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Online RoundTable Templates 2018-08-13T17:55:43+00:00

What is this page?

The Instructional Templates below outline some of the many ways that teachers around the world are successfully using Parlay’s Online RoundTable in their classrooms. They also reflect many of the best practices in pedagogical scientific literature. We hope that these templates help you improve your teaching strategies and increase student engagement in new and meaningful ways.

We are always open to feedback and suggestions. If you’d like to suggest improvements to an existing template or the creation of a brand new one, just press the little chat bubble in the bottom right corner of this screen and let us know.

1. Online Discussions

Template Overview:

The powerful and flexible template outlined below is a great way to engage your students in meaningful conversations outside of class time. It is designed to inspire deeper levels of analysis in your students, while connecting the classroom to the events and ideas shaping our world. It is our “in-house” template meant for the following educational context:

Grade Level: All grade levels

Subject Areas: All subject areas

Length & Style: 4-7 days in an online only or blended format (start online, finish in the classroom)

Number of Students: 12-18 per discussion (split the class up if you need to).

The Template:

1. What is our discussion about?

Start with a brief summary of the main topics and ideas that students are going to explore during this online discussion. If desired, you can also talk about the goals/purpose of this activity in the context of the unit, course, or curriculum.

Example Instructions: 

Today we’re going to be discussing the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The Sustainable Development Goals were developed by all of the 193 countries in The United Nations.

2. Why is it Important / Relevant?

In this section, we explain to the students why this topic is important to their lives and/or society at large. The goal is to encourage student buy-in and demonstrate that this subject extends beyond the classroom. This section only requires 3 – 5 sentences.

Example Instructions:

According to the UN’s own definition The Sustainable Development Goals are “a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity…” That’s a pretty tall order, but it can be achieved in our lifetime! That’s why it’s important that we start by exploring some of the goals, understanding strategies that are being implemented to achieve them today, and come up with some solutions of our own.

3. Content and Multimedia

In this section, we provide students with content and multimedia that they can review independently (or in small groups) prior to submitting a response to the discussion questions in Step 4. Our recommendation is to provide a variety of resources such as: articles, videos, podcasts, images, questionnaires, textbook/novel readings, teacher-created content, and more. Where possible and appropriate, select content that connects class concepts to the outside world. Don’t be afraid to take a risk – this is a great opportunity to make schoolwork more interesting for your students, and to spark a great discussion!

Note: keep in mind how long it will take students to review all of this material and make sure that aligns with your desired timing for the discussion. Our recommendation is to take a ‘blended learning’ approach and use your online discussion as a preparatory activity for an in-class discussion. 4-7 days for the online discussion is usually a good number.

Example Instructions: 

Review the following resources:

1. How We Can Make the World a Better Place by 2030 (TED Talk)

2. Jeffrey Sachs – Why The Sustainable Development Goals Matter (Project Syndicate)

3. Homepage for the Sustainable Development Goals (The United Nations)

4. Discussion Questions

Ah, the most important part! In this section we provide students with the discussion questions they are to think about and answer in their own individual (or small group) responses. Here are our  recommendations for the best possible discussion questions:

Dos:
– Discussion questions that give students choice.
– Discussion questions that encourage external research.
– Discussion questions that ask students to share personal experience or opinion.

Donts:
– Discussion questions that have a “right” answer (this is not a test).
– Yes or no questions without asking students to clarify “why” or “how” (the conversation may fall flat).
– Discussion questions that are overly ambiguous (the conversation may become unfocused).

Want some more guidance? There are tons of resources out there for crafting great online discussion questions. Here’s two that we particularly like from Stanford University and the Ontario Ministry of Education.

Example Instructions:

Pick one of the goals that you believe is most interesting or important and answer the following questions in your personal submission:

1. Why do you believe this is the most interesting/important SDG?

2. Identify and explain one or two of the major roadblocks towards achieving this goal.

3. What can we do as individuals to help achieve this goal? As a society?

5. Peer Feedback

Last but not least! No online discussion is truly a discussion unless students engage with one another’s ideas in a meaningful way. In this section you can set instructions for students when they join the conversation. Most often this will include 2 or more comments on different submissions, plus at least one reply to a comment on your own submission. Of course, the more the merrier!

