Thursday, November 19, 2015

TodaysMeet Meets the Socratic Seminar - Microblogging in a Digital Classroom

Today’s Meet Meets the Socratic Seminar - Microblogging in a Digital Classroom

Written with Marissa Grodnick, NJH ELA Teacher - @marissagrod

I saw THE COOLEST thing last week. Coolest. Some teachers decided to take an in-class discussion (Socratic Seminar) and integrate the iPad, transforming the learning for their students. It was the best of all possible worlds, fusing some "yes" answers to Alan November's 6 Questions and the CLR strategies that we've been working to develop.

Above: An image from Alison Rubbelke's ELA7 class

"ELA 7 loves Socratic Seminars (student-run discussion analyzing high-level questions using proof from concepts and ideas learned in class) as summative assessments because they are student-centered, student-led, CLRT and graded on the spot--easy for teachers.  However, with a class of 25+, not everyone gets a chance to say what they want.  After doing a little digging, Alison Rubbelke and I discovered TodaysMeet as a possible new twist to our seminars.  

We revamped the Socratic Seminar into a fishbowl-style discussion with an inner circle orally discussing questions and an outer circle (backchannel) using TodaysMeet to comment on and discuss the inner circle's conversation.  

Above: An image from Marissa's "1st block ELA room" in TodaysMeet.

The day before:
Kids were given a Socratic Seminar prep sheet with guiding questions.  They had to come up with ideas and support them with quotes and examples from the texts we've read.  
Kids also did an exit card stating inner or outer preference for group set up

Create two even groups.
Login to TodaysMeet and create rooms for each block.  
Each room gets it's own url for kids to simply click and join. Make rooms open for as long as you want (I did one week so I could grade later and have inner circle kids read outer circle as part of reflection piece)

Above: Students were asked to provide evidence to support their opinions.

Day of:
Set up room with inner and outer circle.
Outer kids join TodaysMeet room--I just linked rooms to my moodle agenda--make sure they use real names.  Start conversation with asking one question, and let kids do the rest.

During & Grading:
I used a black spreadsheet to grade while listening.  I also glanced at TodaysMeet and added some helpful prompts or comments to keep them on track.  I let the discussion go for about 30 minutes.

Reflection.  Inner circle was asked to go and read outer circle comments as part of reflection.  Outer circle was asked to summarize and add some things they wish had been said or discussed."

Above: Another image from the backchannel discussion in TodaysMeet.  It helps for the teacher to check in and write prompts to encourage students to dig deeper.

TodaysMeet was super easy for kids to use and easy to set up.  It took less than 10 minutes of setup and kids were in immediately.  No login, no account, etc.  It also acts like twitter in that it is character limited--which makes kids concentrate on quality not quantity.  

Here’s the blog Learn it in 5’s quick how-to tutorial (a great site that allows you to either watch a short tutorial or read some quick info to help you get started including a brief synopsis, benefits, & drawbacks to the app).

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