In preparation for the Lower School retreat, Page, our fearless leader, showed us a platform that allowed for real time communication a la Twitter without the account. The web-based site is called Today's Meet and I have been implementing it in my 4th and 5th grade classroom. The site is simple to use. You set up a chat room by creating a room name. This name is then added to the end of the TodaysMeet.com url. Participants can then enter the room using the url and engage in conversation. Entries are limited to 140 characters and the chatroom can last for 2 hours up to one year.
I have used Today's Meet as part of my literature conversations. I pre-loaded the page onto the iPads and asked small cooperative groups to share their predictions about the book. When one group made a bold prediction, other groups would notice and evaluate the validity of the statement looking closely at their own books. As we began reading, I placed iPads around the room. As students stumbled upon major discoveries, formulated questions, generated connections, or made predictions they were encouraged to add to our chat. I also sent a note home letting families know about this tool so students could record their thoughts while doing their homework.
I found that our conversations are more active and students are more connected with "digging" into their text. Students have reported that the ongoing chat helps them focus since they can relieve their working memory of the big ideas and not carry them around until our next scheduled conversation.
Check it out! Todaysmeet.com