Our recommendation: encourage students to respond to peers that have not received any comments (it’s great for everyone to get feedback).

Want some more guidance? Link this resource on great discussion contributions for your students in this section.

Using Parlay’s Online RoundTable? Don’t forget to configure your Peer Guidance Questions to reflect these instructions.

In closing, we always like to remind the students that discussions are not about being “right”, but exploring new ideas and working together to uncover the truth.

Example Instructions:

Finally, read through at least two of your classmates’ responses that picked a different SDG and build on their ideas. How, if at all, are your two goals linked together? Would you add to or suggest changes their plan to achieve their goals?

“Ours can be the first generation to end poverty – and the last generation to address climate change before it is too late.”

– Ban-Ki Moon (Former UN Secretary-General)

Where can I find this template?

  1. In the RoundTable Templates portfolio in the Parlay Universe.
  2. In your Online RoundTable text editor under the “Templates” dropdown:  

2. Experiential Reflections

Template Overview:

Reflection is an increasingly important part of educational practice, and for good reason!  Reflection transforms experience into genuine learning about individual values and goals and about larger social issues. It also helps improve self-awareness, and encouragers higher levels of thinking in students.The purpose of this template is to encourage students to reflect on an experience they had outside of the classroom (field trip, watching a movie, etc.). It is based on a book called “Reflection: Turning Experience into Learning“. This template was designed for the following educational context:

Grade Level: All grade levels

Subject Areas: All subject areas

Length & Style: 1-2 days in blended format (start online, finish in the classroom – or vice versa)

Number of Students: 12-18 per discussion (split the class up if you need to).

The Template:

Introduction

Start by referring back to an experience that students just completed, such as a field trip or other class activity. Alternatively, embed a video or podcast to go through and reflect on during their own time.

Part 1 – Your personal reflection

In this section, we ask students to complete their personal reflection in three steps. First, they recall the experience objectively. Then they recall their feelings during specific moments, and finally think about if/how their perspective changed as a result. The reason we break the reflection things up is to teach students the difference between what took place and how they felt in the moment.

Example Instructions:

In your personal response to the Online RoundTable, please answer all of the following questions:

a) Returning to Experience

1. Write down, as best as you can remember, the events that took place in the order that took place. Focus on recalling the facts, not your reactions to the events that took place.


b) Attending to Feelings

1. Identify one part of the experience that made you react negatively. What was it? Why do you think you reacted this way?


2. Identify one part of the experience that made you react positively. What was it? Why do you think you reacted this way?


c) Re-Evaluate the Experience

1. What is one thing you learned about [subject / topic] that you didn’t know before? How did your understanding of [subject / topic] change?


2. Were any of your existing beliefs or attitudes challenged or changed? Elaborate.


Part 2 – Peer Feedback

Here is where students join the discussion, read through and comment on their peers’ responses. The goal is to encourage them to build on each others’ ideas and to identify similarities and differences in their experiences. This practices encourages empathy and deliberately helps students learn about different perspectives.

Example Instructions:

After you’ve submitted your response, comment on at least 2 of your peers’ submissions, answering the guided feedback questions provided.

Here are the recommended Guidance Questions that we recommend for the RoundTable:

  1. Were there any similarities in your experience? What were they?
  2. What is one part of their reflection that you really appreciated or connected with. Why?
  3. Is there a different perspective on their recollection of the experience that you can offer?

Where can I find this template?

