Instagrok – my new best friend in the classroom

Whilst being teaching year 7 history I mentioned to my supervising teacher how poorly my class coped with critical thinking even to the degree when asked to find their own research students moaned and groaned and pretty much flatly refused to co-operate. I passed comment to my supervising teacher (relief teacher for the day) that the students need a lesson on how to read a interrupted and asked if he could share a research tool called Instagrok.

Instagrok is a search engine for children that presents its content in the form of a concept map. A new phrase has been coined in the classroom. Instead of googling we are now groking. Students then choose which area they wish to explore further and click on the bubble. This will produce a summary of suitable resources for children to investigate further.

Another plus; at the top of the instagrok screen are two pictures a blackboard with ABC on it and a picture of an Einsteen man. Moving the slider between the two pictures will determine the academic levelling of information. For example if teaching year 1 to research the slider would be all the way near the blackboard, then search findings would bring up suitable resources for year 1 students to read and understand. At the other Einsteen end of the slider would be year 7-9 students who are looking for more complex understandings of research information.

Instagrok is the best tool for differentiation of research strategies when students are undertaking assessment. Try it for yourself. I’m hooked.

Instragrok Brochure


Mock Weekly Spelling Test – Google Forms

After some thoughtful contemplations about Google Forms in the classroom, I have created a mock spelling test using google forms to test a suggestion about using google forms for weekly spelling tests in the classroom. The link to the mock spelling test is here

When giving the test the teacher would read the words out aloud. It would have been good to add some audio to the form so that the students could work completely independently on their test. I thought about recording the words in audacity and embedding the link in a google doc although wondered if this would be too cumbersome and also contemplated saving the file as an MP4 and then could put on an ipod and play aloud to the students. Having an audio file of the words means that students doing extension words could work separately and all students could finish spelling at the same time.

Here are some negatives:  some students may only finger type and be left behind. With room chatter the audio file may not be heard. Can you think of any others to add to my list?.

What are Google Forms? How do I use them?

A topic was presented that interested me. Using Google Forms as ICT in assessment. What the …. is a google form let alone using it as an assessment tool? Off I go with my trusty google search engine.

The first part of my research took me on a journey to find out what a google form is. According to Google Drive (2013):

Google Forms is a useful tool to help you plan events, send a survey, give students a quiz, or collect other information in an easy, streamlined way. A Google form can be connected to a Google spreadsheet. If a spreadsheet is linked to the form, responses will automatically be sent to the spreadsheet. Otherwise, users can view them on the “Summary of Responses” page accessible from the Responses menu.

Here is a short video that describes Google Forms

Using my PLN I discovered Tom Barrett, a teacher from England who has incorporated  Google Forms into classroom assessment. Here is a link to his blog ’10 Google Forms for the classroom’ that outlines how he is achieving this great blend of rich ICT experiences into everyday learning and assessment.

My particular favourite is using Google Forms for the weekly spelling test. I can really see the benefit here as all results are collated in a spreadsheet and identifying misspelled words will be a whole lot faster than opening 30 student exercise books, finding the right page and individually marking each one. Using a spreadsheet the data can then be transfered into individual students spreadsheets and can provide a visual graphical analysis of results over time.

What are your thoughts and ideas?

Google Apps for education

Our school has been chosen to test a new product to education called a chrome book. Each year seven student will receive a chrome book to enhance their learning in the classroom. The device doesn’t run Windows or Microsoft programs but works on a secure Google Apps platform. All information is stored in an iCloud type application accessible from any device with access to internet. When you open the lid it automatically turns on and opens Google chrome. Really looking forward to learning more about Google apps.