Project Based Learning in the Civics Classroom

Over the last seven years, I have found numerous ways to incorporate project-based learning into my curriculum to make learning come alive. I have learned that teaching the content is critical, but the larger challenge involves creating educational lessons that are stimulating and meet the needs of my students. “Project-based learning is a dynamic classroom approach in which students actively explore real-world problems and challenges and acquire a deeper knowledge,” (Edutopia).  A few of my past projects have ranged from student’s creating public service announcements about an interest group, to recreating the 1920’s including the music and dance, to creating a senior digital portfolio project.

I recently created a project-based learning unit about the legislative branch. My students addressed two challenges through a PBL approach, which applied my civics content in a meaningful way. I first started planning my unit with the end goal in mind. Through a UBD approach, I started with the classroom outcomes and then planned the curriculum; choose activities and materials that fostered student learning (Wiggins). My students were asked to create solutions to real-world problems related to the legislative branch. Some of their projects included tracking a bill, proposing and sending a bill to our congressional representative, redrawing a congressional district, writing an email in support to a member of Congress, creating a Facebook page as a congressional representative, and making a political cartoon that could appear in the local newspaper to support or criticize the legislative branch.

One of the many benefits of PBL is that students start to see learning as interdisciplinary. Students learn to collaborate with others because they have the opportunity to be creative in the way they think about a problem and then put their own spin to a solution.  For example, a student that normally struggles in my class became the expert with the redistricting game or another student who is normally very reserved is able shine through her artistic ability. Students make connections between different content areas as well as develop deeper critical thinking skills while they are learning content. One student wrote a letter in support of the Lyme disease bill that is currently being proposed in Albany that they learned about in health class. Another student expressed their opinion about the minimum wage being increased to Congressman Schumer. Both students received a formal response to their letters from the Congressional representative, which made this project a valuable experience.

I no longer stand in the front of the room, but maneuver between different groups of students throughout the classroom. As a teacher you cannot just throw a project at a student and expect them to be successful.  PBL requires careful planning, preparation, and scaffolding. Every time I create a project I provide a clear checklist of requirements, goals, helpful tips, and rubrics to support success in the classroom. It is very important to plan ahead and anticipate any challenges that students may encounter.

In this case, knowledge becomes relevant when applied to real-world situations. It’s important for teachers to build opportunities into the classroom to insure all students are successful. At the end of the project I had students share their projects in small groups through an edcafe presentation. An edcafe is a “bottom up approach shifts energy, engagement, and opportunity for exploration to the students, and transforms the teacher into expert facilitator instead of gatekeeper/manager” (Kennett). An edcafe is a way to structure class that promotes student choice and ownership over learning.

It is important to incorporate student reflection into the learning process.   After the legislative project students were asked to reflect on their thoughts of the project such as:

  • What is the most important thing you learned in the project?
  • What do you wish you spent more time on?
  • What part of the project did you do your best work on?
  • How could your teacher change this project to make it better next time?

Students need to be given time to reflect and assess their own learning. Reflection is the key to a meaningful learning. Overall, I was very impressed with the level of dedication and motivation my students put into their projects. Their learning made connections beyond our classroom. My hope is that they become lifelong learners who are civically engaged in the world around them.

Next year if I was to do this project again, I would incorporate a showcase night where students could educate the public about the legislative branch. I would also like to bring our local congressional representative to be a guest speaker or a “judge” of their final projects.

 

Works Cited

Kennett, Katrina. “EdCafe in the Classroom.” EdCafe in the Classroom. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2014.

Project-Based Learning.” Edutopia. Edutopia, n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2014.

Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2011). The Understanding by Design guide to creating high-quality units. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

 

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Create an iBook

Last year I had my class complete a Supreme Court Brief Assignment but this year I wanted to create an iBook with my class. I attended a session on iBook creation led by Edtechteacher at West Essex Tech Symposium. Through the Book Creator app, my students created an iBook. Book Creator app is a simple way to create a beautiful and creative iBook project. Students can choose from portrait, landscape, and square book sizes. They can easily add media from the camera roll such as photos or videos. Pictures and videos can be quickly resized or rotated with the swipe of a finger. Students can edit text by color, size, rotation, and font. They can even draw or write on the book with a freehand pen tool. As a presentation tool your students can add their voice to their projects. This application is perfect for any type of school project, especially children’s books or alternative textbooks. They can easily be shared via PDF, iBooks, or uploaded to drive or dropbox.  Wired.com said “Book Creator makes e-book publishing easy.”  My students loved creating their books and were very creative with images, drawings,  and animation. Overall, it was a very worthwhile assignment that I would reccomend to any teacher. Here is a sample project before it was converted to an iBook:

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Students Wanted: Participate in a Collaborative 9/11 Memorial Interview/Blog Project

This is a wonderful collaborative project currently involving students in Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and St.Croix.  If Interested in participating with your class: please contact me @mseideman or through my contact me page. Here is a direct link to the assigment.

9/11 Memories across the Country

Oral History Blog Post Assignment

Visit the Blog: http://interviews911.blogspot.com/

Learning Target: Students will demonstrate an understanding of social science methods of investigation through interviewing a family member on their memories of 9-11.  Students will analyze and discuss the interview through writing a blog post.

Step 1: The first part of your assignment is to interview someone who was old enough to really understand the impact September 11th had on America.  Please ask them the following questions and record their answers, either by writing or recording (video or audio).   It is your choice to document the interview through video or voice recording (your smart phone or computer can easily do that) if that is easier for you.

REMINDER:  Discussing the events of September 11, 2001 can be a very sensitive subject for most people.  Please handle the topic with the utmost care and compassion towards your interviewee.  If you face any difficulty completing this assignment to the fullest, please talk to your teacher.  If discussing the events of September 11, is difficult for you, please do not hesitate to talk to your teacher.

Interview Questions:

  1.  Who are you interviewing?
  2. What details do they remember about the day?  Where were they when they found out?  What were they doing?  What was the first thing they did when they found out?  Etc…
  3. What emotions did they experience that day?  What about the days immediately following?  Have them explain these as best they can.
  4. How do they think America has changed since September 11th?

Step 2: The second part of your assignment is to blog about your interview! Your blog post should include the following:

In your first paragraph create a summary of your family member or friend’s recollection of the events of 9/11. Your purpose here is to share their remembrances as truly as possible to reality- you should use both quotations and summaries in your own words. Make sure that you put quotes in “  “ marks and that you identify your source using only first name.

 In your second paragraph, explain why you think 9/11 has changed the world we live in today and how America has changed as a result of the events of this day. You may use the first person (I, You, we, my) in this section.

Step 3: Proof-read your blog post and make sure everything is correctly spelled. Read your paragraphs out loud to yourself to make sure the grammar and flow are well edited.  Students from around the country will read your posts, so you want to make sure it is appropriate for the public.

Step 4: Type and email your work to

● In the “To” field put:  911studentblog.interview@blogger.com

● In the “subject”: Enter Blog Title and then Teacher’s  Last Name.ClassPeriod.Firstname&LastInitial (Teacher’s Last Name.1.JoeS)

● In the Text box: Copy & paste step 1 and 2 directly into email and push Send

General Tips:

  • If you want to see a sample blog post, please visit – http://interviews911.blogspot.com/
  • Make sure you put the title you want for your blog post as the email subject line
  •  Take out any signatures you have in your email
  •  Make sure you put your “First Name, Last Initial, Teachers Name” at the end of your post/email
  • If you have any pictures to share, please post them in the email.

Step 5: Please Comment on AT LEAST THREE other students’ blog posts. Make sure they are substantial, relevant, and sincere comments.  Don’t forget to sign your blog post with “First Name, Last Initial, Teachers Name”

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Evernote as a Portfolio: Promotes Lifelong Learning!