  1. In the RoundTable Templates portfolio in the Parlay Universe.
  2. In your Online RoundTable text editor under the “Templates” dropdown:  

3. Argumentative Essay Prep

Template Overview:

Teaching students to write argumentative essays – where they make claims based on research and support those claims with sufficient evidence and sound logic – is one on the most important skills they can develop. This is not only important for success in higher education (where they will likely have to write a lot of papers), but helps develop a lifelong commitment to thorough investigation and substantiated claims. We created this template to help students learn to build and evaluate their thesis and supporting statements in a collaborative setting, where they provide constructive feedback to each other’s theses and supporting evidence early on in the writing process. This template was designed for the following educational context:

Grade Level: 5+

Subject Areas: Anywhere argumentative essays can be found!

Length & Style: 1-7 days in blended format (start online, finish in the classroom – or vice versa).

Number of Students: 12-18 per discussion (split the class up if you need to).

The Template:

Introduction

Start with a short introduction, explaining to the students the goal of this exercise.

Example Instructions:

In this discussion we’re going to share our thesis and supporting evidence for our upcoming argumentative essays on To Kill a Mockingbird. The goal of this exercise is to gain new perspectives on our chosen topic and to refine our ideas before writing and submitting our final paper.


Part 1 – Thesis Statement

First thing’s first, students are asked to write out their thesis statement in their personal submission. Now is a good time to share resources for learning how to build a thesis statement if your class is new to the argumentative essay. Here’s a video that we really like.

Example Instructions:

First, share your thesis statement. The statement should be one sentence long, succinctly explaining the main idea/claim of your essay. Don’t worry about your thesis being “perfect” for this RoundTable. The goal of this exercise is to have others review it and provide feedback so you can improve it. 

Part 2 – Supporting Statements & Evidence

Next up comes the main section of each submission: the statements and supporting evidence to substantiate their thesis. We have provided a simple format in this section for students that are just learning to build arguments. We have also provided a more advanced template (includes advanced rebuttals)  in Part 3 below. Depending on your class, you can choose to make part Part 3 mandatory, optional, or remove it altogether. Finally, here’s a resource that you can share with your students to help them learn to build arguments.

Example Instructions:

Next, share each of the three (or more) main points that you are using to support your thesis in your essay. Back up each one of your points with at least one piece of appropriate evidence, and don’t forget to cite your sources. Use the following format:

  1. Supporting Point:
    Evidence:
    Source:

Part 3 – Refusing Opposing Viewpoints (Bonus)

Example:

Finally, share 1-2 common opposing viewpoints to your thesis along with your rebuttals and evidence to support those rebuttals. You can use this in place of or in addition to your supporting statements above:

  1. Opposing Viewpoint:
    Refutation:
    Evidence:
    Source:

Part 4 – Peer Feedback

After submitting their unique thesis statement and supporting information, each student is tasked with providing feedback to their peers. Don’t forget to update the ‘Guidance Questions’ in the RoundTable settings should the default questions not suit the purposes of your discussion. Finally, here’s a resource that you can share with your students to help them learn to evaluate arguments.

Example Instructions: 

After submitting your post, read through and provide feedback on at least 2 of your peers’ submissions. Answer the guided feedback questions provided in your comment. Try your best to comment on submissions that don’t yet have any feedback. It is important that everyone has the opportunity to improve their ideas!

Where can I find this template?

  1. In the RoundTable Templates portfolio in the Parlay Universe.
  2. In your Online RoundTable text editor under the “Templates” dropdown:  

4. Think. Pair. Share. Grow.

Template Overview:

Welcome to the Parlay adaptation of Think, Pair, Share! We’ve added “Grow” because that’s what happens when students deliberately build on and challenge each other’s ideas is the Online RoundTable setting. The template outlined below explains how to use Parlay’s Online RoundTable to facilitate inclusive and thought provoking Think Pair Share exercises in your classroom.

Grade Level: 5+

Subject Areas: All subject areas

Length & Style: 1 day blended (start and finish in the classroom, with option to continue online afterwards)

Number of Students: 24-36 per discussion (one submission for every 2 students)

The Template:

Part 1 -Think

It starts with introductory material for your students to review and think about. This can be a video, an article, an image, or any other form of content. You can ask students to review the materials independently, or you can watch the video as a class. If it’s an image you can display it on the board for students to reference throughout the conversation.

