Tag Archives: promethean

Genre Study Made Easy

The 4th and 5th graders have been studying genres. I’ve noticed that no matter how much time I spend on this subject they don’t seem to be able to apply what they learn. Often they can give me a list of genres or define them, but if you ask what genre they are currently reading right now they don’t have a clue.

I started this unit with a power point presentation that I modified for my classes. I found it on this wonderful site called Pete’s Power Point Station. Be prepared to spend some time in this vast array of links to a huge variety of power points. It was easy to import the ones I liked into my Promethean IWB. Some of my students actually gasped when they saw the first page. There was so much on the one that I used that we didn’t even get through everything and will probably come back to it again from time to time.

Next I put students on computers to play games. My objectives were two-fold; they need practice logging into the system and they need to learn more about genres. There are some wonderful genre games that I linked on the 4/5 Links page of my website. I let them choose which ones they want to play, making sure they understood that the objective was to learn more about literary genres and if that objective was not met there was no point in using the computers. According to my observations, the top 3 games were Genre Battleship, Genre Hangman, and Genre Word Search (which unfortunately does not always load correctly).

At the end of the quarter they will take a pencil and paper test. Why pencil and paper? Because sadly, I still have students who are having trouble logging in. This happens for various reasons: they haven’t turned in a signed AUP, they’re relatively new to the school and haven’t been on the computers much yet, they are ESL or SPED students who have other issues. I don’t think it’s fair to give these students less time to take the test because they have trouble accessing it.

However, that doesn’t mean I can’t use the computer to make the test. I think there are a number of sites to help with this but I only looked at a couple. Quizstar is one I think I’ve used before but since I couldn’t remember the account information I started another one. Unfortunately I’ve only seen “Your mailbox is over its size limit” messages in my inbox and no message with the activation link for this new account. Next I tried EasyTestMaker. They didn’t send an activation email so I was able to get started right away and it was kind of fun. I’m not done yet but I won’t mind going back to it. Who knew MAKING a test could be fun?

Having access to the work others have done is an incalculable advantage. As so many others have said, why reinvent the wheel? Making learning fun is something many of us strive for on a daily basis and we have a ready-made fun source right here. If games are going to help students learn, then I’m all for them. Online tools make our jobs much easier and take the drudgery out of some things. Who knew GIVING a test could be so much fun? [Insert evil grin and wicked Halloween laugh here!!]


I used the clickers, or as Promethean calls them, activotes for the first time last week. It was another learning experience for all of us. I’ve seen a couple demonstrations but didn’t really know what I was doing. So often these days it feels like I don’t know what I’m doing! Fortunately, I had no afternoon classes and help from my tech person. Next week I think a Promethean representative will be visiting to answer questions. These things are never hard once you figure them out. In fact, it’s easy to wonder why I ever thought it was difficult.

We just started the second quarter so I had a new seating arrangement ready. Before each student sat down they took one of the clickers and answered the question, “I know a lot about keywords” by clicking A) true or B) false. That way I knew which number each student had. I taught a keyword lesson downloaded from Promethean Planet and changed slightly to better reflect the practices in my library. In the lesson there was a quiz so students had a chance to use the clickers.

Once again, I had students cheering in the library. They made a game out of it by trying to see who would be the first to vote and light up their number. While this doesn’t show deep thought, it does show interest. Since I was able to immediately show them the graphed results I was able to talk about the questions that a majority missed. It was also a way for me to show students graphs, which is a math standard that, along with the other specialists, I am trying to model for students.

This initial trial was a success and I’m sure I’ll be using the clickers again, perhaps as a more precise assessment tool, once I figure out how to attach names to each device. What a good way to make tests more fun.