Another Successful Zoom Event

Day 29

Last week we had a successful Spelling Bee at school, and then the next day a successful talent show at church.

On a typical Friday morning, we have about 100 children in grades PreK-12 who come on Zoom for our church’s “church” school. It’s Sunday school on Fridays. We meet together for 30 minutes and then everyone goes to their own Zoom links for a 40-minute class. This past Friday was different though. We planned a 1.5 hour whole group celebration of talents for our church school community. We called it a Talent Showcase. We just wanted it to be a way to praise God with all the talents God has given us.

We had 40 children and teens sign up. We asked them to limit their talent sharing to two minutes. I did the math Friday morning and realized we would go from 9:30 to 10:50–with no breaks or transition times. Yikes! Oh, well. We knew if everyone showed up, we were definitely going to go over our time limit. (I should have done the math earlier! Maybe we would have scheduled 9:30-10:30 for the younger ones and 10:30-11:30 for the older youth. Next time.)

We also discussed how to give warnings as they approached or passed the two-minute mark. We decided not to hold up the yellow 15-second-warning sign since the one who would need to see it would be focused on their violin, making balloon animals, piano, singing, drawing, cooking, or what have you. We decided, if someone went too long, we could just mute them and then start clapping and thanking them. Fortunately, we didn’t have to do that even once! There were just two students who went closer to three minutes, but we let them finish. Many children were actually under the two-minute limit.

The viewers rocked the chat and reaction icons. It was a highlight for me. The audience was giving applause, hearts, confetti, and thumbs up reactions for each participant. I loved how the gallery view lit up like a Christmas tree at the end of each act. Even better they filled up the chat box with messages to “Everyone” (Everyone and hosts were the only ones they were able to chat with). They were so encouraging to each other.

  • “Wow!”
  • “What a song!”
  • “Great job!”
  • “I’ve been in church school with you for years, and I never knew you could play the piano.”
  • Etc., etc., etc.

At the end of the two-hour event, when we were thanking everyone, someone chimed in with an interesting statistic, “We had 1039 chats today!”

I was reminded of our event when I read something in Fran’s post yesterday (and the second day in a row that her post has inspired my SOLSC):

…in regard to the Google Classroom chat feature: “So many more kids share their thoughts this way, more than I’ve ever seen in person. I’m in awe of how much they have to say and how they encourage each other. We use the chat all the time now.” From Fran’s post “Digging for Awe”

Afterwards, the planners laughed about how this event would have looked a year ago when we were literally all new to Zoom. It’s hard to remember some of our foibles…

  • Aunty, I can’t find the chat.”
  • “Dear, you’ll need to unmute. We can see you singing, but we can’t hear you.”
  • “Maybe you’ll have to do a sound check. Do you know how to do that?”
  • “Sorry for those we left in the waiting room for thirty minutes.”
  • “Why don’t you leave and come in again, maybe that will work.”
  • “What’s the password? My cousin can’t get in.”
  • “No, I don’t know how to use Zoom on a phone.”
  • “Maybe we’ll have to finish next week.”

A year later, the 40 participants were 100% successful in sharing their talents live on Zoom with cameras, microphones, occasional screen sharing, and excellent timing. What skills we have learned without even realizing it!