SpEd: Online Interaction
DELETE: Introduce teacher videos and quotes in a way that both introduces the videos and ties them to the competency of the chapter. Place your videos and quotes where they make the most sense in the chapter.
15-3.1 Online Interaction in the Language Arts
Review foundational knowledge about Online Interactions in K-12 Blended Teaching (Volume 1).
SpEd classrooms thrive on interactions with and between students. Both in-person and online interactions and feedback provide students with ways to share and support their positions, give and receive feedback, and to present both written and spoken opinions and positions with both civility and evidence.
15-3.2 Student to Student Interactions
Talking, discussing, reading, sharing, writing, and revising are at the heart of English language arts classes. Conversations around these activities can help students to build critical thinking skills, express themselves, listen and civilly respond, and revise their opinions, writing and speaking techniques, and discourse when needed. Technology can enhance these activities, increasing student confidence, collaboration, and engagement.
There are many technologies that support online discussions. Here are a few of them and how they can be used in SpEd. (You might want to become proficient with one technology then branch out to another one. Don’t try too many at once.)
- Discussion Boards: Usually part of a learning management system (LMS), they allow threaded discussions that can be tied to the grade book.
- Padlet: An online bulletin board where students can post and reply to comments using text, images, audio, and video. Students can also create timelines, storyboards, and collages individually or collaboratively.
- Flipgrid: a video discussion board. Instead of using a text-based discussion, flipgrid allows students to post and respond with video, which can increase the sense of nearness and community in the discussion. Flipgrid also allows students and teachers to create and share screencast videos.
- GoReact: Another video tool that allows students to submit videos of themselves for observation and feedback. This can be useful for helping students create, evaluate, and receive feedback on their presentation and oral skills.
- VoiceThread: A video/audio tool that allows students to add pictures or text on a project, give feedback on writing, and explain their work. It can also be used to make instructional videos with interactive abilities (that can also be turned into quizzes), and create situations where students think aloud about their writing process and share their videos with each other.
- Google Docs: A collaboration tool, where students can write and receive feedback and suggested edits on their writing and where students can collaborate on projects and all forms of writing.
- Google Slides: Similar to Google Docs, Google Slides allows students to individually or collaboratively create presentation slides. Google Slides is also increasingly used to generate quick ideas and brainstorming, with each student or group of students having one slide.
Just like in-person discussions and interactions, online interactions can become stale if they do not include variety and contrast, inviting students to think deeply and/or creatively.
Here are some ideas that are relevant to a SpEd classroom.
Table 1 (Replace content of table with content applicable to your chapter.)
Online Discussion Ideas
|Book Introduction (Pride and Prejudice)||2. Read the biography 3. In class, pair students with different biographies to present the character of the biography they read and compare the two. 4. Reveal that the two biographies are of the same person (but have vastly different biographies).||1. Give each student online access to one of two (contrasting) two-page biographies of the same real person. 5. In an online discussion, group four people together (two for each biography) and discuss what they learned from the exercise.|
|Comparison/Contrast||1. In a full class explanation (with video backup) explain what it means to compare and contrast two items. 3. Have the groups meet in-person in the classroom. Have them make two lists, one of the comparisons and one of the contrasts, adding evidence from the text (or movie) to support their claims.||2. Divide the class into small groups (4-6 people) in an online discussion. Give each group two things to compare and contrast (two paragraphs about the same topic from two different writer, a scene from a boook with a corresponding scene from a movie of the book, or two poems with the same author, time period, topic, or theme.) Set the discussion up so that students cannot see posts of those who have written before them until they have posted their own ideas.|
|Role Playing 1||1. Have students meet in small groups, assigning each group a character from a novel you are reading. The students brainstorm character qualities of their person using evidence from the text. 3. Discuss new insights the students gained about the character and about characterization as a class.||2. Divide the students into new groups with a representative from each character in the group. Give the students a scenario. Members of the group respond to the scenario in the discussion board as if they were the character they were assigned. (You may wish to follow up by having students create a video of the situation.)|
|Role Playing 2||1. Students read a non-fiction text. As a class brainstorm key ideas and takeaways from the text. 3. Regroup students according to the role they performed (putting all of one role--conformer, for example) into one group. Discuss insights they gained from acting in that role.||2. In the discussion board assign students one of the takeaways/ideas and give each person a role: defender, devil's advocate, peacemaker, summarizer, encourager, conformer, rebel, teacher, etc. The students react to the takeaway representing the roles they have been assigned.|
|Role Playing 3||2. Students who had the same literary elements gather to create a poster of their findings.||1. Students in a discussion group read the same text, each one looking for different literary elements: setting, symbol, alliteration, vocabulary, literary point of view, similes/metaphors, characterization, motifs, etc. They share what they found in the discussion.|
|Giving Peer Feedback||2. Students individually brainstorm and record the following in a Google doc: a topic/argument and explanations and evidences to support their views. They write an introductory paragraph, including a hook.||1. Students watch a video about how to write a persuasive paper. 3. Students share their documents with a small group, who comments on what they have written and asks questions.|
|Thoughts, Questions, and Epiphanies (The TQE Method)||2. To prepare for the in-class discussion, the students write thoughts, questions, and epiphanies they have had from the reading on different white boards. 3. Using the boards for ideas, the students discuss the work in-person.||1. During in class reading time, students read a text online (such as Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" for example). They respond to the text online in a "They Say, I Say" document. (See below.) 4. Each person follows up in an online discussion, adding new or different insights, experiences, thoughts, questions, or ephiphanies.|
The Big List of Class Discussion Strategies, compiled by Jennifer Gonzalez, is a longer list of ideas that could be done online, include Socratic seminars, gallery walks, affinity mapping, etc. Use your creativity to modify them for use in both the online and in-person space.
