Thursday, September 22, 2016

Great Review Games for the Classroom That Isn't 1:1

A comment that I frequently hear during or after my workshop on backchannels and informal assessment goes something like this, "I would love to do these things, but not all of my students have computers to use." Fortunately, there are some great review games that can be played in classrooms that only have a handful of web-enabled devices.

Kahoot, the wildly popular quiz game platform, released a new team mode last spring. The team mode is designed to be used with students who are sharing computers, tablets, or phones. In team mode students arrange themselves in teams around a shared computer or tablet. When you start a Kahoot game you'll now choose "team mode." With team mode selected your students will be prompted to enter a team name and a list of the team members. After the teams have entered their names you will be ready to start the game. One of the nice features of team mode is that students have time to discuss their answer choices before they are allowed to submit a response. From there the game is played and scored just as any other Kahoot game is played and scored.

Quizlet Live allows teachers to select a set of vocabulary words in Quizlet and that set as the basis of a review game that students play in teams. Much like Kahoot and other multiplayer review games controlled by teachers, in Quizlet Live students go to a dedicated webpage ( then they have to enter a game pin. As soon as your students have entered the correct game pin they will be randomly assigned to teams (teachers can reshuffle teams). The game aspect is that students have to work in teams to sort vocabulary terms to their matching definitions (you can also create vocabulary sets that feature math problems or other questions). Teams earn points by making correct matches quickly, but their progress is reset to zero if they make a mistake so they need to focus on accuracy more than speed.

Plickers uses a teacher's iPad or Android tablet in conjunction with a series of QR codes to create a student response system. Students are given a set of QR codes on large index cards. The codes are assigned to students. Each code card can be turned in four orientations. Each orientation provides a different answer. When the teacher is ready to collect data, he or she uses the Plickers mobile app to scan the cards to see a bar graph of responses. In your teacher account on Plickers you can view and save all of the data that you collected from scanning your students' Plickers cards.

Jeopardy-style games are the old standard for in-classroom review games. You can use Flippity to create Jeopardy-style gameboards through Google Spreadsheets. In the video embedded I demonstrate how to use Flippity to create a Jeopardy-style gameboard.

FAQs About Practical Ed Tech Webinars

This week I have received a bunch of questions about the Practical Ed Tech courses that I am teaching in October. These are the most frequently asked questions and my answers to them.

1. Will it be recorded? I want to participate, but I can't make it to every webinar.
Yes, all of live sessions will be recorded. Links to download the recordings will be emailed to you within 12 hours of the end of each webinar.

2. I don't need graduate credit, can I still take the GAFE course or the Blogging course
Yes, the courses are open to folks who don't need the graduate credits. Folks who take the course without the graduate credit option will receive a certificate of hours.

3. Is there a graduate credit option for Teaching History With Technology?
Unfortunately, at this time I do not have a graduate credit option for this course. You will receive a certificate of hours that you may be able to use toward re-certification/ license renewal (check with your local licensing requirements).

4. What is the discount code for subscribers to the Practical Ed Tech newsletter?
The discount code is "subscriber" (all lowercase, no quotation marks).

5. Is there Q&A?
Of course, ask any questions you like during the webinars.

6. What have other people said about the courses?
I'd take another course from you anytime. You are very knowledgeable, and your experience in the classroom "makes it real." - Diana

Thank you for a great class...I learned a lot and am looking forward to putting it all together. Thanks so much! - Tiffany

Thanks for a great program on blogs and social media. Lots of food for thought for me in my current role as a high school social studies teacher and my future role as a media specialist. I recommended your course to one of my colleagues during the first session, and she spoke so highly of it I had to join myself! - Jacquelyn

7. Why do you charge for the courses? 
Three primary reasons: 1. I have to pay for licensing of GoToTraining and for hosting of recordings. 2. I want to work with people who are committed to the course. I've found that when I offer free webinars many people sign up, but few show up.  3. This is part of how I make my living, but believe me I'm not getting rich from this.

You Choose 2016 Teaches Kids About the Presidential Election Process

Last month I featured the classroom debate kits from PBS Election Central. This week PBS published another good resource for helping students learn about the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.

PBS Kids You Choose is designed to help elementary school students understand some of the key points of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. The site features short biographies of Trump and Clinton, create little campaign posters, and collect "Presidential trading cards." A collection of short, animated videos is also included in PBS Kids You Choose. The videos feature familiar PBS Kids characters singing and or talking about things like the importance of voting, the first Presidents, and frequency of elections.

Applications for Education
PBS Kids You Choose does contain some resources that could be useful with students in 2nd to 5th grade. Unfortunately, the site leaves a bit to be desired in its layout so you'll need to pick resources from it and direct your students to them rather than just letting students use the site on their own.

Short Lessons on the Autumnal Equinox

The autumnal equinox occurs today in the northern hemisphere. If you're looking for some resources for teaching about the equinox and the change of seasons, I have a small collection of resources for you.

On National Geographic's Education page there is a hands-on lesson that is worth noting. This hands-on activity is designed to help students understand the changes in intensity and duration of sunlight on their part of the world throughout the year. The activity requires use of foam balls (or similar) and flashlights that students position to mimic the changes in that amount of sunlight that reaches different parts of the world at different times throughout the year.

Mechanism Of The Seasons is a video that I found on YouTube. The six minute video could be helpful in a flipped classroom environment as it covers the same information that your students will review in the National Geographic materials mentioned above.

Sixty Symbols offers an eleven minute video about equinoxes and solstices. It's not a video that most kids will find engaging, but I'm including it because in it you can see a demonstration of how you can use the free Stellarium software in your lessons.

This video from NASA explains why the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox is called the Harvest Moon.

If you would like some resources for teaching about the changing fall foliage, click here for a list that I recently posted.

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