Monday, July 2, 2012

Gathering Feedback With Socrative Classroom Activities

This week I am away on an offline vacation. Rather than let the blog be dormant or rerunning old posts I decided to give some other people a chance to share their experiences and ideas with you. I hope you enjoy the posts.

"This is sic! This is so cool!  I can so do this!"

These are just some of the comments my students expressed when our class used Socrative for the first time. As educators know, engaging students in their coursework can be challenging at times -- not with Socrative however!

Socrative is a student response system that leverages the use of smartphones, laptops and tablets by having students respond to questions in various quiz and game formats. Almost instantaneously, student responses are populated and can be viewed by the entire class. No matter what format you use, Socrative is a fun and easy way for students to receive immediate feedback and for teachers to collect marks.

For a quick video tutorial on how to get started with Socrative, please see below.

One key feature of Socrative that I would like to highlight is "Exit Tickets". "Exit Tickets" allow teachers to check in on student understanding of the day's material before they leave class. To do so, teachers can use Socrative's pre-designed "Exit Ticket" activities or design their own in real time or before class. Once student responses are submitted, they are collated as an emailed report or an online google spreadsheet.

Sample Classroom Activities:

Socrative also has a sharing option. By selecting the sharing option in the "Edit Quiz" section located in the Main Menu, a SOC number is assigned that allows the pre-made quiz to be imported by others. It is no secret that educators always appreciate the sharing of good resources! Below I have included the SOC numbers of the English quizzes I have created. Please feel free to share with others.

SOC-256509 - Poetic Devices
SOC-256496 - Types of Poems
SOC-90777 - Short Story Terms #1
SOC-93415 - Short Story Terms #2
SOC-93503 - Short Story Terms #3

I highly recommend Socrative for classroom use as it is a very effective and engaging educational tool for students! Check it out here!

Photo Credit: Frantz, Sue. Socrative. 2012. Technology for Educators, Renton, Washington. Technology for Educators. Web. 16 June 2012.

Lynda Hall is a secondary classroom teacher from Kamloops, BC, CANADA.  She has been teaching Physical Education, Social Studies and English for 17 years and along with her classroom duties, she is currently the Technology Coordinator for her school.  As Technology Coordinator, Lynda’s main responsibility is to encourage the educational use of technology among colleagues through collaboration and mentoring.  She is also working towards a Masters degree in Educational Technology and Design from the University of Saskatchewan.  Lynda is very passionate about integrating technology into her teaching practice and loves to share what she has learned with other educators.  

Blog: The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers. -
Twitter: @MsLHall

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Gigabytes: Creating InfoGraphics with Middle School Students

This week I am away on an offline vacation. Rather than let the blog be dormant or rerunning old posts I decided to give some other people a chance to share their experiences and ideas with you. I hope you enjoy the posts.

InfoGraphics seem to be all the rage these days. Cool graphic designs blend images and words to create an informative story or graphic about a specific topic.  There are a multitude of InfoGraphics available to use as teaching tools to disseminate information. For example, an InfoGraphic I found online about the Death Penalty was very impressionable and informative to share with my Speech and Debate students who were preparing for a debate activity.  Finding infoGraphics is not that difficult with websites like Daily InfoGraphics and InfoGraphic-a-day, which share new InfoGraphics daily.

Creating InfoGraphics is a craft all unto its own. InfoGraphics combine graphic design and textual information.  Thus, a really good infoGraphic is not overly graphic or too text heavy.  There must be a balance between the two, and if the graphics are not appealing to the eye, the effectiveness diminishes.  The key is to marry the images and text in a creative and unique design that draws attention to itself like a beautiful piece of art.

After finding an InfoGraphic about Factors that go into Choosing a Career for my 7th and 8th grade Career Exploration elective course, I wanted my students to make their own InfoGraphic about their own career interests and map out how they plan to achieve their target career. Think of a resume for oneself fifteen years from now (a project that I had assigned in the past) but spin it on its side with the visual factor to create a Graphic Info-Resume.  On our class wiki, I posted the project assignment with additional resources to help students get started.

Students completed the project during class time.  While working on the InfoGraphics project, I began each class period by posting an InfoGraphic on the SmartBoard for students to read and analyze. Students were to note what the designers did well in regards to visualizing information and disseminating knowledge. The students also pointed out any weaknesses in the InfoGraphic presented.  Sometimes students wrote in their journals; at other times, small group or whole class discussion ensued.  The idea was to show as many InfoGraphics as possible and offer models for students’ own InfoGraphic designs and layouts.  The variety of the InfoGraphics that I shared helped students broaden their ideas for layout and design.

