Sunday, April 17, 2016

How we used EdTech in our APUS review

The AP exam in U.S. History this year is during the morning session of Fri., 6 May, so it wasn't too early to plan our review activities.  Here's what my team did, and how we used technology to raise the level of engagement for our students.
Our review is loosely based on the children's game "Chutes and Ladders."  (Teachers interested in remembering rules for the original Hasbro game can click here.)  To prepare our variation, we printed 43 pages of released questions from the New York State Regents Exam for United States History and Government and numbered every page in Sharpie from 1 to 43.  The pages were scattered throughout our library.

(Why use review questions from a high school exam for our AP students?  We chose them because they addressed core topics and were written in a way that would allow the students to assess quickly whether they knew or forgot the material.)

Students worked in pairs, and were assigned a starting station when they checked in.  The first pair was assigned to start at station 1, the second pair a station 4, etc., so that students would not bunch up.  The teams located their starting station, then answered each of the questions (usually 7-8) on their page.

Here's where the EdTech kicked in.  Accompanying each question sheet was a separate sheet with a QR code with the correct answers.  (Students were told to make sure their smartphones had a QR code reader in advance.)
This QR code, for example, gives the answers to Questions 22-29 for the June 2015 exam.  (Try it for yourself to see.)

The students checked their answers once they had finished answering the questions.  They could advance to the next numbered station only if they got every question correct.  If they got even one question wrong they would have to return to their base station and start all over.

This activity was tremendously successful.  Students were fully engaged throughout.  It allowed for movement, using their smartphones as a learning phone and not a distraction, and collaboration as they worked out the answers.  Best yet, students offered unsolicited praise both after it was over and the next day in class.

2 comments:

K. Snyder said...

I love the Chutes and Ladders idea! I will undoubtedly be implementing this idea in my classroom next year. I am also excited to include the Quizlet technology into the activity. Thanks for great content ideas!

K. Brown said...

I think that the QR code activity is great! It allows you to let the students use their smartphones in a positive manner. The group work, and getting the students up and moving around, only makes the lesson better!