The message board can be used in a variety of ways, including class discussions on many topics. I've even used a student forum -- a place students can use as a sort of safe Facebook.
The best use for the message board, though, is for feedback. I have a "Write-to-Mr.-Barnes-only" board, where students can post messages that only I can see. This is a powerful way for students to provide meaningful feedback for me. They can share problems, tell me they've updated an activity or project, after reading my feedback, or they can complete a self-evaluation and tell me what they believe their final report card grade should be.
Asking students to supply feedback on a private message board takes away the pressure some may feel in a face-to-face discussion with the teacher. While many students do very well in these interviews, others are often shy with authority figures and will not complete a fair evaluation due to the anxiety that the situation presents. The message board eliminates this.
I have found my students to be remarkably honest in completing a self-evaluation on our private message board. Numerous students have "given" themselves "F's." Some have posted statements like, "I need to work harder," and "I let you and myself down."
There are many creative uses for a message board. It is a wonderful communication tool that provides valuable feedback between teacher and student.
What are the possibilities of using a message board in your class?
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