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.