In your Blended Teaching Notebook create an online discussion for the lesson/content area that you are addressing with your problem of practice. How will you make it engaging for the students? How will you target your problem of practice?
If you haven't already opened and saved your workbook, you can access it here.
Not all online interaction has to take place in a discussion. It can take place in a shared Google Doc, in a real-time Zoom meeting, through blogs or social media, through visits to each other's websites, etc.
- Students could share their favorite books on a class (or classes) web page, including a summary of the book and why they like it (something like goodreads). It could include both current or past readings from any time of their life. You might have a day to share their favorite childhood picture book, first chapter book, favorite book of different genres, etc.
- Create a page for students to share their writing: poetry, essays, drama, stories, etc.
- Create an “I found” page for students to record examples of literary elements they find in their reading (or in commercials, movies, etc.): alliteration, similes, metaphors, irony, hyperbole, satire, etc. The Jamboard example below is from The Tempest.
- Have a contest to see who can find the most typos in texts they read (and maybe, if you’re brave enough, even in your assignments and emails). Create an online bulletin board for students to share what they find.
- Have students make an online gallery of characters from a book you are studying with a brief character sketch, using evidence from the book. (Hide gallery until all students have contributed.) In class, group students who depicted the same character and have them create a fuller character sketch together, making sure everything they present is backed by evidence from the book.
Student to student or peer interactions can be powerful. Students can help each other, answer questions, give feedback, take feedback, explain concepts, and counsel with each other.
15-3.3 Teacher to Student Interactions
Interactions between students and the teacher are also important in a SpEd course. Experienced blended teachers often report that their interactions with students online have strengthened relationships and contributed to student growth. What are some ways teachers can foster these interactions?
- Participate in online discussions. You don’t have to chime in and respond to everyone’s posts. Instead your role in a discussion board is to guide and facilitate the discussion. You can monitor what is said for civility as well as content. If a discussion is going in a nonproductive direction, you can gently guide it back. You can respond honestly to good ideas and interesting insights. You can suggest further resources.
- Provide feedback. Students appreciate and need feedback. Teachers find that giving some types of feedback online is much easier than feedback with traditional paper and pen.
- Give feedback on assignments through the LMS you use. Check out the ways your LMS allows you to communicate with students about their assignments. If you are using rubrics for grading, you can give very specific feedback then allow your students to improve the assignment. Your LMS may have additional ways to contact students.
- Use written, audio, or video feedback. Some students prefer written feedback because they can access it easily; others prefer audio or visual because it’s easier for them to understand and feels more personable. There are also times when it's easier to provide audio or video feedback compared to typing out feedback comments. For instance, Mote is a Chrome extension that allows teachers to quickly add audio recordings to Google Document and Google Classroom gradebook. There are also several free screen-recording tools that allow you to create quick video recordings and then share them with students using an unlisted link. There are times when text, audio, and video feedback are the most effective and you can use all three during the year.
- When students are online working during class, walk around the classroom, answering questions and giving verbal feedback as needed.
- Schedule one-on-one meetings with students to discuss their progress and provide feedback.
- Alternatively, if students are writing online on a Google Doc, for example, you can pull up as many documents as your computer will allow and give real-time feedback as they are writing. Students are more likely to rewrite when they receive feedback during the process of composing writing.
- In your feedback, share personal anecdotes that their writing brings to your mind. Let them get to know you.
- Explain to students your process for receiving emails from class members. Encourage them to email you with questions, explain when you will be available to look at emails, and answer them as promptly as possible.
- Email students who are not in class, letting them know that they were missed.
The online space significantly increases opportunities for interaction between students and content, students and other students, and students and teachers. Students who never or rarely speak in class may find themselves suddenly communicating on a regular basis. The results of learning through a combination of content, interactions, instruction, and feedback can improve student outcomes, investment, and engagement with the subject matter. You don't have to start all at once. Just choose one interaction that looks promising to you—and begin.
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