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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Adventures in Technology: TodaysMeet in the Classroom

During our English PLC, Susan Anderson from our Instructional Technology Department came by to share some online sites to help us with formative assessments. Although I was familiar with some of the tools, Susan provided some alternate uses that I had not previously considered with those both known and unknown to me. 

My students recently worked on a collaborative story writing assignment in Google Docs.  In order to discuss their work without speaking while some students were finishing a district exam, I allowed them to use the chat box within the document to communicate with their partners about what they were writing. As I walked around glancing at their work, I was pleasantly surprised that no one was talking about anything more inappropriate than wanting to see the Deadpool movie. 

In order to communicate with me without blurting out and calling my name, I set up a Today's Meet forum. This is a site that Susan showed my department. I have used TdoaysMeet in meetings containing over one hundred people, but I never even thought about using it in class. Susan talked to us about using it as a backchannel for conversations while other things are taking place in class, and this was the perfect opportunity for me to try it out. Well, let me just say, best made plans... 

My first Pre-AP class is definitely a gifted group. So gifted in fact, that when asked to type a name to identify themselves to others, they started using my name as well as the names of their classmates. No one knew who anyone was. Fake versions of me were threatening to write referrals, and a very strange rap battle took place (I think one version of me may have won). 

In my academic classes, I can guarantee that Student E. finds some way to work my nerves on a daily basis, and for some reason, I still love him. I figured that without being able to speak out loud, it would be a peaceful day in Student E. land. Wrong! He did not understand my response to his request to go to the restroom, despite four other students typing for him to go. He did not believe them, as he thought I was correcting his grammar - which I had done initially. 

My last class of the day actually used the site as I had intended: by asking questions about their assignment. Do we need paragraphs? Can I add the title to the slide? How do we get our work back if it was lost? This group is often quite unfocused as they come to me after lunch, but using TodaysMeet actually seemed to help them. 

Out of my five classes, only one pushed the boundaries. This class is always on warning with technology, but I want them to have the exposure and always give them a "second" chance. They used TodaysMeet to say hello to one another, to tell jokes, to ask to go to the bathroom, to ask to go to the bathroom, and to ask to go to the bathroom. They were, however, working on their assignment, so I did not go to hard on them. Because we had not had a formal conversation about how to use the site, I took responsibility for the situation and know that in the future, I will need to set firmer ground rules. 

Although this was a trial run, I can see myself using the site again in the future. I want to put some more thought into how I can use it effectively in a blended lesson. Stay tuned. 

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