Last year my AP Biology class was my guinea pigs of sort for all the edtech ideas I was learning. There were ups and downs, happiness and pain, and at times my students got rather frustrated with me. All that being said I am keeping up with the tech integration. I believe that if my students can create, collaborate and easily access the material that they are learning, there will be greater success in the end. I have three ideas that I want to try with my classes this year.
Utilize Google Hangouts
The first week of school, everyone in my class will be required to get, access, and become familar with Google+, Google Drive, and Google Hangouts. I think these tools will help my class be more than just the 90 minutes of class time that I see them 2 - 3 times a week. This idea was inspired by listening to Kyle Pace on the Techlandia Podcast #027 concerning the Google App Scoot and Doodle. This addition to the Google Hangout will allow my students to collaborate on one shared white board. This would be great for students to work on homework, projects and study for tests. I can just see Punnett Squares being created together by several students, steps of Mitosis being drawn out, or students describing their lab set-ups and how they tested each of the variables. When I was listening about the app, I think might have literally drooled as my brain went into overdrive of how we could use this. I am looking forward to having study sessions with my students. I am having flashbacks of working in my friend's loft nightly on my Calculus homework. The collaboration and peer teach time was the only way I passed Calculus in high school, and I really thing this would be beneficial to my students. Scoot and Doodle also is suppose to have an iPad app coming soon too. Even if my students are not using this app, just meeting together on a regular basis has got to help.
Student Created Quizlets
If you have a class, that has a large amount of vocabulary, and you are not using Quizlet, you are missing an amazing tool that is both web and app based. I started creating Quizlets for my students for their vocabulary quizzes about halfway through the first semester. I went from a passing rate of maybe 20% to 30% to nearly 95% on a consistent basis. The flashcards are very simple to make and share. On the teacher's perspective I loved the test feature. On the student's side, they loved the app on their phones to have one last review before the quiz and the game modes on my interactive whiteboard. This year I want to change up how this tool will be used. I want my students to create the Quizlets. Maybe I will make it an assignment, graded piece. Each student group could be in charge of a specific unit or topic's vocabulary development. Now, you can add images to the flashcards, that will also have to included in the assignment. From the quizlet, these groups could then create connection maps or other graphic organizers to display the words in other context. If you would like to see my Quizlets, search preidwhs.
Paperless Lab Notebooks
This is the one, I am still trying to figure out before school starts. This is definitely the one I am most scared of, but I keep "fighting the good fight" and "travel the path less taken", mainly because I feel like it is the right thing to do. I plan to use Google Drive share feature for my students to create their lab notebooks. Next year my notebook grading load will have doubled since the previous year. The lab notebooks being online will mean less lugging for me. Also, with voice comments, I hope the grading will be much quicker and more personal. For my students, this mean a great, organized, always accessible review source. As the new AP test seems to be heavy on knowing and reflecting on the inquiry side of labs, online they can access and review whenever they wish. I truly hope this one works out, I see great potential in it.
II am sure that I will be doing much more than these in my class, but these are the ones that are keeping me up at nightplanning and dreaming of the possibilities. If anyone one has anyone has any suggestions on how to deploy these tools or have experience of on any of these, help/comments/criticism would be great.
And as always keep asking questions.