Being the online troller that I am, I discovered a couple of new resources that I used in my classes last week. I thought I’d pass them along for those who are similarly inclined.
The first tool I found through Graphite, a site that provides tips, evaluations, and reviews on games, apps, and interactive web sites. It’s sponsored by Common Sense Media, a site I’ve used extensively when designing Digital Citizenship classes. As a 1:1 school, it’s important that our students understand how to safely navigate the Internet, and this site had everything I needed to write our school’s DC curriculum.
One of the highly-recommended free tools I found on Graphite recently is called Coaster Crafter, which has students design a roller coaster with various pieces of track and other tools, like brakes and gears. Students can also customize their coaster cars with color, design, and sound. They can earn design implements by answering questions about velocity, acceleration, momentum, and potential or kinetic energy, etc. These are the exact concepts we’ve been learning this year. I like being able to put all the concepts to work on a real-world simulation.
One of the neat features of Graphite is the ability to create a “board” similar to a board in Pinterest or Symbaloo, where you assemble several useful tools for each class or concept area. Check out my physical science board to see how it works. The best feature, in my opinion, is the evaluation that each tool has received from other teachers who have used it in the form of 1 – 5 ratings for engagement, pedagogy, and site support. There are also field notes attached to each tool by a user, which can give you tips for how to use it, and a review with pros and cons.
Another great find that I put to work last week was a PowerPoint template for creating a “Fakebook” page. The template was posted to an education blog and linked in an online lesson plan for the novel The Fault in Our Stars, which my junior English class is currently reading. The book has been phenomenally well received by my students, which is notable in itself. The fact that John Green’s YA book has been #1 on the NYT Bestseller list for quite some time is no accident.
My assignment was for students to choose either of two main characters, Hazel or Gus, to create a Fakebook page for. I listed a few minimum requirements: complete their list of 6 friends, using other character names from the novel; and fill up one page of the character’s wall with posts from their friends that are relevant to the plot, and including replies from the page’s owner. My students had a lot of fun with this one, too. I gave them 10 points for a correctly completed main page and another 10 points of extra credit for completing an optional second page.
I always wonder in advance if my students will enjoy a new activity I’m planning, and more often than not, they do. Even when it doesn’t work as well as I hoped, I’ve enjoyed the process of trolling for tools. It’s similar to the thrill a bargain-hunter gets from finding a $5 Louis Vitton purse at an estate sale . . . Okay, maybe not that exciting, but still. The tools I tried out last week were hits, though, which made the finds that much more rewarding. I hope others will enjoy them, too.