App / Tool of the Week .... Actively LearnI get the privilege of teaching 6th grade Social Studies which focuses on the Ancient Civilizations when I am not teaching technology skills to middle school students. With common core it is my job to teach my students how to pull information out of primary and secondary sources. I find it difficult to assess my student's comprehension as we go through the various civilizations. I am constantly asking myself: Do they really understand the Caste System?, Do they realize what they are reading happened thousands of years ago? and etc....
I recently had a chance to test drive Actively Learn. Actively Learn is an online platform that allows the teacher to pull in reading materials either from Actively Learn's catalog, the teacher's Google Drive, online source, or even a PDF. The teacher then can add notes, video clips, and even questions. I found the ability to add files from my Google Drive a huge plus since most of my resources are saved to my Google Drive. Another big plus for me was that I could connect the common core standard with the questions I am asking. I like that I can ask question while they are reading. This breaks up the reading and assess my students' understanding. While they are reading about King Tut I can include a video clip about his tomb and ask questions to assess their understanding. This type of assessment gives me a better understanding if my students are really getting and understanding what they are reading.
Since some of my content has to do with diagrams and maps I love that I could add an image/media and ask questions about that image/media. A lot of online quizzes will not support that feature. I really liked that I can assign proficient levels to the short answers questions. Assessing students' knowledge is more than just a letter grade. To have the ability to show proficiency to parents is the key.
Another great tool Actively Learn has built-in is the dictionary. This tool is great for my students as we wade through the various ancient civilizations. I like it because all of my students are reading the same definition not one from Webster Online another one from Dictionary.com and etc.... Students even have the ability to take notes and highlight text.
Even though I teach Social Studies I can see all of these tools very useful for other subject areas. Actively Learn is free and students only need one account. Students just need the code to a join class and can belong to as many classes as needed. When students are finished with the classes they can withdraw.
The biggest perk for me since I am a heavy Edmodo user is the ability to connect Edmodo to Actively Learn. Having the ability to use Edmodo and Google Drive with Actively Learn for me is a win.