Written Conversations

I’ve been working on the best and most engaging way to have my students use written conversations to discuss literature.  When students discuss verbally, often the shy students hang back and don’t engage.  Plus, as I circulate around the classroom I get an idea of how discussions are going, but I really have no data to use for formative assessment.

I’ve tried Collaborize Classroom, which I love, but it was not as free-flowing as I would like.  I think it is best used for an asynchronous discussion for homework.

In the past, I’ve had students write in their notebooks and then pass them to each other which works fairly well, but the writing takes up a fair amount of time and slows down the discussion.

Recently I tried Today’s Meet, which is a backchannel site, and I am flag-waving fan.  It’s super simple to work.  You name your room (see screenshot), give your students the link, and you’re ready to roll.

I first tried it out in a professional development workshop I delivered and it was a rousing success.  Many teachers added to the conversation and made the presentation much richer through their participation.

In my class we first tried a whole class (19 students) discussion on Today’s Meet, which was a total disaster.  A discussion with the class divided into two halves was doable, but I’m going to set up rooms for each of my table groups next time.  You can save the transcript of the discussions and use them to teach discussion skills or use them for assessments.

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