriate for your class.Google Meet - an alternative to Zoom and allows for audio, video, screen sharing, chat, recording, and real-time captions. You can host a Google Meet with up to 250 participants.

For more active learning strategies, watch a video by an experienced Caltech TA here.

The keys to organizing fellow TAs, the instructional team and students online are 1) communicating frequently; 2) providing as much structure as possible for TAs and students alike ; and 3) advanced planning and communication of all activities. Check out this document for more advice on being the head TA, facilitating TA meetings and devising a communication plan for the quarter.

Learning online can be challenging! We've found some resources that offer friendly tips and strategies for being an online learner that you might want to share with your students before your course begins:

  • Rice University has a presentation in which they present some tips for learning during disruption, which includes some strategies for keeping engaged and healthy while learning remotely.
  • Northeastern University gives 8 strategies for getting the most out of an online class.
  • Humboldt State University has a student guide for using Zoom. Students should be encouraged to use their own Zoom accounts to actively collaborate with each other outside of class. Students can also use whiteboard software on their own tablets / iPads and have their tablet also 'join' the Zoom meeting, such that they can easily share screens with each other while collaborating.

It's very important to make sure that you're taking care of yourself during this stressful time! Check out Caltech's Student Wellness Services for advice and resources that you can share with your students too, and SFCC's TheWell for some additional resources.