I had a teacher brave enough to try out a site called TodaysMeet. I had used it at a couple of conferences, heard great things about it, but had not had a chance to use it yet. But now, I have!
TodaysMeet is a website where you get a chance to have students back-channel. That is explained more in this post and this post.
Before the lesson, I showed students what TodaysMeet was all about, how to sign in, expectations, proper commenting, etc. We broke them into 3 different rooms with about 6 students per room. We did this to make the chat window a little less overwhelming. I highly recommend that for the lower grades and for just starting out, especially if you are allowing for free-talk throughout a lesson.
Students listened to their teacher, Mrs. Thompson, read a really interesting article about garbage patches in the Pacific Ocean (and if you have never heard about these, wow, look it up). They typed their thoughts as she read, but she also posed questions for them for two reasons. One reason she did this was so that students that were struggling to come up with something, had a prompt. Other times, she needed them to comment on a specific question.
In order to have students reflect back over what the others wrote, she asked for volunteers to read their comments OR the comment of someone out of their group. I liked this method because there were quite a few students that really liked what someone else said.
Students told me they really liked this because they were all able to have a voice and contribute to the conversation. Looking at the comments, it was awesome to see what some of their thoughts were. They were pretty profound and deep. I am going to attach some screenshots of their conversations below in the gallery.
I highly recommend this method of discussion in the classroom. Students and teachers could benefit from this resource. If you want something like TodaysMeet, you could also try Padlet.
How many students raise their hand in your class everyday? Picture the students you have heard from in class vs. those you have NOT heard from in class. I imagine the second number is larger than the first. Just because kids are not raising their hands, does not mean they don't have something to say.
Introduce TodaysMeet, a site where students can put their thinking out to the whole class. You may have heard it called backchanneling. This is the conversations that are going on behind the activity going on in the classroom or meeting.
TodaysMeet creates a chat room, you share the link, students go to the link (NO SIGN UP REQUIRED!), put in a display name, and then get started. You can type questions or comments, up to 140 characters. Kind of like Twitter in the classroom, in a safe environment!
How can YOU use this in YOUR classroom, you ask? Here are some quick, easy ways:
Another awesome feature, you can have these rooms delete themselves after a given amount of time. These are not permanent rooms. You can keep them up and going for one hour to one year! Pretty cool, right? Check out a quick video below on creating your room!
Fifth grade teacher in a 1:1 iPad classroom, sharing my journey with technology in the classroom