Example Instructions:

First, review the following content:

[Insert content (articles, videos, images etc) for your students to review independently or as a class]

Part 2 – Pair & Share

Next, students pair up with a partner (person to their left, for example) to discuss the material and write down a combined response to the discussion questions. One of the two students submits the response, with the name (or secret identity if discussion is anonymous) of their partner at the top and the combined answer below.

Example Instructions:

Pair up with the person to your left to discuss. Pick one of the two of you to answer the following question in their Online RoundTable submission:

  • To be or not to be? That is the question!

Don’t forget to include the name (or secret identity) of your partner at the top of your submission.

Part 3 – Grow

Finally, students join the conversation to read through, and provide feedback on ideas from the other pairs in the class. Don’t forget to update the ‘Guidance Questions’ in the RoundTable settings should the default questions not suit the purposes of your discussion.

Note – the student that didn’t submit their response must press the “Bypass Submission” button to join the conversation. Please ensure this ability is turned on in RoundTable Settings.

Example Instructions:

Whoever did not respond can skip the submission step by pressing the “Bypass Submission” button instead of writing a response.

Once both of you have joined the discussion, pick at least 2 of your peers’ submissions, answering the guided feedback questions provided. Try your best to comment on submissions that don’t yet have any feedback.

Where can I find this template?

  1. In the RoundTable Templates portfolio in the Parlay Universe.
  2. In your Online RoundTable text editor under the “Templates” dropdown: 

5. Jigsaw Method

Template Overview:

This discussion template is the Parlay Online RoundTable version of the increasingly common jigsaw method. According to John Hattie’s research in Visible Learning, the jigsaw method is one of the most effective ways to drive learning outcomes. We created this template to make it easy to gain many of the amazing benefits of the jigsaw method using a blended approach. If paced correctly, this activity should be started and completed in one class. This template was designed for the following educational context:

Grade Level: All grade levels

Subject Areas: All subject areas

Length & Style: 1-2 days in blended format (start in the classroom, finish online if/as appropriate)

Number of Students: whole class (students will be in groups)

The Template:

STEP 1 – Assigning Groups

This activity starts by setting up students into groups of 5 or 6. It is recommended that you mix the students up so they’re not working with their friends and/or the students that they sit next to on a regular basis. If available, organize the desks in the classroom into pods and have one group sit at each pod. Make sure all students have access to a device for this classroom activity. Have each group elect a leader (or assign the leader yourself). The leader is responsible for submitting the Parlay Online RoundTable response on behalf of the group.

Example Instructions:

We’re going to divide the class into 5 or 6 person groups and sit with our group. Each group will get a number. Each group will choose one student to be the leader. The leader is responsible for submitting the Parlay Online RoundTable response on behalf of the group.

STEP 2 – Reviewing Materials

Next, break up the lesson plan depending on how many groups there are in the class, and assign one topic / component to each group.

Example Instructions:

Review the following materials as a group. Only review the materials that relate to your group.

Group 1 – Topic Name

[reference or link to materials here]

Group 2 – Topic Name

[reference or link to materials here]

Group 3 – Topic Name

[reference or link to materials here]

Group 4 – Topic Name

[reference or link to materials here]

STEP 3 – Group Submissions

Have each group review the set of materials related to their own group, and prepare answers to the set of questions based on their unique material.

Example Instructions:

Work together to answer these questions as a group. The leader will be responsible for submitting the final response for the group.

Group 1 – Topic Name

  1. [insert Question 1 here]
  2. [insert Question 2 here]

Group 2 – Topic Name

  1. [insert Question 1 here]
  2. [insert Question 2 here]

Group 3 – Topic Name

  1. [insert Question 1 here]
  2. [insert Question 2 here]

Group 4 – Topic Name

  1. [insert Question 1 here]
  2. [insert Question 2 here]

STEP 4 – Exploration and Feedback:

In the next step, students join the discussion. They independently review and provide feedback to one of the other groups’ submission using the comments feature of the Online RoundTable. Don’t forget to update the ‘Guidance Questions’ in the RoundTable settings should the default questions not suit the purposes of your discussion. 

