Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Review Games - Add Some FUN to Review Week

Reviewing for final exams can be a little tedious, both for students and teachers.  There are some great technology tools that can add a little (or a lot) of fun to reviewing past material.  You may already be familiar with Kahoot, but have you heard of Quizizz?  

Both tools are free, gameshow-like quiz games, where you can enter in your own questions, or choose games created by other teachers.  The teacher projects the game, and the students use their cell phones or chromebooks to answer the questions.

Many teachers in our district have been using Kahoot, and students love it.  I have heard stories of students playing Kahoot in small groups on their own time, because it is fun.  And the best part, they are learning and reviewing at the same time.  Quizizz is a newer game, that is very similar.  But it has some additional tools and benefits that put it a little over the top of Kahoot:

  • Quizizz allows students to go at their own pace.  This gives students the time to really think through the questions, instead of just choosing an answer to be the fastest.  (You can also run it so it is time, like Kahoot.)
  • Quizizz displays the questions right on the students device, so they don't need to look up at the screen to see the question.  This makes it much easier for the students to stay engaged, and not get confused.
  • Quizziz has fun memes after each question that students love.
  • Quizziz allows students to take the quizzes at home for homework assignments.  You can leave a quiz open for up to two weeks.
For instructions, an overview video, and a walkthrough to use this with your students, please check out this link.

If you need any help creating your first quiz, or want me to help you run the game with your class, please book an appointment or contact me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Use the Hour of Code to Teach Important Skills to ALL Students

Why should ALL teachers participate in the hour of code with their students?  You may be thinking, "I don't teach computer science, and I don't want to give up an hour of my valuable class time". 

While you may not be teaching a computer science course, coding teaches students problem solving skills, critical thinking, collaboration, and perseverance.  These are all skills that any teacher, in any subject area, would love for their students to have and practice.  And, coding is used to help people in all job fields, so it is a great way to share with your students applications in the work force to your subject area.

Getting started in coding is actually easy, and as a teacher, you do not need to know how to code yourself!  But honestly, it's a lot of fun.  Here's a Star Wars game I created after completing a Hour of Code tutorial.  (Stay away from the Storm Troopers, and try to get the Tauntuans.)

How do you participate in the Hour of Code?

The Hour of Code takes place during Computer Science Education Week, December 7-13.  All you need is an hour (or 50 minutes if that is all you have).  You don't even need devices, but it is a little more fun if you do.  

  1. Go to the Code.org tutorial page and choose a tutorial for your class (or let your students choose their own).  I recommend the Star Wars one.  It has a Java version which is geared for older students, and students can create their own game at the end.  Also, students can complete these tutorials using a computer, chromebook, or even on their phones using an internet browser.
  2. It helps if you go through the tutorial yourself ahead of time.  But honestly, you don't need to.  The students will be fine doing it without you having to be an expert.
  3. Have the students create an account, and work on the tutorial.  You will be amazed watching your students create, think critically, and fail and try again.
  4. If you don't have devices, go to code.org/learn and scroll down to "unplugged computer science".