In looking through the options of tools, I decided to get a closer look at Parlay. I chose this tool in particular because I thought it might be a way for me to update the staple discussions I have in most of the classes I teach (senior and AP English). I like to do fishbowl discussions that are somewhat similar to a socratic seminar and from a quick look at the purpose of this tool, it seems like the perfect way to rejuvenate the student-led discussion I love. After looking through this discussion tool, I have decided I am going to try it out in the fall when I return to teaching and I have already recommended it to my classroom neighbour/work bestie to try out in semester two this year. I think I might adapt my planned discussions using this tool for one of my modules for our major project.
Overall tool review and thoughts
-this is a discussion tool that can be used in any modality (online, blended, etc.) for discussion purposes -using pre-made or teacher-made discussion questions, a RoundTable is created and students are invited by the teacher with a simple link to the classroom platform -there is a written discussion option (great if you want students to be able to really think through their responses) as well as a verbal discussion option, catering to the specific outcomes or purpose the teacher has in mind -these discussions can be used for formative OR summative assessment and assessment specifics can be created by the teacher with some pre-made settings they can choose from or create custom criteria (this can also be linked to the classroom platform) -teachers can also provide specific feedback to students in the assessment process to elaborate for clarification) -data is created from each discussion, aiding in teacher reflection for how to improve (questioning, planning, etc.) as well as student monitoring purposes
-in the k-12 system, I think this could be used from grade 3 (for introducing online discussion like the pizza topping example on the site) up to grade 12 -quite simply, I really like this tool (I may or may not be a victim of the hype cycle Bates mentions…) -I would use the aynchronous option to start off with to best align with my purposes -I would test out the synchronous option with an AP class I think -I use fishbowl discussions every semester and in sharing/collaborating within our English department I have had other teachers who are more introverted say they like the idea but don’t want to put their students in a position they would be uncomfortable in as a student such as sharing thoughts and opinions with peers, so I think this tool is a great option for that exact circumstance
-user friendly for both teacher and student (step-by-step simple instructions for implementation) -students can be anonymous if they choose but teachers are able to have access to student’s true identity -live chat option for teachers on the site if you have any questions -sentence frames available to teach/encourage appropriate online discussion behaviour -teachers can communicate privately to students (if they want a certain student to be more active in conversation, for example) -in addition to anonymity and “nudging”, teachers can “star” exemplary responses for other students to see and learn from -discussions are student focused and teachers simply facilitate -content sharing (can search by topic or subject) -huge bonus: in the subjects option for searching, there are subcategories of skills (including AP skills!) and specific texts -student videos for “how-to” which also helps to minimize instruction needed directly from teacher
-time for students to navigate and learn “how-to” (as is the case with any tool in a classroom, so I’m not sure this even really counts) -not sure if there is an option to delete student comments or moderate comments in the case of any inappropriateness -time for teachers to prep (although not much different than the amount of prep that goes into a fishbowl discussion)
-having a phone app option would be convenient for a multitude of reasons -licensing price not listed for schools (although shouldn’t be a problem as budgets allowing for this) -this is a potential problem if not approved by school and teachers had to pay out of pocket if they wanted more access/more than 12 RoundTable trials (which wouldn’t take long to burn up for students to get comfortable and trying it with more than one class)
-any subject/content area -creative option for outcome assessment -fishbowl discussions -book reviews -text analysis -review -could have students create questions for discussion -the limit does not exist (bonus points if you get the reference)