How to Make Your Asynchronous Classes More Engaging Using Students Retrospectives and Audio Prompts

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A Guide to Weekly Students’ Retrospectives using this free Google Slides template and Mote

One of the best ways of assessing students’ learning is through retrospection.

I use the retrospective technique to encourage students to reflect on their learning journey, not only to think about what they’ve learned but how they’ve learned.

Retrospectives are one of the artifacts of the Agile methods to help both a team and its member to reflect on the process, what worked well, what didn’t, and how they can improve for the next sprint.

In the classroom, you can use weekly retrospectives to wrap up a session, a series of lectures, or a topic.

There are plenty of ways you can conduct this activity in your classroom.

In this post, I’m going to show you how you can use Mote, a chrome integration for audio messaging, to create weekly retrospectives with your students asynchronously. 

For a full tutorial on how to use Mote and the Weekly retrospective google slides template watch the video.

Video Tutorial on How to use Mote for Students’ Weekly Retrospectives

What is Mote?

Ok, so let’s start from the beginning what is Mote and how does it work?

Mote is an audio toolkit for educators that works as a chrome integration to enhance students’ engagement in the asynchronous hybrid classroom. 

What I love about Mote is that it is versatile and really easy to use. And wait for it… It’s FREE.

Yes, once you add the integration to chrome you can use it in every google app: Google classroom, docs, slides, forms, sheets, Gmail, and even on the web. 

You can use it for giving feedback to your students, inserting audio to your presentations, adding comments to shared documents, leaving prompts and questions, or even creating audio quizzes and forms so students can respond with their voices too.

But my favorite way of using it is for having asynchronous audio conversations with my students, and especially sharing weekly retrospectives.

Mote has a fermium model, and while I have a premium account, there is much you can do with the free version.

The free version lets you record up to 20 motes per month each of 30 seconds. Now, for this particular activity, the free version is enough. But of course, it depends on the uses you want to give to mote, if you’re planning to give feedback to students in their essays or adding audio to your slides, then the unlimited version is probably best for you. And it’s still very accessible.

But again, with the free version, you can do tons of things.

Weekly Retrospectives Activity

The retrospective activity is an opportunity for students to reflect on what they’ve learned and how they’ve learned. It’s a really personal exercise because it asks students to think about how they think, how they work, and kind of assess themselves regarding the skills, their behavior, their knowledge, and so on. So your main role as an educator is to give them a series of prompts to facilitate the exercise.

Some possible questions are:

  • What was a eureka moment (something you learn that really caught your attention)?
  • What did you find challenging?
  • What part of the class did you like/dislike the most?
  • What things do you think we missed out?
  • What are three takeaways from today’s lecture?
  • What would you like to learn or go deeper next?

I try to keep it simple so that they can complete the exercise as homework or asynchronously in a short time of 5 to 10 minutes.

And I focus on 4 points:

  1. Lessons learned I ask students to think of 3 things they’ve learned during the week. It can be concepts, theories, approaches to work, soft skills..or any other lessons.
  2. What they found challenging or difficult. The idea here is to get an idea of which students are struggling and at what points they’re struggling so that I can easily help them level up. But also it helps them to be more aware of their weakness or points to improve.
  3. Feelings. I want them to tell them how they felt during the week, both regarding the course itself but also regarding their lives in general. This is a really important point that we tend to forget especially in the hybrid or online classroom. And the thing is that as social beings our feelings impact the way we learn and perform. So it’s really important to know how your students feel, and this also lets them know that you care for them and that you hear them.
  4. And the thing they’re looking forward to for next week. This helps me adapt my lectures or prepare to meet expectations, but also it helps them prepare for the next topics or work and improves their motivation and engagement.

Here’s the template I use with my students for weekly retrospectives. You are welcome to make a copy and use it in your classroom. To copy the google slide deck click here.

Weekly Retrospectives Template

Mote for Weekly Retrospectives

So this is where I use mote. Instead of asking my students to just add text, I ask them to complete this with audio messages.

So once you’ve installed the Mote Chrome extension, all you need to do is to click on the mote logo that appears next to the comments icon on google slides and start recording. 

Now if you are in the free version, you have only 30 seconds to record, but for this prompt, that’s enough. If you want to access a 60-day free trial of the unlimited version click here

So you register your prompt and once you are happy with your recording you click on done. And then you click on insert. So the little purple icon appears and you can place it wherever you want. You can also modify its settings, for example, you can choose whether the audio plays automatically or by clicking on it, in a loop or not. So for this exercise, I leave the default option which is to play on click. 

And now, you only need to share your document with your students.

So you may wonder what happens if a student has not installed the add-on, would she be able to listen to the audio? 

Yes, the audio is available to anyone with access to your document. So they can play the audio even if they don’t have mote installed, but they’ll add the extension if they want to respond with audio and complete the activity.

To Wrap Up

Weekly retrospectives are a great opportunity for students to think about how they learn and improve their learning experience. Is an activity that you can use both for asynchronous online classes and as homework. 

You can download and copy the google slides template here. It is ready to use in your classroom with your students. 

To access a 60-days free trial of the unlimited version of Mote just click here and start recording your voice.

For more fresh content on teaching tips, tools, and strategies for the hybrid classroom follow and subscribe to my Youtube channel The Hybrid Professor.

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