On Saturday I was going into a concert at which my son was playing when a sixth-former from my General Studies class came up to say, “That was a great lesson yesterday, sir.”
Now I’ll be willing to venture that those words have not been uttered too frequently with regard to General Studies which sadly does not enjoy the most positive of reputations among our students. So what pedagogical fireworks on my part gave rise to such enthusiasm?
Sadly, I can’t claim much credit at all. It was down to the simple genius of etherpad.
A large proportion of the class knew that they were on their last lesson before dropping the subject, so I was on a hiding to nothing trying to engage the whole class. So I allowed them the choice of getting on quietly with work for other subjects, or joining me on etherpad to work on a past paper essay question.
There was quite a buzz in the room as students cottoned on to what was happening. You can get a flavour of what happened by looking at our etherpad here. You can access the chat transcript too, which is where most of the work went on. It took a little while for them to get into what was happening, but I was pleased that it didn’t degenerate into MSN style chit-chat: they stayed pretty focussed on the task most of the time. The students were particularly impressed by the fact that we were joined towards the end of the session by Melissa, a teacher from Virginia, USA, after I’d tweeted a quick invitation for anyone free to join us.
(Another dead simple, yet powerful web2.0 tool…