Modeling Risk-Taking. Holding an Online Test Review Session. #edchat #mathchat #flipclass

I really don’t feel like writing right now. But I have a lot of thoughts that I want to jot down. So step 1 (my biggest hurdle in keeping up this blog): being okay with the post being a bit rough around the edges.

My school is on trimesters, so my students just took their first trimester exams. Math was up last. Which means that last week when we were doing in-class review, most of the class was a bit distracted by nervous energy surrounding their more pressing exams. I decided to offer an online review session the night before the exam (Monday  evening) at 7pm. We had never tried this before, but I told the students that I would post instructions on the class webpage for how to participate. So I posted the following:

Review session: Monday 11/19 at 7pm

  1. Go to YouTube channel to join live discussion
  2. Open Google Doc in a separate tab
  3. Type questions into google doc that you want me to answer
  4. Use chat in google doc to discuss with classmates

I was nervous about doing this for two reasons: 1. I was scared things wouldn’t work out according to my plan and that students might find the instructions too confusing and 2.  I was afraid that students would think it was silly and nobody would show up. My plan was to use YouTube’s live video streaming via Hangouts on Air and then use the Screen Share option to ink while talking out solutions to the questions students were submitting through Google Docs. I got all that set up and then at 7pm opened up the Google Doc. To my amazement, 19 students were signed on!! They started entering in a couple questions and some students were asking questions in the chat regarding getting set up. I let students answer their classmates questions for getting set up while I got the live stream going. I started explaining the first question and everybody started chatting that they could hear me but couldn’t see anything I was writing. So of course, my fear had come true and things were not going according to plan. I started talking out some steps, but they responded that it was too hard to follow. So I asked them to open up the solutions that I had posted so we could talk through some of that. That was the fastest thing I could think of to ensure that we were all looking at the same thing. So we all opened up the document and I talked through the questions that were coming in through the chat. After explaining the first problem, I said something like: I’m sorry that you can’t see me write, how frustrating. To which a student responded: who cares, we’re learning! And that one statement was all I needed.

We ended up chatting for an hour and a half and most of the students stayed on for the full time (some of them would have gladly stayed on for 2 hours, but I was tired!). We talked through the solutions and then we got to more general questions. For that, we did a lot of typing out solutions in the google doc, together. There were really good questions and answers going back and forth in the side chat. I did some of the problem solving and students took control of other things. I was the only one “talking” but I certainly was not the only one contributing. They were amazing engaged (super evident when the couple of typos I made were corrected for me almost immediately). I also let them be a little goofy in the side chat, which I think kept them having fun.

So most of what I planned didn’t actually happen. But the review session ended up being as successful as I could have asked for and a lot more fun than I was anticipating. I’m pretty happy that things did not work according to my plans, in fact. It was a good reminder that things do not have to be perfect to be effective and to never forget that it’s worth taking the risk… After all, only showing students your “perfect” side really isn’t modeling what it means to be a good learner.


Question: have you held an online review session with up to 20 students on at once using a free platform? Please leave thoughts below. Thanks!

7 thoughts on “Modeling Risk-Taking. Holding an Online Test Review Session. #edchat #mathchat #flipclass

  1. I have not, but I’ll consider it. Sounds really cool.

    I did, however, on the third day of a week long Thanksgiving break, get a text (via edmodo) from a student asking for help on a math problem. This is huge because I made a big point about using it more to ask questions (and for discussion…I’d have probably been happier if he threw it out to the whole group and not dm to me, but baby steps).

    He included a picture and he was dividing polynomials. He hadn’t put in place holders for missing terms. I sent back a pic with the problem with the placeholders (not solution) written out for him.

    Babysteps for me too. But your idea is awesome. Thanks.

    • This is great. Especially because taking a picture of your handwritten work is so simple. Just about all of my students (I’m fairly certain it’s all, actually), have the ability to quickly take a decent picture with a phone/iPod at home. I’ll have to get a post up about an activity we did with this… I’ll message you when I post it.

  2. Hi Stacey,
    Great post as usual. I applaud your risk-taking and your kids are the benefactors. I was curious if you found there was an even mix of students who attended. Conversely, were there any common traits amongst the kids who participated? eg. gender, math ability?

    • Thanks! No real common traits amongst those who participated. Almost equal split of girls and boys and also a good mix of ability. The thing was, I didn’t assign extra credit or anything for jumping on, so everyone who was there really wanted to be there. I have to play with the idea again.

  3. I did this last year with Edmodo and this year with Canvas. I love the idea of using a Google doc allowing two layers of communication with the side conversations.

    I have class sizes in my AP/Honors classes of 37 students. I’m often crushed I don’t have smaller classes. When I do online study sessions I usually have no more than 10-15 logged on at any one time. It’s awesome. The level of engagement is off the charts and I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed something that was just test prep. There energy level at night and online is higher than in class (teenagers) and not having to speak out-loud brings in some of my quiet students how aren’t so quiet online.

    I couldn’t wait to tell my co-workers how fun it was the next day.

    • So true about their energy in the evening! One of the classes that I have always meets 1st or 2nd period, so having a chance to chat with them at night is awesome! And their “online” personality can be so much different. Typing is just so much more comfortable for some of them. I wonder if allowing them to do the activity anonymously would have any impact on things…

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