Saturday, June 18, 2016

Backchannels in the Classroom

A backchannel is digital conversation that happens at the same time as as the classroom face to face conversation. Of course, I am a fan of the tool Padlet for this.  Another tool you could try is Backchannel Chat or Today's Meet. Here are a few reasons to use a backchannel in your classroom.

  1. It gives students that typically wouldn't use their voice in your classroom a voice. Students who are reserved, shy, or not comfortable sharing feel much more able to share in this "safer" environment.
  2. It helps students who need more think time than their classmates. They can read, think at their own speed and then respond. It also gives them the time they need to brainstorm and be able to share their thoughts.
  3. It increases the number of student who participate in a classroom discussion.
  4. Using it as a reflection tool for students' reading allows student to read undistracted and then contribute their ideas while having the ability to work at their own speed.
  5. A Back channel would be a great way to actively watch a video as a class and have students listen and look for specific details or content.  
Here is a list of ideas for classroom backchannels:
  • Take a class poll on a specific question or topic
  • Crowdsource feedback or gather input from students to inform instruction
  • Empower student voice and make them active participants in knowledge building in the classroom
  • Conduct informal assessments
  • Assess student prior knowledge about a topic
  • Brainstorm ideas for a writing project
  • Allow students to ask questions about today’s learning they didn’t understand
  • Conduct a class discussion
  • Allows all children to be a part of classroom conversations, even those who are not comfortable  speaking in class
  • provides students with an outlet to engage in classroom conversations
  • Share links, resources, and knowledge

If you haven't tried a backchannel in your classroom. Try one!

Try Backchannel Chat here ( as a student)

Try Padlet (as a student)   

Try Today’s Meet here (as a student)

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