Nov 9 / Conor Maxwell

Creating Interactive ePortfolios for Revision and Study for Exams

It’s Science Week and exam season is also fast approaching. How do you help students to get organised, get good at note-taking, and revise in a way that suits them best? 

In this blogpost, I will show you all of the simple, free interactive tools I use in my science class to help students easily record their learning, study more effectively and make learning more interactive, and even FUN!

Recording Experiments through video with Adobe Spark

One of the aspects of science that students find difficult is trying to remember the ins and outs of experiments they complete in class. What chemicals did I use to produce oxygen gas? Was it sodium hydroxide or hydrochloric acid I added to the burette? What happened when I put a glowing splint into the collection jar? The list of questions goes on.  

The trouble with experiments is that students normally complete them once, document the steps into a copy, and never actually see the process in action again. This was causing my students difficulty when they were trying to visualise the steps from a series of handwritten notes in their copies. To combat this, we have now started to document experimental procedures using videos instead.  

While completing an experiment, students now take pictures and videos as they complete each step. When the experiment is complete, they can compile all of these into a video using Adobe Spark. Text can be placed along with each image to annotate the steps involved and the results can be relived again and again instead of just seeing it once. This makes it a lot easier to visualise and remember what was actually done.
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These videos documenting students’ experiments can then be stored on OneDrive, the photo gallery on student devices or even embedded into their OneNote Notebooks.

Example video found here.

In the video below from my course on Wriggle Connect Teacher which coveres the iPad and Office 365 in the Science Classroom, I demonstrate how to use Adobe Spark to record student experiments. 
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Interactive  Notes-Taking with Halo AR

The first image that may come to mind when we think of students revising and studying for exams, is that of them sat pouring over their notes hoping that all the information will magically diffuse into their heads as they read it. For students however, this method can become very boring and leave them unmotivated for their revision. This is where we can introduce an element of fun and make student copies interactive with Halo AR.

Halo AR works by combining a project/video/poster a student has made to a trigger image in their copy. When they scan the trigger image in their copy using the Halo AR app. Whatever they have linked to it will automatically pop up on their screen, making it look like it is jumping out of their copy pages.
The example above combines the experiment video we saw earlier with the student notes copy. The diagram drawn in the copy of the apparatus is the trigger image and when scanned, the video created will appear. It doesn’t even have to be an original artefact produced by the students that is linked to it. They can get a diagram they like from online, a nice tutorial video from YouTube, whatever they like!

As you can imagine, this makes revision a while lot more active and fun when interactive elements like this are built in.

In the video below I demonstrate how to use the Halo AR app to create interactive notes with your students. 
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Three Reasons to Create Mind Maps for Revision with Students

Mind maps are a favourite of students when it comes to revision. A mind map is a drawing of a basic concept, that stretches out into detail through branches and stems, like a plant.

There are a few reasons why mind maps are useful:

1. Studies have shown that drawing/creating art along with words helps you remember information 6 times better than if you just learnt from words alone.

2. By linking and breaking down each idea into smaller ideas, you're simplifying the topic and making it easier for yourself to understand.

3. Studies also show that your long-term memory can improve up to 10% by using mind maps!

I find that digital mind maps are quicker and easier to create then a hand-drawn one, lending more time to revision. One of the best apps to use for this is Coggle.

Coggle will draw all the branches you need for your mind map, and also allows you to add not only text, but also images to the mind map as well. Once the mind map is created there are options to print it, save it to the photo gallery, embed into OneNote or even store it on OneDrive. An added bonus is that it can easily be shared with everyone in the class. So even if just one student creates one, it could benefit everybody.

Example of a mind map created by one of my students
 Video on how to use Coggle to create mind maps for revision in science or any subject
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Digital Poster Making with Canva

Another creative and visual way for students to revise is through the production of posters. This, like the mind maps, can be done physically or digitally. One of the benefits of doing it digitally, is the fact that there are numerous templates available for use which makes the designing a whole lot easier and helps students to organise their thoughts in a more coherent way. One of the best tools for making posters is the app Canva.  

Canva allows students to add images, text and their own drawings to poster. They can design the poster themselves from scratch, or they can use templates to help them with their design. The easy to use interface means even if they have no background in creating posters, they will find this easy to navigate and use. Again, like Coggle, these can be saved or printed and act as a vital revision tool. They can also be used to jazz up the science room walls with student-created work.  

Examples of some of the work produced by my students
 Video on how to use Canva to create posters to revise learning
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The biggest take home message for our students should be that studying, and revising doesn’t have to be boring. There are lots of great tools out there to help and there’s no better time to give them the chance to explore them than during Science Week.

If you’d like to learn more about using digital technology to bring your science classroom alive, please check out my course on iPad and Office 365 in the Science Classroom.

To assist your students and their parents further with their revision, send them the registration link to our webinar on Effective Study Skills for Students on Tuesday 16th November at 7pm.

Conor Maxwell

Conor is a science, maths and coding teacher in Sandymount Park Educate Together Secondary School. Conor is ICT Coordinator in his school and gives training sessions top both his students and fellow teachers. He is a certified Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert and Apple Certified Teacher and he believes strongly that when used effectively in the classroom, technology can have a transformational impact on student learning.
As a Wriggle Connect Ambassador, Conor is creating the 'Office 365' Learning Pathway on the new Wriggle Connect Family Platform for Student and Parents. 
To learn more about the courses available to teachers on the Wriggle Connect Platform, click on the courses section if you have a Wriggle Connect account or sign up today. 

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