For the past three weeks I’ve been hosting and training my 6th grade math support students on participating in online math webinars using the Canvas Conference tool. The students I’ve trained during support then acted as webinar ambassadors to facilitate the roll out to five 6th grade standard math classes.
The notion of not being able to effectively reach more students has been bothering me for quite some time. Due to our schedule, twice weekly math support is only offered during the 30 minute homeroom period. Unfortunately students in band, orchestra, or chorus—which is scheduled during homeroom—have no opportunity for this tier two support. I began thinking online math intervention, in the form of math webinars, could be a solution.
Despite one or two technology issues—mostly due to my lack of experience—offering webinars as a tier two intervention holds promise. My goal next school year is to launch weekly or twice a month webinars for these rising 7th graders early in the first quarter. I anticipate a brief refresher before we dive in and plan to introduce webinars to sixth and eight graders as well.
Why do I think this holds promise? My first evening “test” webinar was Monday evening, 6:30-7:00pm and of the five students who chose to participate two are detached from school. I am hoping this is not a one-time occurrence. If they showed up the first time, they may show up again. Also not one is a student I see during math support. In addition the webinar was competing with sports practices, other commitments and an absolutely gorgeous, late spring evening.
As an instructional practice my goal with math webinars is to make them as interactive as possible with students using the microphone, chat box, and hand raise feature to explain their thinking to each other. I interact by screen sharing my iPad. A slide deck presentation is the default option in Canvas Conference but I’m mirroring and displaying a Notability document on the iPad by plugging it into a Macbook Air running Quick Time. The images below visually describe by goal.
I was incredibly proud of the students for respecting others’ thinking, especially when a misconception was noted. Building an online community of learners is as important as a classroom community of learners. As the instructional technology coach and I rolled out the webinar to classes, we discussed protocols and invited students to add more to the list that was generated by my initial math support students. However, I think the classroom teachers’ role in creating a positive climate and culture did more than our brief webinar protocol discussion.
There have been a few technology glitches, but it mostly as to do with me. The biggest hiccup happened during an in-class training session. I accidently ran two webinars simultaneously and that caused my microphone to echo. It was very difficult to speak clearly hearing myself with a slight delay. Another glitch had to do with an older MacBook I was using and it kept crashing. That shouldn’t happen anymore now that I’m using a newer MacBook Air.