Students who were not strong graphic designers used GlogsterEDU to help build their InfoGraphic.  Having used GlogsterEDU before, students were familiar with the program and could use the prefab graphics already available on GlogsterEDU. Whereas InfoGraphic making websites like Piktochart and easel.y offer templates and graphics for making InfoGraphics, students need to register with these sites to create. (Due to our school’s Internet Policy, I am unable to require my students to create accounts with online web applications that require registration and email accounts. I already had classroom account in GlogsterEDU.)

Having the students sketch out their designs before they went online allowed for more creative and thoughtful InfoGraphics versus students who made them up as they were online. Creating the InfoGraphics using GlogsterEDU was a bit more challenging for some students who wanted to create a “cleaner” layout seen on many of the published InfoGraphics online.  Websites like Piktochart and offer better templates for creating these types of InfoGraphics.  In rethinking the InfoGraphic assignment for next year, I might try out the other InfoGraphic websites mentioned above, spend more time teaching about the different genres of InfoGraphics (comparison, resource, evolution), and help students gain a deeper understanding the key elements of InfoGraphic design.

Have you done an InfoGraphic project with your students? Please share your experience with us  :)

Michele Haiken, Ed.D. is currently a teacher at Rye Middle School in Rye, NY and adjunct professor at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY.  For more teaching ideas utilizing technology and literacy you can visit her blog and follow on twitter @teachingfactor.

For more on Using and Creating InfoGraphics, check out:

ISTE SIGMS and SIGILT 1 Tool at a Time Webinar Series Carolyn Jo Starkey’s archived webinar on InfoGraphics as well as Starkey’s Livebinder with a myriad of resources on InfoGraphics.

Kathy Schrock’s Guide to InfoGraphics as Creative Assessment

New York Times’ Learning Network Lesson Plan on Data Visualization

Teaching with InfoGraphics: A Student Project Model

The Anatomy of An Infographic

Making the Classroom More Like Space Camp

This week I am away on an offline vacation. Rather than let the blog be dormant or rerunning old posts I decided to give some other people a chance to share their experiences and ideas with you. I hope you enjoy the posts.

I just returned from Advanced Space Academy for Educators at Space Camp in Huntsville, AL. When you are at Space Camp, you can’t help but dream about a world of education that looks a lot less like a traditional classroom and a whole lot more like Space Camp. At Space Camp, teamwork, problem solving, excitement, and fun are the norm. It is definitely inspirational.

This was my second summer at Space Camp. My first adventure was last summer, and it challenged me to create environments in my classroom that emulated my Space Camp experiences. One of the activities I developed is the “Epic Fronts Project” a new take on the jigsaw lesson.

In case you aren’t familiar with the jigsaw lesson strategy, it involves students being divided into expert groups and jigsaw groups. Each expert group becomes an expert on a section of the lesson and creates a way to teach the concept to classmates. Once all expert groups are ready, students move into jigsaw groups. Each jigsaw group is composed of members from each of the expert groups. Each expert is then responsible to teach the members of the jigsaw group about their assigned concept. It is a great strategy, but it can be a little tricky if you have odd numbers of students. Also, it usually takes more than one day to complete effectively, so absentees can also be a challenge.

I decided I wanted to use the basic strategy but I also knew I wanted to incorporate a larger sense of teamwork, problem solving, and technology - just like Space Camp. My classes were already divided into teams of 7-8 students with four teams per class. For our Epic Fronts Project, each team was assigned one of the four types of weather fronts. As part of the project, students were instructed to create a handout of notes about the front, write a song about the front, create a video to teach the basic concepts about the front, and to develop six assessment questions about the front.

Student teams had a week and a half to complete the project together. We used Flipcams to shoot the video sections and Windows Movie Maker to edit the videos together. Some students took the project a step further recorded audio for the song using microphones and Audacity to split tracks.

The best part of this project was watching students work together to figure out how to create their video and the format it would take. It was problem solving and creativity in action. My role was basically consultant and overseer. I visited the groups to check their progress and offered any assistance as needed. However, most of the time the students really didn’t need me. A few groups needed some help narrowing down ideas to get started, but after that, they flew with the project on their own. It was definitely one of those times when school didn’t feel like school, but it did feel a whole lot like Space Camp!

I hope you enjoy watching a couple of my favorite videos from the “Epic Fronts Projects”. I challenge you to find ways to make school more like Space Camp and less like school where problem solving, creativity and technology are so seamless, kids don’t even realize how much they are learning because they think they are just having fun. And, if you love space and would like to check out Space Camp for yourself, please look into the Honeywell Educators at Space Academy program. It is a fabulous, all expenses paid program sponsored by Honeywell for middle school educators around the world. It’s an experience of a lifetime!

