Monday, April 6, 2015

ActiveInspire Project Reflection

While working with Mrs. Pisarik to learn more about the technology she uses in her sixth grade classroom, I have also been collaborating with Becca Holzrichter to complete a flipchart through ActiveInspire. This project has delayed my follow-up post about Mrs. Pisarik's technology; I apologize for the wait! In the meantime, please enjoy this post about our flipchart project.

Becca and I have been working on a project-based learning unit throughout the semester; it is still a work in progress. The driving question of our project right now is "How can we, as students, promote health awareness and healthy habits within our school?" This project will satisfy a variety of fifth grade standards, but in particular, we are targeting S.3-5.LS.3, "Understand and apply knowledge of basic human body systems and how they work together." (You may view this particular standard by clicking here or browse all of the standards in the Iowa Core here.) Students must understand the human body system in order to effectively promote awareness of how to keep that system healthy.

If we were to implement this project in a classroom, each group of students would focus on promoting the health of a different body system. To begin the project, we would give the students time as a group to work through a flipchart that gives some basic information about that body system. (It is expected that our students will have experience working with a Promethean board and will be able to navigate the technology on their own or with minimal assistance.) This flipchart is intended to be the starting point for students to begin their research and brainstorming about the project. As an example, Becca and I created a flipchart about the skeletal system.

In case you do not have the capability to experiment with the flipchart on your device, I have uploaded my own screenshots of each page of our flipchart and will explain each of them briefly. If you have ActiveInspire and are interested in using our flipchart, please comment on this post and I will send it to you as an attachment.

This is the title page! It gives a very succinct explanation of what the students will be doing through this flipchart.

One of our flipchart requirements was to include pages of information so that the students can learn more about the topic before working on activities. On the page shown above, we embedded a video of the Schoolhouse Rock song "Them Not So Dry Bones." You can watch this video on YouTube here.

The page above also includes an embedded video. This video is by a group called Make Me Genius. You can watch this video on YouTube here.

The page above is one that we created to provide additional information about the skeletal system. While the videos we included covered some of the functions of the skeletal system and briefly covered joints, the videos were mainly about which bones were located where on the body. We added this information slide to provide clarity to the topics that weren't covered as well in the videos.

The page above is a screenshot of our first activity in the flipchart. Students must use the selection tool to match the words of the functions of the skeletal system. If students drag a word to the correct container, the container will hold the word. If the students drag a word to the incorrect container, the word will bounce back to the word bank (indicating to the students that this attempt was wrong and that the word belongs in another place).

The screenshot above shows another activity, similar to the previous one. In this activity, students must use the selection tool to drag the definitions and examples to the appropriate joint box. If the students drag a definition or example to the correct container, the container will hold the word(s); but, if the students drag a definition or example to an incorrect container, the word will bounce back to the bottom of the screen. The students should work to sort all of the definitions and examples to the correct type of joint.

In the above activity, we got to use a fun feature of ActiveInspire called Magic Ink. We placed a silhouette figure of a man over an image of a skeleton (so that all the user sees is the silhouette). When the students drag the magnifying glass (equipped with Magic Ink) over the silhouette, the magnifying glass shows the skeleton below. We included this activity so that students would have a better understanding of how the skeleton matches up to the body we see on the outside.

The above screenshot shows another container activity. In this activity, students are asked to match the name of some more commonly-known bones to their location on the skeleton. The containers in this activity work the same as they did for the other container activities above.

We call the above page our "magic hat" activity. When students hover over the hat, their icon will change to indicate that they have found a word (one of the bones in the skeleton). The students are to drag the word out of the hat, place it to the side, and point to the location of that bone on their own bodies. The students can work with their group to make sure they have correctly identified the right place, and may ask for assistance from the teacher if they come to a disagreement. The students should continue this process until all of the bones have been pulled out of the magic hat.

Our culminating page combines all of the information the students have learned and worked with through the previous pages. In this activity, the students must use the pen and highlighter (as indicated in the directions) to mark or color in various bones and joints. The students must also identify the five correct functions of the skeletal system from a list. This slide allows us to ensure that the students have mastered the information we tried to teach them through the flipchart.

Above is the slide we included to identify our resources!

Becca and I collected inspiration for our flipchart from the projects posted on Promethean Planet. If you are interested in using flipcharts in your classroom, or just learning more about them in general, I would suggest that you start using the resources on that website. Click here to start gathering inspiration for yourself!

Overall, I am very pleased with the flipchart Becca and I created. I would genuinely say that I would use this flipchart in my classroom if it is appropriate for the age and content of my future students. As I think about my future classroom, I wonder what technology will be at my fingertips. Unfortunately, my experience with ActiveInspire has not convinced me of its necessity in the classroom. I think that I could create activities to teach and assess my students through other means that would take much less planning time than creating this flipchart. Neither Becca nor I found ActiveInspire to be particularly user-friendly; we easily spent six hours creating this flipchart. If we had to go through all of that effort to create a flipchart for each of the body systems, it would take a very long time to prepare for just one day of instruction. Though I think ActiveInspire has some cool features that are unique to the technology, the extremely long amount of time it takes to prepare these features for use in the classroom does not make it worth my effort. It was frustrating to work with, and the other preservice teachers in my CTELE class had similar experiences. I think that interactive whiteboards are definitely beneficial to the classroom, but it seems as though their technology has some catching up to do before they are truly efficient and useful for teaching. I look forward to seeing an update of this application, hopefully in the near future.

**UPDATE 4/18/15: My partner, Becca, was able to upload our flipchart to Promethean Planet. It can be viewed here. So far, the flipchart has been viewed 22 times and downloaded 2 times! How exciting!

**UPDATE 4/27/15: Our flipchart has now been viewed 39 times and downloaded 5 times! Here is a screenshot for proof!

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