My Period 4 US History and Government has a test on Friday, it is based upon their presentations to the class and vocabulary on Civil Rights. Actually all four of my US II classes have a test this Friday.
A couple of students were in front of my room when I came in from hall duty. They were attempting to write on the Interactive WhiteBoard, (IWB),but were having difficulty. Other students attempted to explain what to do, but there was still some difficulty and disbelief in what to do on the part of the students at the IWB. I confirmed and re-explained the student directions on how to write on the board.
I was curious as to their intent, it just happened to be a game of Hangman on the IWB. They started off and I just watched as the students became excited to play the game. I made one suggestion after the second game; why not incorporate words from the class review into the game. They seemed a bit surprised that I did not shut their game down.
They converted the game of Hangman into an animated class review. Students continued to collaborate during the games, assisting with guessing letters and explaining what some of the words were. Students used presentation topics, important people and terms for the game.
A few students did not play, but reviewed on their own. That was fine, they have that freedom of choice to work in the way they are most comfortable with.
Overall the period flew by, most students engaged on the task They needed to focus on. It was nice to be reminded that we can go off the beaten path and still reach our goal.
I learned a new game today, well I heard of it Saturday at EdCampPGH, but I tried it out with my students in class today. The game is QuizletLive. Students are broken into random teams and must communicate and collaborate to answer questions correctly. My students loved it and I was able to use my existing Quizlet flashcards as the basis of the game. There was no need to build new material, which a a HUGE time saver. QuizletLive motivated my students, the vocabulary review grew into a repeated competition for class supremacy.
There is a brief tutorial video embedded in the site so there is no need to repeat instructions here. You see live tracking of student progress while the students are playing.
In my not so humble opinion, the random grouping of students is probably one of the biggest benefits of this tool, along with using pre-existing resources. Having students step out of their comfort zone to work with new group members is important. They can no longer become complacent and work with their usual band of cohorts.
If you get the chance check it out…SOON.
Well, we in Pennsylvania we have new(er) standardized tests, the Keystone Exams. It was my distinct pleasure to be permitted to proctor them this year, sarcasm is intended. I hate standardized tests, but that is a rant for another post. The state window for testing started after Thanksgiving break and ended a week or so after we got back, sorry, but I do not pay attention to such details, I just focus on when we HAVE to take them in our school. Our district took the tests right out of the gate following break; if you have to do it, just jump right in and start. With the majority of my students testing at least one of the three scheduled days I knew I would not be able to accomplish much. My students would either be testing and out of my class, or coming into class after testing and have their brains fried to a mush-like substance. All students who missed class would need filled in, and students who had their brains curdled would need remediated…what a world, what a world.
I chose to jump into collaborative project week and expand the assignment by a week. Each of my subject classes had a different project focus of topic, but similar style projects to create. Podcasts, websites, videos, to combinations of such things were highly encouraged. Students were to use the new iPads or their own personal mobile devices to work on the projects. With a week of near empty classes, or classes filled with zombified students I rolled out the projects.
We started slow, students used Google Docs to sign up for groups, topics of research/presentation, and methods of presenting. We brainstormed ideas of research together as group, discussing why topics were of interest and should they be accepted. As usual, Edmodo was used as the mothership platform for communication and organization of the classes. This first week went well, students were able to accomplish work and decompress from the testing. The opportunity to collaborate, socialize, and have others to lean on was a major benefit for the students. Those students who did not have to test benefited from not having to do extra assignments, or busy work as they call it. As you will see in my next post, students who missed for testing even started the projects while away from class.
While I still thoroughly despise such tests, I now have a worthwhile concept to get my students involved in while we grind out these mandatory requirements.