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 www.stinto.net, to www.stinto.net/88b5b. 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.