NOTE: www.frolyc.com is a free website where users can create their own interactive lessons and push them to students iPad accounts through the app Activity Spot.
When I was first introduced to Activity Spot I was enthralled with its capability and was eager to get started. After all, I have been writing lessons for over 30 years and I prided myself in trying to make them constructivist, fun and engaging. I quickly registered and opened my first authoring link. But something happened. I became paralyzed. I couldn’t decide what to do next. I wanted to make a lesson for fifth graders but couldn’t conceive how to lay out my six pages. How could this happen? I have written for Scholastic, Pearson, Learning A-Z and the state of Texas, yet, I found myself with a huge writers block. I could not get off square one when this was something I was so motivated to do.
A voice inside my head said simplify, simplify. Make it easy. Do something even a kindergartner could do. So, instead of making the best interactive plan in the whole creation I started thinking: “what was the easiest, most needed lesson I could make?” You see, I had made the classic mistake of not reading the direction first. In this case I had not familiarized myself with the systems tools. I just assumed it would come to me, or I could figure it out as I went. For me, this approach wasn’t working.
So I thought, “What is something every kindergarten teacher teaches at the beginning of the year and so would love an interactive lesson for her students to do?” I came up with numbers and letters.
Finding 4 was my very first Activity Spot lesson. It only uses one template - the drawing template. I found the drawing template to be the most versatile, constructivist and easiest to use. I wanted the students to “show what they know” and the drawing template allows for this.
So I had up to six pages to fill and I started thinking, “What do you want children to know about four? What opportunities for learning do you want to open?” I found that putting information in a table helped me organize my thoughts.
Once I got my flow down this simple procedure made it easy for me to explore the other templates. My second lesson was “I Know the Sound of B”. In this lesson I was ready to explore using the capability of linking to videos to build background. Next, I wanted the children to be able to show me what they learned, that they indeed listened to the video so I added the concept map, multiple choice and word search templates. I discovered that I could drag the pages on the sides and reorder them. That was great because I made mistakes and changed my mind about the sequencing.
I would periodically go ahead and published my activity and view it through the test ID that the system gives you even though I was not completely done. I did not care that the activity was not complete as I thought the odds of anyone finding it right away and using it were slim. It was more important to me that the activity actually played out how I envisioned it.
Once I like the flow, I published my first activity and I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. I was stoked now and went on to create three more lessons that sitting.
So, my advice in making your first activity:
1. Start with a very easy concept that you know well (it is OK if the topic matches content in grades below where you teach)
2. Limit your activity to one or two templates.
3. Make a concept map, a page flow, of how you are going to execute your lesson.
4. Publish it a couple of times to check that the flow is what you envisioned.
5. PUBLISH IT!
Once you have done one lesson, the second is a breeze and you can start right away making lessons targeting the needs of your students and your classroom.
Happy lesson making!