Monday, March 11, 2013

Please DO Ask Questions and Make Comments During the Movie!

Today I used a new twist on the old... Today'sMeetThe old is watching a movie, and the new is being allowed to have a conversation while the movie is playing!  I learned about this website back in November from Shawn McCusker ( and am finally putting it to use. 

By using Today'sMeet, I am looking at the "back channel" of my classroom. What are back channels you might wonder? They are the behind the scenes conversations and notes that students use to seek clarification during classroom activities. They are secondary conversations to what is primarily happening in the classroom.  

We started the movie, Gattaca, in biology today. If you haven't seen it, the plot consists of a society in the "not so distant future" that uses genomics and biometrics to create and organize society. Students have many questions about the movie, especially on the first day. Before class, I created a Today'sMeet url for each class. It is very simple and lasts for a set amount of time. I selected ours for one week. This url is then provided to students to join the chat.
When my students came to class, they used their assigned iPads to log on to the network. I then explained the "Rules of Theater 416." Your rules need to be well defined. Posts cannot be erased and are seen by all who participate. 

This is what the conversation looks like on the iPad screen.
 I kept the rules clear and simple:
1.       Only have the Today'sMeet page open on your iPad. All other apps are closed.
2.    Log-in using first name.
3.       Post an original comment or question during the movie.
4.       Respond to another student’s comment or question during the movie.
5.       Any unacceptable posts will result in a zero for the assignment.

So, how did it go? Check out this screen shot for the answer.  This is just a portion of a conversation during the first 30 minutes of the movie.

This is a screen shot of a portion of the transcript from one class.
I launched this idea today hoping that it just wouldn't crash and burn. Instead, I am marveled by the genuine interest and dialogue shared by my students. I can't wait to see what I will learn from them tomorrow.

To learn more ways in which I am using technology in my classroom, follow me on Twitter @eglassman757.

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