From Planck's constant to the Uncertainty Principle, teaching high school juniors about the electronic structure of atoms can prove challenging, to say the least. With all the extra-curricular activities and work schedules of today's students, getting them to come in after school for a review session can be just as challenging, if not more so. But no worries—it’s Macromedia Breeze Live to the rescue!
I have always set high expectations for my students and maintained that I would stop teaching if those expectations should ever drop, so I work very hard to help my students achieve the goals I have set for them. Part of that work includes setting aside online time at night and on the weekends for them to ask their questions.
It came as no surprise to my students when I announced that we would have an online review session using Breeze. The students seemed very optimistic. Their interest soared once I demonstrated the interface for them in class and told them I would be "speaking" with them instead of text-chatting.
A day before the session, I prepared my materials. I created images that could be used for whiteboard overlays. I created pre-session review questions, using the Breeze polling feature. "Ha!,” I thought, “I'll give them a few review questions while they wait for the session to start. That will keep them from chatting off-topic."
I created a series of post-session review questions, thinking, "What better way to assess the benefits of the review?" I set up a session etiquette guide, as students are more likely to succeed when they know what is expected of them. I rearranged the layouts, and even renamed pods, adapting the environment to more closely suit my classroom environment.
I was all ready to go, and good thing I was. Students started logging into the session a full forty-five minutes early to test their connection. Questions started racing through my head. "What if everyone shows up online tonight? What would it be like trying to manage 87 students online?"
Well, lucky for me, I didn't have to find out. Just over 40 students attended the online session. Twenty minutes before the session started, a former student of mine agreed to serve as a "note-taker" and to assist me in keeping track of the questions asked. Aside from a few network latency issues with the whiteboard, the session went off without a hitch, and we recorded the whole thing for those students unable to ‘attend.’ All of the preparation leading up to the session had definitely paid off.
After the session, I was able to go back and analyze the results of the pre- and post-session review questions using the "Reports" view in Breeze Manager. The reports showed that students were missing questions that dealt with the photoelectric effect. Having this information, I was able to focus in on that specific topic the next day in class.
Overall, 27 of the 28 students felt the session was worthwhile and would look forward to having more online reviews. I would have to agree, although I am planning to set my sights a little higher. In the near future, I plan to use the technology to bring virtual "guest speakers" into the classroom.
With the advent of Macromedia Breeze Live, the ability to hold virtual classes is now a reality. We can now track even the quietest students’ responses, and adjust our teaching accordingly. We can engage them face-to-face, even from a distance. It’s true that we aren’t there yet. We can’t ignore the various digital divides that still separate learners from what they need to learn, and the mentoring role isn’t something that can be digitized. But the more connections we have, the more access we have to the information we need to know. And the more access we have to each other.