Wherever you are, you will most likely be spending some of your teaching time online over the next several months. Here are some practical tips to guide you as you conduct Shared Inquiry™ discussions online.

Setting Up

  • Use a videoconferencing tool that allows students to see each other (e.g., the default view in Zoom or the tiled view in Google Hangouts).
  • Have students practice muting and unmuting their audio, and remind them to mute themselves when they’re not speaking in order to prevent feedback and limit noise.
  • Reserve the chat function of your platform for technical questions so that students do not have side conversations with each other and create a split focus.
  • Have students make name tents if the display names assigned by the conferencing platform are not theirs.

Teacher and her students using Zoom for a Shared Inquiry Online Discussion

Clarifying Expectations

  • Before discussion, explain that you will be focusing on asking questions.
  • Emphasize listening to others and responding to them directly.
  • Establish guidelines for etiquette during discussion. Examples might include:
    • Turn on your camera and speak up so that everyone can hear your ideas.
    • Be mindful of how often you speak, and give others a chance to contribute.
    • Feel free to ask other students questions and to agree or disagree respectfully.
    • Remember to use the chat box only for technical questions and issues.

Conducting Discussion

  • Start with open-ended questions you are genuinely interested in discussing.
  • Track participation by creating a list of participants and making a check mark next to a student’s name when he or she speaks. This will help you quickly see who may need to be encouraged to contribute.
  • Focus on listening. Don’t hesitate to ask a student to repeat or rephrase an answer.
  • Close discussion by asking students to write a brief response that explains how they have added to or changed their initial answer, or that describes a new idea they heard.
  • After discussion, ask students to share what they think worked well and what they think the group should set as goals for next time.

Join us for our newest training, Using Junior Great Books Online! This course has been designed to show you how to build a collaborative community of online learners, engage all participants, and plan an effective implementation. Fall courses are now enrolling! Learn more.

Remember, we are here to help with online classroom materials, online professional development, and timely responses to any questions you may have. Don’t hesitate to get in touch . . . we wish you the best of luck as you navigate these new waters!