Monday, December 21, 2015

How I use TodaysMeet to help support student writing

TodaysMeet allows teachers to promote a "backchannel" (means: secondary or informal) conversation about the day's lesson.  Students participate in the TodaysMeet backchannel on their devices or computers.  The goal is to build upon the primary classroom discussion (the one going on between teacher and students) and create another level of student engagement.  Only one student at a time can speak in the primary discussion, but all students can speak at once in the backchannel.

Perhaps you know about TodaysMeet already.  But I've recently experimented with using TodaysMeet to help support student writing and so far it's worked very well.  Here's how I set this up.

  1. I send an essay question to my students as a single PowerPoint slide using Nearpod (which is discussed in an earlier post).  They view the slide through the Nearpod app or through a browser window.
  2. I open a TodaysMeet "room" for the assignment and show that virtual room on the screen at the front of our classroom.
  3. Students open a second browser window for the TodaysMeet room.
  4. They write their essay.  If a student is ever stumped about recalling a pertinent fact, she or he posts their question to TodaysMeet.  Any student who knows the answer could respond.
  5. There is no talking during the activity.  Students are either writing, posting questions to TodaysMeet, or answering questions posed by classmates to TodaysMeet.
I was very pleased with how this worked.  All the posted questions were reasonable and related to the essay question topic (antebellum territorial expansion, and its impact on presidential elections).  The TodaysMeet room helped to build a collaborative climate among all the students.  The technology did not pose a distraction or opportunity for silliness and all the time the class was absolutely on-task.  Knowing that they could reach out for help during the essay made my less-confident writers more comfortable.

This short tutorial (1:39) shows you how to use TodaysMeet.

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