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A Backchannel Chat is a behind-the-scenes conversation students can have to post questions, comments, or insights during or around classroom activities.
In most instances, teachers create Backchannel Chats via technology tools that allow students to easily post whether in class, at home, or otherwise. This might include the classroom LMS (Learning Management System, like Google Classroom) or some other vehicle for discussion boards or discussion threads. Other classrooms have implemented a kind of low-tech option such as sticky notes on a board in the back of the classroom; however, low-tech ideas restrict some of the possible uses and benefits.
To implement the strategy, first create a location where students can easily access and interact with the Backchannel Chat. To be effective, this location must be as easy to use and access as possible. Consider whether the teacher will need to monitor the ongoing chat. Some recommend having a device or screen displaying the chat at all times to potentially address questions or thoughts as they arise.
While instructing students or facilitating activities, encourage students to post all questions, concerns, insights, or other general comments related to the classroom activity or topic in the Backchannel Chat. Encourage students to respond to other questions and comments as well as share any resources or materials that might be helpful or related.
Additionally, encourage students to post in the backchannel outside of class time as well, especially as it relates to questions or insights about class homework or ongoing tasks like projects or upcoming assessments.
Read more about student voice in backchannel chats from Edutopia
Watch an example of a Backchannel Chat via Google Classroom for Sons of Technology here: