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The magic of Instaworksheets

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September 3, 2018

Originally posted 8 February 2017

I had so much fun today that I just have to share it with you. Creating your own worksheet is on one of my favourite Google Slides activities. Unlike most online activities, it is as easy as pie to set up and take almost none of your time. Here are tips on instaworksheets.

It is a well-known fact that setting up a question makes you think about the work in a different way. But we seldom give learners the opportunity to create their own questions. We rather give them boring worksheets and claim that we do not have enough time to make cool worksheet ourselves. Teachers don’t have time, that is true, but you do not need to do everything yourself.

We finished the chapter on financial maths today, and I want to do a mixed consolidation exercise tomorrow. But the textbook does not have sufficient exercises. So I quickly created a Google Slide deck. When I say fast, that is what I mean. All I did was type “Design your own question” on the first slide, and then I added a bunch of empty slides.

I shared this in Google Classroom, setting it so that “Students can edit the file”. In class, I asked them to open the document, choose a slide and type their name on it. For homework, they had to design their own question based on the work we did. Each question has to include a picture, and if they use something like an exchange rate, they have to research the correct price. They also had to work out the answer to their problem, take a photo and send that to me. Working out the answer to the question force them to check that all the relevant information is included.

Every time I do this activity I am blown away by what the learners come up with.
In class, the next day, they all had to answer their friend’s questions. (In the end, I felt sorry for them, 27 items is a lot of work, so we decided they could choose 20 to do)

As we worked through them, we found some ambiguous questions or missing information, which gave me the opportunity to talk to those girls individually about what they had in mind. What is usually a tedious revision lesson with passive learners, was lively and full of discussion. Everybody left the class feeling that they learnt something.

Here is a copy of the instaworksheet my class created. I just changed their names to protect them.

Instaworksheet – Financial Maths

Of course, not all topics and subjects lend themselves to this type of activity. But it can be tweaked and adapted according to your subject. I thought if you do a novel, each learner can copy and paste their favourite quote from the book and the rest of the class have to identify who said it. Or if you do WWII you can put the name of a country or leader on each slide (slightly more work for you), and each learner picks a slide and makes a summary of that country/person’s role in the war.

5 Reasons why every teacher should try an INSTAWORKSHEET

Try some variations in how you use your instaworksheets as well. Instead of making the learners answer all the questions, each learner can choose one question to answer and maybe take a photo of their answer and put it on the next slide. So that everybody ends up with a set of questions and answers.

When I started using Instaworksheets, my only frustration was to produce a memo in an effective way. It would take me hours to work out the answers to all the learner’s questions which would defy the purpose. But more important is that I want learners to create the memo to their own questions since that is the only way to see if your question is actually working.

I tried a few solutions that did not work very well and then I found Alice Keeler and Matt Millar’s Driveslides extension. This extension creates a slideshow of all the photos in a folder instantly. Creating a memo not just meant that learners had to write out their solution, take a photo of it and attach it to the assignment in Classroom. Once everybody has handed in their slides I could create a memo within seconds. Just remind learners to indicate clearly what question the memo is for.

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