Session Name: Chatrooms in the Classooms!
Presenter Name(s): Larry Abrams
School or District: Lindenwold High School
Email: labrams@lindenwold.k12.nj.us
About this session:
Last year, as I browsed throught the NJEA magazine, I came across an article about "backchanneling," and I decided that it's premise - enabling students to have a supervised chatoom in the classroom - might be a useful tool, particularly for my shy, quiet students. I decided to take a risk and try something new and the results have been fantastic!

Check out the article:
http://www.njea.org/news-and-publications/njea-review/february-2010/get-your-students-talking-about-what-you-want-them-to-talk-about

You can create a chatroom and have it up and running while your students are logging in to their laptops! Go to
http://todaysmeet.com/ .

Here are a few best practices that I discovered:
1. The chatroom works extremely well when it's run in tandem with movies or video clips.
2. Being an English teacher, I'm a stickler for grammar, but for the chatroom I lighten up on the rules. I'm looking for meaningful dialogue, thoughtful analysis, and risk-taking!
3. I've had great results when I let two kids share a laptop and a log-in name. Have the students splice their last names together (Randall and Johnson become Randjohn). This keeps them honest and discourages tomfoolery. Yes, when I first did this, one mischievous sophomore in my class of 20 logged in as a classmate and prattled.
4. Sometimes I cut and paste the chatroom text into a Word document, then save it for a later time.
5. I join the chatroom as "Mr. Abrams." I let the students do nearly all of the chatting, but I need to be there to ask questions, challenge them, and prime the pump!


After dividing the students into groups of two, I've found success giving each partnership specific jobs: Question Askers, Connectors, and Responders. Below, you will find the the jobs and their descriptions. Cut and paste it, then revise it to meet your needs!


You and your partner(s) need to splice together your last names. This is will be your chatroom log-in name.

You and your partner(s) areCONNECTORS.

  • What connections can you make between the text and your life?
  • What other places or people could you compare this story to?
  • What other books or stories that we have read (this year) might you compare to this one?
  • Do the characters remind you of anything you would see on TV or the Internet?
  • What is the most important connection that comes to mind?





You and your partner(s) need to splice together your last names. This is will be your chatroom log-in name.
  • You and your partner(s) are QUESTION ASKERS.
  • Starting your questions with Who-What-Where-When-Why-How is a good start.
  • Work on providing questions that require open-ended answers.
  • Take it to the next level and create questions using the questions structured on Bloom’s Taxonomy. Follow the link and you’ll generate plenty of terrific questions!
http://www.learnerslink.com/bloom%27s_questions.htm







You and your partner(s) need to splice together your last names. This is will be your chatroom log-in name.
You and your partner(s) are RESPONDERS.
  • Your task is to respond to what the CONNECTORS write, either agreeing or disagreeing.
  • You also need to do your best to answer the QUESTION ASKERS.
  • If a scene strongly moves you then feel free to respond to it.