Over the last two weeks I’ve introduced a lot of teachers to using Padlet, TodaysMeet, and Socrative in their classrooms. All three of these tools can be used as backchannel and informal assessment tools. I’ve written about various ways to use each of these tools in the past. (Click here for TodaysMeet, here for Padlet, and here for Socrative). Here are some of the key benefits of using backchannels in your classroom.
1. Shy students are given a place to ask questions and contribute to conversations.
2. Students who process information by asking a lot of questions can ask an unlimited amount of questions without dominating the classroom conversation. Everyone can see their questions and you can choose when to address their questions.
3. Gauge your students’ interest in and or prior knowledge of a topic.
4. Extend your classroom conversations beyond the time in your school’s schedule. If you have started a backchannel during a classroom conversation and it’s going well you don’t have to worry about running out of time because you can have students continue the dialogue later in the day. Students who thing of a question or comment later in the day can add them without having to wait until the next class meeting to share that question or comment.
5. Gauge the effectiveness of an activity in real time. By having students share questions and comments during an activity, you can get an immediate sense of the effectiveness of that activity by gathering feedback from all of your students.