To refresh my students' memories of the scientific method and lab report writing, I gave them a simple question to test: How does the height of a dropped ball affect how high the ball bounces?
They brainstormed with their group, downloaded a simple (and mostly empty) lab report template from our class Schoology page, uploaded it to their Google docs account, and shared it with their group members. Each member was then easily able to type in the document at the same time from their own laptop, collaborate about each section of the lab write-up, and discuss how it should be written. (This was my first time really using the collaborative feature of Google docs, and I'm now officially HOOKED!)
Collecting data, WITHOUT PAPER!
When it came time to actually test the question, several groups decided to film the dropped ball using the built-in camera on their laptops, and play each trial back in slow motion using iMovie or PhotoBooth. Genius!
Students lining up the camera on the laptop to film the ball bounce.
Replaying the ball bounce in slow motion to more accurately measure height.
What amazed me most is that not only did the students accomplish the entire experiment in one class period (with no other guidelines except the starting question), but they effectively collaborated on all sections of the lab report, and even polished off properly labeled tables and graphs using Microsoft Excel, inserted them into the lab report, and uploaded their finished report to our class Schoology* page for me to grade digitally!
With the help of some fantastic technology, we accomplished in 50 minutes what it would have traditionally taken me to do in twice that time. Not only was I amazed at how much got done, but also at how the technology allowed their creativity, ingenuity, and fluency with the science concepts to shine. For the first time in my teaching career, I felt that I was no longer having to teach the technology alongside the science content. This time, the technology quietly slipped into the background, and the students' understanding (or lack of) the science became more clear to me than I could have seen it otherwise.
Here's to hoping the rest of the year's technology is as beautifully seamless as it was today!
*If you don't have Schoology, you should definitely check it out. It's like Facebook for school use, has fantastic gradebook functions, allows you to give tests and quizzes online, sends out assignment notifications, and enables great discussion thread features. The very best part? It's free!