Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Opinion Pictures

Class voting techniques can be used for a variety of purposes. What do the majority of students think about something? How many students have the correct answer? What would the majority of people do in a certain situation? What comment do students have to offer on the topic under discussion?

The two applications mentioned here allow you to present the results of these activities in visual form.
Answer Garden is a very simple interactive tool. To use it, your students will need access to the web, and information about where to find the relevant question (the URL of the AnswerGarden you have created for this particular lesson).

When you use the tool, you create a question to which students post their answers. If more than one student posts the same answer, it will appear in larger text than other answers.

  1. go to the website
  2. click on the link that allows you to create a new AnswerGarden
  3. type in your question
  4. finesse the settings and set up your administrator password (so that you can edit the image later)
  5. click on the “create” button
  6. distribute the URL to the appropriate people (try to see how that works)
  7. monitor the results
This is what your students see when they go to the Answer Garden you have created. Here’s a picture of one I made earlier.

Wordle is a similar tool, but it works differently.
To make a word picture using Wordle, you:
  1. Collect student comments in a single Word file
  2. Go to the Wordle website and click the “create” button
  3. Paste in your text
Here’s one I made earlier when I pasted in the text of a government report on higher education.
As with the Answer Garden tool, the larger the text, the more frequently the term has been used.

Using the tools in class

  1. Set your students some reading, along with a focus question. Set up an Answer Garden, and get them to post their (short) answer to the focus question. Use the opinion picture to talk about how they responded / reacted to the article.
  2. Divide your class into groups, either online or in class. Set them a discussion question. Get them to post their answers to an online forum or a shared Google document, or get them to take turns to type their answers into the computer in the room. Paste the resulting document into Wordle and generate the picture. Discuss the result.

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