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April 22, 2001 November 13, 2003 Sturbridge Host Conference Center Massachusetts Department of Education Matthew Maennling The PreK-12 Educational Portal.

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Presentation on theme: "April 22, 2001 November 13, 2003 Sturbridge Host Conference Center Massachusetts Department of Education Matthew Maennling The PreK-12 Educational Portal."— Presentation transcript:

1 April 22, 2001 November 13, 2003 Sturbridge Host Conference Center Massachusetts Department of Education Matthew Maennling The PreK-12 Educational Portal for Massachusetts Animating Classroom Discussion Online Using VES

2 Introduction In this session we will explore: How we manage discussion in the classroom without technology How online discussion forums extend and augment traditional classroom practice How teachers can use VES to engage students in meaningful learning outside of classroom time Teaching and learning is, above all, communication between and among teachers and students. A successful learning environment fosters communication, enabling students to find their voice.

3 How do we manage classroom discussion? Effective learning environments provide structured and varied opportunities for students to engage in work, discussion, debate and presentation/reporting Often, however we rely on rigid question and answer forms of communicating because of time constraints in the classroom By bringing discussions, debates, conversations and instructions online in a forum, we can increase student engagement and nurture their voice Five students raise their hands having heard the teachers question. One student is called on to answer and the rest of the class sits quietly. Some students never raise their hands, and rarely express their voice during class time.

4 How do we manage discussion in classrooms? Effective learning environments provide structured and varied opportunities for students to engage in work, discussion and debate as well as present their work in progress and completed Question and answer Instructions for group work Small group discussions Group work and reports Partner activities Individual reflection Structured debates Role playing and drama Constructivist group roles within project work Speeches Performances Group presentations

5 Constraints limiting student engagement Some students feel shy during classroom discussions and are unwilling to risk participation, yet gravitate to journal-writing and personal work. In the absence of teacher feedback, these students often disengage A minority of students dominate the majority of interaction with the teacher when ask and answer strategy is used Discussions or lessons missed by students put them at a disadvantage during follow-up discussions Classroom time is limited, and much time is consumed by management rather than time on task Students are often reluctant to revise their work unless they receive ongoing, timely and relevant feedback Despite a widely shared understanding of how to engage students and promote classroom discussion:

6 How can we reach more students? More time during class for discussion, group work and partner activities Personal feedback on every students written work Encourage peer review, extending the audience of a students work – motivating them to maximize the quality of their work Ample time for student reflection on critical questions and a structured forum for each student to respond from their own perspective But how can we do all this with only 45 minutes per period?

7 Online discussion forums – how they work Online discussion forums extend the reach of the classroom, enable every student to participate in classroom discourse and receive timely feedback Forums are like bulletin boards Structured by Forum, Topic and Message, private by classroom Each posting includes the authors name, no anonymous postings Students may not remove postings, teachers manage the content of a discussion Permission must be granted to students to read a forum, post replies, attach documents or post new topics

8 Online discussion forums – how they work Each district and school have private communities within the discussion forums. Each teacher can have a classroom forum built by a local administrator or VES

9 Online discussion forums – how they work A Forum consists of topics authored by a teacher. In a topic, teachers and students can post their messages and responses.

10 Online discussion forums – how they work There are several ways a forum can be used to support classroom teaching and learning Post annotated class syllabus, instructions and other attachments Launch a discussion on a curriculum topic such as climate change Enable students to maintain a web log or journal of a data gathering activity Debate the implications of a current event in the news Post answers to Frequently Asked Questions Enable students to catch up on work missed due to absence

11 Online discussion forums – benefits Augmenting a classroom with online discussions provides several immediate advantages over classroom work alone Shy students can post their responses to classroom assignments or questions with ample time to reflect and formulate their responses Students absent from school can participate in class discussions or debates from home using their VES account In addition to comments and feedback from the teacher, other students can also contribute encouragement and feedback to each student, reinforcing students motivation to put their best ideas forward While many forms of classroom discussion are too time intensive to use scarce time in daily work, online discussion is anytime and anywhere Since postings remain online, teachers and students can refer back to existing discussions. Teachers can archive postings for future use and can reuse FAQs, instructions and syllabus/materials each year

12 Scenario 1: The open debate An open debate forum in which all students participate as equals provides control over topics by the teacher, but the freedom to read, reply and attach documents to all students in the class Discussing the war in Iraq and the role of the United Nations internationally Debating capital punishment legislation: pros and cons Exploring how the Founding Fathers might interpret the Patriot Act Role playing and taking the perspective of historical figures Students supporting each other in a homework forum in which the teacher answers specific questions and encourages students to do the same Students attach photos of their science fair exhibits forming an archive of the years preparation; students can see each others products and learn from each other

13 Scenario 2: The self-serve forum Sometimes it is useful to have an online list of Frequently Asked Questions or instructions that are read-only, and managed by a librarian, tech director or teacher Posting book lists and announcing new resources available in the school library along with annotations for teachers and students A technology director posts the instructions for using the computer lab, printers, digital cameras and other peripherals The school principal posts policy documents and staff postings in a teacher read-only forum A high school teacher posts annotated syllabus, materials and homework documents for students and parents to track expectations. The teacher can reiterate instructions, clarify expectations and edit materials through the year Coaches of sports teams can post match reports, player profiles and more

14 Scenario 3: The feedback forum When a committee or teacher needs to solicit feedback on a specific topic and wants to control the topics and restrict attachments Curriculum teams submit feedback on new local benchmarks Students solicit ideas for dances, fundraisers and school events A Sound Off discussion about a topic of the day For her Masters degree, a teacher posts a question online and asks her colleagues for open-ended comments and feedback for use in thesis research

15 VES forum tool specs The VES discussion forum is administered by a VES Administrator (or more than one) district or school level Each teacher manages his or her own forums, built initially by the VES administrator(s) Forums content is managed by teachers and culled each year Message attachments may be up to 5MB in size, useful for homework submissions, reports or syllabus materials in any format Each users name appears on each message they author The last 10 postings of a user may be viewed by clicking on their name There is a swear pack installed in the tool, preventing profanity – and remember, each message has the authors name attached There are NO anonymous postings – no anonymous accounts Teachers control who engages in each discussion.

16 Need a little help? Try the online tutorial

17 Need a little help? Get our documentation…

18 Need a little help? Come for free training!

19 Important VES facts: VES is free of charge for K-12 teachers, students and administrators in Massachusetts VES is safe and secure, and no vendors have access to teacher or student information There are over 13,000 lesson plans accessible through VES Every account has 100MB of personal file storage space for teachers and 50MB for students VES offers free training in locations around the state (West, Central, Northeast, Metro Boston and Southeast/Cape)

20 Contact us with your questions or ideas! VES Help Matthew Jeff St

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