Thursday, February 5, 2009

Stinto takes a casual chat to a study activity

It's time for me to bust this one out - it's so simple but it's become one of my favorites recently. Stinto is a chat room, but a very simple one.

You simply click the button to begin a chat and Stinto will give you a 4 or 5 character ending to the URL - for example, your URL will go from, to You can tell, or send this URL to whoever you want to join you and if they go to that address they are in your chat room. This ensures that you will have a private chat. No sign-in, no accounts, no registration necessary.

Why would you want to use Stinto? Well, one way I have been using it is for a 5 to 10 minute review at the beginning of French. I need to spend a little time at the beginning of each class reviewing the new vocabulary from the previous day, but was having difficulty getting the students to volunteer (orally) in French. So at the beginning of each class, I have a student open a Stinto chat and write the URL on the board (just those last digits as everyone knows the Stinto address). Now I get 100% participation in these short reviews, and the students are really willing to guess and take chances (this is a short clip from yesterday's class chat).
At the bottom of the chat page is a disk icon so that you can download and save the chat to your desktop. It will download as an rtf file (rich text). Once it is on your desktop, all you have to do is change that .rtf to a .doc, and voila! It becomes a WordDoc (see above example). Besides the student engagement benefits, it's also a great formative assessment tool. I have a good running record of who participated, how they participated, and what they know.
Once the chat is inactive for an hour or two, it simply disappears! I have been encouraging students to use Stinto as a way to get study groups together in the evenings as well.
There are lots of ways to incorporate Stinto into your class. You could use it for small groups that have to brainstorm together - it would be quieter if you had a large class, more kids contribute - you have a record of who participated and what kinds of contributions they made to the group. Think of it as group notes.


  1. Stinto is no longer online, much to my dismay. I had an entire class prepared around it! The night before I happened to go to the site to check out one setting and realized it was gone. Spent the next couple of hours rushing through research to see what I could use instead. We ended up using Chatzy which worked fine. Students do not need to sign up for anything, they can have their own colors, the transcript can be exported, and the room passworded. I just have the teacher change the password at the end of class so students can't access it outside. It worked well. You might want to check it out as an alternative to Stinto.

  2. Christina - well great minds must think alike - if you had read ahead 3 posts later you would have found this
    Since I wrote that post we are still loving Chatzy - it is superior to Stinto. As a matter of fact, we replaced our collaborative note-taking on with chatzy as well - it's much faster and the kids prefer it. Hopefully this one will stick around for awhile! But it's a good lesson for not getting too dependent on on particular provider! I just had two similar lessons with Gabcast and Cramberry, both of which I've blogged about here. They were not gone, but Gabcast cut off some access numbers and Cramberry was offline for awhile for upgrades - luckily I had other options until their issues were resolved! Good lesson for students about being flexible and adaptable!