Yesterday my friend Ryan dropped off five netbooks for me to use in my classes and you better believe I used them today.
By combining the netbooks with the devices my students already had, I had the entire class connected to the internet.
In my grade 12 class, we were watching the movie Secret Window as an end to our horror fiction unit. I always find it touch to keep students actively viewing when we’re watching movies even though I give them something specific to focus on and build in accountability. So instead I set up a backchannel using Today’s Meet. That is the actual link to our transcript from this morning. The messages with the hashtag #secretwindow are not from our class.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit there was some uproductive stuff at the beginning and end (don’t worry. I dealt with it), and I realize that not everyone participated in the discussion, but the class was much more engaged!
We were able to have conversations about things I wanted the students to focus on without disrupting the flow of the movie. It makes me think back to the way I’d usually show films and constantly pause the movie to draw students’ attention to something (so annoying!) and laugh.
I tried it in my media class as well which is already in a lab. Still some students wanted to try using the netbooks so they could sit in a better position while watching Rear Window. I would say the conversation was less productive in this class and I had to do a lot more redirecting–but that’s pretty typical of this class. I was having some technical issues at the beginning of the film so there’s some frustration and off task behaviour there. Actually now that I scroll back, the transcript isn’t that bad (again, the hashtag comments were not from my class). A couple of inappropriate comments but then they got back on track (If you read the transcript, you should know that the “whore” comment was actually not meant to be inappropriate).
I will continue with the Rear Window backchannel tomorrow and I’d like to see if there’s any improvement in the discussion. In a quick informal chat with one of my students, she said she found that following the conversation really helped her figure out what I wanted them to focus on in the movie.
So, I would say this is a keeper.
- Giving people time at the start of class to try it out and get their “sillies”.
- Using actual first names but no last names (did this with second class but not first)
- Participating in the backchannel myself to direct or redirect if necessary.
- Inviting people to “step out of the conversation” if they weren’t being productive.
What didn’t work:
- anonymity: worked in some cases but not others. I wonder about telling students they can use a code name but I need to know what it is