At the end of every semester, I would have my students study the same redundant way from year to year. I took the packet of questions that correlates to my benchmark, created a similar packet, and handed it to my students. We slowly went through all the questions until we got close to the end of the semester. We finish up just in time for their final semester exam. Last year I took a different approach. I did not reinvent the wheel. I just took what I was already doing and added some tech.
Use Google Slides for Review
Having students collaborate on Google Slides is a great way to engage students in studying for benchmark exams.
Google Slides and other Google drive apps allow for real time collaboration. My thought process here was to let us work as a large team to create a study guide instead of everyone studying individually. I took my trusty ol' packet of questions and created a slide for every single question. Once the questions were in their respective spots I shared the Slides presentation with my students and had them jump to their respective slide. Each team was responsible for creating one slide that taught the process for solving that given question. What was even better about this was that at the end of the activity we had a full fledged study guide which I posted on Edmodo. My students could now review as much as they liked.
Hangout with another Teacher
Why not try using a Google Hangout with another teacher in your subject content area. Have some questions prepared and advance. Try playing Jeopardy style and see which class can answer the most questions correctly.
I have written about this topic with my friend and colleague, John Stevens, here. This was a fun little project that we undertook that went really well. We created a college basketball type bracket with our students, take a look at the results here.
Essentially we used our iPads and several Google Hangouts to have students compete against each other. John's class was 8th grade Algebra, and my class was 9th grade Algebra. I felt my students were really motivated and eager to get to the competition. I was still using the questions from the Benchmark study guide but my students had a very motivating reason to finish: "not losing to an 8th grader". The more prepared they were, the better their chances were in the competition. Below you will find the end result of our little experiment.
The new age of resumes and portfolios is a website. With social sites like LinkedIn.com and Twitter, students need to be aware of the power of the web. Building a website has become a matter of dragging and dropping. Coding and HTML knowledge are not necessary; although, knowledge in those areas give a student a healthy advantage. It is best to start small, but get your students moving on the right path with one of these web creation tools.
Since Palm Springs Unified already makes use of the Google domain, why not use Google sites? Since students will be creating and storing their documents, presentation, and spreadsheets on their Google drive, it is simply a matter of drag and drop or copy/paste for students to display their work. Google sites also quickly embeds materials that students may have created on other sites, such as VoiceThread or Animoto. This makes Google sites a simple solution to portfolios and resumes. It's the perfect format for students to present themselves to future employees.
Weebly is yet another solution to this dilemma. This site is incredibly easy to use. It's just a matter of drag and drop as well as copy/paste. Weebly also has the added benefit of creating a url that is relatively easy to remember. An example would be "studentnameportfolio.weebly.com." Furthermore, students can continue to add to their portfolio as they continue through school and add throughout their scholastic career. As we outlined last week, blogging is a great way to address common core writing requirements. Weebly offers an easy way to get started with blogging. Watch the tutorial below and see if it is something that would benefit your students.
Common Core Connection
Common Core requires students to know the 4 C's: Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Creativity. Having students create an online portfolio that addresses these requirements is an effective approach. When students incorporate all of the tools that you use in your classroom, they have evidence of the 4 C's.
Get your download on!
Chromebooks and the Chrome browser continue to evolve in the education space. There are many apps being created to fit a wide variety of needs. Looking for some free thinking map creation tools?
Thinking map apps we like.
Images are links. Use Google Chrome browser to install apps.
Common Core Connection
It is easy to find apps such as these that will help you achieve your Common Core goals. All of these apps will help you to ENGAGE your students and support both your own and student productivity.
Of course, these concept map apps will enable your students to create
thinking maps that define context, develop language, classify and order
concepts, analyze cause and effects, and see analogies. These
"visual maps" will enable your students to organize thinking about complex
relationships so they can be understood, explained and presented.
Google Apps for Education
Palm Springs Unified School District is officially a Google Apps For Education (GAFE) school. All of our students have Google accounts with 30 GB of space. As Educators, this means we can create great content on the web and truly collaborate with our students. Google has been developing their educational sector and is strongly advocating to get into the classroom. Google has definitely infiltrated the classroom with the introduction of the Chromebook. The Chromebook offers an inexpensive way for districts to get technology into the classroom, preparing students for the 21st century.
Google Drive has many tools inside of its suite of apps. We have written a tutorial that outlines how to use some of those web apps. One of the more basic apps within Google Drive is their word processing app called Google Docs. Google docs allows for ultimate collaboration. Students can edit assignments simultaneously. Projects and research papers can now be written as a group, without students having to meet face to face. Students can be in the comfort of their own homes and work on their assignments together, and all they need is an internet connection and their computer/tablet.
Google Docs also automatically saves a copy of your work every six seconds or so. The days of losing your work are over. Not to mention the revision history feature allows you to go back in time to use an older copy of any document, just in a case a students "accidentally" deletes their work.
Common Core Connection
Research is a large focus of the new common core implementation within Google Docs. Students open the research tool, and a search bar opens on the right. Students can seamlessly cite their resources when doing their research in MLA, APA, and Chicago style formats. This is also a great way to reinforce copyright laws as well.