Have Paperless Reading Discussions via Google Talk So Everyone Has A Voice

Whenever my colleague and friend Patrick is excited about something he did in his classroom, I know to put everything down and prepare myself because it is going to open my eyes to a new way of thinking about what technology allows us to do. I'll let him tell you all about it.

Paperless Final Word Protocol
I (Patrick) wanted to share this amazing thing that occurred in my classroom this past Friday. I have been practicing paperless classroom techniques for the past two semesters with resounding success. I started a graffiti project with a couple of my classes because, I think teaching underground art practices is amazing and I have tons of fun learning graffiti techniques with my class. I also love to teach the laws that are in effect just around the word graffiti. (California is spending somewhere in the millions each year to fight graffiti whee in european countries graffiti is as common as lets say breathing.)

Anyway, I love talking about subjects that are not black and white, where perspectives on situations are vast and controversial. About five minutes before class I found an Article I wanted to share with my students that was put out by the Los Angeles Times that give a radically different perspective on graffiti. It discusses its role as a new favored art form in the Fine Arts world and how that is enraging the people of LA who are busy fighting to keep their streets clean.

As soon as I read the article, which was around the time the students were entering the classroom, I knew that I wanted to do a final word protocol around the article. I printed a copy of the article and I held it in my hands. I started thinking about how I wanted to do it. I was about to jump out of my seat and run to the copier to make 26 copies of the article but I just couldn’t do it.

The kids were doing their lively thing behind me while my mind searched for a way to do this thing paperlessly. Then an idea came to me. I stood up and walked to each student and gave them a number between 1 and 6. This number was to be their group formations. I told them to meet with their group members and pick one person to write down the names of all of the group members. I then had them immediately go to their computers.

I sent a mass email to the entire class with this message:
1. Everyone silently read this article (10 minutes)
2. Pick 1-2 sentences that stick out to you
3. The person who collected your names is now referred to within your group as the “facilitator
4. The facilitator is going to start a group chat (Gmail Chat Video)
  • Invite all members of your group to the chat
  • Invite MisterY (me) to the chat group
5. At this time you should only have two windows open on your desktop:
  • The article
  • The group chat
6. Facilitator will pick the order of students who are going to share, including the facilitator
7. The first person simple copies and pastes the first quote that they liked into the group chat
8. Everyone in the group now responds to how they interpret the quote, except the person who originally posted the quote
9. After everyone has shared the person who originally shared can now respond with any additional thoughts, changed thinking, and/or responses to what everyone has said
10. Move on to the next person, repeat until everyone has shared at least one quote. If you have time move on to a second round of quotes.

Check out what happened next

Afterwards the moderators shared out to the class what their groups had discussed. Keep in mind, that there is no sound because the room is completely quiet. The only talking that occurred was through the chat.

Suggestions for instructors trying to repeat this process:
  • Preview the article and give a little blurb about why you are sharing it.
  • Go over the directions out loud with the class.
  • Get up and walk around as the protocol starts and as it transitions into the sharing phase just to make sure the students only have the group chat and the article open, the other things they have access to are really distracting. You may have noticed in the video that there was a lag in some of the conversations because they were distracted.
  • Be okay if you haven’t read everything the students wrote - that what you have chat transcripts for. If you have not enabled chat. Go to Gmail Settings (upper right corner), Chat tab, "Save Chat History". This a good idea if you are having conversations with students and parents anyway

Have fun and be part of the conversations!

See, what did I (Phil) tell you? Patrick's classroom is not only paperless and fun, but most of it can be used directly in your classroom tomorrow. Be sure to send some love Patrick's way so we can encourage him to post more often!

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