Sunday, June 21, 2015

TESOL Designing Interactive Activities for the Web Course Week 3

My posts for this week:

I read the Brain Rules book a few months ago and have so many of the pages dog-eared. It's definitely worth a read.  The videos very briefly illustrate some of the main points of the book; however, if you're looking for a summer read, I definitely recommend the book because of all the anecdotes about people who have had brain injuries or who have brain anomalies - such as the guy who played something like 50 games of chess at once -- blindfolded -- and won all but one or two matches!
Anyway, the videos are interesting, too.  These are the three that I watched with the important point(s) and implications for us as teachers:

1.  Memory - Repeat to Remember.  
Basically, we need two-hour intervals of repetition of new information.  Therefore, when students are given homework, two hours have passed from the time of learning, so the homework in not really a review - students are having to learn the content again. The brain can hold 7 pieces of factual information for about 30 seconds (that's why phone numbers are only 7 numbers - I learned this not from the book/videos, but this video confirms it).  If the new information is not repeated, it will disappear. If the information is repeated within 30 seconds, the brain will keep the information for 1 - 2 hours.  If the information is not repeated again, it will go away permanently.
Lesson for us:  Repeat soon, repeat often.

2. Vision trumps all other senses.
The video provides some information about an experiment detailed in the book in which wine tasting experts were given white wine dyed red and were fooled.  The point is that vision is very powerful.  The brain sees letters in words as tiny pictures, so that transference is cumbersome, but humans are great at remembering visuals.  I don't know if any of you have ever heard of the Learning Pyramid (see online), but the information in the video -- that when we hear something, three days later we remember 10% whereas if a picture is added, we remember 65% -- reminded me of it.  Our sense of vision is so strong because we have relied on it to survive and thrive.

Lesson for us:  Use visuals - fewer words on teaching materials (PowerPoint, for example) and let the images help us teach better and help students remember better and more.

3.  Schema.
For sure we all learned about this in our teacher training:  activate schemata.  The video demonstrates how understanding and thus memory can be impeded without activating schema.  As the video shows (you have to see it to understand the demo), a simple introduction such as "This is all about X" before a talk / lecture / lesson can really boost comprehension.  Prior knowledge has a strong effect ("can disturbingly shape") on memory and retention.  If schema is triggered near the moment of learning, that learning has a greater tendancy to be more permanent.
Lesson for us:  Plan activities that will tap into what students already know before presenting new content; connect lesson content to previously-taught/learned content.  Activate schema!

To conclude this post, watch these videos if you can't buy the book!  Great tips!  One that is in the book that I plan to try this summer is with the sense of smell. You know how when we experience a certain aroma, it can take us back in time to a specific memory?  The book suggests spraying a scent in your classroom on the day when you are going to teach a really challenging topic.  Then, when reviewing and on "test" day, spray the same scent and see what happens.  The author of the book, John Medina, said he tried it with Brut, the men's cologne.  I'm going to try it with some Glade vanilla... Anything to help students succeed! :)

I have used some of these sites before, so I’ll concentrate on those that are new to me or that I have only had limited experience with.


I have presented on/written about (for OTAN) and used just a couple of the many cool tools on ClassTools: QR Treasure Hunt Generator, The Random Name Pickers and and the countdown timer tools and

However, these are mostly for on-ground F2F classes, so I decided to try a relatively new tool on the site, the Fake Facebook page, Fakebook. There’s a video tutorial online  and help sheet, a lesson plan idea. Basically, the template allows users to create online profiles, like Facebook.

Fakebook could be used for many different types of activities / assignments:

·        Biography of a historical figure, celebrity, politician, athlete, etc.
·        Autobiography or interview a classmate and create a page for his/her biography
·        A profile for a book character or figure from classroom readings
·        Your profile 10 years from now (Me in the Future)
The site has a save/edit function, so that you can return to your fake profile later and continue to work on it (you enter in a password when you save, and the site gives you a special URL where the profile is located).

Example George Washington Fakebook from the Gallery

Fakebook is just one of many fun tools with on the site.  Definitely check it out!

2.  Flubaroo
I am very excited to use Flubaroo because, as I’ve mentioned, I love all that is connected with Google.  I attended a Webinar a couple of months ago, in which this Google Doc Flubaroo How-to was shared.   

The quizzes you can create with Flubaroo look clean / un-cluttered with easy navigation for students – basically just like a Google Form.  The video demo on the site is helpful. I plan to use Flubaroo as an activity in my final project for this course and will give you more information on ease of use, etc., at that point.

3. Edueto
Finally, I just signed up for an account with Edueto, a resource for making online quizzes.   It seems awesome! 

There are several types of exercises you can create: multiple-choice quizzes, gap-fills (cloze), matching, writing/essay questions, sorting, picture tagging, and sequences. You can insert YouTube video and upload files. Students can be grouped into classes, and you can view students’ results. 

It reminds me a bit of Polldaddy but it’s more versatile and has more features.  It’s also similar to Classmarker, which has most of the same features for free but with all features unlocked with a paid subscription. 
I don’t know that I’d use Edueto much, though, because my CMS links quiz results with its built-in gradebook.

(Student           Involved        Assessment)          
(Collaborative             Assessment)          
(Using    Games         for      Assessment)          
(Using    Rubrics         for      Assessment)          
Does      Assessment            Hinder          Learning?    
(What    does             riding            a        bicycle          backwards    have      to       do      with    learning?)    
Very      basic            information    on     
Brain     Research    
1.     Six         Tips    Brain            Based           Learning       Guide          
2.     Brain      Rules            Videos­rules-­video      
Quizlet (,(flashcard making program which includes games)
Kahoot-(requires a mobile device) to make games: to play games, students go to ( Be sure to check out the public kahoots.
Socrative: ( is an assessment tool that is free for educators. I love using it because students can put the app on their phone and it becomes an Instant Student Assessment system. There are no ads and it is easy to use. Be sure to check out the Socrative Garden at
Eduet: education resource that allows you to create all types of different activities
Flubaroo: Create quizzes from Google Forms
Polldaddy: (similar to polleverywhere) (many many different tools for making quizzes, timers, etc--It is easy to spend the rest of your life here there are so many tools. Pick one only due to time.)

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