My students are excited the race is getting so close. To get them even more excited, I decided it was time to show last year’s documentary, Iditarod 42: The March to Nome. This lesson has much more going on than just watching a video.
TodaysMeet is a backchannel that was created for classrooms. Essentially, it is a chat room the teacher creates for a specific class to keep students engaged in class by answering questions, making comments, and asking questions in live time. What I appreciate about this tool is the quiet students that don’t ever participate will now involve themselves in the class discussion.
My students were paired up and given a computer while we watched the video as a whole class. Prior to the video starting, the students went to the class chat room and entered their names to get started. As we watched the video, I prompted the discussion with questions relating to the video. The only rule I had for answering questions was each response had to be different. Once students got comfortable, they started commenting and asking their own questions.
Feedback from students was positive in using this tool. It kept them engaged while watching a video. They paid close attention to smaller details since they were being asked questions. Students had the opportunity to ask and receive answers immediately during the video rather than waiting and possibly forgetting their questions.
Another useful option is teachers are able to print the transcript of the entire conversation. The video took us three class periods to watch; we had a great deal of discussion. I wanted my students to be able to reflect on the discussion as well as use it when answering the writing assignment.
Using the transcript from TodaysMeet, students had to complete a writing assignment of the video. The writing prompt: What do you feel has been the biggest change the Iditarod has seen through the years? Defend your answer with at least 3 supporting details from the movie. There were a variety of ideas in the student responses. Some examples were technology, women, equipment, dog care, other countries entering, and safety. Watching The March to Nome is a great way to give the students a taste of what the trail entails.