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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

7 Reasons to Try Using Backchannels in Your Classroom

A couple of the most popular posts that I have published lately were about creating backchannel chats to use in your classroom. In response to those posts some readers have sent questions asking for more explanation of why they should try tools like Backchannel Chat or Yo Teach. Here are some reasons to try using a backchannel chat in your classroom.

1. A Voice for Shy Students
Typing a response or asking a question in a backchannel chat can be a little less intimidating for some students who aren't comfortable asking questions aloud.

2. An Outlet for Chatty Students
We've all had that student who wants to say something about everything. A backchannel chat gives that student a place to ask all of the questions that he/she can think of.

3. Extend Classroom Discussions
If you've ever had a great classroom discussion cut short by the sound of the bell, a backchannel can help. With an online backchannel chat your students can continue to add comments and questions to the discussion after the school day ends.

4. Post Quick Warm-up/ "Do Now" Activities
Do you need a place to post little activities for your kids to do when they walk into your classroom? If so, post those warm-up activities in a backchannel chat for students to see when they open their laptops or unlock their iPads.

5. Preserve the Flow of a Presentation/ Video
Whenever I have shown videos in a classroom there have always been students who want to ask questions about what they're seeing and others who are annoyed by those questions interrupting the flow of the video. By using a backchannel the students who need to ask questions can do so and I can respond to them without breaking the flow of the presentation for the other students.

6. Create a Record of a Classroom Discussion
Have you ever had a student who was absent during a great classroom discussion come back to you a day later and ask, "what did I miss?" If so, a backchannel chat could be a solution for you. Using a backchannel to have kids share their questions and their comments creates a record of some of the highlights of your classroom discussion.

7. Practice Good Digital Citizenship
Hosting a backchannel chat for class by using a tool like Backchannel Chat or Yo Teach! can provide you with good opportunity to have your students develop digital citizenship skills in the form of respectful online discussion. Both Backchannel Chat and Yo Teach let you remove inappropriate comments and mute students who don't adhere to the standards that you have set for online discussion.