Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tech Challenge #4: A Novel Review in Texts

Today's Tech Tool: The camera phone.

My students just finished reading Lord of the Flies, and I needed a hands-on way to review the students for their test for those who read the book and for those who admittedly did not read the book. It took a little bit of prep time, but I came up with a review that took groups of students around the campus to act out scenes from the book.

The Goal:
Student groups will act out an assigned chapter of the novel. They will use props and costumes to pose in a picture representing an important scene from their chapter. Students are to text their picture with a caption that summarizes the major conflict to the teacher which will later be gathered into a slideshow to use as a novel review.

The Day Before:
Come up with a location on campus for each chapter.
Print out directions, chapter summaries, and clipart of different props.
Assemble an envelope for each chapter to give to the groups.

Beginning of Class: 
Divide students into groups. (I had each class act out 4-5 of the chapters.)
Appoint one group member to be the prop-master.
Appoint a group member to read the chapter summary to the group.
Appoint one group member with a camera phone to direct and take the picture.

End of Class:
A celly text is sent out to the students to return to class.
The pictures are shown on the screen, and the group members are to explain what happened in their assigned chapter.

Upload the photos and their captions to www.animoto.com  to create a slideshow of the student's summary of the book.

***Unfortunately I haven't included any of the students pictures or our amazing animoto video to share for privacy purposes. However, I have included a few pictures I snapped around the room. The first image is a shot of the intro to our animoto video. Animoto's website had the perfect video template of a beach scene for our Lord of the Flies summary.

Alternate Tech Tool:
My original lesson plan was to use the GPS coordinates and iPad/iPhone apps to send students to specific locations to give the project a geo-caching twist.

This activity gets the students up and moving instead of being stuck in their desks all day.
The students get to live through the events of the book and better internalize the plot.
100% Participation

It takes more prep time than usual!
The teacher cannot be everywhere at once to monitor student behavior across campus.

Do you facilitate a similar project in your classroom? How have camera phones worked in your curriculum?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tech Challenge 3: A Class of 20 iPads Using Quizlet

Isn't this a beautiful sight? A cart loaded down with brand new iPads is available to me anytime I wish to check them out from the library. It is a beautiful, terrifying thing! How do you pass out expensive technology to 20 students when half of your classes have over 25 students and still manage true undistracted learning?

The answer: Quizlet
Quizlet is an app that can be use online, on the iPhone, AND on the iPad. Luckily my students had access to all three of those things in my room on Tuesday!

The learning goal: Get students to study and learn their vocabulary terms.

The night before:
1. I sent out a message requesting that my students with iPhones download the free Quizlet app.
2. I logged onto Quizlet's website and typed in both of my class vocabulary lists and named them "HHS Lord of the Flies" and "HHS The Pearl" so they could be easily searched for.

At the beginning of class:
1. I had students get out their headphones and iphones and leave everything else at the front of the room. This clears the aisles so we don't have any shattered iPads or disappearing iPads for that matter.

The Lesson:

Once the Quizlet app was open and the students had all searched for our class list, we were able to get started. The students will breeze right through all of the fun things Quizlet has to offer in a matter of minutes if you are not giving them clear steps to complete. I wanted my students to get 25-30 minutes of quality time studying their vocabulary terms. By the end of the day, we had this routine down pat!

1. The List: Let students play with the sound feature on their vocabulary list. I told them to click through each word in the list and listen to the woman pronounce the words. My second period had a particular good time syncing their iPads to pronounce "Mortification: Humiliation" over and over simultaneously. It was very funny and very disturbing.  After having fun with the list, they were instructed to either plug in their headphones or turn the sound OFF.

2. Card Mode: The students were then to click through the flash-card function once.
3. Learn Mode: I then had the students complete a few rounds in the learn mode. During this mode the students are given definitions and have to type in the correct word--with the correct spelling! I put a word bank on each desk for spelling purposes. This mode tracks which words the students have learned and mastered.

4. Scatter Mode: Once they have completed learn mode, I let the students jump into a game called Scatter Mode. This is a timed matching game. They have to match the words to the definitions as fast as they can. I asked the students to try to complete the game in less than 20 seconds. They loved the competitiveness of it!

5. Final Quiz: I asked the students to log back into Card Mode to see how many of the definitions they were able to remember by the end of the lesson.

