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If you’re a board game player (raise your hands), then you most likely have played Pictureka before. This game challenges players to take a very busy image and find parts, pieces, items, and people in a race against time and each other. I love how the game teaches the skills of scanning and recall. This morning while looking through some of the latest web 2.0 tools to launch into cyberspace (I use www.feedmyapp.com) I came across a website called ConceptBoard. The idea behind this website is that it allows users to share documents, screenshots, and images and mark them up, talk about them, in real-time. A basic account is free and allows up to 25 users to be connected at the same time. This is more than enough for a class to use it. Even if your class size is larger, you could have students pair up.
This site also gave me the bright idea to marry two of my favorite things together….board games and web apps. You could set up a Pictureka-like game with students by uploading a key visual from the content that you are studying. Say you teach middle school US History. Why not upload the iconic picture of “American Progress” by John Gast and challenge your students with this little activity:
1. Tell the students they will use the “Scribble Tool” and select a circle, square, or arrow on the image when prompted.
2. Assign each pair of students a color: blue, red, orange, etc. and allow them time to pick their color.
3. Tell them when you say go, you want them to mark one example of mountain men.
4. Say go and see which group’s color is noted first. If it is correct, award them a point. Continue by having them point out other groups in the image.
5-7. Tell them when you say go, you want them to show one example of “progress” from the perspective of the settlers. Next, have them point out how the artist used color and light to tell a story. Lastly, have students use the oval tool to circle one person in the image that they could share what they are thinking (measuring against what they have studied).
The teaching strategy here is called Visual Discovery. This proven method of exploring visuals is based on Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence theory; specifically the visual-spatial intelligence. I also used a method of questioning called “spiral questioning.” This method of exploring content goes from simple inquiry to more advanced questions that require deep thought.
Web tools abound like grass, or weeds depending on your perspective. It’s not the tool that makes it meaningful, it’s how it’s used. If you’ve got some great web sites you use, share them with us and more importantly HOW you use them to engage your students. Click here to visit TeacherGenius.