Thursday, September 11, 2008

Chats in Elementary School?

After my first venture into the Virtual Classroom with my GE555 graduate class last night, I wanted to see what you thought about using chats with your students.

I found this article about using chats with younger students.

Do you have ideas on how this could be effective or not? Do you think using a chat room is appropriate or inappropriate at a certain age?

I am interested in what you think.


Francine said...

I think implementing chats in a classroom setting for younger students is a great idea. There are many smart, young students who are often too shy or intimidated to raise their hand to answer a teacher's question or participate in a class discussion. I think by incorporating a chat early on, maybe in the first or second grade, teachers can help build self-esteem in students who may have been lacking enough confidence to participate in class. Since I am striving to become a Middle School Language Arts teacher, I might want to use a chat to sharpen my students' writing skills. In this case, I would ask students to compose full sentences when answering questions or commenting on another student's post.

tpalm44 said...

I definitely think it's a good idea as a supplement to the class. However, I still believe that there isn't a true replacement for social interaction in a classroom. To be successful in the real world, you have to be able to communicate on a personal basis. Human interaction is so very key in every aspect of life, and I think with the advent of improved technology in every facet of our life, we may be running the risk of distancing our social skills.

That being said, I still believe that there is a legitimate use for chat rooms and open forums just as long as there are a set of guidelines to be followed. With adminstrator rights to the chat rooms, I think the administrator could easily police the chat room so there isn't inappropriate language used and to make sure all conversations are discussing relevant material.

I also think it's important to distinguish proper writing skills rather than just using the convenient Internet text jargon "brb or lol". In addition, at all costs, fragmented sentences and phrases should be limited. I just think if you were to go full tilt with younger students, you have to make sure there grammar and writing skills would not suffer.

Mark Rindfuss said...

Professor Luongo,

Before I read the article on chat rooms for students, I was a little hesitant to think that the rooms would be beneficial to younger learners, however, my opinion soon changed as I was reading the article. The website allows students from all over the world to connect with each other and learn about the different cultures that we may have. Students will have a better opportunity learning about different cultures through communication with peers from other countries and by using chat rooms, students will be given that opportunity.

The one concern that I have focuses on the safety of these chat rooms. Would parents need to sign permission slips in order for their child to participate in the study. If so, what would happen if a parent refused to sign a permission slip? Would that child have a different assignment while his/her classmates chat with students from around the world?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.


Katie Roche said...

I agree with Francine, I think chatting allows shy students to participate without all the pressure of speaking in front of an audience; however, I think tpalm 44 is right as well - chatting cannot replace the verbal communication that takes place in a classroom discussion. Chats can be a great supplement to a lesson, but it would be difficult to achieve an entire lesson exclusively through a chat room. We experienced first-hand how confusing chatting can be when a lot of students are involved. I know it was only our first chat session, but it was a little difficult to keep up with all the different questions/comments.

I also think the use of chat rooms are sometimes subject-specific. Like Francine mentioned, chats would be very useful for Middle School Language Arts, but I think it would be difficult to incorporate into a First Grade Math Curriculum.

Mark, I think you bring up some great points. Chatting does allow students to communicate with their peers around the world. Like Dr. Luongo mentioned in class, chatting can also connect students with their parents/loved ones while they're in class. I am also interested in what Dr. Luongo has to say about the necessity of Permission slips and the questions you bring up about safety.

Great comments everyone!!

Dr. Luongo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr. Luongo said...

Mark asked an interesting question and Katie asked for my response:

"Would parents need to sign permission slips in order for their child to participate in the study."?

Most schools have what we call an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), which is signed and documented at the start of each year. If a parent does not sign the AUP, the teacher would know early on in order to modify this assignment. And yes, Mark, the teacher may modify the assignment by possibly having that student write a letter (not using the Internet) or possibly emailing the parent instead of a stranger. This discussion would take place between student, parent, and teacher.

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Great discussion!

Thalia said...

I do feel that chats taking part in a school curriculum will definitely grab the student's attention. I wouldn't go any younger than 5th grade. Yes, strong supervision would have to be inplace for it to work out. the collaboration of the school technology coodinator may help the teachers establish boundaries and guidance.