Parlay, please.

Parlay discussion tool

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

Discussion data


-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) 

 Classroom Potential

-any subject/content area
-creative option for outcome assessment
-fishbowl discussions
-book reviews
-text analysis
-could have students create questions for discussion
-the limit does not exist (bonus points if you get the reference) 

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