Now, we tried this once before but my kids were overwhelmed with all 26 of us trying to read, respond, and react in the discussion online. BAM! The idea hits me from Katie and Kristin's book to start out having online discussions with smaller groups of students before attempting it with the whole class. So that's exactly what we did!
Each randomly selected group of 5-6 students was given a separate Today's Meet room. Before beginning the discussion, we reviewed proper discussion etiquette as well as how we should be using more academic language than texting language in our online discussion. I jumped on to all five rooms to get the discussion going and let them take it from there. You can find the transcripts to all five discussions below. I was quite impressed with most of what occurred in each discussion, but I also realize we're in fourth grade and are learning to communicate in this way.
During our debriefing following the chats, kids reported that it was much easier to follow along and respond with the smaller group. Several learners also mentioned how they enjoyed talking online so their voice was heard; it gave everyone an equal opportunity to share their thoughts.
(This is a quick view of our room while the chat was taking place.
More students were seated at a table and comfy chairs behind me.)
We will definitely be amplifying our discussions in this way again!