Thanks to Justin Stallings, my blog has featured a bunch Evernote blog posts (see the previous posts listed below). Evernote is by  FAR one of the best tools I use on a daily basis in my classroom: from lesson plans, to file sharing, to assignments, to bookmarking…. the ideas are endless. After co-hosting #sschat a follower asked me to explain how I had my students create digital portfolios using Evernote.

Why a portfolio? 

A portfolio is really useful way to store projects, writing samples, and student-centered learning. It can be used by students, parents, and teachers to document progress and learning in the classroom. Portfolios allow students to reflect, share, and document their own learning. This summer I planned a really awesome senior project where my students took a problem with the government, researched it, conducted their own research, and presented a solution. The cumulative project was a portfolio documenting their progress: including a research paper and a documentary film about their topic.  You can view the project here. This summer I transitioned from the idea of doing a paper portfolio to a digital one using Evernote as the primarily system for creating portfolios in my classroom.

 

Why Evernote?

As I was researching options to create digital portfolios Evernote naturally came to mind due to its ability to sync with any device,  as well as be accessed from any internet browser. The Evernote app allows students to easily capture and document their portfolios from any device including iPods, iPads, or their mobile device.  Evernote is free, has an app for every device, and is easy to use. Check out Evernote.

 

How do you use Evernote as a digital portfolio?

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Evernote as a Lifelong Learning Tool

One of the best features of using Evernote is that it allows students to take their portfolios and share them with the world! Evernote allows the student to be in control of their own learning in terms of sharing, documentation, and ultimately reflection. Instead of digging out files from a basement, my students will be able to digitally carry their milestones and accomplishments with them. They can watch as they progress into lifelong learners and the ownership placed on the student. It is a very valuable process to observe and as a teacher it is so rewarding to see your students be excited about their learning. 

 

Previous Evernote Blog Posts

Please see Justin’s posts in the Evernote for the Social Studies Series:

Part 1: Evernote for the Social Studies: What is Evernote

Part 2: Evernote for the Social Studies: Evernote in the History Class

Part 3: Evernote for the Social Studies: Evernote and Skitch

Part 4: Evernote for the Social Studies: Lesson Planning with Evernote

Part 5: Evernote for the Social Studies: Evernote and Study Blue

Evernote for Educators Livebinder

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The Top Ten Ways I Structure my AP Government Course

I recently had someone ask me how I setup my AP Government classroom. I figured I would write a post about it since it was just easier to explain. This is going to be my 7th year of teaching (wow how fast time flies) and my 5th year teaching AP Government and Politics. I finally feel comfortable with the content and preparation after my 4th year.

 

Warning: I make money off of this idea. 

 

The Top Ten Ways I Structure my AP Government and Politics Course

1. AP Government 1 Page Chapter Summaries: Last year I gave each chapter review page during the structure AP Government review time. This year I am giving these chapter summaries before every test and collecting them and placing them into a student file folder. At the end of April I will be giving the folders back to my students and they will already have the review sheets completed. The 11 chapter summaries are one page handouts that are very simple and graphically appealing, which include the most essencial information in EVERY chapter in AP Government. This would be a great supplement to do for AP review or to include as you learn each unit to make a study guide for the AP exam in May.

 

2. Free Response Essay Packet:  This is a 12 page document of all the AP Government and Politics Free Response Questions (FRQ’s) from the past 14 years. The document contains all FRQ’s from 1999-2013. FRQ’s are subdivided in unit and historical order. This is a VERY useful tool to have for an AP Government student. I plan on reviewing previous FRQ’s with my students before each unit test and during the structured AP review time.

 

3. How to Write a Free Response Essay Handout:  This is a handout on how to write a Free Response Essay on the AP Government exam. It has helpful tips and suggestions to write the essay.

