Slaughter's Tech Moment

eBackpack Notification and Discussion Boards

Giving Notification without making an actual assignment

Teachers can create announcements or create events on the calendar by creating an assignment and not allowing turning in. Teachers can add details for the event. This is a great way to create reminders for parents and students. By opening the discussion on the event, students can make comments or ask questions to other students and/or the teacher. It is a great way to make home contact!

Use it to:

  • Making announcements
  • Notifying of Tests or Grades Coming
  • Notifying Due Dates for an Extended Project such as a Research Paper or Science Fair (Rough Draft Due, Draft for Peer Review Due, Final Draft, Problem Due, etc.)

Bring Deeper Discussion to Your Classroom

How it can improve your classroom:
  • Develops and contributes to critical thinking and writing skills
  • Allows time for in-depth reflection and thought
  • Creates an exploratory learning environment- allows students the freedom to explore the facets of the topic
  • Can be used as a precursor to in class discussions

How do you make the best of the process?

  • You have to set expectations for your students. (They will live up to what you expect.)
  • In the beginning, you may need to give them an example of your expectations. How many words, how many paragraphs, what do you expect a good response to look like, etc.
  • Create a rubric to score your students and give it to them ahead so they have guidelines to go by as they are writing.
  • Post occasionally to redirect the discussion (link, video, or page numbers to get them to look more in-depth) and to let the students know that you are present in the discussion.
  • Make sure your question will facilitate in-depth discussion.


Rubric Example

Asking Good Questions

Discussion Board Etiquette

Discussion Board Ideas

Social Studies

  1. Assign groups of students or individuals to research one cause of the civil war. The group's goal will be to convince the other group that their cause was the most influential catalyst of war.
  2. The groups will create an argument and present it as an initial post for the class to review, ask questions, and reflect on. Each person or group has to select two initial posts for which to respond.
  3. Each group must then choose two of the comments to respond to as well. The responses should be formulated in a way that would value that opinion, but redirect or persuade them to see the original direction.
  4. Finally after all is complete, an in class discussion will take place reflecting on the online discussion and the class will rank the causes of the war in their eyes.

Change the context and topic a little and this could work for many subjects.


  1. Students post issues, problems, or topics that have been an issue for them. They can even discuss ways that they solved problems within a unit.
  2. Set a number of times that students have to respond on the board for the quarter or semester.

The goal is to get them talking and thinking about math. Teachers, let your presence be known occasionally (enough that they know you are watching, but not so much that they are relying on you). The goal is to make them more responsible for their learning and the learning of their classmates. You may post a Khan Academy video or a strategy that would help them with an issue now and then. Watching the discussion boards will help direct your instruction as well. You can develop a better understanding of how your students are thinking.


  1. Students can post what they identify as a possible theme within a story.
  2. Each student will select two other posts to reflect on, questions, or discuss. These responses can provide evidence of how that theme is correct in the story or how it could be a different theme. The respondent could compare the theme of this story to another story that has been read. Some good discussion points could be: How did the characters react differently or the same? What lessons can be learned? How could this theme change the views of the reader or society?
  3. The teacher should respond occasionally within the discussions to redirect the conversation, or to draw them into a deeper discussion.

Elementary and Early Usage of Discussion Boards

Discussion in lower elementary has to begin small. Focus should be made on teaching students to create a good post to a posed question and proper online etiquette. However, in order to keep students engaged, you will need to initiate the banter between students at some point.

  • You may choose to have a structure that students follow at the start.
  • Create groups to formulate posts.
  • Bring those groups back together to formulate a response one other group in the class.
  • Scaffold the groups. Meet with the groups before they actually post. This will give you the opportunity to focus on etiquette.

Videos on why we should use discussion boards and proper etiquette

Discussion Board Etiquette
Discussion Board Netiquette