Module 4 Collaborative Project
Student Engagement and Academic Achievement Through Internet Resources and Applications
Teli Walters and Lorie Rude
Western Illinois University
November 3, 2018
Student Engagement and Academic Achievement Through Internet Resources and Apps
Today’s learners have different needs and learning styles than those in the past. These students have grown up in a technology rich culture with access to endless information instantly and require differentiated learning and instruction. These learners do not even know what it is like to live without technology, so the best way to ensure personalized learning and to engage today’s students is through the use of internet resources and apps. These internet resources and apps include gamification, digital textbooks, digital presentation tools, and the use of social media in the classroom.
One way in which instructors can engage students in the learning process is through gamification. According to Michael Mantera, author of Explore Like a Pirate, gamification is when teachers ”tease out the elements that are motivational about games and apply those mechanics to the classroom” (Bradbury, 2016). It may or may not include the use of technology, but the “gaming” elements are present. Some instructors choose to use video games in the classroom to instruct and promote learning. According to CBS Radio, gamification in the classroom increases engagement and promotes critical thinking, often skills that are lacking in traditional classrooms (CBS Radio 2015). Also, it allows them to be creative and build worlds and avatars. Some teachers have even built their entire curriculum into a video game that their students “play” throughout the school year. Students can earn points, coins, or other “helps” to move them up the class leaderboard. Other teachers reframe the language in the classroom. Assignments become “quests” or “challenges” and groups become “guilds” or “factions” (Mantera, 2015). Not only have teachers changed curriculum, they have sought out technology to continue student engagement. Other game-based applications have been found as stimulating and engaging in the classroom as well. According to M.D. Roblyer, author of Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching, “when students know they will be playing a game, they expect a fun and entertaining activity because of the challenge of competition and the potential for winning” (Roblyer, 2016). These games provide students a different set of emotions and expectations that set them apart from non-game activities (Roblyer, 2016). Some of these games that students enjoy include Kahoot, Quizziz, and Quizlet. These applications are played in game format, but are more for reviewing material that was covered in class in preparation of an assessment or just to reinforce certain information or skills.
One game-based application that is really popular with kids of all ages is called Kahoot. Kahoot is played in the form of a game, but it is actually to review or study for an assessment. Teachers can create their own Kahoots or use public ones that are already made. For example: you could create a Kahoot over plant and animal cells to review the parts and their differences. The only items or material you need are student devices (cell phones, computers, tablets, or laptops) and a smart board or something to display the Kahoot on for them. All they have to do to enter the Kahoot is enter the code. They get to choose their answers while the application plays music, which students tend to enjoy a lot, and they play against their classmates to try to get in first place. Places are determined by if you get the correct answers and how quickly they answer them. It’s one of those teaching tools where students think it is a game, but they are actually learning and studying in an engaging way which leads to higher academic achievement due to the fact that they are studying and might not if it wasn’t for this digital tool.
Another game-based application is called Quizziz. Quizziz is a tool that students enjoy because it is played like a game equipped with competition, leaderboards and instant feedback. Teachers enjoy Quizziz because it is user friendly, saves time, and collects data. For example, an English teacher can search for a quiz on comma usage and find hundreds to choose from. They can copy and save it as their own and use it in their own Google Classroom as an assignment. Teachers use Quizziz for homework, quizzes, or bellringers. This online tool takes a topic such commas that can seem boring to students and make it exciting and engaging for them, thus, leading to a better understanding of the skill.
Lastly, Quizlet is another similar type of online game-based tool students can use to study. The major difference of this one is that it is meant to be used individually. Students can use this tool to study topic and teachers can create Quizlets or use ones that are already made. Students also enjoy Quizlets because there are many different ways in which they can study. They can use interactive note cards with audio, take practice quizzes, and play games while studying. Overall, this tool is a great online tool that is very popular among students and teachers due to its engaging options and activities to help students study to prepare for assessments.
Additional tools that encourage student engagement include online texts or textbooks. There are many benefits to using online textbooks including cost, convenience, and interactive features. Digital textbooks are generally cheaper because shipping costs do not accrue. College students buy digital textbooks because they don’t have to wait for them in the mail or they don’t have to drive to the bookstore to buy them. Instant online textbooks are especially convenient. Another reason students enjoy online texts is because most are interactive. While reading, students can look up definitions, highlight text, take quizzes, connect to online articles, and watch videos (Lynch, 2017). Along with digital textbooks, online texts provide teachers with material to use in their classroom.
