Reflection: Grappling with Complexity Frolicking in Nature with Emerson & Dillard - Section 2: Introduction

 

There were definitely perks and drawbacks to students' homework last night.  Overall, I was happy with the results and would continue to use TodaysMeet.com (which I used last year a few times), but I would change the application of this technology a bit.

Positives:  Every class did a phenomenal job pulling together legitimately good questions.  There were no questions about the text specifically that I would have added to their list, and there really weren't any random, low-value questions either.  Most students completed this assignment as instructed, and it was really easy for me to access and keep separate for all of the classes.  I was a bit concerned about the use of this platform, because though I wanted students to see other students' questions, I was concerned they would just copy others' questions.  That did not happen.

Negatives:  A VERY small handful of students behaved poorly on the boards and "spammed" other boards with unrelated comments.  Since there is no log-in system, which makes it really easy to use, students are supposed to put in their first names in the "User" blank (which is then associated with their comment), but we had some fake names with stupid comments.  When I saw that this had happened (and a total of two comments were VERY rude, but not laced with expletives or anything), I contacted TodaysMeet.com and they pretty much immediately took down the board.  Their terms of use require the use of actual names and postings that are appropriate, and they were really friendly about helping me out!  I handled this situation in class by explaining that a handful of students had violated the terms of use, so the board was closed.  I also scared them a little bit by letting them know that while the board was "anonymous," it is NOT anonymous to TodaysMeet, who can track users by IP addresses.  I let them know that I wouldn't be surprised if they received some sort of communication or penalty from that company, though I don't think that's really true since the comments were just rude.  Though I'm not sure exactly who posted these comments, I definitely saw a few VERY uncomfortable students for a few days, so I assume it was them.  

Moving forward, I would continue to use the service, but I would close the boards more quickly (instead of the month I allowed) and only use the board during class.  Part of the problem was that I put the links for all class boards on my school website, and I think classes were venturing onto other classes' pages to leave off-track comments.  Keeping the addresses off of the internet and only using comments for a short duration of time would deter student mischief, and I would probably recommend these tweaks to any teacher looking to implement this service.  If I want the information for longer, my other option would be to use something like a Google Form to collect questions, then just display them during the next class period (as I did with the questions during this class period).  

  TodaysMeet & Student-Generated Questioning
  Grappling with Complexity: TodaysMeet & Student-Generated Questioning
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Frolicking in Nature with Emerson & Dillard

Unit 3: Romanticism & Transcendentalism
Lesson 8 of 8

Objective: SWBAT use textual evidence to provide clarity to student-created questions about Emerson's "Nature" and connect an excerpt from "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek" to Transcendental ideology.

Big Idea: Investigating occult relationships with vegetables and arguing over the value of pennies...you have to love the Transcendentalists!

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