 

4. AP Government Vocabulary List: This is a list of over 300 vocabulary words that are essential when learning AP Government and Politics. The vocabulary words are organized by unit (9 units total). The vocabulary words and definition are organized in alphabetical order. I give this packet out at the beginning of the year to help my students study and learn the material. We also play bingo before every unit test. My students fill in the words for the chapter to the blank bingo card and I read the definitions from the vocabulary list.

 

5. Socratic Seminar Handout: This is a handout to encourage students to have rules and expectations with socratic seminars. This handout is very useful when introducing the socratic seminar as a form of discussion in any class. I usually assign a controversial article related to AP Government and students must generate three socratic style questions for homework. My students then come to class ready to discuss the article through the socratic method.

 

6. Government Chapter Reading Questions: This is a list of 3-5 essential critical reading questions for each unit of government. This handout can be modified for any book or government course since the content is the same. I usually give this handout out at the beginning of the year and have my students read the chapter and respond to the questions in an extended response format.

 

7. Student Self-Evaluation for Classroom Participation: This is a student self-evaluation on their own level of classroom participation. I joke with my student’s that I have the final VETO say in their grade for participate but I do let them self-reflect and evaluate their own behavior.

 

8. Debate Assignment:  This is a debate assignment for six separate government debates. The debate structure, rubric, audience rubric, audience evaluation guide, and guidelines are included. My class does these debates in two teams of two for each topic. The rest of the class is the audience. These debates were specifically planned for one debate for each unit.

Debate topics:

1. Voting should be compulsory in our democracy
2. The American two-party system is so strong that voting for third party candidates cannot effectively influence public policy.
3. There should be term limits for members of Congress.
4. Direct popular vote should replace the Electoral College.
5. Americans would be safer without a constitutional right to carry a weapon.
6. Affirmative action programs are necessary to safeguard the opportunities of underrepresented minorities.

 

9. Participation in Government: Ever wish your students were more involved in politics in the community. This assignment requires them to attend one political event out of a list of events in the community. They also need to write a paper response with a series of question prompts. There is a grading rubric provided as well as sample community event options to participate with.

 

10. Current Event Blog Post:  This is the detailed assignment, rubric, and schedule for the current event blog post assignment. Students are assigned one week each marking period to write one current event blog post and give an in class presentation. Students must include a summary, analysis, visual, and MLA citation, and connection to the course.

 

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Create Storytelling Projects with 30Hands

30Hands is really neat iPhone and iPad application that is a engaging storytelling application. Your students can easily create stories or presentations using photos, images, or powerpoint slides using their device. 30hands uses the power of storytelling to make projects engaging and creative. Your students can create a book using their own voice, audio, and design. Presentation can be published on the device and uploaded to the 30hands website to be shared with the world. Students do not need to register on 30hands in order Screen Shot 2013-07-01 at 9.35.52 PMto use the app. 30hands provides a very detailed tutorial. 30hands could be an excellent app for your students to use to create narrated slideshow presentations.

 

The Huffington Post describes 30hands as “I was most impressed with the mobile app, which has a unique feature that enables a storytelling experience by allowing the users to record audio and video over digital images. It flows seamlessly and can be uploaded onto a web platform where teachers organize and display a collection of learning materials.”

 

Here is an instructional video made by: Lance Yonder from ENSC Peer Coaches 

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Design Comic Strips on the iPad

I work with a wonderful teacher, Ms. Grasso, who assigns her students a hand-drawn comic strip assignment. I recently discovered this wonderful paid application ($2.99), called Strip Designer. Ms. Grasso can now offer a digital comic strip option or hand-drawn comic strip project option to her photo 2 copy 3students as an assignment.  Your students can create their own comic strips on any history or general education topic in the classroom.

