I really enjoyed using the back channel chat during our LTMS600 graduate class. It was something exciting and new. Because we were chatting, it felt like I was getting away with something I wasn’t supposed to do. I know some of the other people in class said they struggled to chat and pay attention to the class portion. However, personally, the chat was motivation for me to pay attention so I would have something to contribute to the chat. It was a built in reward.
There were some really good parallel discussions in the chat. Prof. Jim Gates did an excellent job connection to the chat while he was giving the presentation portion. By addressing the questions or comments from the chat, the presentation was student oriented, so we were more engaged. The teacher had the advantage of an enthusiastic student who would direct his attention to the chat at important moments. I think most classrooms have naturally enthusiastic students to act as monitors, if not, it could be an assigned position.
One of my teaching goals for the upcoming school year will be to successfully incorporate at least one back channel chat per class section. I know the topic has to be perfect for me to have the confidence for the students to buy into the idea.
There were two platforms we saw demonstrated in class for the purpose of the classroom chat: Cover It Live and Google. I think both have very different applications for my own classroom. I hope to use Cover It Live for a World Cup Preliminary Game. Sports are covered in the Spanish curriculum and soccer is one of the biggest Spanish past time, so mixing the two for the 2010 World Cup seems perfect. I want them to attempt to watch the game on Univision, because the energy of the announcers changes the feel when watching in Spanish. It is also easier to listen to a sports announcer than a telenovela when trying to listen to what they are saying. It is easy to check for understanding – do your eyes and your ears agree? I do not expect them to be able to Cover It Live … but a half time conversation would be perfect.
An example for Google Presentations (one of the Google Doc set) would be showcasing student work. I like to compile student examples in a presentation and discuss it. I use this as an introduction with the examples of the previous year; so the students know exactly what my expectations are. I also find it is a quick conclusion that the students enjoy. If they have put the effort into a project, they should be proud of it.
I have my 6th graders put on a fashion show and they are responsible for narrating the show in Spanish. While they are looking at the pictures in the presentation, they could write the Spanish vocab that comes to mind. However, the challenge would be to have enough computers for my students to use, or at least to double up. The idea is now planted, I will find a way to make it work, even if I have to invade someone’s classroom for a couple periods.
I have also participated and attempted to use Moodle chats in the classroom. However, it seemed to have a delay refresh, so the conversation did not flow smoothly. I would rather try one of the other two examples.