👋 Introduction:

Welcome to Parlay's Complete Guide to Live RoundTables! 

Class discussions come in many shapes and sizes. Some teachers use them every day, while other’s use them once a term. Some are organic and informal, while others are very structured and deliberate. Of course, we love them all. Just so we're all on the same page, here is our goal for you after reading this guide:

Our goal is for you to have a simple, fun and repeatable framework for creating meaningful and inclusive class discussions with Parlay’s Live RoundTable.

Sound good? Awesome. Let’s get started!

Note: The methodologies outlined below are only our recommended best practices. Every teacher comes up with their own new and unique ways to use the tool.

💡 Inspiration:

There are many different types of class discussions that have inspired this guide and Parlay’s Live RoundTable activities more broadly. Here’s a brief list of the top ones (click on titles to learn more):

  1. Socratic Seminars - The Ancients knew a thing or two about learning through conversation. We were particularly inspired by the Socratic Seminar’s focus on before-class preparation, open-ended questions, and a commitment to supporting claims with evidence.
  2. Harkness Tables - This methodology has become very popular in recent years thanks to the fine folks at St. Philips Academy Exeter. Our favourite part about Harkness Tables are the deliberate focus on student driven conversation.
  3. Fishbowl Discussions - Inclusivity and listening skills - that’s why we love Fishbowl! Everyone inside the small discussion group gets more opportunity to contribute, and students around the outside can work on listening, patience and note taking.
  4. Philosophical Chairs - In this methodology, students are asked to take a position, walk to a part of the room, defend it and change their minds if necessary as new arguments are presented. We really like how this process encourages students to take a position, explore options and not be afraid to change their mind.

**Helpful Tip** Before you start using the Live RoundTable - it's a good idea to have created an account, and invited students to your course.

🏫 Part 1 - Classroom Set-Up

This is an important step! The ideal format is to have the class organized in a circle, oval or rectangle where all students are facing one another. As the teacher, you should ideally sit amongst the class as a member of the circle (King Arthur style). See below:

**Helpful Tip** In conversations with several of our high school teachers, they have found that the ideal number of students is between 6 and 16 participants for producing a meaningful discussion.

Of course, this begs an obvious question: 

What if I have 32 students in my class?  

This is a challenging problem for many teachers with large class sizes.  This is where the Fish-Bowl technique can be extremely useful.

For larger classes, we recommend that teachers split the class into two or more groups: the “inner circle” and the “outer circle”. The “inner circle” (Fish-Bowl) sits in the same circular formation as above and engages in conversation. The other students form an outer circle, where they listen, take notes, and document the main ideas discussed in the first part of the conversation. After a pre-determined amount of time (normally 10-15 minutes), the inner and outer circles switch and the roles are reversed. See below:

This approach gives all students within the inner circle the opportunity to participate. It also gives the students in the “outer circle” the opportunity to listen and think through their own thoughts and ideas in anticipation for the next round.

Let's get into the tool.

🏗️ Part 2 - Creating the Round

First, make sure you’re inside of the right class and on the “RoundTables” page. 

1. Click on the [+] button to create a New Live RoundTable.

This will produce a pop-up where you can create a title for your new Live RoundTable.

2. Select (or create) up to 4 skills that you want to track for this discussion.

**Helpful Tip** By default Parlay has 4 point types: encourages others, uses evidence, demonstrates inquiry, builds on ideas. We think are really important skills to develop to help students become balanced and thoughtful participants in a discussion.

Don’t like these point types? No problem. You can create your own by pressing the "Create Assessment Point" button.

3. Invite students.

Adding students is really simple.

Press the "Add Students" button underneath the queue.

Once you've done that there are two ways to add students.

  1. Copy the link and share with your class
  2. Add your students through your Google Classroom

Once you've done that, you should be able to add that same class to future Live RoundTables.

Note: As shown in the short clip above. You are able to customize your RoundTables, adding and removing certain students depending on who is part of the discussion, (useful for presentations).

4. Start the discussion!

Once all of your students have been added and everyone is ready, press "Start Discussion." This will begin the Live RoundTable.

👨‍🏫 Part 3 - Teacher Tracking Participants


Now that class is set-up and all of the students are in the RoundTable, it’s time to get the conversation started! Tracking participants during the Live RoundTable is simple.

There are two ways that you can run the discussion:

1. The Queue

This is a student led discussion!

Students take the initiative to tap in and out of the queue. They control who speaks next by raising their hand. When they raise their hand they are immediately put into the queue. They then wait until it's their turn to speak. (Parlay begins recording the student's turn when they are the current speaker).

This organizes the discussion. Giving you the opportunity to devote all of your attention to how your students are contributing to the discussion.

**Helpful Tip** If your class is shy, or getting used to having discussions in class, it helps to choose a student to get the discussion started, or see if there are any volunteers to go first.

2. Teacher Moderated

In the teacher moderated discussion when a student speaks you must click on their name. This then puts them in the speaking position and registers as a speaking turn.

**Helpful Tip** This allows for a more organic discussion, students can interject if they have an idea relating to a students comment without waiting in the queue.

⚙️ 4 - Building on the Discussion and Assessment

There are lots of ways that you can make the discussion more meaningful and dynamic. Allowing you to learn more from student in-class discussions.