Note: All students in the group who were not the leader can join the RoundTable and press the “ByPass Submission” button. This will allow to join the conversation without having to submit a response. Please make sure this feature is enabled in the RoundTable Settings.

Example Instructions:

All students in the group who were not the leader can join the RoundTable and press the “ByPass Submission” button. This will allow to join the conversation without having to submit a response.

Your next task is to provide comments and feedback. Pick one of the other groups’ submissions and answer the guided feedback questions provided.

Important: everyone in your group should pick a different submission to read and respond to.

STEP 5 – Peer Teaching:

In this stage, students share their findings and feedback with their group in a face-to-face setting.

Example Instructions:

After everyone in the group has read and commented on at least one other group’s submission, go around the table in a circle with each group member responsible for:

a) telling your group what you learned from reading that submission,
b) sharing the comments you made, and
c) explaining why you chose to make that comment.

Encourage your group members to ask clarifying questions as you present your findings.

Step 6 – Feedback Review (Bonus):

Time permitting, you can ask each group to reply to any comments that were made on their unique submission during the Exploration and Feedback step.

Example Instructions:

As a group, read through the comments that were made on your own groups’ submission and everyone pick one comment to reply to.

Where can I find this template?

  1. In the RoundTable Templates portfolio in the Parlay Universe.
  2. In your Online RoundTable text editor under the “Templates” dropdown:  

6. Literary Devices & Themes

Template Overview:

This template was designed as a collaborative way for students to explore different literary devices as they read through their novel, and to connect those devices back to the major themes / goals of the work. One of the things we love the most about this template is that it gives students choice when deciding how they want to explore and analyze the required readings. This template was designed for the following educational context:

Grade Level: 7+

Subject Areas: Literature / Language Arts

Length & Style: 1 day in a blended format (start in class, finish online – or vice versa)

Number of Students: 12-18 per discussion (split the class up if you need to).

The Template:

Part 1 – Reading Requirements

Give students their required reading instructions in this section.

Example Instructions:

This discussion will cover material from chapters _____ of ________.

It is recommended that you review the discussion questions below and keep them in mind as you read the chapters.

Part 2 – Personal Submission

In this section you are going to define the parameters of the assignment. Each student will submit a unique Online RoundTable response to the instructions you outline here. Feel free to can change the literary devices and/or questions we list below.

Example Instructions:

In your personal submission write a one to two paragraph response, answering the following questions:

  1. Choose one of the literary devices that we talked about in class (see list below), find an example of it in the text, and share it in your response (including the page number) along with a brief explanation of why this is an example of your chosen device.

    List of Literary Devices: Allegory, Allusion, Conflict, Diction, Foreshadowing, Hyperbole, Imagery, Metaphor/Simile, Mood, Personification, Plot, Point of View, Stream of Consciousness, Symbol, Tone.
  2. How does the author use this device to connect back to one of the broader themes of the story?

Part 3 – Peer Feedback

After submitting, students join the conversation to read through and provide feedback on ideas submitting by their peers. Don’t forget to update the ‘Guidance Questions’ in the RoundTable settings should the default questions not suit the purposes of your discussion.

Example Instructions:

After you’ve submitted your response, comment on at least 2 of your peers’ submissions, answering the guided feedback questions provided. Try your best to comment on submissions that don’t yet have any feedback.

Where can I find this template?

  1. In the RoundTable Templates portfolio in the Parlay Universe.
  2. In your Online RoundTable text editor under the “Templates” dropdown:  

7. Literature Reflection

Template Overview:

This template was designed as a collaborative way for students to reflect on their personal interpretation of a story or novel after they have finished reading the story. It is a great way to wrap up the unit with a combination of reflection, final analysis and collaborative feedback. One of the things we love the most about this template is that it gives students choice when deciding how they want to explore and analyze the required readings. This template was designed for the following educational context:

Grade Level: 7+

Subject Areas: Literature / Language Arts

Length & Style: 1-4 days in a blended format (start in class, finish online – or vice versa)

Number of Students: 12-18 per discussion (split the class up if you need to).

