Monthly Mentor

Natalie C. Jones (February)
Each month, a different member is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Natalie C. Jones is an artist, small business owner, and the director of education at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. She has 10 years of experience working as an art teacher and teaching artist throughout the east coast and the Midwest. Click "GO" to read her full bio.



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« Living in the Digital Age | Main | What’s the hype with Skype? »

February 02, 2016

Online Discussions in Real Time

From: Frank Juarez

This past summer I took a technology class at Medford High School. The class introduced me to various educational free apps and software. The one I liked the best was Today’s Meet, Today’s Meet was one of the first backchannel tools built for classroom use and designed as a platform for communication with multiple users in a given session.


What I found interesting about this online resource is the ability to host a classroom discussion where every student is given the opportunity to respond to a prompt, question, or problem. Like many of us, the last thing I need was to worry about another thing to add to my teaching tools, but what I learned about this software is the option to create a transcript of the discussion for later use. To date, I have used these transcripts as a means to assess a lesson’s objectives, check for art vocabulary usage, observations, inferences, discussion points, etc.


Students enjoy using technology. I am all about paper and pencil, but sometimes it is healthy to switch it up and to use the technology for other things rather than surfing the web. Anyone can participate whether a student is using a laptop, iPad, or smartphone whether it is during class or remotely from another location.

A nice result from using Today’s Meet is that I have also used these transcripts as part of my teaching artifacts. As well as to share them with parents during teacher conferences.

Here is a list of suggestions when using Today’s Meet.


* Students should use their last name. No nicknames.
* Their participation will be part of their grade.
* Their responses can be used as discussion points at a later time.
* All and any input is greatly appreciated regardless if it is incorrect.
* Feel free to ask questions or share resources during the classroom activity.


Diane Scully

Thanks for the post Frank. How do you address the student who uses so much technology during the course of their day that they want to "unplug" at night? I have several very creative students who do not have any use for technology at all. You use it as a part of their grade, etc. so how do you address those issues. Thanks, Diane


Hi Diane.

Most likely students are using technology for social purposes like Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. In my classroom there is a time and place for technology. The use of technology is under the discretion of the teacher.

Have you asked your creative students as to why they do not use technology? This could lead to a good discussion. Perhaps they are not comfortable using technology in relationship with their artwork, critique, or discussion. Perhaps they do not see the validity. I mentioned that as artists we must embrace the resources that are at our fingertips. An example is how do artists get their work out there?

Thank you for your questions, Diane.


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