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VIRTUAL YOUTH GROUP | Tips for Using Zoom Breakout Rooms

COVID-19 may have put our in-person meetings on pause, but that doesn’t mean can’t keep engaging students. Virtual platforms like Zoom provide essential tools to help students understand, process, and apply what they learn.


For many youth pastors who find themselves preaching over Zoom, here are some helpful tips on Zoom’s best features for student engagement in virtual youth group.

Understand | Zoom Chat


Zoom’s Chat feature gives students a fun way to get involved in your message time. Students can ask questions and actively respond to the night’s message as it’s happening!


Encouraging your students to post their questions and share their insights about the message will allow you to more engage your students in real time and will prompt deep discussion when they are in their small groups.


To enable the Zoom Chat feature, you will have to log into your Zoom web portal online (you cannot enable this feature from the app). Then, take the following steps:


1. After you’ve signed in, click “My Account” at the top of your screen.



2. Once you are in “My Account,” click “Settings.”


3. In “Settings,” click “In Meeting (Basic).”



4. In “In Meeting (Basic),” you will see “Chat” as the first feature listed. Click the toggle to enable the feature (you will see the toggle turn blue).



Once you enable the Chat feature, you will be able to access the feature on your Toolbar at the bottom of your Zoom screen.



To promote student engagement with the group, we encourage you to consider disabling the private chat feature. This will prevent anyone from having one-on-one side conversations. You can disable the “Private Chat” feature under the “In Meeting (Basic)” tab, located just below “Chat.”


To effectively monitor student activity in the Chat (and make sure everything is good, clean fun!), we recommend appointing a co-host in your Zoom meeting. You can enable the “Co-Host” feature under the “Meeting” tab in Settings.

Process | Zoom Breakout Rooms


Zoom’s Breakout Room feature is the perfect tool for virtual small-group discussions. The feature allows you to split your students and counselors into 50 separate small groups. You can split your students up manually (choosing who goes where) or automatically (Zoom will randomly assign students to different groups). Zoom will also allow you to switch between your large group and small groups at any time.


To enable the Zoom Breakout Feature, you will have to log into your Zoom web portal online (you cannot enable this feature from the app). Then, take the following steps:


1. After you’ve signed in, click “My Account” at the top of your screen.



2. Once you are in “My Account,” click “Settings.”


3. In “Settings,” click “In Meeting (Advanced).”




4. In “In Meeting (Advanced),” you will see “Breakout room” as the second feature listed. Click the toggle to enable the feature (you will see the toggle turn blue).


You can also enable the feature to pre-assign your students to breakout rooms when you schedule your large group meeting. Please note that this feature only works if every one of your users has a Zoom account.



Once you enable the Breakout Room feature, you will be able to access the feature on your Toolbar at the bottom of your Zoom screen. When you are in Screen Share mode, the Breakout Room tool will be located under “More” in your Toolbar.



For more information, you can visit the Zoom Help Center’s blog post about enabling Breakout Rooms here.

Apply | Using the Zoom Platform for Student-Led Activities

Virtual youth group meetings provide an opportunity for students to apply their learning, even as they are stuck at home. One way to make Zoom more dynamic is to involve your students in leading the meeting. You can ask students to lead specific segments of the meeting--prayer, reading scripture, discussion, and so on.


Allowing students to get involved as leaders will help solidify the principles you are teaching them as they go out in the world, even if that world exists inside their homes. It will also create a more interactive experience that is more than just watching on their phone while doing something else.


We hope these tips are helpful as you work to engage your students in our socially distant world!

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