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Classroom Backchanneling

A word of warning. I am using this space to recreate a conversation that happened elsewhere. I do, however, think that it is worth sharing.

The original discussion started with a blog post I read about using backchanneling in a middle school social studies classroom. Essentially, students were told to use Today’s Meet, a private chat room, to capture their thoughts and questions while they watched a video in class. At the end of the 50 minute period, the teacher was able to print the transcript of the chat in order to assess student learning and, more importantly, in order to really understand what students were thinking during the video.

I thought that this was an interesting and innovative use of technology that has real potential. So I shared the link with my Twitter network…

…And within a few minutes, a discussion had started…

This discussion continued, in more detail, on the I Teach Social Studies Ning where we decided on the following set of guidelines:

1) Test out a variety of websites to find one that is not blocked in your school. Suggestions included TinyChat, Today’s Meet, and Cover It Live.

2) Write 3-4 open-ended questions for students to explore while watching the video. These should serve as guides, not limits, to the conversation.

3) Whenever possible, utilize the collaboration tools available on the various websites. Polls, links, etc. can enhance what students take away from the experience.

4) Have students do some sort of follow-up activity. Maybe work in small groups to summarize the answers to the questions. Summaries can be shared with the whole class and tweaked accordingly. Use this as an opportunity to teach not only content, but also skills.


For information about classroom backchanneling, try the following resources:

Categories: instruction, technology
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