white male faculty teaching in front of projected zoom class

Synchronous Class Session Examples and Strategies

A Breakdown of Sample Interactive Synchronous Class Sessions

1 – Using only conference technology in combination with pre-recorded lecture videos

Duration Agenda Item Details
5-10 mins Warm up Background knowledge probe or comprehension check: Using a polling tool, ask students to anonymously answer questions about a topic. Share the results and discuss the responses.
10-15 mins Lecture Review and Q&A Whole group: Recitation of lecture video that students watched asynchronously. Address any comprehension issues. Ask students to raise their hands or type questions in the chat.
20 mins Application Set students up in breakout rooms to solve a problem or apply principles to real world situations in small groups. Ask students to return to the whole group and one student per group shares out.
10 mins Lecture Teaser Introduce the next topic and share with students a “preview” of what they will be watching/reading about for the next meeting.
5-10 mins Wrap up Ask students to share in the chat one takeaway and/or one question from the day’s session.

2 – Using conference technology, lecture, and collaboration tools

Duration Agenda Item Details
5-10 mins Warm up Use the polling feature in Zoom or another online poll to ask questions and show responses in real-time.
10-15 mins Lecture Share screen, launch PowerPoint and deliver mini lecture Pause and ask students some open-ended questions.
10 mins Student collaboration Use shared spaces for small groups to record ideas using collaborative tools such as Padlet and Google docs/slides/draw, and then view those with the whole class. Some tools could be padlet, Google, etc.
10-15 mins Student presentation On zoom use google slides, student groups can take turns to present their group ideas or presentations.
5-10 mins Wrap up Review main points and answer students’ questions.

Strategies for Teaching Large Classes Online Synchronously

Online synchronous class meetings can also work well with large classes with adjustments to the strategies highlighted above.

Active Learning Strategies for Large Classes:

  • Breakout rooms can help divide the class into smaller groups. You can predetermine breakout rooms for more substantial ongoing groups, or you can set up breakout rooms randomly and automatically. Determine group size by dividing the number of students into the ideal number of rooms. It is just as easy to put students in pairs or small groups of 4-6.
  • Collaborative documents such as shared notes on Google docs, or a brainstorming session on a Padlet bulletin board help bring everyone together to collaborate and share out to the larger group. It may help to send links to students prior to a session ensure that everyone can easily access the sites.
  • Polling Technologies are a great way to engage many students and assess learning as a whole fairly quickly. Zoom and Big Blue Button offer simple polling tool features. A variety of external polling tools such as Kahoot, Slido and Poll Everywhere have more options for question types to allow for more robust responses. You can either respond to students’ answers immediately, for easier data such as poll results. Or you can take time to review student answers and get back to them in the following class (or through an announcement) for open-ended questions.
  • Think-pair-share can still be accomplished in a large synchronous classroom. Place students into small groups and bring them back after a few short minutes. Ask one or two groups to share their thoughts and invite others to jot down thoughts in chat for your review later. There is no need to hear from every group, as in large classes, that would be too time-consuming.
  • Warm calling is an easy way to call on students without the stress of cold calling. Let your students know that you will invite 4 or 5 students to share their thoughts on a topic and then unmute them (Big Blue Button) or ask them to unmute (Zoom) to speak up.
  • Lecture Breaks can be placed anywhere in a class session. Use a slide to simply direct students to take a minute to summarize the class session so far. Use breakout rooms to allow students to do this with a partner.
  • Lecture Wrappers, or exit tickets, are an easy way to gauge what students are taking away from the lecture. Design an anonymous survey (using a tool like Google Forms, or Canvas quiz- survey) that prompts students to share a short summary of the main ideas and/or share their remaining questions or points of confusion. In the next class session (or through an announcement) share the summary that best captures the main ideas. Address commonly asked questions or clarify any common points of confusion.

Classroom Management Tips for Large Classes:

Take attendance

  • Let students know how you will be taking attendance. If you are using Zoom usage reports, for example, make sure students identify themselves as users by signing into Montclair Zoom or adjusting their names in the Zoom meeting. It’s recommended to create Zoom meetings through your Canvas course, which can help you more accurately and efficiently take attendance.

Support synchronous learning with asynchronous learning

  • Record main topics in short lectures to free up time in synchronous sessions.
  • Provide space for students to ask and answer questions about synchronous class topics in an asynchronous discussion board.
  • Open up a cyber-cafe discussion for students to ask and answer each other’s course-related questions.

Establish and communicate a Q&A policy

  • If you use slides, build in a Q&A slide periodically to remind yourself and students to take time to address any questions, or use the break to address comments and questions in the chat.
  • Invite volunteer students to mind the chat and interrupt you with questions or to summarize the major questions being asked.

Ensure Accessibility

  • Use Google Slides closed captioning to capture your speech in real-time.
  • Record your live sessions to have available for students who could not attend.
  • Prepare students ahead of time by sharing an agenda, or asking students to come ready to use certain applications (e.g., Google Apps, Padlet, etc.) if it’s part of your lesson.