I wasn’t really excited about Google+ when it debuted this summer (I think). I make a conscious effort not to jump on the bandwagon of new resources (though I do admit that I got a Google Voice number as soon as I could get an invite. In my defense, it was a way to solve a problem I was having. And if you know anything about the way I approach technology, you know that I tend to use it to solve problems that arise). I read blogs the last few weeks about Google+ and most of what people were noticing was that a number of people who jumped on the bandwagon logged in once and didn’t log in again. I tried very hard not to be one of those people. And I logged in a number of times, but posted very little. This led me to compose this tweet:
What I realized, as I was going back through my tweets, is that it’s just another tool to add to the list. However, my biggest networks are on Twitter and Facebook already. And I’m attempting to build a fan page (http://dft.ba/-mso) through Facebook. I guess I don’t see the value in Google+ yet, because it involves rebuilding something that I’ve spent the last two years building, and I don’t want to do that right now.
Sure, Google+ has some cool features: the ability to simply select the messages you want to send to specific people, the ability to have video chats with multiple people. But these are things I can do with networks I already have established. I don’t post anything on the internet that I want to filter from people (I had a bad experience during my student teaching in 2005 and learned very quickly that I don’t want a lot of personal information disseminated via the internet), and I’m already a Skype user, and users through Skype have the ability to have video conference calls — Tuesday night, I video chatted with my sister, brother, and four of my cousins on Skype — and minus the fact that the internet in my house is very slow, it was a perfectly acceptable experience.
But for anyone interested, @web20classroom put together a LiveBinder (a resource I do want to take the time to find out more about) about Google+ (if you click the image, it takes you to the post).
What I did do, over the last few weeks, was use TodaysMeet like crazy, finding ways to integrate it into my literacy instruction, and provide the link to a few of my colleagues, who also used it in their classrooms. I can’t remember the tweet that illicited this reply, but TodaysMeet is one of my favorite resources right now.
I also posted about using this tool in my classroom. What I love about the first time I used it a few weeks ago is that it was born of a comment by one of my students about how difficult it was to use Edmodo to do what I wanted them to do. I also loved the feedback that I get from my students. They love it. I think it has to do with the multitasking that it so engrained in them. They text less because they can’t focus on the chatroom, the lesson, and their phones all at the same time. You can find the post that I wrote after the first instance in this tweet (if you click the image, it takes you to the post):
Since then, TodaysMeet was used by a history teacher at my school, while showing a film. He said that he feels like he can show movies in class now — students like film, and learn a lot from it — and make sure his students are actively engaged. He also used TodaysMeet during presentations, and his students received amazing feedback and were verbal processing (in a written format). He also said it’s done wonders for his classroom management. He also has students who don’t participate in class discussion participating in the backchannel, especially since all comments are anonymous (except to him). Talk about the differentiation of instruction.
On Thursday, I used TodaysMeet to debrief about what we’ve been working on the last two weeks. The conversation took place both in the backchannel and aloud. I was able to go back through the transcript and see what I need to reteach and what I need to make more explicit about our strategy instruction.
If you haven’t looked at it, TodaysMeet is ridiculously easy to use. You create your chat room’s URL, tell the computer how long you want your room to archive for, and away you go. The URL and archive delete after the specified time, and if you want to use that URL later, you start fresh with a new room.