Tech Thursday- Parlay Ideas- a tool for peer review

When we were thrust into the unknown pandemic scenario, we as educators struggled to replace our old teacher toolkit with new tools online. There has been a steep learning curve for teachers around the globe. We have risen to the occasion and ensured that we delivered quality education to our students, no matter where we were in the world.

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I, for one, have always enjoyed technology and ever tried to incorporate it into my classroom. I find myself continually researching new technology tools that could make my lessons more engaging and ensure that my students are assessment ready despite learning remotely. In my wanderings on the net, I came across a site called Parlay Ideas. The site claimed to be a legitimate tool for peer review while encouraging student creativity and positive critique. This site piqued my interest as I find that peer review is tough to do online. As a school, we use teams for our daily lessons. While this is an excellent tool to regularly execute classes and collaborate in smaller groups through breakout rooms, there is yet to be an update that includes peer review as part of the student learning process.

As I began to explore further, I realized the opportunities that a site like this could present to an online classroom. A teacher need only create an account with pale ideas to begin making what is known as a round table. This means that the educator can frame a topic or guiding question around which the students will submit their opinion. I prefer to use debatable questions when I use this website, such as ‘Migration-boon or bane’. Open-ended questions honestly give the learners opportunities to stretch their minds, reflect, and eventually justify their opinion with appropriate reasons.

When the teacher finishes setting up the roundtable prompt, they only need to share the link for Parlay Ideas with the students. There is no need to set up an additional classroom in advance like some of the other tech tools on the internet, which is why I believe the ease of use of this tool is fantastic. Students then need to log in with an email ID and password of their own, and the website will immediately guide them to the teacher’s prompt. Bear in mind that learners should have enough time to think about the topic before they are required to pen down their thoughts.

The most enthralling aspect of Parlay Ideas now comes into play after the student has submitted their opinion on the teacher prompt. Once their work is complete, they join the ’roundtable,’ which allows them to see their peers’ inputs on the same prompt. Interestingly, each student gets an alias before they enter the roundtable. For example, a student can have the name Shakespeare or Rabindranath Tagore. Their writing will also appear under this alias, Thus ensuring that although the peers can see the student’s work, they will not know which student posted that work. This process eliminates the fear of judgment in a classroom and allows the students to air their opinions freely. On the other hand, the teacher can toggle between the alias and the students’ real names to see the post’s actual author.

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Under their alias, they can now begin commenting on their friends’ work. Even at this point, the teacher has a degree of control as she can preset the guiding questions for peer review. This step is crucial as learners have to understand the benefit of positive critique, which is constructive and encouraging. Each child can view the feedback provided by his friends and peers, which builds an attitude of reflection and a desire for improvement.

Half the fun of using Parlay Ideas for my students is merely trying to guess who the author of each post is. They enjoy taking it upon themselves to analyze each sentence, gauge their peers’ reactions, and offer explosive guesses on who wrote their favorite inputs. I have used this tech tool multiple times in my class, and I can honestly say that the students are still not bored by this website. The students learn to observe others’ work through Parlay Ideas minutely and remember to be good communicators who care about giving good feedback. These skills will last a lifetime and can easily be integrated into any activity, either online or offline.

It is for all these reasons that Parlay Ideas is steadfastly one of my favorite tech tools. It is one of those applications that are well accepted, user friendly, and encourages collaboration. My third graders never tire of writing while using Parlay Ideas, so it has been a win-win situation for all of us since we went online.

If you have any questions about Parlay Ideas or would like to share your experience, please do comment below, and don’t forget to subscribe!

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