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Screenshot 2015-08-08 11.15.30

First of all, allow me to apologize for the delay in posting. School has started, and I need to figure out a workable schedule for blogging, teaching, and preparing lessons.

So, today is the day. I decided to bite the proverbial bullet. I have been using Todaysmeet.com for a while, and have loved the backchannel discussions that I was able to have. I’ve used it with students, during professional development seminars, and anywhere else I could get away with it. To be honest, I thought this tool was just about as great as sliced bread.

Then I saw the “Upgrade” button. The one where you get access to a few tools. I will be honest here, when I first glanced at the tools I would gain access to, I thought “Eh, maybe… maybe not.” I saw a few tools listed… but nothing that I thought I absolutely had to have. The price was reasonable enough, at $5/month.

This year has started for me. I’ve met my kids, established some norms, and done my best to make sure they understand, this is not a normal year for them. I want them to know that we will do things VERY differently than they are used to, but I truly believe that the way we do them leads to greater learning. Being a paperless classroom certainly has advantages, and this helps hook student interest.

Most of the students I have this year are used to working through a text, answering questions either verbally to the teacher, or via worksheet/questions, etc. I explained that they were going to discuss text, to argue text. Not only with me, but more so with their peers. They are genuinely excited about the idea of getting to debate with other students. I plan to use that to it’s fullest.

So, I took another look at Todaysmeet.com.  This is my first year teaching Seventh Graders, so, as any good teacher should do, I am spending some time re-evaluating tools to ensure that they are still the most effective and appropriate for the group of students I have. There are a few challenges we need to overcome, such as typing speed, generally being unfamiliar with Chromebooks and GAFE, etc. But, again, a challenge is really just a learning opportunity with some importance behind it.

Todaysmeet.com is every bit as appropriate as it has been in the past, however, I really think that having those few extra tools offered through the upgrade option will help. Having younger students, I obviously want to ensure that they are as safe as possible when working online. With the Teacher Tools now available, I now have the ability to limit entry to our digital room to only people who are within our domain. That means that only people who are a part of our school district can access it. A huge bonus in the safety department.

Another tool is that I can now “pause” the room. I can do this if a discussion starts to go off track, or, if we run out of time and simply wish to continue it another time. By pausing the room, no one can add anything to the discussion. This is a feature I think I am going to love.

What about when you have that one student who constantly derails your discussions? Not a problem, through the teacher tools, you now have a “Mute” option. You don’t even have to break the pace of the discussion to reprimand a student, or take away their device, instead, simply click mute, and keep rolling.

Finally, I really like how I can add topics to discussions. I can change the topics as often as I like. The current topic is listed at the top of the discussion, so you don’t have to deal with people now knowing what the current question/topic is. This should help keep things on track.

Overall, I really look forward to using the Teacher Tools included in the upgraded membership. Sure, it’s five bucks a month. Yes, I am a huge fan of the free tools to use option. Yes, I am willing to spend $5/month on this one, I think the benefits are very much worth that small amount.