Tuesday, November 29, 2016

6 Reasons to Take Another Look at Quizizz

Quizizz is one of my favorite web tools. If you need a quick game to review content, Quizizz can't be beat. Search for public quizzes and launch in an instant. Control many features like whether or not questions are timed (and how long), whether or not questions are scrambled or whether or not there's a leaderboard. Kids see memes when they get answers right or wrong. Even better, the memes can be customized. And, did I mention that it's free? Recently there are even more reasons to love Quizizz. Here they are:

1. Create Collections of quizzes. Like using folders, Collections allow users to group together quizzes based on topics. Any quizzes, the ones you write or just the ones you find and use, can be added to a collection.

It's easy to start a collection. Hover on a quiz title and click on add. In the pop-up window, select the collection you want to add it to or click the plus sign to create a new collection.

2. Eliminate users. This was one of the most requested features by Quizizz users! When students join a game, the teacher can hover on a name and click an X to eliminate a user. I guess most teachers would use this when a student joins with an inappropriate name, but my students ask me to do this when they don't like the cartoon avatar they are assigned! You can also remove a student from the Reports section of Quizizz.

3. Faster than ever. Quizizz has been redesigned to make it work fast on low bandwidth networks. If your school network stinks, Quizizz still probably works great. As many as 2500 people have completed a quiz at one time. That's pretty awesome!

4. Like a Quiz. Found a quiz you like? Now you can "like" it with a heart. That might sound stupid, but the quizzes can also be searched based on popularity, so liking quizzes helps all users find good quizzes.

5. Steal other people's questions from inside a quiz you are writing. When you create a quiz, you can search for questions that are used on other quizzes. Find one you like? Just click the red plus sign when you hover on it. Now it's your editable question.

6. New Chrome apps. Install the Student app and eliminate the need for a link to join a quiz. Or use the Teacher app to access all the great features of Quizizz without an address bar or tabs like you have in a browser-based tool.

This past month my students used Quizizz at the beginning of almost every class in order to help them learn the polyatomic ions. When I was scheduled to be absent, they asked me to assign the Quizizz as a homework assignment that they could complete in class since I wouldn't be there to launch in person. This regular, repeated practice did motivate and help students learn their ions.

This tool couldn't be easier to use. If you already use it, I bet you'll love these features like I do. If you haven't tried it, give it a try. If you search for a quiz on whatever you're teaching tomorrow, I bet you'll find one. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Individual Interactive Whiteboards: A Review of Ormiboard

Thanks to three great posts by Monica Burns about Ormiboard, I tried the tool out this month with my students. Ormiboard is a whiteboard tool. Where this one differs from some others, though, is that teachers can create interactive activities, give students a code to join, and then each student gets an individual copy of the board to use.

Start with a white canvas and a basic toolbox. Choose a background color. Add text, shapes, images, clipart, or drawings. With a couple more clicks, add some activities. In the picture above of one of my activities, I keyed each of the phrases like "Gain 1" or "Lose 1" to a particular shape. When the students try out this page, they drag the phrase to the appropriate circle. If it's right, it stays in the center of the circle. If it's wrong, it bounces back to where it started.

I used this activity to review a homework assignment. I changed each question of the homework into an interactive board. Students "played" while I walked around to see who had completed their homework. If students had done their homework, they received quick feedback on how they did from the activity. If students had not done their homework, they could still use the activity to review the content. While they worked, I could see a screen that showed where each student was in my set of four board that made this activity:

Want to try my activity? I'm not positive this will work, but let's try it. Go to this link and log in. Then use the code KS74J. Hopefully that will take you to the activity so you can see what it can do.

A couple of other things I liked about Ormiboard: There are ready-made templates for sorts and matching activities. With just a few minutes and the template, it is easy to make an interactive board to students. Also, there is a free version (try before you buy!) and a affordable GO Edition (currently on BIG sale).

Some of the functions of Ormiboard were not intuitive. I sometimes had to try things several times before I could figure out exactly what I needed to do to get the tool to do what I wanted it to do. Still, when I got stuck, there was a library of helping videos that showed me the way.

