Teaching Tips

How to Use the Chat Function to Deepen Zoom Learning

A recent Dance Media Live! Zoom class

After nearly six months of experimenting with Zoom teaching, many dance teachers are now feeling more comfortable with the platform. As the fall semester begins (and with much of it still happening virtually), now's the time to make sure you're taking advantage of all that Zoom has to offer to enhance your teaching.

One useful aspect of the platform you may not be utilizing to the fullest: the chat function, which can add a valuable layer of dialogue and engagement with your students.


"I am finding the chat to be a great connector to the entire class," says Wendy Jones, a dance teacher at Lowell High School in San Francisco, California. "At the beginning of class, questions are a great help and can create a 'new' ritual for entering the dance space."

Especially with large classes, posing questions in the chat function can keep everyone active and ensure everyone's voice is heard when there isn't time for a real discussion or to call on students one at a time.

Keep in mind: Moderating the chat will need to be an intentional part of your lesson plans. (Though it's helpful to note that, as the host, you'll be able to read the entire chat conversation after the fact.) Be sure to make decisions about whether you'd like the whole class to be able to see responses, or just you as the teacher, and whether you'll use these questions as quick activities or as a spark for a larger discussion or project.

Use the questions below to serve as icebreakers, check-ins, journal activities or "exit tickets" for the day:

Beginning of class:

Use these questions to inspire focus and commitment as students enter the virtual space.

-What is your focus for today?

-How does your body feel today?

-What do you want to get out of today's class?

​Anytime during class:

Use these questions to take students out of autopilot and offer a moment of reflection, articulation and connection.

-What are you focusing on while executing this phrase?

-What questions do you have about the phrase or step?

-At this moment in class, how are you connecting with your personal goal for today?

At the end of class:

These questions ask that students think critically about what they've experienced during class.

-What was the most challenging exercise for you, and why?

-What combination did you most enjoy, and why?

-What was a moment of joy or levity for you?

-What is a correction or piece of feedback you want to bring forward into your next class?

-What would you like me (the teacher) to repeat again next time?

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