Sunday, May 4, 2014

DigiLit Sunday: Back Channeling with First Graders

As part of a continuous collaboration among educators interested in digital learning, Margaret Simon has started a weekly Digital Learning round-up on her blog:  DigiLit Sunday.  I'm joining the event for the first time today.  Stop by Reflections on the Teche to read, discover, and link.

I have been introduced and reintroduced to Today's Meet in blogposts, meetings, and professional learning.  Setting up these virtual rooms provides many opportunities for collaboration and conversation.  It also seems a smart way to even out the voices in a classroom and give everyone a chance to share their thinking.

For some time I've wanted to try this with my first graders, but I was also a little hesitant to take the plunge.  Then I read Karen Lirenman's post about using Today's Meet with her first graders.  In her post, Back Channeling in the Primary Grades, she stepped through the way she supported the young learners in her classroom in learning to share their thinking digitally with others.

Reading her post gave me the confidence to give this a try.  I decided, since it was nearing the end of the year, I would dive right into back channeling with first graders.  I went to Today's Meet to set up a room.  I decided to keep the room for a period of time so we could continue to use it together.  Our first attempt was during our afternoon read aloud.  Students quickly learned to share their surprises, their questions, their new understandings as we read.  They reported it was easy to listen and type at the same time, though they appreciated my pauses when I noticed many were trying to type.

We've continued to use our virtual space to share thinking during reader's workshop and across our day.  Next I want to give it a try in a science observation and a math problem solving situation.  I keep two of our computers open to Today's Meet during the day for students to wander over to add their thinking.  I then use some of their comments in our class Twitter account.  I think Today's Meet is helping them understand ways to share, comment, and collaborate with others in a virtual space.  So it seems Karen was right, first graders can back channel.  Thanks for the push!