The Best Way To Structure A Zoom Lesson
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Three-Tier Method For Structuring A Zoom Lesson

My name is Yvonne Ho. I teach English Composition online. I have been teaching online for the past 12 years. Before the pandemic in March, I had never heard of Zoom. Once the lockdown started, pretty soon my entire social and professional life was on Zoom. I was on Zoom family calls with cousins from around the world; my church meetings were on Zoom—it was strange seeing the choir sing on Zoom; and finally, I started giving my English Composition lessons on Zoom.

After teaching many lessons on Zoom, I have come up with a three-tier method to teaching on Zoom. I use this same three-tier method for teaching reading and writing by the way. When I teach reading, there are three stages:

  1. Pre-reading
    I have students predict what the article will be about; we discuss what the article will be about; we use context clues like the headline and the picture captions to guess what the article will be about; we read the first and last sentences of each paragraph to guess what the reading is about.
  2. During Reading
    I have the students actually read the article and summarize in their own words what the reading is about
  3. Post-reading
    We evaluate how the reading will impact the student's lives.

When I teach writing, I use the same three-tier method: Pre-Writing, students find an essay topic, they develop their thesis and write an outline; During Writing, students write their rough draft from their outline; and, Post-writing, revision where students revise/proofread their essay before turning in their essay for the final draft.

In my Zoom lesson, I use the same three-tier method for teaching my Zoom lesson. I have a Pre-Lesson discussion, During Lesson Interactive Activities, and Post-Lesson Evaluation.

1. Pre-Lesson Discussion

In the Zoom Pre-Lesson Discussion, before I share my screen, I see my students' faces and they see mine. We engage in social dialogue, chit chat, ask each other how we are. I relax my students and I ask what exactly they want to learn and what they have learned in the class thus far. I get a feel of what students need and want to hear more about from the reading or from the lesson. I also start to discuss my agenda for the class, and I prepare students for the upcoming lesson.

2. During Lesson Discussion

I then share my screen and I start giving my lecture about the lesson topic. I make sure I can see my students' faces as I share my screen to ascertain how they are feeling and to see if they are bored I will go faster, or if they are overwhelmed I will go slower. I then do comprehension checks and stop from time to time and ask them, "Am I going too fast or too slow?" If they say no, then I continue with my lecture.

I also engage in interactive activities by giving them fill-in-the-blank exercises where they answer questions orally about the topic; and the most fun of all, they love doing the Grammar Practice Quiz to prepare for their class Grammar Quiz. I ask the grammar quiz question and then call on students to answer that grammar question based on the grammar concepts we just went over.

I also have students screen share their papers so I can go over any mistakes they had or go over my grading feedback. I also use the whiteboard to "create" papers with them so they can see from scratch how to write an essay or what they did wrong on their essay.

3. After Lesson Discussion

After the one hour lesson, I stop sharing my screen so I can see their faces. Just like the Pre-Lesson Discussion, I ask students how they are doing. I ask students if they have understood the lesson, or if they have any questions. I also ask students if they have any more questions about future lessons or future assignments, and I give students a preview orally of upcoming tests, quizzes, and assignments. Then, we engage in fun chit chat about our lives to wrap up the Zoom lesson. I like to ask students again how they are doing and to encourage students to email me if they have questions.

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