Room Setup Guide
Before your virtual exchange, determine in advance the best classroom arrangement for your class size, students, and technology setup (camera range, microphone sensitivity, etc.). Even things like lighting and screen placement can help set you up for a successful call.
Determine in advance the best interaction arrangement for your class size, students, and technology setup (camera range, microphone sensitivity, etc.). Many teachers seat students on the floor, with some students seated on chairs if they can’t all sit comfortably on the floor (Setup A). For larger classes, you might try seating some students on the floor, some in chairs, and some standing (Setup B).
As you start the live video interaction, you might say to your students, "If you cannot see yourself on screen, your partner class cannot see you!"
Speaking Arrangements and Transitions
Some options for speaking arrangements include:
1) Choose student speakers before the interaction: Decide in advance which students will speak and in what order. Many teachers have students read their part from a short script written on a small slip of paper. The question-and-answer portion of the interaction can be more spontaneous.
2) Call on volunteers during the interaction: The teacher (or a student you selected) calls on individual or pairs of students to walk up to the device to speak.
Also keep in mind the following:
1) Be sure that speakers have a clear path to walk to the device when it's their turn. Remind students not at the camera to minimize talking and other distractions in the background.
2) When it's a student’s turn to speak, they should stand/sit close to the device, say their comment/question loudly and clearly, and remain at the camera to hear their partner classmate’s response. Students might start by saying their name (e.g., “Hi, my name is ___. My question is...).
3) Allowing one student from each classroom to converse on screen at the same time will help strengthen personal connections among partner classmates.
1) Consider adjusting the lighting in your classroom so that it is bright enough that your partner class can see your students’ faces, but also dark enough that your students can view the screen well.
2) Lead a quick role-play before the interaction for students to practice logistics (e.g., walking to and from the device, speaking slowly and clearly and looking directly into the camera, remaining at the device until their partner class is finished speaking, etc.).
3) If using a mobile device or tablet, consider whether you will use your front camera (facing you), back camera (facing away from you), or both during the interaction. For the best live video connection, connect your device to a reliable WiFi network and test the video and audio quality in advance. Consider connecting your device to external speakers for optimal audio output. Batteries drain quickly when using video chat, so be sure to fully charge your device in advance and/or keep it plugged in during the interaction.