Yesterday students started working on projects that identified the positive and negative effects of online learning communities on high school students. My students targeted five sites, researched how they are used, how they could make this community better, and guidelines for acceptable participation within these communities.
Today, as students present their communities to the class, I want the members of the viewing class to backchannel on a Google doc. I consider backchanneling a type of learning community that focuses on a central issue(s) and examines it by constructively criticizing or highlighting what the presenter is yielding. In the case of this class, I want my students to test the waters of backchanneling by setting up a shared Google doc.
Students will be able to use a backchannel for feedback
Students will be able to assess presentations effectiveness through a backchannel
1. Briefly define what a backchannel is for your students. If you have extra time in class, you can set them out to find the definition on their own along with examples.
**NOTE: If you use twitter, you may want to summon your PLN and ask them how using a backchannel can promote constrictive feedback and transfer new information to a larger community of learners.
2. Set up a Google Doc and share it with the entire class. Give your students some guidelines before they start to backchannel in class
A. If you present criticism, be constructive. Offer options or solutions for your classmates. No empty criticism or attack criticism will be tolerated.
B. Highlight the key points to share. Don’t just look at what others are saying and copy their idea. Develop your own thinking on the subject and present it on the doc.
C. Respond to other’s assertions and criticism. Part of backchannel is creating a dialogue of ideas in a uniformed fashion. While you want to construct your own ideas and highlights, it is good practice to participate in the conversation that is unfolding.
D. Maintain a high level of interest in the presentation. Do not let the backchannel be your only focus. You are still watching your peers present and you want your primary focus to be on the presenter while checking in with the backchannel periodically.
E. The conventions of the English language still count in the backchannel. While the purpose of the backchannel is to be short and brief, you still want to articulate your message effectively and provide a coherent message. Remember, your peers will be looking back at this document and learning from your responses. Make sure they can read it. Be concise and coherent at the same time.
3. Once you cover the ground rules for the backchannel, make sure you instruct the presenters to focus on their content and not to feel ignored if they see the heads of their peers looking down to type a few lines about the presentation.
4. For a follow up or homework assignment, have students write a reflection blog post on what they learned from the presentation combined with what they gleaned from the backchannel.