Backchannels in the Classroom

Backchannels in the Classroom

A backchannel is digital conversation that happens at the same time as as the classroom face to face conversation. Of course, I am a fan of the tool Padlet for this.  Another tool you could try is Backchannel Chat or Today's Meet. These digital spaces allow students to share their thinking, participate collaboratively with their peers, and comment on each other's contributions.  Teachers are able to use backchannel conversations to gather formative data at the same time as check for student understanding.  Here are a few reasons to use a backchannel in your classroom.

  1. It gives students that typically wouldn't use their voice in your classroom a voice. Students who are reserved, shy, or not comfortable sharing feel much more able to share in this "safer" environment.
  2. It helps students who need more think time than their classmates. They can read, think at their own speed and then respond. It also gives them the time they need to brainstorm and be able to share their thoughts.
  3. It increases the number of student who participate in a classroom discussion.
  4. Using it as a reflection tool for students' reading allows student to read undistracted and then contribute their ideas while having the ability to work at their own speed.
  5. A Back channel would be a great way to actively watch a video as a class and have students listen and look for specific details or content.  
Here is a list of ideas for classroom backchannels:
  • Take a class poll on a specific question or topic
  • Crowdsource feedback or gather input from students to inform instruction
  • Empower student voice and make them active participants in knowledge building in the classroom
  • Conduct informal assessments
  • Assess student prior knowledge about a topic
  • Brainstorm ideas for a writing project
  • Allow students to ask questions about today’s learning they didn’t understand
  • Conduct a class discussion
  • Allows all children to be a part of classroom conversations, even those who are not comfortable  speaking in class
  • provides students with an outlet to engage in classroom conversations
  • Share links, resources, and knowledge


If you haven't tried a backchannel in your classroom. Try one!

Try Backchannel Chat here ( as a student)

Try Padlet (as a student)   

Try Today’s Meet here (as a student)



Book Snaps

A Book Snap is a digital way to document and share the great snippets you find as you are reading.  It is a great visual way to annotate, share excerpts, make connections and more as you read.  Click here to learn more about BookSnaps.


The concept of Book Snaps came from the idea of sharing using Snap Chat, but there are many other ways you can create and share Book Snaps.  Check out all the ideas here:  BookSnap How-To-Videos and Examples.  

Also, follow #BookSnaps on Twitter to see lots of examples of booksnaps.

I think I am most curious about how to make a Booksnap using Google Drawings. BUT, I also have Pic Collage Kids on my phone, which might be super simple.  i will be exploring and I will share what I create!  Can't wait!


This is the hardest step really.  Giving yourself the time and freedom to learn.  Summer is the perfect time to embrace something new.  Hopefully, some of the pressures of the school year are off of you and your mind is open and free from the clutter of every day and is able to take in something new.

  • What short term goal have you established for yourself in regards to creating and maintaining your PLN?
  • What long term goal can you set for yourself in regards to your PLN?


  • Find and follow 10 – 20 people on Twitter.  Include me in this list so that I can see who you are following. You do not need to list all 10-20 in this blog post HOWEVER summarize your fave top 5 Tweeters in your post.  Why are these 5 good connections for you and what have you learned from these connections?
  • Find 3 hashtags that you have found valuable to follow.  Share them in this blog post!
  • Share at least 10 great Tweets to the hashtag #techpd17

Also think and reflect about:

  • What are some obstacles for me with using Twitter (or a social media tool)?
  • What are some things you have learned from Twitter (or a social media tool)?

Curating Content ~ a New Essential Life Skill

We take in a ton more information than we did in the past and therefore, it is essential that we are able to first, find good information, but then also store that information in a useful way, and finally be able to easily share it with others.  Sounds easy?   Well…. I am going to suggest that in this 21st century, this has gotten far more complex.

Finding good information
Sounds simple enough but keep these questions in mind…

What searching strategies will I use to find the information I need quickly and efficiently?

A basic Google search may not be strategy enough to find the best, high quality information.  Please check out these resources to become a better Internet Researcher.
What To Do with the Information You Find
Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you with this content curation step……
  • What is my goal with this information?  Why do I need this information?
  • If I save this information, when will I use it?
  • Just how good is this information?
               Is this information valid?
               Is the source of the information a source you can trust?
               Can the information be validated with another source?
  • How or where will you store this information so you can easily find it?
  • If your links disappeared tomorrow, could you remember all of them?
  • Are your links well organized?
Check out these links for information on a few ways to save and organize information online:
Sharing the Good Stuff
If you have found good stuff, and spent a good deal of time in doing that, and don’t share with others, what good is that?
Do you have a way to share the resources that you are collecting with others?
How are other educators around you sharing their resources?