Monday, February 9, 2015

Professional Book Chat using Google Docs, Wikispaces, and Twitter

I'm a Technology Support Teacher.  It is my task to help teachers not just with the nuts & bolts of district productivity tools, but also in classroom technology integration that (hopefully) helps to transform instruction.

Last spring, I was approached by Jennifer Wolf who asked for assistance.  Usually when teachers ask for help, they have a particular tool in mind.  In this particular case, the puzzle was open-ended. When Jen and I put our heads together, the result was amazing!  She had a clear view of her goals, and I had my "techie toolbelt."

The puzzle...
Jennifer wanted to lead a book chat with reading teachers in her building.  The book, The Common Core Reading Book by Gretchen Owaki, was full of big concepts just begging for opportunities for rich, educational conversations.  The challenge... It was to be a summer book chat.  Hmmm.

The solution...
We decided that a Twitter chat would be a good place to start.  Twitter provided the flexibility for folks to join in from anywhere, even from an adirondack chair during a beach vacation! (That actually happened.)

Here's the nitty-gritty...
The more we brainstormed, the more ideas we generated that could make our initial idea even better.  Here's what we did.
  1. We set up a wiki so that Jennifer and I could both act as editors.  We felt that the wiki could act as a one-stop shop for participants.  In the wiki, we included the project rationale, chat questions, Twitter archives, shared Google Docs, and other miscellaneous resources.
  2. We set up a Google Doc that was published and embedded on the wiki.  On this doc, participants could view the questions ahead of the chat as they were doing the reading.
  3. We set up a Google Doc per topic so that teachers could share key ideas.
  4. The participants began with a face-to-face meeting so that we could get everyone set up on Twitter, and practice the basics of a chat.
  5. Each subsequent week, teachers participated in the Twitter chat remotely.  As I said, the questions were posted ahead of time on the Google Doc and embedded in the wiki.
  6. Following our live chat, we archived the chat and embedded it the website.
  7. Throughout the week, teachers were able to put together what they learned from their reading and the chat, and populate a shared Google Doc on the website.  Each Doc had a table that encouraged teachers to think about how the week's reading anchor standard applied to other content areas.
Take a look at our finished product! Feel free to try this process with your own book choice and your own people.  It worked out really well.

Thanks to @jennifertwolf for this puzzle and for seeing it through.  I look forward to seeing what you'll do this summer.  Another chat?

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