What could we do if we gave the students more control over how they presented their learning to us?
A simple Google search for some random geometry topic… let’s choose angle pairs… reveals a whole collection of visual images meant to serve as posters, visuals, flash cards, etc.
And most of them are really, really boring. Our students could do better than that. But they might need a tool to do it. Here’s two.
What I love about these two tool is that they are really, really easy to use. Free to get started (and, quite frankly, perfectly satisfactory without leaving the free version) and easy to share.
Now, you might be asking, “why would we want our students to spend time making this stuff?” Fair question.
Remember, to make something helpful to others, they need to learn it themselves. And for some students, being able to make something awesome-looking can help to add some motivational value to some bits of content that are difficult to jazz up. (Angle pairs, for example.)
Thinking of something like this…
And, of course, it won’t work for all students. So, you can keep the quiz handy for the students who would prefer to show you what they’ve learned that way.
Sometimes it can be hard to change the game in math class. Grooves, patterns, predictability… they all have their place, but it can make math class seem stale.
This is where it can be nice to have a off-the-shelf product that completely changes the feel of class. Enter BreakoutEDU. To quote the interviewee from the video above (click the picture) “It bring the breakout room into the classroom.”
You know all of the wonderful patient problem-solving, reasoning, communication and teamwork it takes to bust out of a breakout room? Well, the same thing happens with BreakoutEDU. You hide clues, you lock the box (typically with 4 or 5 locks), you give the students some teammates and a timer and let them go.
I have seen this in classrooms a dozen times or so. Engagement is through the roof. Struggle is often productive and perseverance is challenged. Keep the hints handy. It can be tricky to get the difficulty level of the games right for the your students.
Let me know if you have questions! I’d love to help you get started!
People (generally) like doing what they are good at. So they get better at it because they are practicing it more.
People (generally) don’t like doing things they aren’t good at. So they don’t get better.
Teachers have to figure out a way to strike the balance. We like to let kids do what they are good at (because they tend to engage more enthusiastically and produce more satisfying products). We also need to compel students to do the things they are not good at (because they need to get better at those things.)
So, adding tools to your tool box that can help students engage the things they are find interesting can take (sometimes) take the sting out of the fact that they are being asked to do something they aren’t very good at (like read… or solve math problems.)
One suggestion I had for the literacy side of this was The Literacy Shed. Here’s another. Check out Episode #14 of “Instructional Tech in Under 3 Minutes” on Wonderopolis. Wonderopolis is a site that allows the students to ask what they wonder. And what they’ll find is a diverse variety of articles developed around some of the most interesting “wonders” you can think of.
Check out Wonderopolis and consider what adding it to your EdTech toolbox could do for your students.
Episode #13 of “Instructional Tech in Under 3 Minutes” is on the assessment tool Formative. Now, according to the Formative’s promo video, this is the perfect tool for you if you love Google Forms and Kahoot. (Which I do…)
So, here’s the deal… it combines the diverse flexibility of Google Forms with the ease of access of Kahoot, which is a nice combination. Real time feedback is a nice touch as well.
This is the third mostly-assessment tool that I’ve highlighted and I do that on purpose. Mostly because building the right assessment can be a little tricky. If you’ve got a well-chosen learning target paired with the appropriate instructional strategies, then it makes no sense to haphazardly build an assessment experience for the students. Kahoot, Google Forms, and Formative all have their unique features. So, with their powers combined, they become a system that can create mostly any kind of assessment questions you might need. Individual or group, performance or self-report, anonymous or named.
It can be tricky to build the right assessment. Have a number of tools in your toolbox is often the first step.
Google forms isn’t a new tool. Not even close. But that doesn’t matter.
A good tool is a good tool (particularly if your school has embraced Google). Particularly a tool that has an ease of use (both for students and teachers), is highly flexible, and can be used on any device.
But, the fact that this tool has been around a while doesn’t mean it’s the same tool it was back in 2010. File uploads and different kinds of gridded responses are among the latest updates.
Plus, adding Equatio to Chrome will make adding math notation much easier, too.
So, give Episode 10 of “Instructional Tech in Under 3 Minutes” a watch and remember Google Forms the next time you need to gather input from your students.