Janelle Wilson is a sixth grade Earth science teacher and self proclaimed space geek and science nerd. She teaches in Gwinnett County, GA just outside of Atlanta. You can find her blog at Stretching Forward and follow her Twitter. She is also a part of the EdCamp Atlanta Founders Team.

Tech Alternatives for the One Computer Classroom

This week I am away on an offline vacation. Rather than let the blog be dormant or rerunning old posts I decided to give some other people a chance to share their experiences and ideas with you. I hope you enjoy the posts.

So you have been ordered to integrate technology in you classroom. Only problem is, you only have one computer. There is light at the end of the tunnel.  Here are 10 ways you can use your one computer as an invigorating learning tool.
  1. Presentation Tool- The first (and simplest way) to use your computer is to present notes or information to your students. To do this project your computer screen onto a presentation screen or smart board. If you don’t have one a dry erase board works just as good. This also requires the aid of an LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) projector. The best way to do this is for the teacher to walk the room explaining the notes and making sure students are on task while a student works the keyboard.
    • Example- Present a power point on the steps of solving a quadratic equation.
  2. Game Show Host- There are a ton of interactive games, note taking techniques, and simulation activities on the internet. Allow one student to direct activities projected on the screen or fill in a graphic organizer on the dry erase board and another student to make the movements on the computer. Students can be grouped to increase competition.  
    • Example- Go to and search for games based a lesson you will be teaching.  Divide students into groups of 3-4 and allow them to compete against each other in a game. One student will operate the computer and be the score keeper.
  3. Competition Tool- Play the games or competition listed above (in #2). However, make it a competition between classes to get the whole class involved. The results can be calculated on the board or tracked using an excel spreadsheet with a bar graph.
    • Example-  Have students compete to identify the battles of the Civil War of the parts of the body on
  4. Learning Center- Setup learning centers in your classroom. Create an activity where groups of students move through various learning centers with one of the centers being a computer learning center.

  • Example-Create learning stations about the stages of mitosis. Have a one station where students take notes, have another station where they color diagrams on the stages of mitosis, another stage where they interact with a simulation on the stages of mitosis (such as  , another where they create a model of mitosis, and another for assessments.

  1. Computer as the Peak Activity (Pre-search, Research, Post-search) - Have a group assignment where students have a before the computer part (or parts) of the assignment, on the computer part of the assignment, and an after the computer part(s). This allows each group to prepare for what they will do on the computer as well as evaluate what they did while on the computer.

  • Example- Students prepare to write a debate on abortion by writing a thesis and creating an outline, get on the computer and research information about cell phones in school using , and then use the research information to formulate their debate.

  1. Jigsaw Puzzle- By now I’m sure you’ve heard of the jigsaw method. It breaks a lesson down into parts and groups of students work on different parts of the lesson. Each part of the lesson will equal one piece of the puzzle. One of those pieces will be a computer group.
    • Example- When teaching a lesson on China, I jig sawed the lesson into a language group, a culture group, a religion group, a history group, a customs group and a geography group. While the other groups used the textbook and other resource books , I allowed the geography group to use my computer to map famous places using Google Earth
  2. Students-Teacher- Allow students to become a specialist on a particular topic and they can create a PowerPoint or other activity to teach the rest of the class about the topic
    • Example- As an end of the year review, students can pick a war (i.e. World War I) and create a short 3 slide PowerPoint on the topic to present to the class. Other students can be busied doing their research in a textbook or creating a multiple choice quiz about their PowerPoint.
  3. Post Master-Allow students to work on an activity at their desk. When they get their part correct, they can go type it into a master list or Power Point projected on the board.
    • Example- This is a great “Get to Know Your Classmates” activity for the beginning of the year. Have each student come up and make one PowerPoint slide about themselves and present a master PowerPoint show entitled “Getting to Mrs./Mr. ___________’s class”
      1. For fun make it a quiz, where the student puts a weird fact about themselves and the class has to guess who it is.
  4. Scavenger Hunt- Have students complete an in class scavenger hunt that allows students to get on the computer for only part of the answers.
    • Example- Have students answer questions in the different resources in the room (textbook, encyclopedia, classroom books) about the Civil Rights Movement and for one of the questions have them listen to Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech on
  5. Tutor- Use it for struggling students for remediation or enrichment for early finishers. This is also a great for students who need some extra credit.

Kimberly Scott has more than six years of teaching experience. This includes middle and high school, both in the traditional and online environment. She has done numerous trainings, designed several innovative curriculums, and developed end-of-course assessments. She specializes in innovative teaching techniques, curriculum design, and integrating technology in the classroom. For more information, visit her blog