One online resource for a library of text excerpts is called CommonLit.org. At CommonLit, teachers can browse and search for texts they intend to use in their classes. For example, there are three excerpts from the Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. Teachers can assign to students the text to read. There are several features that can provide students with help reading the online text. If a student clicks a number above one of the words, it will provide definitions. Another feature is having the text read aloud and comprehension/discussion questions. Some of the texts have media or paired informational articles that can be set at certain lexile levels to aid the student. CommonLit.org is a digital tool that can benefit the engagement of both students and teachers.
Another online non-fiction article website called Digital.readworks.org is another great resource for teachers to use for all grade levels. It is a collection of non-fiction articles that teachers can assign classes or groups and have them read in their reading or lexile levels and provides activities and quizzes to go along with the reading. It also keeps track of their progress and provides the students with immediate feedback. Teachers can also grade written responses and provide feedback to students and it is free. Also, there is an option for students to choose their own reading material and it is categorized by topic: Science, History, World Culture, Literature, and Current Events. Students enjoy this feature because they get to choose to read about a topic that they are interested in which leads to student engagement and intrinsic motivation. All of the articles and activities are aligned with common core standards, and it is similar to the look and feel of the PARCC test which is why it is popular with ELA teachers and can lead to higher student academic achievement as well.
Additionally, another online textbook that is popular and is geared towards K-8 is called Go Math. It has an online textbook, videos to reinforce skills and instruction, and has online homework and practice (HRWs). It is also formatted similar to PARCC and provides instant feedback. When students click next, it tells them if they got the previous question correct or not and if they did not, they can click the “help” button and it explains why they did not get it correct so that they can redo it and understand their mistakes. This online curriculum is researched-based and has been proven to lead to student academic achievement. Once students have learned to be independent and take responsibility for their learning, this way of doing math is engaging for students. It is not engaging until students get used to the website and the way it works and how they can be successful with it. According to a field study done in the middle school grades in Florida by the Go Math founders, students improved from their pre-tests to their post-tests by 30-46% from the beginning of the year until the end of the year (Beck, M., Conner, J. M., & Cruz, K 2013). This is significant growth and there are many other examples of other studies that have been conducted with similar results.
Through the use of digital and online presentation tools teachers and instructors have been able to engage their students more in instruction. There are many presentation tools out there to use and most of them are free. This makes it easy for instructors to provide visuals to their students while lecturing to differentiate instruction for students, thus leading to higher academic performance and achievement for students.
First, a presentation tool that is popular among students is Emaze. Emaze is a presentation platform that performs many functions including presentations, ECards, websites, blogs, and photo albums. There are a variety of layouts to choose from including an art gallery and newspaper. According to Emaze support, “Users can utilize our innovative features that include 2D and 3D slides, pan and zoom transitions, animation, sound effects, and analytics tools” (Liam, 2015) Students are more engaged when the graphics and sound effects feel modern and contemporary.
Also, Google Slides is another presentation tool and is probably the most used and well-known in education. It is free and most schools are now “Google Schools” so it makes sense that teachers and instructors would use them. This tool allows teachers and students to create slides easily and painlessly and choose from templates and themes to help make it easier and saves time. Teachers and students like it because it allows for collaboration and can be easily shared with one another. It offers several options for teachers and students including “explore” that offers multiple layout options that adds to the aesthetics of the presentation. Videos, images, and audio can also be added to Google slides. Students can now keep research notes in the margin and add them to Google Keep. Google slides is user friendly and engaging for all ages.
Additionally, Prezi is another popular choice. It is an online presentation software that uses motion, zoom, and spatial relationships to engage its users and viewers. There are so many appealing templates that instructors can choose from and it is very easy to use. Also, it is adaptable for all institutions including: public schools, businesses, and higher education. The presentations are very engaging and visually stimulating for viewers.
Also, Nearpod is another intriguing presentation tool that is used in public schools. It is a more hands-on and interactive digital tool. The content can be created or selected and there is a ton that is free, but you can also pay for lessons as well. Students need a code to get into the presentation and they also need a device. While the instructor is going through the lesson, students can interact with it on their own devices. Teachers can add in multiple choice questions, polls, short answer questions, drawing and inserting picture options, etc. Users can also import their lessons (PDFs and other Documents) and easily convert it into an interactive Nearpod lesson. It is a great way for teachers to get immediate feedback about the lesson or to assess students’ understanding of the content as they are instructing. Also, Nearpod keeps track of their responses and can be printed for later. Overall, Nearpod is very engaging and interactive for students.
