Chat

Wouldn't you like to connect with authors, other classrooms, different people for innumerable reasons? Why not try a 'CHAT'?

PURPOSE: to engage students more

NeatChat - http://www.neatchat.com/introduction is a quick and simple way to do it. Simply start a group and send the URL of the Chatroom created to the people you want to chat with. Your chat is ready. If you come in late, all the conversations that took place prior to your arrival are available for you to read. AND -- there's no software to install and it's FREE.

Not sure yet? Here are some more ideas of how 'chat' can be used: http://education.qld.gov.au/learningplace/communication/chat/examples-chat.html

Have you heard of 'back-channeling'?
Using online services, students will ask questions and make comments of the content that the speaker or teacher is presenting. Whether you like it or not, it IS going on in your classroom while you are lecturing. So this is a way to bring it to the forefront. There are definitely PROs and CONs and not many teachers are using it to their advantage yet, but it appears to have some merit. Here are some comments on back-channeling:
10 Observations about backchanneling - http://davidwarlick.com/2cents/?p=2088
Try TodaysMeet for Back-Channel Chat without distraction - http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2009/12/todaysmeet-for-back-channel-chat.html
Five Platforms for a Classroom Back-channel Chat - http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2010/01/five-platforms-for-classroom-back.html
Back-channeling During a Class Viewing of "GLORY" - http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2009/12/back-channeling-during-class-viewing-of.html
Backchanneling in Middle School Social Studies http://projects.minot.k12.nd.us/groups/chris/weblog/29e37/Backchanneling_in_Middle_School_Social_Studies.html
Backchanneling a a Film Screening on Twitter - http://mediacommons.futureofthebook.org/content/twitter-classroom-backchanneling-film-screening