Friday, May 9, 2014

Backchannels in Education

As our district has rolled out Chromebooks in several middle and high schools across the county, teachers have come to rely on using backchannels to increase student participation in classroom discussions. Designed similarly to old school chat rooms, backchannels are secondary conversations that occur while the primary focus may be a lecture, video, or some other teacher-led presentation. There are several great websites that offer students the ability to have a voice in the classroom: Padlet, Socrative, and Nearpod are a few of my favorites. But the digital tool that I've grown to like using is TodaysMeet.

TodaysMeet is a free resource that teachers (AND STUDENTS!) can use to create isolated rooms for hosting backchannel discussions. You do not need to create an account with TodaysMeet in order to use the service. Once your room is created, give your students the web address and have them join the digital conversation.

Classroom Ideas for TodaysMeet:
  • Students can ask questions and get answers without interrupting the class
  • Poll your students
  • Students can record their reactions and/or questions about a video that you show in your classroom. You could also require your students to answer questions about the video to increase engagement.
  • Students can create a conversation where they become a character in a novel/passage/story and they add comments or answer questions as if they were the character from their book.
  • Brainstorm ideas for group projects

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