Friday, March 27, 2015

Using Chromebooks and Bitstrips, Janice Wellborn, Hernandez Middle School

Testing time is usually a very trying time for me, as well as for the students. During PARCC testing, I am required to be out of my library but fortunately I have Chromebooks to carry with me as I travel from class to class. Our testing schedule is the entire duration of the four weeks I am seeing the current students. Grateful I am that I have these devices!

This past week we have been doing research and creating comic strips using Chromebooks and Bitstrips.  With most students working in pairs, the students were told to review the Database and Bitstrips assignment found on my wiki and answer the questions on the wiki. The topic of research was Ebola.  I created accounts for all students on Bitstrips.  When the students had completed their research they began creating one comic strip per pair to show the information they had learned.  

For the most part, this project went smoothly.  I have used Bitstrips several times and knew that one advantage of this comic strip project was that students love to create their own avatars and settings and absolutely love to share their creations with each other.  I guessed, correctly, that they would enjoy working together on these creations. I did have a few students that were reluctantly paired together and those very few who were unhappy were able to work alone.

At the end of the project, after all students have shared their work with me, I then allow the entire class to see the work of all the students.  The students are told to review twelve comic strips and give the comic strip creators feedback.  They did this with great respect and sincerity, for the most part.  

One problem I ran into with only one rambunctious class had to do with online feedback and flagging.  I had allowed students to make comments online and to use the flagging option in the settings.  With one class, this turned into a mistake.  A handful of students began to flag everyone’s comics or comments.  Before I knew it, the program started hiding the flagged students’ work.  Our classroom gallery went from 15 to six in a matter of minutes!  I had them resubmit the comics to  me and I then instructed all to stop flagging.  From this point on, I will be turning off that option and the comment option in settings.  It was a little too tempting for a few people.

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