Recently, students in my Spanish class were allowed to BYOD- bring their own devices to class (when permissible). I gave one day of advance notice and sure enough, my “techie” 8th graders were ready to use their devices!
Once connected to our classroom’s WiFi, students visited a website URL that I provided, which used the website: http://www.todaysmeet.com. As the “coordinator” of the discussion, I was able to create the URL for an hour, day or week and provide the unique code to my students. When arriving to the website, they were prompted to provide their name and instantly, were able to back channel!
Due to the fancy technological term, some may think “what in the world is back channeling?” In the simplest of explanations, back channeling is your classroom discussion/dialogue but virtually accessible. It is just another way to create a discussion forum online, which is restricted to only those with access to the URL and only open for dialogue in a designated period of time.
Students quickly logged their name into the website and began to respond to some questions that I had about authentic movie posters found in Spanish speaking countries, thanks to visiting the website created by Zachary Jones.(http://zachary-jones.com/zambombazo/tag/pelipareja/)
Questions such as, What is the name of the movie? What is the name of the actor? What type of movie is this? Does it interest you or bore you? (Why?) Would you recommend this movie to others? (Why?) The questions were simple and to the point. Right away, students began to type in their answers using their devices. We were discussing our thoughts and opinions-but my room was filled with silence! Only the pitter patter of moving fingers on mobile phones or the occasion laugh, where students showed their enjoyment in reading their classmates responses. Also, many students had iPhones or iPads, so they were able to “add” a Spanish keyboard in their settings options, so the “autocorrect feature” wouldn’t change everything that was written in Spanish.
Overall, the use of their own device with this simple online forum was successful. Students were observing authentic realia, responding to questions and reading each others responses, all in the target language. Let the BYOD initiatives continue!