Sunday, July 3, 2016

Reverse Modeling: Teaching with Nonexamples

     I have a confession to make, I love Google Hangouts.   In past years, I have held Hangouts with authors and about books (both banned and not), in both English and Spanish, with experts in their field and some performance based Hangouts.

     Last year, I held some Mystery Hangouts with classes in the Caribbean, Sweden, Canada and South America for students in the Advanced Placement Geography course at my school.  (These Hangouts were also open to all students at Lakeside JHS).  They were so popular, that the AP Geography teacher approached me about holding them on a more regular basis this year.

     To teach our students Google Hangout etiquette, we decided to try start with a mock Mystery Hangout.  I called the class on Hangout from the library while they stayed in their classroom down the hall using my alter ego, Mr. Bond.  We employed one of my favorite instructional strategies teaching with nonexamples;  in the case of this Mystery Hangout etiquette lesson, what not to do on a Google Hangout.

    For this Hangout, I sketched out a fake class on the whiteboard behind me complete with distracted students.  We set it up in the Professional Library area of the library with an American Flag in the background so as not to disguise my location for a Mystery Hangout.

     Throughout the Hangout, I pretended that I could not sit still to reinforce how distracting such behavior is for participants on the other end of the webcam.  I also made sure to eat potato chips and drink water while attempting to answer students' questions about my location.

     Looking back on the year of Hangouts, the visit with Mr. Bond produced great dividends evidenced by students' participation in our later Hangouts.   This was quite a successful year for Mystery Hangouts.  We met with classes in South American, Europe (South London), British Columbia and Ontario Canada as well as Transylvania, Romania).

     Since students became comfortable in what not to do, they were better prepared to successfully participate.  Students were able to apply their learning to speak up, hold still, and ask the right kinds of questions during Hangouts.  They were able to develop deeper questions for those who participated in Hangouts with them which in turn, produced higher quality discussions.  Being that this is an election year, we had some fascinating discussions after the Mystery portion of the Hangouts with our peers on other continents about their views of American political candidates.

     Beyond deeper discussion, it also changed students' view of themselves and their roles in the world.  By holding a Hangout once a month with this class throughout the year, Hangouts became a norm of their education, and as a result, students started to view themselves as a part of the global community.

     We often hear that as educators we are preparing students for a world with jobs that have not yet been created.  Since we know our world is only becoming more connected, it makes sense to build in Hangouts as a norm of our instructional program.   Why not use regular Hangouts to prepare our students for their even more connected futures?

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