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Updated: Nov 22, 2020

The use of technology in education commonly involves bells and whistles. Although excitement and novelty are great ways to capture the attention of students; it must move beyond the curb appeal for quality instruction. I often find technology can enhance a lesson in two simple ways:

  • It creates a more organized and efficient system.

  • It creates opportunities that were not previously possible.

This story of a high school English class is an example of where technology was integrated out of necessity and ended up providing a greater impact.

Understanding the Lesson

The debate carousel is a strategy where students analyze a higher-level question and they must take a yes or no stance. The carousel forces students to analyze both sides of the argument.

  • Students establish a yes or no stance, then move around the room 3 times to read a peer's


  • The second rotation students must agree with box 1 regardless of their actual opinion.

  • The third rotation students must disagree with boxes 1 and 2 regardless of their actual opinion.

  • The last rotation students have an opportunity to establish their opinion again, whether or not it changed.

This is a short warm-up to facilitate an in-depth class conversation.

The power of this activity is students responding to their peers and establishing clear opinions, even if they must support the opposite side.

Modifying with Technology

The high school English teacher approached me wondering how to accomplish this in 2020 with social distancing needs, as well as, students virtually attending class. We used Google Slides and Google Sheets to solve the problem. Below are some highlights of why these programs were selected. The screencast captures how to operate the technology.

Google Slides

  • Google slides is very user friendly to create a simple table and embed text boxes.

It’s a naturally collaborative space for students to jump around from slide to slide.

  • Utilizing Master Slide templates allows the students to have designated spaces to type without accidentally changing the formatting.

  • It’s easy to add and delete slides to adjust for the number of students.

  • Students were assigned to one slide to start, then reassigned to new slides to substitute the rotation.

Google Sheets

  • Two columns were used, the first with all the students’ names, the second a number corresponding to each slide.

  • Each time students needed to “rotate” the numbers were randomized to assign the

students to a new slide.

Is this better than before?

Whenever I utilize technology to replace or enhance a lesson, I always ask the teacher, is this better or should we keep it “old-school”. We decided the technology integration offered multiple advantages.

  • As students responded to the first box, the teacher was able to see all the responses in the slide deck very quickly. He was able to see if students were taking a yes or no stance from the beginning to ensure the success for boxes 2-4.

  • It was more efficient to “rotate” students from slide to slide. It did miss the kinesthetic benefit of students walking during the lesson. I recommended he had the students stand up between rotations or even do an exercise in place!

  • During the follow-up conversation, students have access to all the responses. In the past, they would only have their original paper. Here they have all of the responses to read and utilize during the whole class discussion.

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