Sunday, April 28, 2013

Instagrok: A new way to engage students

A funny thing happened on my way to edmodo one day. Edmodo recently added apps to their learning management system which gives it another dimension for student/teacher interaction. As I was looking through the apps one day I noticed one called Instagrok. It sounded familiar but yet not and thus peaked my interest enough to check into it further. What I found and what my students discovered was an all in one research and writing tool that was perfect for meeting Common Core State Standards.

Instagrok can be a standalone research and writing tool or you can purchase it through the edmodo app store and have the added feature of submitting assignments directly from Instagrok to edmodo. So, how can Instagrok help you and your students? Well, vocabulary building is the first great feature. As students enter a topic of word a web of connected concepts is displayed. Students can then click on any concept to get additional connections and vocabulary. Definitely an excellent tool for getting students to understand academic language.

In addition to the vocabulary features there are other useful tools like the reading level tool at the top center of the site as well as the journal and results sections. Students can toggle to their journal page and add research summaries, images, videos and glossary words to their journal by clicking on the little push pins next to each key fact or image.
The assignment I gave my students was to use Instagrok for all of their research and then write a paper in the journal feature of Instagrok. I had my students add all of their research and images at the end of their paper and required them to incorporate it into their assignment.

Students can then write their paper or start another search with another term and add multiple pages of research and vocabulary while maintaining one with the writing assignment. The ability to connect all of these features sets Instagrok apart from other search engines. In fact, Instagrok is not just a search engine but a tech tool designed to meet the needs of students and teachers.

Common Core State Standards call for the use of technology and Instagrok is a convenient tool that engages students and gives them the means to expand their learning. Whether you use the free version or invest in all the features with the paid app on edmodo or standalone, Instagrok is sure to excite student learning.

Below are some examples of what my students produced from a couple of projects they did this year:

The top image shows all of the groks a student did for a project. A journal with all of the pins is represented in the second image and the third image is the final essay by one of my students. 

My students came up with an appropriate saying: "Grok is good!"