Siegel (parent volunteer)
Here are my thoughts on my setup and what worked/didn’t work.
I had one Internet computer and worked with groups of 2-4 students at any time. I had the kids brainstorm some questions for Michelle after we discussed her bio. Then the kids each wrote on paper their question, and then they took turns keyboarding in the information, and reading the response (which would come while the next student was keyboarding).
In general, the exercise worked to energize the kids and get them thinking about what constitutes a good question. I would do two things differently next time:
1) Kids are very slow inputting their own questions. Next time I would wait until kids are older and more familiar with keyboarding to let them input the questions. Often it would take several minutes (up to 5) for a student to enter a single question. This slowness really interfered with the free flow of ideas. With only one computer, I would strongly recommend that an adult input the questions that students have previously written out. Students would still be responsible for reading the responses from Michelle, and formulating good followup questions. But the speed increase in having an adult (or older student helper) input questions will really help this activity.
Perhaps if each student had their own computer, self-keyboarding would work. Because then there would be more questions coming in at once. So that might work, and is worth a try. But my instincts say it might be hard for 2nd graders to keep focused on inputting questions while new answers were appearing.
2) Students should spend some more time learning about the person or topic of the chat. We only spent a few minutes discussing Michelle's background, and it didn't exactly fit into the present curriculum. So mainly kids focused on Michelle's Disneyland connection and not at all on the desired topic which was the Mars missions.
I hope this helps. I'd like to do more chats in the future.