I developed a “Homework Hotline” with a Google Docs spreadsheet to answer student questions in the evening. The students can open it up at any time after school and type in their name, the time, which homework question they need help with, and any other questions they have. I then get on from 9:00 – 9:15 pm to say “Hi!” and answer their questions. Often, other students will get before 9pm and answer each other’s questions before I even get there (I love that)!
We use the spreadsheet but also the chat box for questions and help. I have a separate page for each subject that I teach. When it started, I would comment on the row below the question and hi-light it. Now, I type into my own designated (purple-colored) column. The new column is much easier for me and much easier for the students to follow.
I have found that this is a great way to answer student questions in the evening. When I first started the “Hotline”, students were on every night chatting with me. It has calmed down quite a bit, but is still a very useful tool for evening questions. Since it is much quieter now, I no longer go on every night at 9pm. But, I usually check it once an evening to see if anyone has been on or has a question. I now instruct the students to send me an email if they have questions and then I will get on the hotline that night to help them.
The two biggest drawbacks to the hotline are that writing equations and fractions in gdocs is awkward, and many kids are in bed by 9pm. But, as I have kids myself, it is difficult for me to get on before mine are in bed too! If I have an email request I will try to get on about 8:30pm. Right now, I am averaging about 2 “Hotline Nights” a week. I love being able to help out my students this way!
I am also playing with Scribblar and will try that with my students in the next couple of weeks. Thanks so much to Twitter and @jrykse @druinok for “playing” Scribblar with me! Great Tweeps are always there to help! With my current workload I have missed out on Twitter lately and have really been missing out!