 

You can use photos from the camera roll or from the internet. Your students can select a template from the Strip Designer and then insert photos. Your students can add cute graphic design stickers to the template or photos. Your students can then add text balloons on the images or cartoon captions. You can then save the comic strips to your camera roll or it can be shared online.Screen Shot 2013-07-01 at 9.57.51 PM

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Simplify your iPad with CloudOn

I recently discovered CloudOn from a colleague at work. CloudOn brings Microsoft Office to your iPhone and iPad. With Cloud on you can create and edit files in Word, Excel, and Powerpoint on your iPhone or iPad. You can Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 10.06.09 PMmanage documents with your Dropbox, Box, Google Drive and SkyDrive accounts. You can track changes and set notifications while editing the document.

 

CloudOn also automatically saves documents so you will never lose your work.  The application is a direct and wireless link between your desktop and your ipad, which will allow you to work without any issue.  CloudOn is completely free, so you have nothing to lose by trying it out. Click here to download it for the iPad.

 

 

 

 

 

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Smithsonian Quests inspire students to explore their own ideas!

I learned about Smithsonian Quests from Daniel Boyle, who is a history teacher I know from twitter who wants to incorporate the idea of the Google 20% into his classroom. Smithsonian Quests inspire students to explore their own ideas and interests online, in school, at home, and across the nation. The quests connect and reward learners of different ages and in different regions as they learn through discovery and collaboration. Rewards include digital badges that students (and teachers) take with them for life!

 

The primary goal is to inspire youth to explore their own interests through a series of online activities and related incentive badges. Many of these badges are integrated with content from online education conferences, which highlight a variety of different topics.

Smithsonian Quests & BadgesThe second goal is to enhance students’ cognitive capabilities by incorporating knowledge and skill-building into the quests. The online conferences and quests are interdisciplinary in nature, offering students the opportunity to choose what they care about most.

All quests engage students in exploring a topic of interest either as part of a formal standards-aligned school curriculum or as a student-driven after school activity. An important secondary audience is you, the educator, whose support is vital in connecting with students. To this end, you also will be offered badges that will document their participation in Smithsonian online conferences, online professional development sessions, and the completion of class projects. All quests will be reviewed and badges awarded by a team of Smithsonian experts.

Sign-up now! You will receive an invitation to join a grade-level based group in the Smithsonian Quests Community.

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My Big Campus User (FREE) Conference

Last year I had the unique privilege to attend My Big Campus (MBC) Summer Academy in San Diego, California. I learned from amazing educators across the country, learned to train others using MBC, and creative ways I can implement MBC into my classroom. I left the training motivated and excited to share My Big Campus with my professional learning community. Since then I have spread MBC to several teachers at my school who are using it with their students. I am hopeful the rollout will continue to spread within my district.

 

What is My Big Campus?

My Big Campus is an online learning environment where teachers and students can have online discussion and online learning for all students. It is a secure social network that is designed to be used inside and outside of the classroom. My Big Campus is carefully monitored and has specific settings that are designed for you class and student population. Anything that is uploaded, created, or posted can be seen and printed by teachers, administrators, or My Big Campus administrators.  Students will learn that they are members of a community and are expected to be responsible digital citizen.All My Big Campus groups are “Private” meaning that only students and teachers that are invited to be a part of the group or class can see comments, assignments, discussions, or shared resources.

 

Here are some ways you can use My Big Campus in your class:

  • Students can get directions and resources for assignments given in class
  • Students can participate in and create discussions related to the topics we are covering.
  • Students can access to our classroom calendar and receive announcements about upcoming events and important dates.
  • Students can have online storage space so they can easily access digital projects and assignments they are working on for class.
  • Students can communicate with me and their classmates about assignments and projects we are doing in class.

 

My Big Campus Conference  

Any MBC user can attend our first-ever MBC User Conference–there are no conference fees! Teachers, tech coordinators, and admins will be coming together to share best practices for engaging students, improving learning outcomes, managing online behavior, collaborating on PD, rolling out MBC and 1:1 initiatives, and more. Users teaching and learning from each other–because together we do amazing things!

Register today — the conference is free!

