Wednesday, September 3, 2014

3 Ways Teachers Can Ease Into Using Back-channels

I love using Twitter and/or TodaysMeet during professional development, during instruction, or as a formative assessment tool. Whether harnessing the collective intelligence of the room, allowing participants to ask and answer questions, or memorializing an event, back-channels allow for a level of connection with other participants that I now find essential.

For full disclosure, I must admit that I have had back-channels backfire on me, especially as when I was new to a platform, when I had a few too many immature students (or was too immature myself), and when I was a newbie in the Twitterverse [side note: thank you ISTE for your understanding that I was not trying to hijack the back-channel at ISTE Leadership in Indianapolis 3 years ago :) ]

So how can educators not throw the back-channel baby out with the bathwater? Below are 3 ways I've used to ease into back-channels until participants (or the teacher) are ready for a platform that is entirely open or allows for anonymity.
  1. Socrative- Love the simplicity and the many ways to use Socrative. As a back-channel you can select "Quick Question" then "Short Answer", then write the essential question . You can then decide to make the responses public (names required) or anonymous.
    1. Pros- Great displays, simplicity, new "voting" feature allows for expansion of back-channel questions or answers. Ability to "clear room" if participants abuse backchannel. Data reports of responses available in a variety of formats.
    2. Cons- A truthful "Student Name" is voluntary, no email of participants (unless that is what you have students use as "name".
  2. Google Forms- Create a Google form before hand, allow participants to submit questions, scroll through results to answer questions.
    1. Pros- If GAFE account you can automatically collect submitter's email, allows for questions to be answered via email if unable to address during the event, provides data about common questions allowing for revision of presentation. Allows for private questions
    2. Cons- Owner of the form controls the Q&A, if questions get asked early on and then answered during presentation you maybe redundant if you address. Generally limits audience interaction. Best as an exit ticket.
  3. Google Docs- Share an editable google doc for Q&As or embed an element of your presentation and allow participants to comment, and/or utilize the chat.
    1. Pros- share with limited audience. Accountability for comments and questions.
    2. Cons- No anonymity in comments or responses (depending on the class make-up this could also be a pro)
As always, I would love to hear other ideas and platforms from my PLN so please feel free to comment here, on Twitter at @EGHSPrincipalRI or on G+

Monday, September 1, 2014

Food for Thought Shared 9-1-2014
Below you will find "Food For Thought" links shared 9/1/2014. Hope you find them useful. If not, check back next week as the menu always changes!
Background- In my weekly Sunday night email to teachers I end with links to articles, videos, posts and other links that I have curated throughout the week that have made me pause and reflect upon my leadership, my practice, my school, my relationships, and my students.  Awhile ago, a teacher in my building Mr. DeCubellis, shared with me a file of all of last year's "Food for Thought".  Since then I have wanted to curate the materials further myself, beyond an email, and share them with an even larger audience. Additionally, I am still trying to get to posting regularly on this blog and I am hoping that this will provide me with a baby step to getting to at least a weekly post.
  1. Blended Learning for All in RI?- Rhode Island’s Announces Plans To Be The First State To Go Fully Blended-
  2. Think people really say what they think online? Think again.- From Audrey Waters post-  Pew Research on “Social Media and the ‘Spiral of Silence’.” “A major insight into human behavior from pre-internet era studies of communication is the tendency of people not to speak up about policy issues in public—or among their family, friends, and work colleagues—when they believe their own point of view is not widely shared.” And Pew contends folks are even more silent online.
  3. How do you praise? How, and what you praise matters!   
  4. The internet has changed everything. Be a "Now-ist"- original TedTalk-