Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Case for the Classroom Backchannel

Opportunities for students to respond can be an amazing part of a classroom.  Think about all that goes into it though, from a traditional classroom standpoint: Teacher speaks, asks question(s), asks for students to volunteer responses, and receives 1-2 responses from the students that feel so empowered to do so (see previous blog post).

CoverItLive worked amazingly well for me in an AP Statistics classroom last week.  I had given back a test from a long time ago, and the plan for the day was to review probability topics in preparation for our upcoming AP Stat exam.  Each student had their copy of the test and was signed into a CoverItLive chat room to discuss test questions.

I received amazing feedback from my students: "I suppose this works much better, now that we have to think about why the answer is incorrect, instead of being told why it is incorrect" resonates with me.  I'm working on compiling the data, and will update my blog when it has been put together, but many students were actively participating in the discussion online. 

If it's an average of 2 responses per student(which is probably a close estimate), that response rate is much higher than a usual lecture and respond classroom setting.  Think about how a teacher could generate 60 total responses in the "traditional" classroom.  At the bare minimum you'd have to ask 60 questions and allow each student to answer twice. 

I'm loving the backchannel as an instructional device, but want to make sure it is not overused. 

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