Life Has a History Exploration

The Life Has a History website is an excellent introduction to the principles of evolution.  It has a very nice teacher’s guide with focus questions designed for grades 5-12.  However, my students require a bit specific and guided questions, so I created my own Life has a history worksheet to accompany the site that I hope will be useful to others.

Using Screencast-o-matic for an effective sub lesson plan

Earlier this week, I was able to go on a study trip with a group of students from my school.  However, one of my Physics classes hadn’t gotten through the Free Fall notes that the other class had.  Rather than put them on hold and have them get even further behind, I used Screencast-O-Matic and my Wacom Bamboo tablet to create a video for my students to watch while I was gone.

I felt like this was a great use of technology because 1) my students stayed on track even when I wasn’t there and 2) they could go back and watch it again.  The only drawback to this method is that there is no student-teacher interaction and the question-answer dynamic of the classroom is lost.  However, I would do this again for a sub lesson plan or a “Blizzard Bag” lesson.

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Integrating Quizlet in the Classroom

Perhaps one of the most useful tools I’ve used this year has been Quizlet.

Quizlet is a unique study tools that allows you to study sets of flashcards 6 different ways.  As a teacher, I can create a class with flashcard sets.

Students create a username and request to join my class.   They can use the sets, and  I can then monitor their usage of the flashcards.  For example, here is the study log for one of my students from their user page:

Each flashcard set offers several ways to study:

The main set page offers the “traditional” flash card experience.  Students see the term and definition, or if they uncheck the “Both Sides” box, they will see one first, then click to “flip” for the other.  Each card can be read to them and they can be done randomly or in order.

Speller reads the term aloud while displaying the definition.  Students correctly spell the term into a field.

Learn displays the definition (or click “Speak it!” to have it read) while students type the term into a field.

Test randomly generates fill in the blank, multiple choice, and true/false questions.

Scatter places terms and definitions randomly around the screen.  Dragging the correct term to the definition will cause both to disappear.  Students race against time to clear the screen.

Space Race scrolls definitions across the screen and the student must type in the term before it disappears.  If the student is unable to do so, the term pops up and the student must type it in to move on.

Students respond well to the audiovisuals and the easy-to-use study guides.  High scores for each study tool are displayed, which encourages those with a competitive edge.  I have found giving students time on Quizlet an excellent way to study and to fill those extra minutes when a lesson finishes more quickly than expected.