29 May 2015

Using the ActivExpressions to extend thinking and make connections - spotlight Queen Victoria


Students in Martha McGloin's grade 8 Gifted ISP at Queen Victoria Public School are currently doing an inquiry project in Science. Their focus in around the topic of Characteristics of Living Things and connecting in the Cell theory. Preliminary questions some have chosen for their investigations so far include, "What is the significance of single-celled organisms? How does DNA determine how cells develop and work? to "How can certain cells be used for the injury recovery or accelerated evolution of the human species?"

As part of her students' learning, Ms. McGloin wanted to make sure students were connecting fundamentals of the characteristics of living things and cell theory with their inquiries. McGloin co-planned a lesson with itinerant teacher Valia Reinsalu to incorporate the Activ Expressions in order to foster student discussion and connections.


Martha McGloin, from Queen Victoria P.S. starts the day's lesson.


Using the Express Poll, students were asked a variety of text questions which asked them to provide examples of various aspects of the characteristics of living things. Once students responded, Ms. McGloin was able to paste their written responses onto the flipchart page.



Students were also given a number of questions to reflect on using the self-paced assessment set-up. With the self-paced assessment the question appears on the ActivExpression device itself. Each individual goes through the set of questions at his/her own pace.



(left) Text answers can be "word-seeded" or pasted onto the flipchart page for sorting. The sorted ideas from: Give an example of "Living Things grow in size, reproduce and are able to repair themselves."

During the lesson, some students moved and sorted responses into specific categories by either walking up to the Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) and using their hand to move text around. Others students used the ActivSlate to move their responses from their seats.

Ms. McGloin leads the discussion. 

Students connect the characteristic of living things to the example given by proposing the name of the big idea. 

Ms. McGloin's class were also asked questions to relate their inquiry project directly to the big ideas of characteristics of living things. Students felt engaged and a few said they preferred the method of text input over having to "write ideas down" on paper.

Response systems are an effective way to have each student provide a voice and input into learning - particularly in a class of 21 or more students. It's also a great way to have generated ideas and examples be collected, sorted and stored in a visual way. A flipchart is digital and can be printed out and/or saved and referred back to a number of times on the IWB.

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