Finally, Haiku Deck is another great presentation tool that provides beautiful, attractive layouts. Students love the contemporary designs and modern fonts that students can use to create artistic presentations. With a free trial, teachers can create up to three decks (or presentations). After that there is a cost involved. A Haiku Deck classroom is also an option for a fee. Many companies use it for their presentations. It is a professional tool and it can be used at any level of instruction and is very attractive to the participants which helps keep them focused and interested on the material.
The use of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google Classroom in instruction also leads to higher student engagement and eventually to higher academic achievement in the long run. It is no surprise that if there is low student engagement, their performance will not be high, therefore, the opposite it true. If student engagement is high, academic achievement will also be higher. According to the article, “Relationships matter: Linking Teacher Support to Student Engagement and Achievement,” when it reads, “…research links higher levels of engagement in school to improved performance” (Klem & Connell 2009). Students are extremely familiar with these websites/applications so it only makes sense that they would be interested in a lesson that incorporates them. Student engagement is all about the audience and understanding their interests and if instructors take the time to do this, it will lead to higher student engagement initially and higher academic achievement eventually.
There are several instances in which instructors can use Facebook in their instruction to engage students. First, they may use it when teaching digital literacies and how they should conduct themselves on social media. Next, teachers can also set up a class Facebook page that students can follow and it can be a place where the instructor posts about upcoming tests, post information and videos supplementing the curriculum, and posting questions for discussion amongst the class for students to respond. Overall, students are very familiar with Facebook and it is one of the social media sites that has been around for quite a while and this would be very easy for students and they would be learning more about the content area at home if they are engaged outside of the classroom by answering discussions and reading the supplemental material that is posted. Furthermore, students would have more knowledge of the subjects that the instructor can supply during the class period.
Twitter can be used in a similar way as previously mentioned about Facebook. Over the years, Twitter has become increasingly popular especially for politics and highly regarded people. The instructor can make a class account and have students follow it: Mrs. Walters’ 8th Grade Literature Class. Here, the instructor could retweet current events and share information about authors and books for students to see. Not only would this promote learning and engagement outside of the classroom, but it would also provide opportunities to teach digital citizenship and a sense of professionalism and how social media can be used in a productive or educational way.
Today’s kids have grown up watching YouTube videos and many of them do it solely for their entertainment, therefore, using it as a tool in instruction will lead to increased student engagement. YouTube can be a great instructional resource. There are videos on practically every topic imaginable. Instructors can use YouTube to help reinforce curriculum for visual learners and to provide supplemental information to students about a subject.
Google Classroom is a learning management system that appears to have developed more of a social media look to it. Just like other social media sites, it also has a classroom feed and sends out push notifications to your phone or device when the instructor posts assignments or announcements. This is convenient for students to keep track of their homework. Additionally, teachers can upload discussions, comments, and provide feedback to the students. Google Classroom is engaging and user friendly because it is set up like Facebook and students can easily navigate through it and it is easily accessible for them. This year, Google Classroom added some exciting features for teachers to help teachers save time on grading and aid in getting feedback and scores back to students quickly. Students thrive on instant feedback and Google classroom has made it easier for teachers to do so.
In conclusion, instruction through the use of internet resources and apps increases student engagement and achievement. It is fun, convenient, and meets the needs of students and teachers. It also can provide data that teachers can use to gauge student improvement. All of these resources demonstrate the fact that student engagement is increased through the use of internet resources because let’s face it, students are 21st century learners and teaching with these technology tools is not only engaging and interesting, but it teaches students how to be collaborators, innovators, critical thinkers, and good digital citizens.
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Beck, M., Conner, J. M., & Cruz, K. (2013, May). A Study of the Instructional Effectiveness of Go Math! ©2014. Retrieved October 26, 2018, from A Study of the Instructional Effectiveness of Go Math! ©2014
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Klem, A. M., & Connell, J. P. (2009, October 09). Relationships Matter: Linking Teacher Support to Student Engagement and Achievement. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1746-1561.2004.tb08283.x
Lynch, M. (2017, August 13). What Are the Benefits of Digital Textbooks? Retrieved from https://www.thetechedvocate.org/benefits-digital-textbooks/
Liam. How is Emaze different? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://emaze.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/201042432-How-is-Emaze-different-
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