Submit your proposal to present — this conference is all about users sharing best practices. Strands include:

  • Student Engagement (e.g., course delivery, global connections)
  • Content Curation (e.g., curating content in MBC, cross-district collaboration, course bundle best practices)
  • Innovative Learning Models (e.g, PBL, flipped, differentiated instruction)
  • Virtual/Distance Education
  • Digital Citizenship and Managing Online Behavior
  • Mobile Implementations (e.g., 1:1, BYOD)
  • Professional Learning Networks (e.g., PD, book studies, district rollouts)

Apply for a scholarship to offset travel expenses.

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Digital Ways to Engage your Students

I am running a professional development session after school this week about digital ways to engage your students in their own learning. These are a few of my favorite apps or web-based programs that I plan to introduce at the workshop. 

  1. Infuse Learning: (online) Infuse Learning allows teachers to push questions, prompts, and quizzes out to students’ devices in private virtual classrooms. This is wonderful for a quick assessment or review activity on the spot. My student’s love the draw something feature where I give them a vocabulary word and then they draw it and send it to my screen. I have done this with AP and regular US history, both courses had wonderful results.
  1. Socrative: (online or app) Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises via smartphones, laptops, and tablets.  This is great for a quick assessment or review game. For sample teacher codes visit: http://goo.gl/3CRiV   
  1. Gooru-:(online or app)  Gooru Collections allow any user to have access to more than 3,000 educational materials. The website is organized into playlists and is designed for every 5th-12th grade student. The options are endless from videos to games, to digital textbooks, useful teacher approved websites, quizzes, and so much more.
  1. Today’s Meet: (online) helps you embrace the backchannel and connect with your audience in realtime. Encourage the room to use the live stream to make comments, ask questions, and use that feedback to tailor your presentation, sharpen your points, and address audience needs.  I use today’s meet to have my student’s back-channel during a classroom debate, video, or resource sharing session when I do not want “verbal” discussion.
  1. Skitch:  (online or app) Get your point across with fewer words using annotation, shapes and sketches, so that your ideas become reality faster. This works well in groups. I assign each group a different topic and they need to create Skitch slide about that topic. They send their slides to me or their mirror their ipad through the Apple TV and teach the class about their topic.
  1. Evernote: (online or app) Evernote lets your take notes, sync files across your devices, save webpages, capture inspiration, and share your ideas with friends and colleagues.  There are so many wonderful ways to use Evernote for file sharing, lesson plans, digital portfolios writing submission. The ideas are endless!
  1. Animoto (online or app) or iMovie (app) Create a digital movie with photos and text slides.  Remember to create a teacher account. For sample projects and handouts http://goo.gl/aCntL
  2. My Big Campus (online or app) My Big Campus extends the classroom to a safe, engaging online environment that balances educational use of Web technologies with network and student.

Useful Resources

-Ipads In the Classroom by Annalisa Kelly Itunes Store. Free ebook http://goo.gl/nWcVh

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Use Google Draw to Animate Maps or Images written by Chris McKenzie @mckc1

Guest Post written by  Chris McKenzie who is an English teacher and a Coordinator of Educational Technology at a secondary school (grades 8-12) in Vancouver, BC. You can follow her on Twitter handle at  mckc1

 

I’d like to share relatively simple idea that makes use of Google Drawing to annotate maps. This is great for historical maps because it’s easier to do than overlaying a map onto Google Earth. If you don’t know about Google Drawing, you can find it in Google Drive. Instead of creating a Google Doc, just go a bit further down the drop-down menu and select “Drawing”.

Then, when you are in the drawing window, “Insert” an image and resize the image and the canvas to your liking.After that, you and the students can use the line tool and scribble tool to draw on the map, use the text tool to write on the map, and use the insert image function to include other images. If you right-click on the lines, text, or images, you can select “comment” to add a comment to the right of the map. Move your mouse over the comment to see which part of the map it pertains to, or click on an element of the map to see which comment is associated with it. Best of all, because this is a part of Google Drive, multiple students can collaborate on it.

