Friday, September 30, 2011

Google, Study Blue, Twitter, Socrative...all in one!

I have recently come across so many blogs about Twitter and its benefits; of how it can be used to increase our technological and educational collaboration.  I just find it neat that a micro-blogging service not meant for it is being used by so many devoted teachers around the world to enhance education and collaborate!  So I am not going to post about the benefits of Twitter for you as an educator;  trust me, you´ll eventually fall into tons of blogs with that kind of information.

I must say though, that most of the ones I´ve read are about how Twitter can help us develop our own PLN and I just think that´s great.  So here I am, in love with Twitter, trying to have my students engage into it (not an easy job I must say) and trying to have my fellow teachers and administrator go for it too(that´s an even tougher job).  I happen to be blessed with an extraordinary group of students as a homeroom grade, most of which had Twitter accounts way before I started myself with this whole "Twitterphylia".  So I would like to share with  you how I integrated Twitter along with other awesome software I happen to be beta testing in both a Biology class and a Chemistry class.  Hope you enjoy.

Age Group: 15-17
Subjects: Biology and Chemistry (I performed the same activities, the contents changed, of course.)
Content: Biology-Physical Bases of Heredity
              Chemistry-Properties of Matter
Time: 80 min.

Students were previously requested to bring in their laptops and mobile devices into the class.  Oh yes, don´t get me started about my students using their cellphones in the classroom (that´ll be another post).  Since the number of electronic devices was rather limited they were formed in teams.  Each team with at least one netbook or mobile device and at least one person with a Twitter account.

First thing students had to do as a "warm-up" was go to A Google a Day and answer the question of the day.  It was pretty engaging as I was using this to test students´ skills at using Google search.  That was the best excuse I could come up for this one, all right.

Next, I introduced them to this software that I happened to know about through Edmodo. It is actually an online flashcards service dubbed StudyBlue.  It is very similar to the well-known Quizlet and Study Stack.  However, I feel this site´s interface is more appealing to the youth somehow.   I had previously prepared some flashcards with concepts and definitions.  As flashcards with definitions were displayed on the board students had to tweet the correct answer.  Now, I have all my Twitter students in a private list.  So, I would go to this list on Twitter, display on the board, and,  I can´t describe in words their excitement when I refreshed this list after every question to find out who had tweeted the correct answer first.   Winning student scored a point for his/her team. (I only performed this activity for Chemistry class.)  Let me mention that your students can log in to your group with a class code you provide. Go ahead and take a look at StudyBlue.    

Next, we tried this software:  Socrative.  This is an online testing site in which you create quizzes in your class, you are given a code, students enter your room and respond to your quiz in real time with their Internet-connected devices.  The site includes a pretty engaging feature called Space Race.  Teams select a color for their little space rockets which move every time they answer a question correctly.  Yeah, I know you want to go and give it a try!  So, I had prepared a quiz already, had my students enter my room and they set up for a Space Race.  Students were allowed to Google search some of the answers to these questions.  So, I had some teams with one device for Socrative, and the other devices to Google answers, smart.   Oh man, that was fun for the kids!  As an extra touch, I´d like to mention that we were making history in our country as we were the first school in Honduras to ever test this software.  To God be the glory always for the opportunity He gives us to be history-makers.

Last, but not least and as a closing activity, I had my students search for any of four Twitter hashtags regarding our lesson. This with the purpose of them finding out what the world was saying right there about what we were studying.  They found some tweets such as "mitosis is a puzzle to me", or "falling asleep watching the vids about #mitosis, #chromosomes", but these kind of just added to the fun. They did find some pretty instructive ones also.  These were the ones they would focus on, click on an available link, and then tweet about what they had learned about the topic right there, in five minutes.  I personally liked this tweet from student sgcruz4895: "God is amazing, He created us perfectly.  #Mitosis, a delicate process, takes place in living beings for cellular division."  (I only performed this activity for Biology class.)

As usual, let me share some of the students´ comments and impressions during and after this activity:

i really liked the game,and its a really good learning experience :)". 
 it is a good site, and a good way to study"
 the best online game I had played :D I learned alot..and how to click faster!! haha loving this site... 
We should do this more often, We love U mrjp 
21thClassModeOn in Biology Class with Mr JP 
Since we began school as seniors the best class we have received was today at bio with  
 It was so much fun and instructive at the same time.. Thanks for taking us off the same boring routine of paper and pencil.. We really appreciate it..

Please, feel free to integrate this into your own classroom.  May the Lord bless you and help you through your own process of bringing your students, classroom, and instruction into the 21st century!

I really appreciate your questions and comments on the comments section below.


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