I am a big proponent of students using inquiry to start the learning process. Most often this step is lost because of time restraints and content requirements even though their is new research that shows students should experience the content FIRST before reading or watching a video.
How to create a Puzzle
Back in December, Tony Vincent was kind enough and gifted me the opportunity to try out his new app called Stick Around. The Stick Around App was created as a way to create puzzles for your students or give more dynamic quizzes. Something that the students had to interact with, instead of simply writing answers down on a sheet of paper. So instead of paper, students can place tags on an image, timeline, fill in a Venn Diagram, etc until all the tags are placed. If the students get the puzzle correct, then the tags turn green and a smiley face appears. If the tags are wrong, then they turn red and have a sad face. You can have the students keep going until they get them all right with no set limit of attempts, or you can limit their attempts.
Tony and the developers have done a great job with making this app very user friendly. Here is how I made my Stick Around puzzle for the Five Themes of Geography. First, let me say if you are stuck at any point in the process, Tony has great, quick videos that cover every aspect of the creation, playing, and exporting of your puzzle. Ok, to begin, you need to be on the Projects tab across the top navigation bar. Here, Tony already has some pretty sweet examples of what this powerful app can do.
To create your own puzzle, click the “+” button in the top left hand corner. You will have four choices, create a new project, add from Dropbox, add from WebDAV, or add from Google Drive. Select create new project. Here you have many different options to choose from.
For this project I chose Blank Project. You have many options when it comes to back grounds. Here are few screen shots of the options.
For me though, it’s always about images. So I search online for CC (Creative Commons) images that I can use with my students. On the side tool bar I select the “+” and choose Photo Library. You have other options depending on where your images are saved.
Once your background is set to go, then the fun begins! Select the Stickers tab on the top navigation bar. Again, you have options here for size and what can be on those stickers. You can have simple text, an image (for my next puzzle I think I am going this route) or draw. Also on the stickers, you can add a link to either more information, or if you have created a video describing what that sticker term means, you can link it here or you can record your voice to define the term or give the students a little extra help. The possibilities are endless.
Once your Stickers are created, select the Answer Key tab on the top navigation bar.
This is where you put the areas on the background where your stickers will go. A word of caution is that if answer locations are really close to each other, your puzzle wont work. For this reason, you have a few options on how to place your answers on your puzzles background.
Select Play and see if you can solve your own puzzle! After I am done with my puzzles is when I fill out all the information for the Puzzle.
What I really like most about the information area is that if you can include an Explain Everything tutorial to help guide the students. I do not for my puzzles, but I will get to that in a moment. Then when everything is saved, you can export your puzzle for others to play!
How I use the App
As addressed before, I like my students to experience content first through inquiry. As I teach about global issues to students in fifth and sixth grade, the ideal way to accomplish this would be going on field trips. Since it costs a lot of money to travel around the world, the Stick Around App has filled a need. So the puzzle that I created above is a way for students to experience the Five Themes of Geography through imagery. All five themes are shown in this photo but the students don’t already know that. So as a class, (since I only have my iPad in my classroom) we talk about what we see in the photo. Then we brainstorm what the five themes are and the students guess where each sticker goes. To help narrow where to place the stickers, I leave the answer guide on to show where a possible sticker goes. It does not give the answer, instead acting like a place holder.
From our experiences with learning about the 5 Themes, drives what information I put in the video my students watch for homework.
Another powerful way to use the Stick Around App is to have students create puzzles and quiz each other over the same topic. That way, the teacher can easily see who understands the topic and who is struggling.
If you are a flipped class teacher, I could see using the app for that too. Here is how I would do it. In the Info section, record either a voice message for your students or create an Explain Everything video to introduce the topic to your students. Again, pulling from the Stanford study, students need to experience first. So your introduction to the students could be this. A recording of a speech, science experiment, or an image. Then in your video give directions for your puzzle. In the stickers on the puzzle, create either video links or voice recordings for those stickers so if students get them wrong, they have the information right away to understand why it was wrong. After the students complete your puzzle, then they would create their own puzzle to demonstrate their understanding. Class that next day could be students playing each others quizzes and learning from each other.
I hope that you learned something new today and give the Stick Around App a try. As I said before, it is a powerful app that has endless possibilities. The one function I would like added would be to search within the app for CC images. But I can live without that function too. I look forward to using it in my classroom even more next school year. At $2.99 it is a great value and if you are school looking to purchase, the volume discount applies.
George Phillip is a social studies teacher and designer.
Ramsey Musallam - www.cyclesoflearning.com
Karl Lindgren-Streicher -
Josh Stumpenhorst -
Jason Bretzmann -
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