Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Using WhatsApp for Teaching

As a part of a country-wide activity to prepare for emergency situations, (צו 8 חינוכי) teachers around the country are learning how to teach a lesson via WhatsApp. I was really sceptical at first, but am totally enjoying the process of "cooking up" my lesson (which will take place next week) together with Gilad - a creative, inspiring mentor from CET (Matach).

With my head in "WhatsApp Mode" today, I started to teach my class the HOTS of Inferring, using a worksheet I have used a gazillion times before.

When it suddenly dawned on me that these are not the emojis that my students are used to any more. And that the short and sweet sound bytes in which they communicate via the different social networks - prolific with emojis - require more inferring than ever before!

Luckily I had my laptop with me, and I cracked it open to WhatsApp Web (which - if you do NOT know what it is, you MUST check it out! It's a life saver for whoever works a lot on the computer).  I then sent the following message to my students:

I gave them the option of either doing the activity teaching the HOTS of Inferring, via the worksheet they already had OR via WhatsApp!  Here are a sample of the responses I got in our WhatsApp Broadcast Group*

Some of them needed a bit more explanation, and some of them chose to do the activity on the worksheet, in the end, but they were ALL engaged!

I promise to write a blog next week about how my REAL WhatsApp lesson goes, but in the meantime, I have a feeling that WhatsApp is going to start being more than just reminding my students what to bring to the lesson, or if they have to do to their classroom or the computer room from now on! Like they say in the field: catch them where they are!

Digitally yours,



* A WhatsApp Broadcast Group is different from a regular WhatsApp Group. Most teachers I  know use regular WhatsApp Groups with their classes. In a Broadcast Group, the Admin can send a message to everyone in the group, and when the participants reply, the reply goes back ONLY to the Admin (moi) rather than it being a place for interactions and discussions. This year I decided to use a Broadcast Group with my class this, and that was where we did today's activity. For next week's lesson, I will be opening a regular WhatsApp Group for them, so that it can be a lesson where interaction between the students is actually encouraged. Stay tuned for THAT blog post! (I can't wait!!!! ;-)