To personalize the exchange
and emphasize audience, consider framing these messages as letters addressed
"Dear Classmates" to the group and "Dear Pat" to
- First message: interpretation
or explanation or reflection with support (benefits:
thinking about the issue, articulating that thinking, developing support
for a position, writing for a specific audience, and sometimes reading
or research). For example:
- Write a 150-250-word
letter addressed to your classmates (for example, "Dear Classmates")
in which you write about the topic specified for your Group.
through the messages already posted for your group to be sure
yours does not simply repeat what a classmate already has said
but presents a different focus or approach.
- Be sure your
message identifies and develops the topic, expresses
your ideas clearly, and includes specific details and examples.
- If you wish,
end with a specific question or request clarification or
another perspective on a specific point.
- Second message: reply
to one or more people with supported elaboration and/or alternative
view (benefits: reading more about the issue, reflecting
on it in terms of another perspective, developing support for a position,
connection with a peer novice scholar, articulating that thinking,
and writing for a specific audience). To ensure that everybody receives
a reply, direct students to respond to a message that has not already
received a reply. For example:
to one letter, selecting one that has not yet received a Reply.
If every letter has received a Reply, select one that has received
no more than two replies (and so on).
- To clarify
to whom you are writing (but use the person's name, not Pat Smart):
Write a 150-250-word
reply letter that
the current message subject and change the Subject line to To
the letter to the recipient, for example, "Dear Pat Smart"
or "Hi Pat"
Third message: reply
to same person with "thanks" or explanation of how the 2nd
message was helpful in increasing understanding of the topic (benefits:
review, affirmation of scholarly community, articulating their understanding,
and writing for a specific audience)
Fourth message: summary
of the messages from all group members to include key similarities
and differences in the groups understanding (benefits:
analysis of responses and issues, organizing information, review,
affirmation of scholarly community, articulating their understanding,
and writing for a specific audience)
and concisely identifies the issue expressed in your classmate's
a response in one or more of these ways:
with additional explanation and examples
with additional topics or approaches
the question asked
a new perspective or an alternative point of view
- Add a collaborative message:
students in a group meet together in person or online to discuss the
topic and write together a summary and culminating message.
- Establish a detailed reply paradigm
such as an argument or research for responding to topics:
- First respondent writes a statement
asserting a position or perspective about the topic.
- Second respondent adds evidence/examples/
details to support the position.
- Third respondent offers an alternative
- Fourth respondent adds evidence/examples/
details to support the alternative view.
- Fifth respondent adds documented
research to further support the original position.
- Sixth respondent adds documented
research to further support the alternative view.
- Seventh respondent summarizes the
two positions and provides a concluding statement.
- Send students to the other groups:
After contributing one or more messages to their own group, they read
and respond to the writings of another group on another topic.
- Add a reflective component in
wihch students write about the process: what they learned about the
topic and about communicating ideas, how they would change the process,
how they liked the process.
- Add an oral component in which
students report to the class the highlights of their discussion.
- Let students establish their own
topics and select their own groups with a framework you provide.
For example, the first 5 people to participate identify the topics.
The next people to participate select a topic group to join but always
must keep the number of people in the groups even (you can't be the
4th person to join a group if any other group still has only 2 people
ECAC Home | Active Learning Online
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developed and copyright ©1996 by D. Reiss
modified and copyright ©19 February 2005 by D. Reiss