I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of what I would use this for in my classroom. I lost my SMARTboard last year and I like the idea of replacing my SMART Activity Builders with Ormiboard. I liked using it for homework review so my students all participated and received instant feedback. I'd like to try to use it in a different way. Are you using Ormiboard? If so, please comment and share an idea.

Friday, November 11, 2016

NEW Graded Assignments in Classkick

Twice in October I blogged about Classkick, one of my favorite platforms for practicing skills in a collaborative way in my classroom. On my most recent post, where I compared Classkick and Formative, this comment was posted by Laura Litton, the Director of Teacher Happiness at Classkick:

Anxious to try out this feature, I used Classkick to monitor my classes as they completed The Molympics this week and then used the grading to assess their lab work.

As I created the assignments, I chose a number of points that each slide was worth. Then, when looking at students work, I could type in each score and leave feedback on the slides. 

Here is an ungraded slide:

Here is a graded slide:

After slides have been graded, teachers can see a color-coded grid that shows the progress of each student:

I love this at-a-glance view of how each student is doing on an assignment. Plus, a total score is tallied on the left as each slide is graded. I asked Laura Litton if teachers will be able to restrict student access to an assignment when it is time for grading and she reported that this will be available as a Plus/Pro feature.

This was a nice addition to Classkick and very simple to use! Here is a video from the Classkick YouTube Channel that shows the grading process if you'd like to try it out:

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Get Collaborative with Nearpod!

Last week I did one of my favorite things: I taught a chemistry lesson for fifth graders in honor of the American Chemical Society's National Chemistry Week. This year's theme was Solving Mysteries with Chemistry, so the students solved a mystery of a robbery at a hypothetical bakery. Because they completed many experiments to analyze a mystery powder, I needed a way to keep everyone organized. I decided to use another of my favorite things - NearpodNearpod had rolled out a new feature called Collaborative and I was anxious to try it out with students. This was the perfect opportunity.

Collaborative is an activity that can be added to Nearpod presentations. Like polls and quizzes and drawing slides, a click of a couple of buttons creates a message board that reminded me a little of Padlet. There are a couple of options for backgrounds and post-its. When students participate in the presentation, they can post messages (of 150 characters or less) to the collaborative board. Posts can also include images. After the messages are posted, students can "like" other posts by clicking on the heart icons.

I asked students to guess at how scientists might solve a mystery or catch a criminal. You can see some of the answers in the picture above. The best part of using it was the student reactions! Some were initially stymied about what to write. Once they saw a few other answers, kids were inspired to make some unique guesses. The students really loved the "likes." Maybe older students would be more jaded about the social media quality of this feature, but the fifth graders were cheering as their classmates liked their posts.

Collaborative is not yet available to everyone, but it is coming soon. I hope as it evolves, teachers might have the ability to hide responses on the board until they have been previewed or until all students have participated. Perhaps it would also be nice to allow for anonymous posting. Some of my fellow PioNears have also asked for the ability to "throw away" a response if it is inappropriate or off-task. Maybe we can look forward to some of these features once Collaborative is fully incorporated into Nearpod. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Classkick or Formative: Which Should I Use?

Classkick or Formative? This is a question I get a lot. The short answer is: BOTH. The long answer is, well, longer. Like any other tool comparison, it depends on what you want to do with them. I really like them both for different reasons. 

Here is a chart I created that compares some of my favorite features. I hope it helps you decide which one you need for your lesson tomorrow!

The good news with these two tools is that no matter which one you choose, you will have picked a great one.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Go Formative!

I am a big fan of Classkick. Often, when I describe what I like about it, people ask me how it compares to Formative. I have known, loosely, what Formative is, but I recently set out to learn more about it so I could answer that question with some authority [aside: a comparison of the two tools is coming as a post soon].

I attended a session at a local conference to see Formative in action. Formative allows you to ask students questions and see their answers in real time. Question types include multiple choice, true/false, short answer, and show your work. You can also add images, text blocks, and videos for students to view. At the conference, Jileen Urbanek described how she uses Formative with PDFs of already created assignments. Upload the PDF and anchor questions to it using Formative. Then see student responses in real time or grade them later without hauling a big stack of papers around. I was impressed and intrigued.

