As I wrote about in the February 2016 issue of Kathy’s Katch, the Spotlight on Strategies Series (SOS), located on the Discovery Education site, includes a wealth of pedagogical and practical strategies for the use of the digital resources from Discovery Education in the classroom. Each weekly strategy is different– some are for introducing a topic, others target collaboration, and still others provide a path to an assessment project or product. All of the strategies include a downloadable PDF version of the ideas as well as a vignette, which may include a slide show or additional information by the author of the strategy idea. Readers are encouraged to share the ways they utilize the strategy or ideas on how to differentiate the strategy for a grade level or for individual students. The goal of these strategies is both to focus learning and to move knowledge into long-term memory.
This post will continue what I began last month– taking some great strategies for student activation of prior knowledge and summarizing of information that are in the SOS series, and suggesting some online tools, Chrome apps, and iPad apps that students can turn to when using these strategies.
The Flip Flop strategy is based on the “I used to think…. Now I think…” Visible Thinking Routine, developed by Harvard’s Project Zero. It helps students reflect on their thinking and determine how that thinking has changed. This strategy is used when students learn new things that may have changed their thinking. It is both an activator and a summarizer strategy which can be used at the beginning or end or of a lesson or a unit of study.
- The teacher introduces a topic and the whole class discusses their current understanding of the topic.
- Students are told they will be responding to the prompt “I used to think…now I know”.
- A video or audio file from the Discovery Education collection is played.
- In pairs or small groups, students share and discuss their responses.
When the topic is introduced, and the entire class is “discussing” their current understanding of a topic, there are many collaborative tools that can be used to allow the students to enter their thoughts and, when done, the teacher and students can easily discuss the results. Students should be instructed, if they see their thought already in the collaborative environment, they should think about adding a different idea.
The online tools that work well for this activity, and which also work on iOS and Android devices, are Padlet and Today’s Meet.
Padlet is a great sharing tool that has three ways to present information– sticky notes that can be moved around, a linear mode arranged in from newest to oldest, and a grid mode. For this strategy, the grid mode would most easily allow students to see the entries by others. Padlet is more powerful than just text, although text is all that is being used here. It also allows students to upload images, videos, and include URLs in the postings. And the sticky note option allows for re-arrangement or categorization of ideas.
Today’s Meet is an easy-to-use tool that allows the teacher to create a room, send out the URL to students, they simply add their name and they can then add notes on the page. The room can be open for a specified time, and a transcript can be created at the end of the activity. The format is a list format, with newest to oldest posts showing up.
For the second part of this strategy, the “Now I think…” reflective component, a simple audio file or podcast is a perfect formative assessment. I prefer using the podcast tools since the recordings are both stored online and can be “subscribed” to by the teacher for reviewing the student work.
I like the podcast creator Audioboom which is available online and as both an iPad and Android app. It is very easy to create the podcast on the tablet or via the Web and post it for others to listen to. In addition, students can record their audio file locally with a computer and upload the it to the Audioboom site to create the podcast. The Audioboom site automatically creates the RSS feed for any user, so it is very easy for the teacher to aggregate the class podcasts if all students have a separate account.
It’s In the Bag
The It’s in the Bag strategy targets the student’s ability to infer. This ability to infer ties together both prior knowledge and the ability to deduct. This strategy is an activator.
- The teacher collects a few real items related to the instructional topic and puts them in a bag.
- The teacher explains that the items in the bag are clues to the next unit of study.
- The teacher pulls one item out of the bag at a time and students share their thoughts as to why it may be related to the new topic.
- The comments are all recorded on chart paper.
- The teacher reviews the list with the whole class and comes to consensus about what they think they will be learning.
- When the students correctly identify the topic, students can discuss what they already know about the topic and how the clues led them to infer what the topic was going to be.
- Start the teaching of the unit with a Discovery Education video clip or image to introduce the topic more fully to the students.
Gathering real objects for this strategy could take a lot of time and effort on the part of the teachers. Using Creative Commons-licensed images from the Photos for Class, which includes the citation to the image when the image is downloaded, can both save time and showcase the tool to students. Teachers can easily create a slideshow on their computer using PowerPoint or Keynote, online using Google Slides, or create a self-running presentation using Movenote. There are tons of tools both for the tablets and online that can be used, but the feature they must have for this strategy is the ability to show one item at a time. A collage or photo gallery would not be the correct tool for this activator.
At the same time the teacher is showing the slideshow to the students, they can be adding their thoughts using a collaborative brainstorming tool such as Padlet in the grid or sticky-note mode, AWW which is an online collaborative whiteboard, or Connected Mind, a collaborative mind-mapping tool which is available online, for iOS and Android devices, and in the Chrome app store.
Once the topic has been correctly identified, students can reflect on the process using Penzu, a personal journaling program that is available online and as an iOS and Android app. Students can write about what they already know about the topic and how the images presented helped them infer what the topic might be.
Have you used the SOS Strategies and embedded technology tools to enhance them? Post your ideas in the comments!