Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Facilitating Interactive, Multisensory Grammar Review via the Back-channels of Today's Meet

Have been using the back-channels of Today's Meet as a forum for our Friday Chats here on TeachPaperless and I like it quite a bit.

I got the idea that it might be something useful in the classroom, so today I tried it out for grammar review with my Latin I class.

They loved it.

Here's the deal. I set the students up in a circle with each of their laptops open to our Today's Meet chat. We projected the chat onto the wall simultaneously. Each student then had a series of verbs to parse.

1) One student would post one of his or her parsed verb to the chat.
2) We discussed the parsing together as a class and decided if changes were needed.
3) We posted the fixes as the subsequent post in the chat under my name.
4) And then we go on to the next student.

We kept it lively and quickly-paced, each post-and-check only lasting five to ten seconds. Because each student was able to prepare their post before their turn, even the quiet kids and the kids who generally need more time to work were able to participate fully.

I see Web 2.0 chats as having great potential for handling authentic differentiated instruction and I see best practices in a chat-enhanced classroom as having great potential for addressing issues of multi-sensory learning. The projected chat has all the benefits of being both visual and textural, and because we are talking about the material the entire time, the students are also using auditory and analytical skills. Not to mention the interpersonal skills necessary to take part in such a program.

Perhaps best of all, at the end of our session, students can copy-and-paste a complete transcript of both the correct answers and the common mistakes into their digital portfolio for later review.

So, you are asking yourself, what makes Today's Meet any different than IM or Skype?

Personally, I find it to be of great use in the classroom because it is both interactive and simple. Both IM and Skype are great, but the kids often get sucked in by the bells-and-whistles of creating avatars, personalizing greetings, etc. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

But specifically for in-class grammar review, the beauty of Today's Meet is in its simplicity, straightforwardness, and utilitarian display. Without overwhelming the students -- in what can sometimes be the rather daunting and overwhelming task of grammar -- it makes the chat easily and accessibly pertinent to the rigors of intricate review sessions.

And when's the last time your students begged for more grammar review?

Furthermore, unlike traditional IM sessions where students are able to DM each other, in a Today's Meet chat everything is public to the entire room. Furthermore, the students aren't able to connect to friends in other classes as they would if we used a basic IM. Cuts down on silliness and the students figure that out pretty quickly and therefore realize they have to keep on task.

Merging best practices with meaningful digital interactivity in the (often otherwise dull) process of grammar review may now prove to be a much easier task. And with no subscription or user ID necessary with Today's Meet, as well as the ability to instantaneously create new rooms easily closed to the world outside of your classroom, this is a back-channel that the savvy teacher can really put through the paces.

1 comment:

  1. I would love to see us address the Arts as a means for both the paperless classroom and differentiated instruction. I have tried to bang the drum of differentiated instruction loudly during more than 35 years of working with students of every age, and demonstrated how that can be done in the new book I just co-authored entitled "Teaching Curriculum Through the Arts." Students love to be involved and the arts involve them… they motivate them. That’s how we can reach them on so many different levels. I can only hope that more people will aspire to teaching in this powerful way.

    Ronn Kistler, Creative Educational Systems consultant


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