I tried it out in my classroom almost immediately after the conference. My students were working on a stations activity to learn about pattern of trends on the periodic table. They work through six stations and record predictions and findings on a guidesheet. I don't collect the guidesheet; it serves as their notes, but it would be helpful to see how everyone was answering while they worked. Enter Formative. I uploaded the PDF of my guidesheet and placed the anchor questions. That was a very easy and intuitive process. Then students created accounts with their school Google accounts and joined my class with a code.

As students worked, I could see how many were selecting the correct answers. Formative gives the ability to sort this data a couple of different ways. Plus, you can hide the names or whether answers are correct or not if you want to project this for the class. I liked that I could look at a glance to see if my students understood the concepts and I used that to determine which questions we needed to talk about as a class.

I didn't use Formative to provide a grade on this activity, but I can see where it would be very easy and useful to do so. The multiple choice and true/false questions grade themselves. The short answer and show your work questions can be hand-scored within the tool by clicking on students' names. Written comments can also be added. I like the idea of turning lab assignments into Formative assignments because questions could be graded one at a time without endlessly flipping through pages.

Overall, I really liked Formative for doing exactly what the name implies - checking for understanding of content during instruction. I like the versatility of using it to record grades or not and seeing student responses in real time. Thanks, Formative, for a great tool!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Foster Teamwork with Classkick

Lately I have been doing a lot of talking about Classkick. In August the webtool version of this amazing app went live and now schools without iPads can take advantage of this fun and useful tool in their classrooms. As a result, I have spread the word at a couple of local conferences and in some PLCs in my district. If you aren't familiar with Classkick, take a look at some of my previous posts to read more about it. Today I will describe a way to use it for group work.

I was using Classkick in my classroom last year and stumbled upon a feature that created a new avenue for teamwork. When students use a code to sign in to an assignment, they type their name and get added to a roster. I had two Mikes in class last year, so I told them - the first time we used Classkick - to sign in as Mike J and Mike T. Fast forward to March and we were working on an assignment. They forgot about their last initials and both signed in just as "Mike." When they did this, they both started working on the same version of the same assignment. In other words, they were sharing a canvas. They realized this when they both started solving the same chemistry problems and could see each other writing on their papers: "Hey! Someone is writing on my page!"

I was warning about this in a PD session this fall and, as I described it, it occurred to me that this could be a powerful way to use Classkick in a classroom. Create a group work assignment and have everyone in the group sign in under one group name. For example, I could create checkpoints for an inquiry-based lab experiment. Everyone in the lab group signs in as "Table1" and works on the assignment together. They could work on each page together or every member of the group could tackle a different part of the task, like a jigsaw strategy. Everyone has access and can edit the work. The teacher can see the group working together in real time. The hand raise feature can be used to have their group work checked or to request help.

I haven't tried this in my classroom yet, but my son and I tried it at home and had great results. We worked on this slide collaboratively (I used an iPad; he used a chromebook): 

He wrote in black and green; my writing is red. I drew the blue car, but he gave it the smiley face. As we worked, we could erase and change each other's work. In the picture at the top of this post, I changed the color of one of the lines. He edited my textboxes. On another slide, he wrote a just-the-facts story ("the object moved at constant speed, then stopped, then moved again") to match a motion graph, but then I added some details ("the wolf moved through the forest looking for food and spotted Red Riding Hood . . .") to make it more like a story. After we tried three slides, I told him that I had seen enough. I knew it would work and had the pictures I needs for my blog. He asked if we could keep working. He thought it was fun. I agree. It was fun.

Using Classkick like this could make group activities more manageable because teachers can use the great feature of watching work in real time to monitor group progress. Students can divvy up parts of the task to make the work go faster or more smoother. Or they can use the shared canvas to edit each other's work without waiting for someone to ask for help. I love the possibilities that this creates for a classroom that emphasizes group work!