Thursday, March 20, 2014

Liven Up Your Review Sessions with Kahoot!

For years students would look forward to "review day" because often that meant a good ole' game of Jeopardy!  Up on the chalk board would be categories and amounts, and the teacher would sit in the back waiting to ask the corresponding questions for each box.  This was an entertaining way to find out whether a few people in the room knew everything the needed for the test, but what about everyone else?  Were they prepared?

With all of the technology that has been infused into our classrooms we knew there had to be a better way.  This is why I was so eager to share this with all of you!  Shelly Faust shared her excitement with me about Kahoot last week.  She shared with me that it was "the most engaged she had seen her students all year!"  Really?  Isn't that what we are all striving to do?  Engaged learners is the ultimate goal, and she has found a way that is working for her.

Kahoot is a game based student response system that brings competitiveness to the learning process.  The teacher will either create a "Kahoot" or find one that has already been created which will provide the questions for the student.  Then, each student will respond using their own device in a certain period of time and then the class is provided with instant feedback on whether they got the question right, how many students chose each available answer, and who the top 5 are in the class after that question.  And like Shelly points out below, this is the perfect time to reteach or rephrase things that students may not be fully understanding.

How it has helped Shelly...

"I found through a post on Edmodo.  I've been flipping my class this year and was looking for a review activity I could do with the students using technology.  Kahoot can be used with their iPhones or laptops and I have had students use both.

I created my own Kahoot before I realized there was an extensive library that is public that you can save and edit in your own library.  There was one that already existed that went right along with the content I was teaching in Economics.  I did a little editing to customize to my students and had it ready in minutes.

The students log on to while you start the game on your computer. You have to hook the computer up to the projector because the students need to see your screen - the questions and the answers are on your computer.  I liken it to the trivia game you would play at Buffalo Wild Wings.  The students enter the code that comes up on your screen and then enter a nickname.  I have them use their last names because you can print out a spreadsheet with the scores at the end.

When the question comes up, the students enter their answers.  It is timed, with music.  When everyone has entered their answer, the correct answer pops up, then gives the breakdown of how many chose which answer.  The top five scores show up on my screen after each answer for everyone to see.  They also see on there screen who they are closest to.

The kids love it.  I can stop between questions that they all do poorly on and reteach and move on from those that they all get correct.  They look forward to playing and want to win.  It's hard to get seniors motivated, but this seems to work." - Shelly Faust, Social Studies teacher at Southwood High School

I want to thank Shelly for contributing this week.  If you think that this is something that you would like to utilize in your classroom, but need some help getting started, please let me know!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Curating with Symbaloo

One of the questions I get most often from teachers is how to organize online resources quickly and easily so they can be utilized at a later time.  While there are lots of choices when it comes to bookmarking (or curating) online resources, the one that I have found most useful is Symbaloo.

Symbaloo is a website that allows users to create Webmixes, or groups of bookmarks to other websites.  What's nice about this particular tool, is that it allows you to organize in many ways.  I prefer to make a Webmix for each topic that I'm collecting resources for, and then to color code them to organize them further.  But there is no right or wrong way to do this, so play around with it and find what works for you.

Once you have created your Webmix, you then can share it with others.  They will not be able to edit the Webmix (so they can't add bookmarks or delete them) but they can utilize it.  This makes it a great tool to share your links with your students as well as other colleagues.  This tool is also available for students

How it has helped me...

My students each have created a blog, as well as a Livebinder (digital portfolio) that they are constantly adding content to.  So every week as I was doing my grading, I was constantly having to click in and out of documents that contained their website links.  This was a time consuming and cumbersome process that was very frustrating for me.  I knew there had to be a better way!

Professional Career Internship Symbaloo Webmix

I took a few minutes and created a Webmix that stores all of the links to my students websites.  Now, when it's time to grade, I go to my Symbaloo site, and everything I need is right there.  I've also added links to Skyward and My Big Campus, which has saved me a great deal of time navigating back and forth through these sites that I use daily with my students.

If this is something that you think might be helpful to you, please go ahead and give it a try!  You will need to go to and create an account.  Then you will be ready start building your own Webmixes.  Below is a quick video about how to get started.