Engaging students in authentic conversations about content-specific information by using collaborative technology and formative assessments.

by Shelly Stanton

Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12


Students are happiest when they are freely able to communicate. Today, collaborative technologies make that easier than ever. An added benefit for teachers is that these technologies open new opportunities for formative assessment.

I spend a lot of time with my students to help them develop codes of behavior when interacting online. We talk about how what they do online might affect others; how what they publish will exist permanently; and how they need to be ever more diligent about citing sources.

Collaborative technologies offer many other benefits to students. They enable them to:

-Communicate anonymously to avoid possible embarrassment;

-Connect globally with people who are not like them; and

-Become better critical evaluators of sources of information they find online.

I encourage teachers who are not comfortable with digital technologies to take advantage of the expertise that is available to them. When they deny their students access to collaborative communications technologies, they cut them off from new opportunities for learning and risk leaving them behind when they enter the work world.


What I did well…

In this instructional sequence, I’m effective in describing my purpose for the workshop, making eye contact with audience and facilitating background knowledge of participants before sharing my thoughts. My body language is open and accepting and I reward participants when they share. Intentionally preparing the digital resources was also effective. Taking the time to create interactive slides with hyperlinks not only left participants for resources beyond the walls but also allowed for extension of the learning as well as reinforcement. In reflection I also think I taught skills that were relevant to the participants at that moment.

What I would do more of, better, or differently…

In this sequence, I wish I had talked less and listened more. Although the time was limited, an important aspect of teaching is allowing students to have talk time. Permitting movement is also key. There was movement within the workshop that isn’t shown in the video but I should have created one more movement activity. Although I gave positive reinforcement to participants, I wasn’t specific in my confirmations or criticism, instead I gave a fist bump. Lastly, I would have allowed for the participants to create their own plans of actions to use the collaborative tools instead of sharing several tools.

I still want to grow in this practice by…

I want to continue to break down the walls of the classroom by offering multiple avenues for participants to utilize our classroom discussions and materials. EdTech is constantly changing and I need to grow in what tools are most beneficial to our students in their specific learning goals. A growth goal I have for myself is how to ensure that every student has equal access out of the classroom to resources I share digitally.


About Shelly Stanton

Shelly Stanton is a technology integration specialist for Billings Public Schools in Montana. Prior to this position, she taught business education...

Find out more