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Zoom Lesson: Find Someone Who…

Find someone who… is the most typical classroom game for students and teachers to get to know each other while improving interaction among them, and boosting students’ communication skills. It requires a lot of movement and mingling. It is widely played in conferences, seminars and other teacher training programs, too. The question is, ‘Could it be used in an online lesson?’ I will give you a straight up answer, ‘Yes, it could!’

Find someone who… can have different objectives which will entirely depend on your lesson’s theme or topic, the target language you want to use, or different aims you had in mind. As stated before, it is a good communication booster.

In order to play this game in your online lesson, you need to use a platform that allows grouping. Luckily, my school acquired Zoom as the main platform for our online teaching so we are able to use Zoom Breakout Rooms, the feature that proved priceless to English language communication skills and literacy teachers such as myself.

The main objective of my lesson was to have students practice taking turns, speaking clearly and at the right pace. We had already practised these skills while giving presentations but I thought it would be a good idea to put them in use in less restricting but still guided environment. What could be better than having students work together!

It is up to you to decide if this is going to be your warm up activity or central activity but always bear in mind that in an online environment things always take longer that in the real classroom. With all the transitions, feedback, additional questions, it may extend up to 15 minutes. If you don’t want the game to drag and lose its dynamics, I suggest setting time limits just like I did.

Here are some ideas I thought my students would find interesting and relatable.

Just like anything I do in my lesson, more so in an online lesson, I planned the activity in stages. At first I had four in mind but once I have tested it, I think the three following stages are perfectly fine.

INTRO: Jotting down & learning rules of the game

I wrote the headline Find someone who… on the Zoom whiteboard and wrote ten sentences from the picture above. Now, you may wonder why I wrote or typed them myself on the spot. Well, I always find it more engaging for students to see me ‘work hard’ too when the circumstances allow. I have encouraged them to write the headline and copy the sentences. Normally, I would have elicited a bunch of statements from students but due to the time limit, I ‘served’ them with my own. You may also wonder why I did not just display the picture for groups to use or have students download it. Well, while in breakout rooms, they cannot see my shared screen, and although some students can download a document or a picture, it would still be tricky for them to open the picture on a device and be in a group with friends at the same time. The solution was for them to take notes. I went through all of the phrases once again and explained the rules.

STAGE 1: Groups of 3-4

When I made sure they were all on board with the activity (ICQ! CCQ!) I opened the breakout rooms, adjusted the options, set the time to 1 minute (plus 1 minute of countdown), I opened the rooms and let my students go to their groups of three or four. To make it more challenging, I told them they could write one friend’s name only two times. I have also warned them that they cannot write their own name after a question. At this stage, you would want to remind your students that they will go to a bigger group afterwards.

The main reasoning behind this initial grouping is for students to have a chance to actually talk rather than run to ask as many friends as they wanted. In the real classroom, this would be a stage called ‘pair’.

STAGE 2: Groups of 5-6

When the students came back to the main session, they could not wait to go back to bigger groups. They were bursting with excitement! Before I sent them back, I let few of them give brief feedback about their pair work. Then I reminded them that in a bigger group they would be able to ask more friends and to move the names on the list to adjust and complete it. Still, one name, two times only! For this round, I gave them one minute extra. Since the number of groups reduced to four, I could visit them in each group and watch their engagement. To my great surprise, they were all actively participating. It was fun to watch them, too!

STAGE 3: One class, two groups.

After returning to the main session, some students have already completed their lists while others still had some unanswered questions. Now I sent them in two big groups where they could either complete the task or make changes. I expected and hoped for a noisy chaos! In this stage I extended the time to two minutes more but as I was observing them in their groups, I decided to extend the time for as long as it was productive. And it really was! This time they could ask me and use my name twice to complete their lists. I came in handy in the class where there weren’t any lefties! All of them jotted down my name.

PLENARY and REFLECTION

When we all came back to the main session, the students were genuinely happy. It looked as if they were running around the classroom. In the plenary, I have nominated ten students to read their ten answers giving chance to other students to jump in and share and compare their findings. This was also a chance for all students to complete their lists. We wrapped it up in a friendly chat about them and their friends.

Have you tried playing Find someone who… in your online lesson? How did it go? How did you adapt it to your lesson and your students? Share your experience in the comments or on my email allmasyblog@gmail.com

2 thoughts on “Zoom Lesson: Find Someone Who…

  1. Thank you for this! I was trying to think of how to do this online, but couldn’t get past how to replicate the mingling element. (Should I randomize pairs in Breakout rooms? No, that wouldn’t work…etc.)
    This is perfect! And SO timely! 🙂

    1. Hello there! I am really glad I helped, and I am sure it worked out better than I suggested. My students loved this virtual mingling, I hope yours did, too. 🙂 Thank you for your comment and have an awesome summer!

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