6. Lesson Extender: After I had the students logged out and the iPads stored back in the cart, I put my iPad on my Elmo. I asked the students to pronounce the words together for me as I flipped through the card mode. 

There you have it! 100% engagement in vocabulary learning for 30 minutes straight! Their eyes and ears were glued to these words for the entire lesson, freeing me up to deal with the occasional technology issue. The kids had fun with it, they learned a new resource that they can access at home, and it prepared them for our upcoming test.

I'm planning out some future lessons using literary terms and example sentences using Quizlet. What other iPad apps do you use with a classroom set of iPads?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Tech Challenge Lesson 2: Cell Phones

My school district gave me an iPad to use in my classroom for BYOD purposes; however, many of my students do not have iPads or tablets of any sort. The technology that almost all of them have readily available is a cell phone.

I needed to find a way to implement my students' available devices into my lessons since this program is Bring YOUR OWN Device, not Watch Your Teacher Use Her Device.  I had to keep in mind that not all of my students have cell phones nor are all of the cell phones smart phones.  I have to admit that I joined the smartphone craze and then eventually went back to my regular "dumb" phone to save a few dollars.The answer? Allow cell phone use during specific classroom and homework activities utilizing nothing other than text messaging.

There are several programs and websites that you can use to remind students of assignments (Remind101) and send students polls and quizzes (Socrative and Poll Everywhere). This year I've set my classes up with the program Cel.ly that does both of those things. Students can also use a computer to send and receive messages if texting is not an option.

Celly Quick Tips
1. Anonymity: Students sign up for their class group by sending in a text and picking a username.
I assign students a username to keep them anonymous among their peers. This helps encourage students to interact without feeling self-conscious. Each one of my classes has a theme (disney characters, Greek mythological characters, famous authors, Shakespearean characters, etc).

2. Professionalism: Students never see my cell phone number, and I never see their cell phone numbers. All messages are stored in a dashboard on the cel.ly. Students can only message me, not individual students and not the entire class. The only way the students can see other students' messages is if I put the website on the whiteboard for discussion purposes. 

3. So I can potentially have 140 students sending me back text messages? Yes, BUT I've turned off the SMS feature so I do not receive their texts on my phone, only the website. I can also delete any text message I receive that does not follow my rules. I've told my students the messages they send have to be in complete sentences, cannot use slang, and cannot contain any abbreviations. This is an English Language Arts class after all! If they really want to see their answers broadcast on the screen, and they do even if it is anonymous, they will adhere to these rules.

How do I use it as a learning aid?
1. I send out text reminders to students about assignments due dates.
2. Students receive optional bonus study questions to respond to after reading. I tell students it is optional and will not count against their grade if they do not participate. However, I offer the incentive that if at least 5 students give me legitimate answers, I will reward the entire class the next day.
3. I can quickly poll students at the end of a lesson to gauge understanding.
4. I can receive questions about material that was unclear to later re-teach.

Sample Prompts
1. Write a newspaper headline that summarizes the chapter that you read tonight for homework.
2. Find a word you were unfamiliar with during your reading. Send in a message with the word and it's definition.
3. Create a test question based on the reading selection you completed today.
4. What good qualities does the main character display in this story?
5. Why do you think the character reacted the way that he did?
6. What do you think will happen in the next chapter? (Please do not answer if you have read ahead!)
7. Which character are you similar to? Explain why.
8. When this character faces a problem in life, how does he respond to it?
9. Summarize this chapter in one sentence.
10. How is this story similar to another story you've read before?

Below is a screenshot of a bonus question I sent my students this morning along with a few responses. I will put this up on the board tomorrow during class to give the students some material to use when filling out a chart comparing these two characters. 

I also teach a Creative Writing class. Here is a poll I sent to my students during class to teach them how to answer the poll questions. The poll shows the results in real time as the students answer. It does not show which students gave which answer.

Check out the short video about another High School teacher who has used Celly successfully with his students.

I hope you find Cel.ly to be as useful in your classroom as I have so far this year! The students really enjoy getting to interact in class and getting reminders from me after school I've never had such much participation in discussions. They all want to see what everyone has had to say about the questions I've sent out. So far, we're loving it!

Teachers: What types of questions would you send to your students using cel.ly?  What other uses have you found for cell phones in your lessons?