Who’s excited for everyone’s favorite part of the year—exams and finals?! It’s key for students to start studying early so they can fully review what they’ve learned over the past few months. But all too often this means rereading, highlighting, falling asleep, and maybe making an outline. Luckily, there are more engaging ways to review that will keep students actively re-learning and refresh the semester’s lessons. Here are seven ways to use Google tools to increase students’ engagement with studying, have them effectively interact with their class material, and swap cramming with meaningful learning.
Mindfulness While Using Chrome
Since most of these Google tools require the internet, we recommend students install some type of website blocker to keep them focused on their work. We like Strict Workflow, which blocks distracting websites for 25 minutes before whitelisting them for five.
Flashcards are a great way for students to memorize vocabulary, facts, and equations, and Google Sheets is an easy way to organize the matching terms. Give students a list of important terms, and have them research and write up the definitions, put the terms in column A of a Google Sheet and the definitions in column B. Copy and paste both into Quizlet, and they’ll have several game options, such as traditional flashcards, matching tests, multiple choice, and true or false questions.
History and English classes can use My Maps, a subdivision of Google Maps, to understand where things happened in relation to each other. Have students come up with a list of significant moments in a book or during a historical event, where they happened, and a brief description of what occurred and why it’s important. Then they can add the locations and descriptions into My Maps. This will help them see what factors lead to significant events and can be done on a global scale (such as tracking where and how the Spanish Flu spread) or on a more local scale (looking at the vastly different plot locations in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey).
If students understand a concept enough to thoroughly explain it to someone else, they truly know it. A creative—and less intimidating—way of having students make presentations is via YouTube. Not only will students show their mastery of a subject, but they’ll increase their own presentation skills in a low stakes environment where they can keep re-presenting until they’re comfortable. And by sharing their videos with their classmates, students can quickly review other topics from the semester and have a forum to ask further questions. Here’s how to execute this assignment:
- Assign or have students choose a topic from the semester to present on.
- Have them create a Google Slides presentation using best practices like bullet points over paragraphs, dividing a large topic into smaller subtopics, presenting one idea per slide, and using engaging visuals.
- (Optional) Students can write a script to help them prepare for recording the voice over on their presentation.
- Record the Google Slides presentation and voice over with a tool like Screencast-O-Matic.
- Upload video to YouTube as an unlisted video and share link with teacher and class
- Have students watch their classmates’ videos and ask questions to the presenting student in the comments.
Some students do better organizing their study materials graphically versus in linear text. Google Drawings is a great place for students to develop infographics and create equation sheets. By using Google Drawings, students will be virtually manipulating the material and will have the information organized in a way that’s easier for them to read and remember.
If you or your students don’t have tons of experience with Google Drawings, we recommend this guide by Ditch That Textbook’s Matt Miller. Some great highlights of the app include the ability to pull in images from an internal Google search, drawing with a mouse, touchpad, and touchscreen, and easy resizing.
Taking a topic and turning it into a children’s book ensures that students understand the base concepts of an idea enough to simplify a story without being able to hide behind jargon. Students can set up their stories in Google Slides to make it easy to add images, get comments from teammates or their teacher, and update the book’s copy.
Aaron Brock, an eighth-grade history teacher, describes his version of the assignment here, but this assignment could work for almost any subject. Brock notes that while stories should be understandable by younger students, they don’t need to be appropriate for them. Language classes can make ABC books, science classes could explain different theories, and math classes could look at how concepts would be used in the real world and explain how math solves the problem.
Want to check in with what students think are the most important concepts in a unit? Have them write their own test with Google Forms! Give them feedback if they’re missing any major ideas, but then have their submissions be available for the whole class as pre-tests to practice for their finals.
After a long semester, your students need a refresher on their course material, but simply rereading a textbook is inefficient for taking information from short-term to long-term memory. By using these engaging activities for active review, students will keep what they’ve learned long after their final exam. Do you have a favorite way to incorporate tech into your students’ end of year reviews? Let us know in the comments!