With a new school year beginning in just a few short weeks, I've decided to begin a new blog series that will feature the best tech tools that I have personally used in my classroom to increase student engagement and strengthen "text talk" among my students. It can sometimes be a struggle to seamlessly blend the daily use of technology into lessons and activities; but I have found that even the smallest use of technology during a lesson can help engage students and get them thinking at a much higher level.
|The column on the right contains an actual Today's Meet conversation from my classroom!|
One of the very first online tech tools that I incorporated into my classroom was the online chatroom, Today's Meet. This free website allows you to create an easy to access private chat room that your students can join by typing in the web address you have created. It takes less than two minutes to sign in and create your chatroom. Did I mention that you can create as many chatrooms as you want and that you get to decide how long your chatroom will be active?
While set-up of this tech tool is a piece of cake, the next question you may have is how to successfully implement it into your classroom? As with all "text talk" structures, there needs to be clear expectations for student use put in place BEFORE students begin using this online chatroom in your class. This can be done by creating a list of student expectations and sharing them with your students or you can get student input on acceptable behaviors and expectations. For the past two years, I have allowed my students to come up with the majority of the student expectations for Today's Meet. The only expectation that I made a non-negotiable was that students were required to use their first and last names when signing into the chatroom. The other expectations came from my students. I have included a PDF copy of the student expectations that we use in my classroom that you can download.
Now that there are specific and clear expectations for students in place, the last thing to decide is exactly how you will incorporate this tech tool into your classroom. Regardless of content or grade level, this is a great tool to use to assess what your student already know about a topic at the beginning of a lesson or to use as a formative check during your lesson to assess what students understand. My favorite thing about Today's Meet is that it lets me diagnose student misconceptions during a lesson and provide academic feedback on the spot to clear up any misconceptions. Not only do I get the opportunity to provide feedback, but you will see quickly that your students are able to help provide feedback to their classmates on their thoughts or misconceptions. After a few uses of this classroom discussion tool, the amount of teacher academic feedback being given by me greatly decreased as my students were learning to give high quality academic feedback to their classmates. This allowed me to sit back and enjoy the awesome conversations that my students were having with each other.
While all of what I have discussed in the blog post above can be implemented at no cost to you, Today's Meet does also offer a paid version of this tool specifically designed for teachers called Today's Meet Teacher Tools. For $5 per month, you can upgrade your account and gain the ability to pause conversations or "mute" students who are not following student expectations. These upgraded features certainly seem like awesome additions, but are not necessary to achieve success with Today's Meet in your classroom!
Stayed tuned to next week's edition of Tech Tool for the Secondary Classroom!