My Experiences With a High School Student Chat
The task was to “facilitate a real-time chat activity and reflect on the experience.” So I decided my new physics lesson would utilize a Google Doc shared with everyone in the class, with read/write access for all, and chat and comments on for everyone. The class would collaborate one one assignment. What a mess during the first class of the day.
I didn’t give the proper warnings and lecture on proper netiquette and consequences in the first class of the day. Students were making jokes, posting memes, playfully putting each other down, and not much was done to collaborate on the task. A few students posted something and others just allowed that to be the finished product with no need for refinement or input. I quickly stopped the chat, brought the kids back to their desks, and made up some ground rules on the spot. “You have to participate MEANINGFULLY! and meaningful participation means adding knowledge and thought to the conversation. Jokes are fun, but this is not the time for jokes. Everyone must add something to the conversation that moves the class forward with the assignment. I showed them how I could view the history of the chat as well as the changes to the document. I told the class that I would be looking at the history to grade them on what they added and what they did to distract. This got them somewhat on the right track but I still needed to make some changes for the next class.
For the next class, I realized the whole-class document was not the way to go. There were too many students contributing, changing, and too many not doing anything. So I quickly turned off sharing for everyone and changed the instructions for students to copy the document, share it to a group of 4-5 other students as well as with me, and to use chat and collaboration. I gave a better “participate meaningfully” talk and explained how I would review everyone’s contribution through looking at the history and the remarks on the page. This went a lot better.