Have you ever heard of "Backchanneling"? Well, if you are an adult with a mobile device, I'm sure you've done it!
Backchanneling is when you are listening or viewing something, (perhaps a movie, or sitting at a meeting, or attending a workshop), and you instant message someone else to comment in real time on what you are hearing/seeing. Do you agree? Are you learning something new? Are you bored?
Teachers have been using backchanneling with their students in the classroom so that students can be more actively attending to what they are hearing and viewing.
To learn more about back channeling click here.
Last week I attended the Minds on Media workshop at the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario. I met a teacher who was presenting there named Heather Durnin. She is an Ontario teacher who shared how she is virtually co-teaching with another teacher from Winnipeg. She has done such incredible things with her Grade 7/8 class! I am going to try a few of them out.
She and her virtual teaching partner used Skype to connect their two classes. They had their student create collaborative projects using Google Docs. That was amazing. Each student also created a Wordpress Blog to learn more about one another. But my favourite idea was how, using Skype, she and her teaching partner would take turns reading aloud to the students. While one teacher read aloud, the other teacher used Today's Meet (a chat room) with a small group of students from each class, to comment on the read-aloud in real time. The chatroom was posted on a screen. That way, if the students didn't understand something from the novel, they could post it and get clarification right away and both classes could view the conversation. Students could immediately share their reactions to the story as it was being read aloud.
Today's Meet is free and very easy to use. Click here to check it out.
I have started reading Iqbal to my students. The text is a bit difficult, and it has some complicated vocabulary, but the story is excellent. If you are not familiar with Iqbal, he is the little boy from Pakistan that was murdered for protesting child labour. He had been an indentured servant to a carpet maker, and had escaped. He went on to fight for the freedom of other children. It was the story of his murder that spurred Craig Kielburger into creating the Free the Children network.
On Monday, I am going to introduce my students to the Today's Meet Room that I have created. I am going to start by having five of them on devices to "chat" while I read aloud from Iqbal. I won't have a moderator for the chatroom, so I will have to be watching it as I read, we'll see how that goes.