One thing that I am really looking forward to this summer is the online PD class that we are doing for our MS and HS teachers. About 13 signed up for this experience, they will get renewal credit, and it is focusing on becoming digital teachers and learners. One important aspect had to include some sort of online discussion forum for them to be part of. An online discussion place can help start a conversation, keep a conversation going or just give students who don’t normally speak up in the classroom a chance to be part of the conversation. We want every student engaged in the learning, not just the vocal few.
We will be using a Google+ Community to carry out these conversations. They will also be asynchronous as I have already posted questions for them to answer and discuss when they are ready. This means that they will be able to have a conversation when they are ready and then even be able to come back if they have something new to add or change. This will also be a place that they can use to get help and feedback by posting questions or carrying out conversations since we will not be meeting in person at all. This will also model how we can have online discussions and will help them prepare to do so with their students. The key, more so for students than teachers, is to make sure there are guidelines discussed about behavior and what is appropriate and what is not.
Last note, this Community is private so that this should help everyone feel more comfortable about sharing. This will be key when you start doing this with students in your own classroom. Make sure they are comfortable when they start before gradually transitioning to another format.