VC We had a very interesting video conference this week!  We used our new Polycomm mobile VC unit to connect with Big Valley, Alberta.  We were sharing two science experiments each as part of our grade 5 classroom chemistry unit.  The class from Big Valley showed us two chemical reactions.  The first was combining Potassium and varying concentrations of Hydrogen Peroxide.  The point of the experiment was to show evidence of a chemical reaction, and the evidence was very exciting,  The stopper flew out of the flask, across the room, the liquid turned yellow (produced iodine), a gas was given off (causing the stopper to go flying!), and heat was produced.  In the second experiment 15mL of Ethanol was placed in a 5 Gallon plastic water cooler jug and then the other teacher very carefully dropped in a match.  The students watched in amazement as a blue flame and loud pop burst out of the top of the jug.  We watched the teacher in Big Valley try the experiment again, adding new Ethanol to the jug.  We predicted that it would explode again when a match was added, but this time it didn’t react at all!  After discussion and observation we concluded that there was carbon dioxide in the jug instead of oxygen!

pepsiFor our experiments we looked at separating a gas and a liquid and surface tension.  We added mentos to pepsi,  The gas leaves the liquid very quickly!  The mentos causes a chemical reaction which quickly breaks the surface tension and allows the gas to escape very quickly!!  We did the experiment twice, once with room temperature pepsi (went about 1 meter in the air), then with cold pepsi (went about 6 inches in the air) so we could share the effect of temperature on the molecules in the pepsi.  I even managed to keep all of the pepsi in the catch basin!  We did the same experiment outside with a big bottle of pepsi and it went  about 14 ft in the air!

We also examined eggs that had been in various acids for over a week to examine the strength of acids.  The eggs had been in lemon juice, lime juice, pepsi, coke, vinegar, apple juice, and orange juice.  The shells were at different states of dissolving and the eggs were swelling and absorbing the liquids.  The egg in the vinegar was completely without a shell, making it the strongest acid.

Being able to share our learning and excitement with another class made our learning very exciting and engaging.  We were able to show what we knew and learn from other experts that are studying the same topic.  The added dynamic of science experiments added a strong visual component to the video conferencing experience.

I’m starting a unit about chemistry and it is very vocabulary heavy, so I wanted to find ways to teach vocabulary that are interesting, but effective in reinforcing the terminology. 

What I love about this lesson is that the technology is there, but it disappears to just become another engaging part of the lesson, not the focus of the lesson. The ideas here are nothing earth shattering or new, but when combined together they make for a very engaging, fun lesson, that really wakes up otherwise very boring topics.

Station 1: Vocabulary  Jenga Each jenga block was wrapped in paper and had a definition or vocabulary word, as they freed the blocks they had to match them, and if the tower tumbled they had to match them all!  I got the idea via twitter off of a blog which I didn’t bookmark, so it’s not original, but I loved it!

Station 2: Smartboard I had three vocabulary activities up on the board they were to work through as a group to match, drag, and review vocabulary.  They loved gathering around the board and trying things together, working through the activites.  A great use of technology embedded into a lesson instead of the lesson being about the technology.  The use of an IWB as a small group station is wonderful.  The level of student engagement is very high and a conversation about their learning always seems to develop.
Station 3: Paper Chains  The students had strips with a definition and a word (that didn’t match!) They had to find the matching definition that would connect to continue the chain. 
Station 4: Two Truths and a Lie  Students were given a word and had to come up with two facts and a lie about it.  Their group then had to decide what was untrue. 
Station 5: Head bandz  Students had words attached to headbands.  They had to ask questions of other people in their group until they figured out what word they were.
Station 6: Name that Mixture  Students had to identify what type of mixture was in the beaker, but it’s more fun that that.  There were six mixtures with 8 labels.  They would have to run and match up six labels to six mixtures.  A helper would see if they were correct and if not they would have to race back and try to fix them up.  They were timed and would race to make matches.  A helper would check and then they would race back to fix when they knew how many they had correct.  You could hear cheers of,  “No it’s  a suspension!” or “It’s saturated!”  Very fun!  This one would have been labelled a heterogeneous mixture!
Station 7: Looping  I did this activity as a large group.  Each student is given a card with a word and a definition that doesn’t match.  One student starts by reading their definition, then the student with the corresponding word reads their word, then the random definition on the next car, leading to the next student, and so on.  Eventually it loops back to the original student.  We then race to beat our own times to see how fast we can loop through the definitions

Using Embedded Cloze Quiz Questions to make an Image Matching Activity in Moodle

This is the first activity I ever made in moodle.  I wanted a way for students to identify weather terminology using images.  I wanted an interactive way for them to be able to select the correct term, see a list of options, and have it self checking.  Moodle to the rescue.  Often I see Moodle used as a list of links, or just purely as a discussion forum, but it can be so much more with a little bit of creativity and manipulation.

I took an embedded cloze quiz question and expanded it to make a matching activity.
To do this I had to first understand the structure behind the embedded cloze question. It does NOT have a WYSIWYG editor, so you have to use some basic code to create questions. Because you have to use the code, you can really change, expand, and manipulate the questions!
The basic structure is:

1. Curly bracket: {
2. What the question is out of as a numerical value: 1
3. Colon
4. Question type:
SHORTANSWER (short answer case doesn’t matter)
SHORTANSWER (short answer case matters)
NUMERICAL (Numerical)
MULTICHOICE_V (radio buttons – circles to select in a vertical column)
MULTICHOICE_H (radio buttons – circles to select in a horizontal column)
MULTICHOICE (a drop down menu) **This is what I used
5. Colon
6. Answers
The general format is: answer#feedback for the response~answer#feedback~answer#you don’t have to include feedback and can then leave out the pound symbol~=correct answer#you can have as many choices as you want you just put an equals sign in front of the correct answer

If you want more than one correct answer instead of an equal sign put the percentage of marks you wish to award for example:
wrong answer~wrong answer~%50%give half the marks to this answer~%50%give half the marks to this answer

7. End curly bracket: }

In the end it looks something like this:
The capital city of Canada is {1:MULTICHOICE:Toronto~Calgary~=Ottawa~Vancouver~Montreal}
That will create:
What I did was create 20 separate drop down menus using the same concept. Each menu went into a table cell, with an image. It was just a lot of copying and pasting.
I first created one question:
Then I copied and pasted it 20 times, into 20 different cells in a table. I had to copy the HTML code, just use the <> triangle brackets in the edit window to toggle to the code.
<td width=”25%” valign=”center” style=”text-align: center;”> <img style=”width: 147px; height: 164px;” src=”; /><br />2. {1:MULTICHOICE:Cirrus#~Wind Chill#~Trade Winds#~Virga#~Barometer#~Eye#~Aurora Borealis#~Cold Front#~Blizzard#~Hail#~Sleet#~=Water Spout#~Cumulonimbus#~Warm Front#~Fog#~Dew#~Cumulus#~Jet Stream#~Anemometer#~Frost#}

I didn’t actually need the pound symbols because I choose to not leave any automatic feedback for the students in this quiz.

After I copied the code into each cell, I just change the img file name, which I had just saved as the numbers 1 through 20 ahead of time to keep myself organized.  I just changed the number in front of the .JPG file extension – easy if you have the files all named carefully and uploaded!
To change the correct answers, I just moved the equals sign to the matching term for the photo in each table cell.
In the end I had a 4 by 5 table, with a separate cloze question, each with its own photo in each cell. It created a quiz, out of 20 marks that gave the students instant, self checking feedback to match weather terminology and images.