Friday, April 04, 2014

Effective discussion facilitation technique

I attended a training recently and much of this day long meeting included facilitated group discussions. The presenter demonstrated some quality discussion techniques that I wanted to write about so I can share with others and so I can remember them.

For reflection, an easy practice is doing a 3-2-1. It can be set as a chart to help the participants organize their thoughts. Knowing that these can be modified, here is what the presenter used: 3 key pieces of information, 2 questions that you have, and 1 think you what to learn moving forward. This is very similar to KWL, but a variation can help teachers or presenters have some different flavors of techniques to keep things fresh and changed to help with group engagement.

For discussion, the presenter previewed the 5 categories/topics that he wanted each small group to discuss. During the designated discussion time, he helped to ensure that group conversation by stating what topic number we should be on at this point in the conversation. While this was not revolutionary in thinking, when we got to the group sharing of the discussion, there was a practice that really resonated with me.

In his assessment of the discussion topics, he recognized and stated  that topic #1 was dominating the conversation, even with his helping the discussion progress. Because of this, he reversed the order of the topics during the group share. This allowed for groups to spend a more equitable distribution of time for each topic and not have the sharing dominated by the "strongest opinionated topic". Information was organized on a chart for all to see with strengths and opportunities for improvement and the comments were sorted accordingly.

The concept of reversing the order of discussion compared to the sharing allowed for topics that might have been discussed for a smaller amount of time be given a little more time for open discussion. Interesting technique!

If you have other strong presentation/discussion facilitation techniques, please share!

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Following conferences on twitter

I had a teacher come to me after attending conference who was excited to tell me about the conference within the conference. She was talking about the use of the conference hashtag to discuss what a keynote speaker was talking about, finding resources from breakout sessions, and finding new colleagues with whom you can connect and from whom you can learn. Her excitement about the new possibilities of connecting and learning got me thinking about my experiences with conference hashtags and connecting to other conference attendees.

When I was talking with another teacher about a conference she will be attending, I described the experience of the other teacher and using Twitter and the conference hashtag. This new teacher is eager to learn new things and was excited by this potential addition to her learning. So she asked, how can I easily follow the hashtag?

My big conflict has always been wanting to use my iPad because of its portability, but needing to use my clunky laptop in order to follow the hashtag on twitter with ease. I love using tweetdeck to establish separate columns for specific hashtags and it allowed me easily know who was new to following me and any notifications and direct messages I might receive. The iPad Twitter app can be used follow a hashtag, but you would miss out on your general stream of people that you follow.

When I asked my PLN about this issues, some of the great people I follow made some suggestions:

Bob Schuetz and Megan Ryder suggested the use of HootSuite. I have used HootSuite to be able to post to multiple networks with one click, but rarely used it as a reader for the networks. It was a good idea and a functional solution because HootSuite has a good app available for both iPhone and iPad.

Megan also shared an idea of Nicole Ring and it blew me away. It was one of those ideas that everyone should be able to think of, but she put idea into practice and shared it. After I saw the idea, I just had to write about it and share it. Nicole's idea involved the iPad web browser and Tweetdeck. She suggested that you log in to Tweetdeck using the web browser, establish your columns as you would on the desktop version, and then save the tile to the home screen. VIOLA! You now have a home made iPad version of Tweetdeck!

I look forward to trying this out at the next conference I attend. I appreciate my PLN for sharing the great ideas that they have!