Review by Marianne Rogowski, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2019
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Equity Maps - Chart Dialogue

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See who's doing the talking with real-time participation tracker

Subjects & skills
Subjects
N/A

Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Character & SEL
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
K–12
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Pros: Real reflection is possible with interesting visual and audible data to back it up.

Cons: The larger the group, the harder it is to keep track of who's talking, and the choices for participants are limited to male and female.

Bottom Line: Used consistently, Equity Maps can be an eye-opening tool for supporting targeted, equitable speaking and listening instruction.

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.

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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. 

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Seeing conversation mapped out will interest teachers, and students will be interested in how their participation compares with that of their peers.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

As part of a larger, ongoing conversation about speaking and listening skills, reflective teachers and students will find some value in having a record of the conversation.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The simple user interface, in-app hints, and tutorials make for a seamless start, but multitasking is a challenge, especially for those who are easily distracted.


Common Sense Reviewer
Marianne Rogowski Media specialist/librarian

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