Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Amplifying our discussions!!!

So I'm not going to lie... I'm totally geeking out over here about an idea I gleaned from Amplify: Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6 Classroom by Kristin Ziemke and Katie Muhtaris!! We spent some time reading a Wonderopolis article this morning about the metaphor "The grass is always greener on the other side." My fourth graders watched the Wonderopolis video and read the article twice before we started our discussion phase. We've used the Socratic Seminar method several times this year and have done a lot of close reading practice along with our discussions, so it was time to make a leap to an online discussion.

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!

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