Jan 10

Interview Project – Richmond Squirrels Baseball


At Moody Middle School, students in Mrs. Lambert’s English classes interviewed a person of their choice about a local issue and presented their findings to their classmates.

These students exceeded the expectations for this assignment by conducting extensive research, writing strong interview questions, interviewing more than one professional associated with their local issue, and creating a highly innovative presentation. They created a website that is embedded with a video, Prezi, and Vuvox presentation.
Submitted by: David L., Ryan W.
Web URL: https://sites.google.com/site/squirrelstadium/home

Linked File:

Jan 05

Predicting History: What Happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke?

Submitted by: Nancy Morris
Collaborators: William Berry (ITRT)
School: Moody Middle School


During this lesson, the students learn how to make predictions based on their analysis of historical primary documents. Students discuss their analyses with their peers, respond to the work of their classmates, and justify their own responses. Afterwards, the students learn effective research techniques by viewing online video resources and participating in discussions facilitated by ActivEngage questions and polls. The students use their newly developed research skills in order to create captions for the original primary documents using Web 2.0 tools. Finally, the students reflect on their roles as researchers and critical thinkers.

TIPC Ratings

Research and Information Fluency: Target – 7
During this lesson, the students create their own questions to guide their research on the background of the two primary documents. These questions are shared and analyzed in a class discussion using ActivEngage polling. During their research, the students must assemble and synthesize information on the Lost Colony in order to determine exactly what information to include in their final caption. The task of this assignment, to analyze a primary document using research techniques, is an authentic task because the research and synthesis skills that the students use in this lesson will be applicable to their future lives and careers. The students use digital tools to display their research in creating the final caption using Blabberize, Fotobabble, or another Web 2.0 tool of the choice.

Communication and Collaboration: Approaching – 4
The students use both Schoolspace discussion boards and ActivEngage in order to collaborate during this lesson. The critiques of their peers force students to explain and defend their beliefs, and the results of the ActivEngage questioning and the following discussions help the students to collectively develop ideas on where to begin their research. Communication is not a major focus of this lesson, but this strand could be emphasized further during future lessons dependent on the goals of the teacher. Students could use digital tools such as blogs or Skype in order share their knowledge of research techniques with elementary school students or 6th grade students at another school.

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: Target – 7
The first task of the lesson, analyzing a primary document without any background information, requires students to think outside of the box. The students must develop an understanding of the primary documents solely based on what they see and read. Students are often afraid of not having the “correct” answer, and this lesson plan forces the students not only to become comfortable with making predictions, but also justifying their actions at the same time. After participating in these activities, the ActiveEngage questions at the end of the lesson allow the students an opportunity to reflect on their thinking processes and methods of research so that they can research more effectively in the future.

Creativity and Innovation: Approaching – 4
Students create meaningful original work (their digitally enhanced captions) within the confines of the assignment. They also summarize and predict using digital tools (ActivEngage, discussion boards, etc.)

Student Artifact

Dec 14

Wikipedia – An Effective Research Tool

Teacher: – “Now class, what do we know about Wikipedia?”

Students (In unison):  “You should never use it to complete your research!”

Oh really… ?

How do you teach your students to use Wikipedia as an effective research tool?

Nov 28

Good Source of Information

Submitted by: Gillian Lambert Collaborators: William Berry (ITRT) School: Moody Middle School


After discussing and determining the differences between primary and secondary sources, students analyze different sources related to the Hindenburg crash using a source chart, as well as an additional source that the students research in class. Students then create their own anonymous primary sources and upload them to SchoolSpace. These primary sources are randomly distributed amongst the class and the students attempt to identify the sources’ creators.

TIPC Ratings

Ideal/Target (7) – As part of the Research strand in the Henrico County Curriculum Framework, students are expected to understand the differences between primary and secondary sources, as well as evaluate information from these sources. Students are able to meet this goal through the evaluation of the Hindenburg sources, as well as being engaged in independent research for an additional source using information fluency. Students synthesize the information that they learn about sources to create their own primary source which is then shared with the class. In this lesson, the students use a Discussion Forum and ActivEngage to interact with each other while evaluating their additional sources. A Drop Box is also used for the students to display and interact with the student created primary sources. These tools allow students to analyze their classmates’ products and determine their identities. This task is an example of an authentic assessment, as analyzing primary documents is a skill that students will use throughout their entire lives. Approaching (4) – Through the use of ActivEngage polling sessions and SchoolSpace Discussion Forums, the students use digital tools to collaborate as a class/team and determine whether a source is primary or secondary. Collaboration and communication are not a particular focus of this lesson, but this strand could be strengthened by having the students collaborate in order to identify a source’s “owner” in the homework activity. Ideal/Target (7) – This lesson promoted critical thinking and problem solving through the analysis of primary and secondary sources, an authentic task that extended the students’ knowledge of the different sources and the skills necessary to identify them throughout their lives. The students created primary documents using the most appropriate digital tools to address the authentic task of identifying the “owner” of that document. In order to complete this task, the students had to develop questions based on the created primary source document and justify their decisions based on the evidence in that primary source document. The reflection questions that were completed at the end of the lesson provided students with an opportunity to think about the uses of primary and secondary sources in their future research. Students were asked to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of each type of document, and explain the different scenarios where the documents may be used. Ideal/Target (6) – The students use digital tools of their choice in order to create a primary document that helps to explain their particular life and personality. Students used a wide variety of tools to create these documents, including Windows Moviemaker, digital cameras, and word-processing programs. Using these student-created documents, the students analyze information and make predictions as to which primary document belongs to which student.

Student Artifact

Download Files

H21 Lesson Documents – Good Source of Information Contents:
  • Hindenburg Sources
  • Student Artifacts
  • Lesson Plan
  • Primary and Secondary Sources Chart
  • Online Resource Evaluation Document

Oct 24

ActivEngage and ActivOffice


ActivEngage and ActivOffice are questioning programs that allow the teacher to assess student understanding and measure student progress. ActivOffice is a feature of the newest version of PowerPoint and is only available to those teachers who have reimaged. This program allows the teacher to insert questions into pre-existing or new PowerPoint presentations.

Using these two programs, teachers can create individual questions to ask their students, create self-paced assessments, or even ask questions on the fly. These questioning features DO NOT have to promote “drill and kill” strategies. The different features provided by these programs allow for much higher levels of student thinking than one might think initially. Teachers can gauge student opinion using a Likert Scale, or ask open ended questions that require a text response. Using the data collection features of these programs, the results of these questions can be projected to the rest of the class in order to foster classroom discussion. All results from an Activ Engage or ActivOffice session can be saved and even exported into an Excel document for later review. Teachers can use this feature to track student progress and develop their future learning opportunities.

How have you been using ActivEngage and ActivOffice in your classroom? Where has it been effective?

Oct 10


From the Edmodo website – “Edmodo provides a safe and easy way for your class to connect and collaborate, share content, and access homework, grades and school notices. Our goal is to help educators harness the power of social media to customize the classroom for each and every learner.”

“Edmodo promotes anytime, anyplace learning. Functionally, it allows teachers to post messages, discuss classroom topics, assign and grade classwork, share content and materials, and network and exchange ideas with their peers – but in reality, it is so much more.”

I can say from personal experience, that students absolutely love using Edmodo. The Facebook-like interface of the website engages students and provides an excellent opportunity for collaboration, discussion, and role-play.

Here are some instructions for setting up and beginning to use Edmodo: EDModo Instructions

Here is a sample lesson plan using Edmodo: Reconstruction Ramblings

How do you use Edmodo in your classroom?