Monday, December 8, 2014

Predicting Products, Part 1

How are you feeling about single displacement?
One of the hardest things I teach kids in a year is to predict the products of a chemical reaction.  It's not that it's such a difficult skill at face value but it does require students to synthesize several other skills they have learned so far:  They have to classify a reaction, determine if it occurs, write the correct formulas for the products, and balance the equation.  There are many places for things to go awry in those steps.

 When I teach a math problem, I can usually get almost all the way around my room to see how everyone is progressing because they take long enough to solve.  Predicting products is quicker, though, and I need a way to gather and review feedback quickly.  For this I use The Answer Pad.

The Answer Pad is a web tool - part student response system and part answer sheet - that has a free and a premium version.  The free version is very generous and allows teachers to push out response screens to students and see their responses in real time.  There are screens for multiple choice, true/false, yes/no, thumbs up/down, a slider, a fill-in, and 10 free templates that include a blank canvas, a graph, maps and more.  There is also an iOS app, TAPit (where TAP stands for The Answer Pad), but the tool can be used with iOS devices or any web-enabled devices.  What I like about using the app is that students can write with their fingers which is great for showing a math problem or predicting products.

When we predict products, I use the app in "Go Interactive" mode that allows teachers to just use interactive response screens to meet on-the-spot needs.  After I model how to predict the products of one type of reaction, I send the students the blank canvas and ask them to predict the products of another.  Then, as they submit their answers, I can see what they predicted in real time.  Then I know if we need another example or if we are ready to move on to another type.  I can still circulate - because I am looking at the results on my iPad - but when I don't make it all the way around the room, I can still see everyone's guesses.  At the end of each type, I can ask for a "thumbs up" or a "thumbs down" about how the students are feeling about the process (special note to The Answer Pad:  my students want a sideways thumb option).  As you can see from the pictures here, it is really easy to see at a glance how everyone is progressing.

I have written about ClassKick, an iOS app that I like for seeing student work as they create it.  There are some similarities between ClassKick and The Answer Pad, but they really are very different.  With both, teachers can see student work to give quick feedback.  With ClassKick , students can progress through examples at their own pace; that isn't possible with The Answer Pad.  I like ClassKick for more involved work, like math problems, but I like The Answer Pad better for quick feedback.  The Answer Pad will work on an web-enabled device, but ClassKick is an iOS app, so you would need an iOS device to use it.  ClassKick allows students to ask for help and help each other - I love that - and you can't do that in The Answer Pad.

There is another way to use The Answer Pad - as a bubble sheet for tests and quizzes.  I'll write more about this at some point this year, but kids can tap or click the answers on the bubble sheet and The Answer Pad grades the work and provides complete item analysis.  If you're looking for a way to start using some technology in your classes to get quick feedback, check out The Answer Pad .

No comments:

Post a Comment