Recently I came across an article in a blog post by Larry Cuban in “Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice”. He had the opportunity to observe a 7th-grade teacher, John DiCosmo, as he conducted a class on John Steinbeck’s “The Pearl”. John began the class by using a back channel called Padlet. He elicited responses from his students to the following questions: “What would you do if you found a treasure of millions, in cash, free and clear? How would your life change?” A back channel is net-worked or online chat software that allows participants in a classroom or workshop to carry on a secondary chat exchange while the primary instructor conducts the discussion. In this case, the students respond to the question anonymously as a stimulus for conversation. The question is a very appropriate way to start talking about the “The Pearl” as the novella is about the ramifications of the discovery of a potentially very valuable pearl. The student posts can be projected on a white board or smart board. They can also be mirrored onto a TV using a tool such as Apple TV. This article is about a 7th-grade classroom but the back channel technique could be used on other levels as well. Padlet allows the student to write a response and they can drag in images, videos, and other files. Mr. DiCosmo also created a video book trailer using fellow staff members to play the primary characters from the book. What a fun way to show the students what would be expected when they make their own book trailers!
Other back channel possibilities are Twitter, TodaysMeet, and Socrative. I have used TodaysMeet in a number of workshops both as a participant and as an instructor. It is very easy to use. Whichever software you choose, back channels are a great way to elicit real-time responses from your students. It can be particularly effective with students who might be reticent to speak in class
Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice
Curated Educational Sites on Scoop It