Students create electronic study guide

June 17, 2011|BY LAURA BELL | For The Herald-Mail

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Students at Faust Junior High School and Chambersburg Area Senior High School developed a study guide for the Kindle. Among the students were, from left, Brice Williams, Jackie Rosenburger, Caleb Strite and Rebekah Byers examine the study guide on the Kindle.

Forget the mess of jumbled papers and hand-written notes that many students use to prepare for tests.

A paperless study tool is now an option at two Chambersburg schools — on a Kindle.

Students from three classes at Faust Junior High School and Chambersburg Area Senior High School took advantage of the technology of their generation when they produced a study guide for the Kindle, Amazon's ebook reader.

Lisa Shaw's agbioscience class at Faust and Deb Lehman's child development class at Chambersburg High both worked to create the content for the book. The two teachers decided it would be titled "Flashcards for Genetic Studies for the Keystone Exam."

Erin Barket's graphic design class at Faust helped format the typed information for use on a Kindle.

The project began before the second half of the school year when students began working on the book to help them study for the Keystone Exam, a state test.

"We started working towards this probably in January," Shaw said.

The three teachers collaborated on the project and obtained a Chambersburg Chamber Grant to purchase Kindles for students' use, Shaw said.

The plan started when the teachers were bouncing ideas off of each other, Barket said.

And the students responded well to their team project.

"I think it was nice to see it all put together at the end," said Elisabeth Forsythe, 15, a student in Shaw's class.

The students in the science classes compiled questions and answers about cellular processes and genetics to include in the book. They used the material they learned in class and information they read in separate articles to write questions and answers for the study guide.

Students created multiple-choice, true-and-false and short-answer questions for their book.

"We were supposed to write questions from material during the year," Elisabeth said.

The project helped students better understand the topics that they had learned in class during the year.

Brice Williams, 15, one of Shaw's students, explained the project helped particularly with "meiosis and mitosis and the different phases (of cell division)."

Brice said his favorite part was "being able to have it on the Kindles and being able to write out the questions in our own format."

The students enjoyed the experience, and many appreciated seeing their names on the published book.

"I think for all of us it's just seeing our name inside of something," said Crystal Gettel, 15, a student in Shaw's class.

Students also felt that it prepared them for their Keystone Exam and their final exam in the class.

Caleb Strite, 15, a student in Shaw's class, explained that it was helpful because it was "a different way to study."

"It's fun to do things other than sitting in a desk," he said.

Barket's graphic design class also benefitted from their experience.

"They took an interest in this more so than other design projects," Barket said. "It wasn't just (about) them. They had other students in different classes depending on them."

Barket's students worked to take the typed Word files created by the science classes and put them into Adobe InDesign to format them. The students then exported them as PDF files that could go on the Kindles.

Students were assigned different groups of questions from the book and the groups consisted of 15 questions each, said Colton Elbel, 15, a student in Barket's class.

The finished book consisted of about 54 pages, Colton said.

Some students in the class were surprised that the outcome of their formatting project, which took the class a few days to complete, resulted in a book for a Kindle. 

"I didn't think they'd do that at first," said Nick Sheaffer, 15, referring to the final books on the Kindles.  

Shaw, Lehman and Barket, the three teachers in charge of the project, had worked together on projects before, according to Barket.

The activity connected the students of the different classes and helped them better understand the material that they learned in their classes during the year.

Barket graded her students on their work and Shaw was able to use this exercise as a way to gauge her students' understanding of class material. 

"It became a form of assessment after kids wrote the questions," Shaw said.

The book is something that students preparing for the Keystone Exam can download onto a Kindle and use.

Shaw said that they plan to use this project again in the future in some form.

The students enjoyed the experience and some expressed further interest in this type of activity.

"I would like to do more of this stuff, but it depends of the teacher," Brice said.

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