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I have a new tool that I am using in my classroom called Prezi. I like this tool because I think it has a lot of potential for use in the classroom. I am a firm believer that students need to create things in order to fully understand concepts. This is the core of my teaching. I am constantly looking for ways for my students to create things using the new knowledge they have just investigated. I say investigated because I also believe that students learn best when they discover the lesson on their own. This is why there is not a day that goes by that we are not doing an investigation in our room. Whether it is looking for punctuation marks to see why they are used, or a typical science experiment, I believe students need to find the answers themselves. I also think the conversations that take place are key to help us all come to a better understanding of the concept, but more importantly of each other.
I believe that the paper pencil activities have their place, but I do not believe that answering questions on a worksheet is the best use of time in my classroom. That is why I started to look at my study guides in a different light. Why do we spend so much time having students copy the answers so they have it…anyone can copy, but that does not increase their knowledge or synthesize what they already know. There has to be a better use of instructional time. Last year I started giving the students the study guide and then a few days later I would give them my study guide with my notes. I thought this was an improvement, and I am no longer spending time droning on about the answers. I also free up a lot of instructional time that allows us to do more experiments. My problem with the answer key is that even though the answers are “right” or what I think they should be, there is no thinking taking place. There is also no conversations to help students that just might not get it to have it explained another way. At home, in the middle of studying for the test, students have a sheet that tells them the answer, but nothing is explained. That bothers me!
I am a person that loves to play with any Web 2.0 thing out there. I play with it to see if it is something that will engage my students, something that will help them create , something that deepens their understanding , and finally how easy is it to use. While I am playing with Prezi I see the YouTube feature and a light clicks on for me. There are lots of videos of experiments that people do or Bill Nye snippets that could help explain a concept to a child. If I am not at their house helping them study, why not have Bill Nye the Science Guy there to give them another look or another idea to help these concepts make sense? So this is why I am now using Prezi to create my study guides.
I am interested in knowing if you and your child found the Prezi helped your child prepare for the test better than the old answer key. Please let me know! I always love your input!