Active Literacy With iPads Part 3: Opening up the Backchannel

Last week I had my class participate in their first ever back channel discussion.  During our daily read aloud time I usually stop at points to have students turn and talk, answer a few questions, or do an ultra quick lesson or recap of what’s happening.  The turn and talks are great because every kid gets to participate, but they are limited to who is sitting near them.  So I wondered…would a back channel work?  Would a back channel discussion help or hurt student’s comprehension of the story?

I started with the whole group for the back channel, but I made participation optional, and I told them that I would be asking them to debrief about the experience afterward.  While I read I noticed some students simply turned their iPad over and listened while others never looked up once.  So what did they think?

I liked how we did not have to stop and take up are reading time.

I did not participate in the discussion.

I think that this discussion was so cool because we could talk and share our thoughts without making a sound while hearing the book and not interrupting ms. Mutharis  and this way it is so much more interesting.

I thought it was really cool on how you could go on edmodo  when your listening to the story but the thing is that it was really hard to type and listen to the story at the same time.I wanted to listen to the story more. But I really liked talking on Edmodo when reading I thought it was really cool.
Well my iPad wouldn’t work, but I bet t it was cool.
I think that the discussion was a cool thing to do, but I think we should only do it once in a while. For me, it was a little distracting to have the iPad in front of me, but I can work on that. Maybe we should have the iPads face down and still have Edmodo open.  That will prevent us from changing our picture or just playing around on our iPad and only be using Edmodo when we need to say something.

I liked the back channel talk discussion, because it is fun to see what everyone is thinking because you can’t talk in read aloud. Sometimes it can get distracting, but if you really concentrate, it’s a fun thing to do. I like it.

I don’t really like backchannel discussions because you can’t really focus on the story. I think turn and talks are better because Ms. Muhtaris isn’t reading and in back channel discussions she’s still reading while you type. Sometimes the typing is slow so that takes up time and it’s hard to listen to the story.

I think the discussion was AWESOME! This is a great book and I think we should discuss like this every other time we read. We had a great discussion and we were on topic throughout the whole discussion. Nobody was fooling around and it was very interesting to see the responses.

I do not like back-channeling because I can’t  listen to Among the Hidden and type at the same time

I thought that the back channel discussion was a great way for my classmates to talk without saying it out loud and we should do it in the future and was really fun!

I like it and I don’t like it I like it because it is cool to see my classmates thinking not only mine but it was a little distracting because I was reading other people’s comments instead of having both ears on the story.

I think that it was okay, I think that it was great because we sort of got to talk while you were reading so you could give out your feelings but I did not like it because read aloud is sort of a relaxing time and if you are typing the whole time than you are not really relaxing and you are not listening to the story as well, so that is why I think that it is okay.

I liked back channel discussions because it goes faster without raising your hand and verbally asking a question. And it’s always fun to use the iPad but it went slow because everyone was on edmodo.

I liked it because it gives you a chance to share your feelings without having to wait your turn or stick your hand up in the air. Also I like it because you get to piggyback off some one else’s ideas and you get to look at everyone’s ideas.

Powerful thoughts.

It seems like the class was pretty split.  I was proud that they were able to articulate how the discussion on the back channel enriched their experience in some ways as well as identify the drawbacks of multi-tasking.  I would say that overall most of the students who have an easy time with reading and listening comprehension seemed to enjoy the discussion.  Not all of them, but most of them.  Students who are still developing their listening comprehension skills were split about 50-50.

I was and still am torn.  Based on my student’s responses I do think that I will offer this option again.  But, one of the things that I’m learning is that you really need to mix the technology channel with a traditional communication channel during the lesson to meet the needs of ALL of the students in the class.  So I’m thinking a back channel/turn and talk blend would be best in the future.  However, at some point it comes down to learning style and choice.

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One Response to Active Literacy With iPads Part 3: Opening up the Backchannel

  1. Tara says:

    It’s all a learning process, isn’t it? I just blogged about the Saturday Reunion at TC, and a workshop I attended which focused on tech use in book clubs. So much out there to explore!

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