Bianca Hewes is a high-school English teacher and educational technology enthusiast that I was fortunate to connect with. She’s tried a lot of different websites in her search for tools to increase student engagement and improve instruction. With our evidencecharting site, she saw some potential to push her students towards writing better essays.
We originally designed our evidence-charting site to help scientists and science students evaluate evidence and their import for hypotheses. We hadn’t given much thought to how it could work with humanities classes, and I didn’t really know whether it would help Bianca’s students. Nevertheless, she gave it a go and had them create an evidencechart. The purpose was to help them analyze poems for evidence that the poet had been exploring the concept of ‘belonging’. Bianca did the following things:
- Created a group on the site for her students, and sent them a link that would register them on the site and pop them into her “MsHewes” group.
- Asked me to make her an administrator of the “MsHewes” group, which allowed her to see her students’ charts.
- Created a short online presentation that helped explain to the students what they were supposed to do, and how it might improve their essays.
- Walked the students through the website a bit in the school computer lab, and told them to complete their chart at home on their own computers (by simply logging into the evidencechart.com website).
- After the evidencechart due date had passed, from inside the website, she went through the students’ evidencecharts and entered some feedback on their charts, informing the students where they were going right and where they went wrong.
- The students then used their charts, plus the feedback Bianca had entered into them, to help plan and write their essay.
The results for the students’ essays were very encouraging- check out Bianca’s full report. Perhaps the most telling aspect is that she plans to use evidencecharts again for a future assignment, and some of the students themselves asked if they could use it for yet another project.
If Bianca’s experience inspires you to use the site, drop me a line. First, go right ahead and sign up for an account. If you think it could help you, I’ll set you up with an admin account and a group for your class so you can see your students’ charts all in one place inside the site.