The Template:

Introduction

Example Instructions:

The purpose of this discussion is for each one of us to complete a post-reading reflection of [Book/Story Name], and then to compare our own reflections to those of our classmates.

Part 1 – Personal Submission

In this section you are going to define the parameters of the assignment. Each student will submit a unique Online RoundTable response to the instructions you outline here. Feel free to choose one or more of these questions outlined below. Alternatively, you can create another question that encourages students to reflect on their own personal experience reading the novel, and to provide their own text-supported opinion.

Example Instructions:

In your personal submission write a two paragraph response, answering one of the following questions. Point to specific examples in the text where possible.

  • What do you think the author wants you to learn from reading this story?
  • How does one of the characters remind you of yourself, another character or someone you know?
  • What is the main conflict in the story? Can you relate to the main character’s conflicts or problems? Why or why not?
  • Which character do you like the most? Why? Which character do you like the least? Why?
  • What passage in the book is the most memorable to you? Why?
  • If you could interview the author, what would you want to know?
  • Are there any quotes or passages in the book that inspire you? Which ones? Why?
  • Do the characters or events connect to people or events in our world? How?

Part 2 – Peer Feedback

After submitting, students join the conversation to read through and provide feedback on ideas submitting by their peers. Don’t forget to update the ‘Guidance Questions’ in the RoundTable settings should the default questions not suit the purposes of your discussion.

Example Instructions:

After you’ve submitted your response, comment on at least 2 of your peers’ submissions, answering the guided feedback questions provided. Try your best to comment on submissions that don’t yet have any feedback.

Where can I find this template?

  1. In the RoundTable Templates portfolio in the Parlay Universe.
  2. In your Online RoundTable text editor under the “Templates” dropdown: 

8. News & Events Journal

Template Overview:

We created this template as a way for teachers to encourage students to practice journaling, independent research, and as a way to connect curriculum content back to the events and ideas shaping our world. It is a simple activity that can be completed as often as once per week, or over the course of an entire unit. This template was designed for the following educational context:

Grade Level: 5+

Subject Areas: All subject areas

Length & Style: 4-20 days in an online format.

Number of Students: 12-18 per discussion (split the class up if you need to).

The Template:

Introduction

Keep it simple – introduce the theme and the exercise.

Example Instructions:

The [theme/topic] we are currently exploring is _____________ . This discussion is a journaling exercise for us explore this theme in more detail as individuals first and then as a group.

Part 1 – Personal Submission

On their own time, and in their own way, students find an article anywhere on the internet that connects the current theme to the real world. Then in their own personal submission they are responsible for summarizing the article and providing a brief opinion piece.

Example Instructions:

Find a news article or other online resource (video, photo, etc.) that relates to this topic/theme. Complete the following steps in 2 or more paragraphs in your personal submission:

  1. Share a link to the resource (or embed the video / image as appropriate).
  2. Summarize the main ideas of the event.
  3. Explain how it relates to the [theme/topic].
  4. Provide your own opinion on the article.

Part 2 – Peer Feedback and Discussion

After submitting, students join the conversation to read through and build on each other’s ideas. Don’t forget to update the ‘Guidance Questions’ in the RoundTable settings should the default questions not suit the purposes of your discussion.

Example Instructions:

After you’ve submitted your response, comment on at least 2 of your peers’ submissions, answering the guided feedback questions provided. Try your best to comment on submissions that don’t yet have any feedback, and don’t forget to reply to any comments on your own submission.

Where can I find this template?

  1. In the RoundTable Templates portfolio in the Parlay Universe.
  2. In your Online RoundTable text editor under the “Templates” dropdown: