Creating an online discussion space, often referred to as a backchannel, is one of the ways that nearly all teachers can create more opportunities for students to interact with them and their classmates.
Last week on Free Technology for Teachers I detailed seven reasons to use online discussion spaces with your students. You can read the details here, but the highlights are that online discussion can give quiet students bigger voices, chatty students don’t feel “shut-down,” good discussions can be extended, warm-up activities are easily shared, presentation flow can be preserved, and all students get a chance to develop good digital citizenship skills.
Tools for Creating Online Discussion Spaces
For almost ten years I used TodaysMeet to create online discussion spaces. It was free and easy to use. Unfortunately, that service closed in June. Since then I have been using and recommending Backchannel Chat and Yo Teach!
Yo Teach! is the closest thing to TodaysMeet that I have found. It’s easy to use and packed with features that teachers want. In fact, I think it might be better than TodaysMeet was. Not only can you and your students type messages in Yo Teach, you can also can use image notes in a Yo Teach! room. Students can also give a “thumbs up” to their favorite image and text notes in the discussion. Watch my video for a complete overview of Yo Teach!
Backchannel Chat is a service through which you can create an online discussion space for your students. In your Backchannel Chat discussion rooms you can post comments and questions for your students to respond to. Your students can respond in real-time. Students can ask you and their classmates questions within the confines of your Backchannel Chat room. The free version of Backchannel Chat limits you to 30 participants at a time. Watch my video to learn how to use Backchannel Chat.
These were last week’s most popular posts on FreeTech4Teachers.com:
1. If You Manage a School Facebook Page, Watch Out for This Scam
2. Why We Say “OK” – And Other Lessons on the Origins of Words
3. How to Create a Progress Tracker With Google Forms and Sheets
4. Seven Ways to Create Screencasts on Chromebooks
5. Math Playground – Hundreds of Math Games & Instructional Videos
6. Use Flippity to Make a Multimedia Timeline
7. 7 Reasons to Try Using Backchannels in Your Classroom
Getting Going With G Suite
After the webinars that I hosted about Google Classroom earlier this month I was asked if I would host my complete G Suite for Education webinar series again. I’m happy to announce that I will be hosting Getting Going With G Suite starting on October 2nd. The five part course includes a balance of “how-to” with practical ideas for using G Suite for Education in your classroom. Click here for an overview and to register for the course.
I’ll Come to Your School This Year!
If you would like to have me lead a professional development day at your school during this school year, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com – or click here for more information about my professional development services.