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Remote Pathways

Virtual, small groups for a personalized experience and support

Overview

Just like in an in-person environment, students in remote and hybrid environments can benefit from working in small groups for a variety of reasons:

  • Content Support: A lesson may call for students to focus on different content. For example, students in a science class may be broken up into different virtual rooms that focus on a different organ system. Students may have the option to choose which topic they are interested in or the teacher may assign students to a topic or content strand based on need.

  • Personalized Working Environment: A teacher can set up different rooms with different working environments such as:
    • a conversation-focused room where students can collaborate and ask each other questions.

    • a "quiet zone" where students are working quietly, independently.

    • a room centered on teacher help where students can work in a small group or one-on-one with the teacher.

Offering choice and opportunities for peer engagement, teacher support, or independent work enables students to manufacture an environment that works for them and meets their learning needs. Prior to implementing remote pathways via breakout rooms for the first time, it is important to:

  1. Identify a lesson where students need to work in groups to get additional support, to collaborate, or have an extended period of individual work time.

  2. Articulate why breakout rooms are being created since virtual pathways can be used both for students to have choice around their content and work environment as well as for teachers to design homogenous and heterogeneous groups to enable deeper content mastery through peer learning or additional teacher support.

  3. Decide how students will be grouped. Teachers may want to assign students to a room or to have the option for students to pick their own room. If teachers plan to assign students, consider pre-assigning students to breakout rooms.

  4. Identify group work norms and expectations. It is helpful for students to have a list of expectations to follow and reference in these breakout rooms since older students may be in a room without adult supervision. Make sure to share what students can do if these expectations are breached (e.g., send an email to the teacher asking for them to come to the room).

  5. Divvy up which staff members will be in which virtual rooms and when if additional adult support is needed from co-teachers, paraprofessionals, special education supports, or other contributors.

  6. Practice using breakout rooms in low-stakes scenarios. (e.g., complete a four-corners activity but instead of having students physically move to a different corner, students move to the breakout room that corresponds with their choice).

Once students feel comfortable using this feature, create rooms for small break-out conversations, collaboration, and/or additional teacher support. During virtual pathways, teachers can also use their time to pull students for one-on-one conversations around goals, for focused support, or simply to check in. Virtual pathways enable students to have agency and choice not only around what they learn but the environment in which they learn. This allows stronger ownership and investment into the content at hand. It is also helpful for teachers to monitor the different rooms, especially at the beginning by popping in to make sure students are staying on task.


Strategy Resources


Breakout Group Work Expectations

This slidedeck shares breakout group expectations and a note about facilitation. Learn More

Breakout Group Roles and Expectations

This slide deck includes breakout group roles and descriptions, norms, expectations, and a template for... Learn More

10 Ideas For Using Virtual Breakout Rooms During Distance Learning

This article provides ideas for how teachers can use breakout rooms including breaking students up... Learn More

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