1. Assessment Points

Teachers can give students assessment points as they speak. This allows you to give evaluations quickly and in the moment. 

When the discussion is over, students will be able to see their points. This will be covered more in Part 6. 

**Helpful Tip** It's a good idea to set expectations by letting your students know which point types you intend to use for your Parlay discussions, and what those point types mean (using examples if possible). This way you can highlight great contributions and help everyone improve as the year progresses.

2. Notes

You can take notes as students contribute to the discussion. These notes are completely private and cannot be seen by students at any point. 

Use this section to record some of the great points that students contributed. When you go to give student feedback, you can use these notes as a reminder.

3. Polls

Polls are simple to set up, all you have to do is press the 'Poll The Class' button. This will then create a pop-up which you can populate with a question (as seen below).

These can be made before the discussion starts, or on the fly after a student has said something of particular interest that you want the rest of the class to explore.

**Helpful Tip** Polling is a great way to pause the discussion. It creates opportunities for you to highlight important points. It also gives students time to think about the discussion from another perspective.

👩🏽‍🎓 Part 5 - Student Participation

In Parlay, student engagement during discussion is optional, but highly encouraged! If your students have access to devices in the classroom (mobile phones or laptops) they can login to participate in the Live RoundTable.

Parlay gives students 4 unique ways to participate during discussion.

1. Polls

There are numerous benefits to polls, but most importantly they give you the opportunity to hear from the entire class. Quiet students who may not usually speak up during discussion now have an opportunity to share their opinions.

You now have real-time information about class sentiment.

**Helpful Tip** Wondering what you can do with this new data?

Depending on the options that you give your students, whether it's an agree/disagree response, or a specific answer, this is a great time to ask your students why they chose what they did. This is a great way to see if anyone is willing to build on the idea, support it with additional evidence, and get students thinking about difference of opinion.

If lots of people disagree, it’s a great time to ask someone who disagrees to jump in and respectfully offer a different viewpoint.

If half the class agrees and the other half disagrees, then we’re in business! Here’s an idea that’s worth exploring more.

2. Nudging 

Sometimes students need a little prompting to join in on the conversation. The 'Nudge' button allows you to quietly let that student know that you’d like them to join in on the conversation.

Students will see a popup that looks like this on their screen.

3. Notes

Students can take notes throughout the discussion.

Note: At the end of the RoundTable, you will be able to see what each student wrote.

**Helpful Tip** Here are a few ways you can encourage students to use notes:

  1. Quiet students that don’t yet feel comfortable speaking out loud can use the notes section to leave their thoughts for you and the class to see.
  2. Students on the “outer circle” of a Fishbowl can leave notes and feedback as the students in the “inner circle” participate in the discussion.
  3. Ask one or two students to be Scribes or Note Takers and use the note feature to jot down the main ideas in the conversation.

4. Applause

Students can participate by giving applause.

To the right of The Queue, there is an Applause Bar. At any point students can applaud. Everyone can see applause (but no one can see who gave it).

This is a great way for students to encourage one another, quietly agree, or show enthusiasm for their peers ideas.

📈 Part 6 - Engagement Reports

We're in the final stretch! It's time to close out the RoundTable and reveal the class statistics.

Located at the bottom of "The Queue" is this button:

Press it to end the discussion. Once pressed it will take you to the summary.

Note: In the top right hand corner of the page is your navigation. 

1. Class Summary

First, you’ll see a graph called a Bubble Chart, this shows class participation. Let’s take a look:

Each blue bubble represents a specific student, and the pink bubble represents the class average for the whole discussion. On the x-axis is a cumulative total of the number of times a particular student spoke during the RoundTable. On the y-axis is the total number of points that each student received during the RoundTable.

**Helpful Tip** On the same page as the Bubble Chart there is a list of all the students who took part in the discussion.

Clicking on each students name brings up their individual page. Here you can see how many times they spoke during the discussion, the points you gave them and the notes that they took. You can also see the notes that you took during the discussion.

On this page you can also adjust the points that you gave them, giving them more or less depending on your notes, you can also give them personalized feedback [see clip below].

Note: Once the Live RoundTable has ended, students will be able to see a similar page. They will have the same breakdown:

  • the number of times they spoke during the discussion
  • the points they received
  • and notes that they took 

they will also be able to access the feedback that you gave them.

2. Class Notes

On this page you can see all of your students' notes. Clicking on the students name will bring up the notes they took during the discussion.

In the right corner of the students notes is the "publish" button. This allows you to share the students notes for the rest of the class to see. 

This is a great option if a student has made excellent notes summarizing the discussion or highlighting great ideas.

**Helpful Tip** Before starting the discussion it's good to let students know that publishing is an option. It's also a good time to remind students that taking quality notes is an important skill and will be helpful to them in the future.

3. Polls

Next up is polls. When you click on the polls button this is what you should see.

If you've done multiple polls during your discussion all of them will be visible here.

🏁 Conclusion

And that's a wrap! Now you're ready to become a Live RoundTable Superhero.

Remember, you can reach us at any time - just click the bubble in the bottom corner:

Good luck, have fun and if you have any feedback or suggestions we'd love to hear them!


The Parlay Team :)

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