I have been spending a lot of time in one of the fourth grade classes. The teacher and I have a nice relationship and she and I have fun working together. The great thing about this teacher is her willingness to try new things and take risks. This is a teacher who has been teaching for many years, knows what she knows and is not afraid to admit what she she doesn’t. So, she and I spend time in her class trying out new things together. We are currently preparing for a Mystery Skype call so we wanted the children to compile a list of facts about our state so they would be ready to answer the other class’s questions. Fortunately the class just completed their study of our state so the skype call will be a great way to purposefully use what they learned and do it in a fun way. We were going to have them just create a Word document and then merge the contents but at the last minute I thought, “let’s try using a backchannel.” Since the teacher and I have that kind of relationship, she said to go ahead and do it (not knowing what I was really talking about). I set up a Today’s Meet room for our facts, showed the kids how it works and they were off and running. The facts were quickly popping up and the kids were excited to see their classmates ideas in real time. I sprinkled in a few reminders and suggestions along the way and the kids responded to these. By the time we were finished we had quite a list. At that point we took the facts and tried to see which ones were useful in narrowing down our location on a map since those are the type of questions we will probably be answering. We printed out our transcript so she could take a closer look at which students were participating, what facts they each added to our list, etc.
What we saw from this activity is how much the students remember and also how easily the kids were able to jump into trying out this tool. The teacher and I immediately talked about other ways she could use this site and she is excited to try it with the Thomas Jefferson movie she shows.
Why this kind of relationship works is because she and I are able to brainstorm together, we are able to laugh and she is able to let go of hesitation and try something new.