I love, love, love using ActivExpressions in the classroom. Mostly because the students still love using them. The are still a new toy; I have only had access to them for the last two weeks, but in that time frame I have used them every day but once. Almost everyday I think of a new way to incorporate them into my lesson.

We are reading a mini-novel in Spanish and I plan on doing word associations. I will say a word from the book, and they have to enter the first Spanish word that comes to their mind in connection to the word I said. I think this will be a good place to start a discussion – and I will be able to capture their results on the Promethean board.

The students are going to be doing cultural presentations in two weeks. Last year I had students score each other and write down clarification questions for the presenter. I think this year I can have them enter any questions through ActivExpression and also submit their ‘grade.’ I will be able to see how everyone votes, but to the other students it is anonymous.

I like the ability to have the students create spontaneous practice activities. The provide a verb and a subject pronoun. After talking through the steps involved, they conjugate the verbs using the ActivExpression. Unlike the ActiVotes, they actually have to think about their answer instead of guessing randomly A-F. I always take the time to have them discuss why the wrong answers are wrong. There is no reason to just point out the correct answers – those students already know what they did correct.

There was an article this week that causes a flurry of tweets on Twitter about how important the retrieval process is for long term memory. The research behind ‘Getting it Wrong‘ had some good points – but people picked up on that you should think before you Google.

Learning becomes better if conditions are arranged so that students make errors…

This work has implications beyond the classroom. By challenging ourselves to retrieve or generate answers we can improve our recall. Keep that in mind next time you turn to Google for an answer, and give yourself a little more time to come up with the answer on your own.

The struggle and process for trying to remember or retrieve the answer is beneficial to the learner, especially in the long run. If the information was miss-placed in the brain, someone would be able to update the connections of the knowledge. An EdPsych book I just happen to be reading now (Human Learning by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod) states that when you think about specific items, the rehearsal will make it easier to access in the future along with any other topic relatively related. Since the textbook is not new, the general concepts have been around. But the re-release of the research strengthens the need for students to be challenged in the classroom.

About Lisa Butler

Middle school geography teacher, tech trainer, Flocabulary MC, Nearpod PioNear, and Edcamp Hershey Founder. I have embraced the power of purposeful technology and am creative with their application. If I am not doing something with ed or tech, I am probably reading children's books, baking with a toddler sidekick, running around, or dreaming of traveling.
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