It may be worthwhile having students annotate a map before you teach them the lesson. As a form of pre-assessment, they could annotate it with what they know. Then, as the lesson goes on, they could revise their previous annotations or drawings to show what they’ve learned.

Depending on your purpose and the students’ ages, you may also want to have some small pushpin images or premade labels down the side so that the students have only to drag them into place.

Here is a sample map:

 

 

 

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Socrative for Review and Sub Plans!

I NEVER in my wildest dreams would assume my student’s would actually be able to play a “review game” on their mobile devices with a substitute. I have a dream US history class period 1, which means they are still tired. The classroom culture is such that they do their work, every one of them contribute to the class, and meaningful learning happens. It is one of my favorite classes. I am not sure I could leave a review game for some of my other periods, but with that being said you have to know your students and ideally have a good substitute!

 

I use Socrative for review games all the time. I also love Infuse Learning. I use both programs (free) interchangeably because they have different features. On Monday morning I had a review day scheduled before their test on Tuesday. I attended a conference in the city and needed to leave sub plans. My first reaction was “oh no, what can I have the sub do with them? I can’t lose another school day” (we’ve had 2 snow and 4 hurricane days this year, so far). I already had a Socrative review prepared for my students and I figured I would continue with my plans. Being my school is a BYOD my students could partner up or each use any device they owned to play the “game.”

My sub plans said:

  1. Have the students go to their Socrative app or the internet to access the website
  2. Give them this random code ##### to play the game
  3. Have them play the review game alone or with a partner

I preset the questions to have student’s see if they got the questions correct as well as a “why” if they got the question wrong. My student’s did really well and enjoyed the review game. If you want to access other teacher’s review games using the socrative share code- click this link.

 

After they played the digital review game I had them use white boards in pairs. I gave each pair an envelop of four vocabulary words with the definitions that were going to be on the test. They had to draw their vocabulary word. They then took turns guessing each others word. They played this game for four rounds so they reviewed over 40 vocabulary words in the period.

 

I graded the tests on Tuesday and my students did fabulous on the assessment! I am so happy I did not lose and day and most of all meaningful learning occurred and reviewed WITHOUT me being there. I hope you can try something like this in your class.

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Progressive Video Project Using Animoto

What was the assignment? 

My student’s created mini-video documentaries about a particular topic during the Progressve Era. Instead of a typical lecture or a boring powerpoint project, my students created 2-4 minute video about their particular muckraker or topic during the Progressive Era.
How did they create them?
My student’s worked alone since I havea very small class. They had one night of research the night before. On Monday they spent the entire period creating a powerpoint. On Friday student’s created their Animoto video projects by saving their powerpoint as a JPG and adding effects/music. If I was to do this again I would give them another day.
The projects turned out well. Tomorrow we are watching their video projects and discussing each topic with more depth. Here is the project if you would like to do it with your student’s

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EduCreations the “personal recordable whiteboard for the ipad”

I recently learned about a new app called EduCreations. It’s like a “personal recordable whiteboard for the ipad” that captures user’s voice, digital handwriting, images, and text for the creation of a video lesson or screencast. You can annotate images with handwriting.
Another unique feature of the app is it’s hosting service, which allows you to share any created projects with a class or select # of users.  As a teacher you can create a class and add your students. They can create their own projects once they are in your “class” with the app. The projects they create automatically go into your your class. You can also “push out” lessons to your class.
If you don’t have an ipad- You can used the web-based version of the app that works with any browser. Best Part about the app it’s FREE.
Tons of cool features-
  1. Handwriting and text tool
  2. import multiple images
  3. great editing tools
  4. animated play back
  5. multiple upload or share options
  6. 9 compatible languages
Hope you get a chance to check it out: http://www.educreations.com/about/ipad/
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