Start using Equity Maps by teaching communication skills -- active listening, restating, responding, respect -- and track students in small groups. Train students in the role of group observer, responsible for monitoring the discussion without participating in it. Then let students share the feedback from the session, and rotate around until everyone has had a chance to be both a participant and an observer. Discuss the importance of developing good communication skills, being inclusive, and being mindful that your voice is only one of many that deserve to be heard. As a teacher, have a student observe you teaching a lesson; it may serve to help you become more aware of how much time you spend talking at students versus how much time they have the floor.
The data available in terms of gender equity may provide some useful insight, but since there are only two choices -- male and female -- it excludes students who don't identify with traditional gender categories. Also, since other categories such as race, ethnicity, or disability aren't available, teachers will need to dig in deeper to see whether or not particular groups of students are being marginalized in the classroom. Since identifying unconscious bias in real time is a challenge, the tool could do a lot to reveal patterns and engage participants in self-reflective discussions about equity and access. A customizable student profile would give teachers a better idea of who's engaged in conversation and who's being left out.Continue reading Show less
Equity Maps - Chart Dialogue is an iPad app that enables teachers to track small or large group conversations to produce data about their students' behaviors. Teachers choose from a limited number of seating configurations and add male or female participants who populate the room via traditional gender symbols. Once everyone is seated, tap Record to start the session, and tap the symbols as students speak. Each tap draws a line or curve to the next participant so that teachers can see the flow of the discussion and be aware of who's oversharing and who's being left out. Buttons at the top of the screen allow for tracking of things like silence, chaos, teacher talk, media, and more so that teachers can get a visual record of the discussion flow. There's also a chance to add session notes in case there's something from the discussion worth revisiting later.
The Premium version has a Checknotes feature that lets you track positive behaviors such as redirecting the dialogue in a constructive direction and making text references, as well as negative ones like being off topic and interrupting. At the end of the session, teachers can play back the session and view data about which students spoke and for how long, broken down by student, gender, and behavior.
Equity Maps provides a platform for teachers to track students as they practice communication skills and develop positive habits, but teachers will have to be consistent and build in sufficient time to reflect on what the data is saying. The tool can also help kids develop self-control and self-awareness: If kids are aware they're being observed and there are concrete steps they can take to improve their communication skills, it might make them more prone to try. Kids in younger grades might practice taking turns and not interrupting others, while older students learn about reflective communication and clarity.
Smaller groups will be a better fit until students learn the nuances of how to have a productive, respectful discussion. As students learn and practice new skills, it'll get easier to track who's saying what when the group size increases. One caveat: It's easy for teachers to get so distracted tracking who says what that they fail to listen to the dialogue. For this reason, it would be ideal to have a student, classroom volunteer, or teaching assistant to run the sessions.
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