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Quicklyst: Note taking web app created by student

What it is: Senior in high school Shantanu Bala emailed me yesterday with a link to a new web application he built called Quicklyst. Quicklyst is a web application for note taking. Shantanu created Quicklyst to make taking and studying notes easier.  Quicklyst makes it easy to take notes, deliver notes to a Kindle device, look up topics in Wikipedia, and define words within notes automatically using the Merriam Webster Dictionary.  It is free and easy to use from any web connected computer. Students can quickly organize their notes into study guides and even create a study queue for important notes.  Notes can be searched by topic or subject.  Quicklysts can be delivered to a Kindle, printed, or downloaded as text files.  There is no need to register to create a Quicklyst, to save a Quicklyst, students will need to create a username (could be email address but doesn’t have to be) and password. While students take notes, they can instantly include definitions and search information in their notes.  Type a question mark followed by the word you want searched and Quicklyst will automatically add information from Wikipedia and DuckDuckGo. Type a colon followed by the word you want defined and Quicklyst will automatically insert the definition into the notes. Students can click on the + sign next to their notes to add the notes to their Study Queue.  The study queue is a place for students to save notes that they want to reference and study later. How to integrate Quicklyst into the classroom: Quicklyst is a great addition to any student (or teacher) tool box. It makes note taking a breeze, quickly importing definitions and search information into the notes. In a one to one setting (where every student has access to a computer) Quicklyst could be used by students to take notes during discussion, lecture, or any type of whole class learning activity.  In the one or two computer classroom, Quicklyst could be assigned as a student job in your classroom. During the class, the student assigned can take notes that can later be downloaded and sent to students, or printed as a study guide.  The class job should be rotated so that each student has an opportunity to be class recorder. Quicklyst is also excellent for teachers taking notes in staff meetings, professional development, or conferences.  It is such a simple tool to use and has just the right amount of extras (instant definitions) to make it really useful! Use Quicklyst with younger students to create KWL (know, want to know, learn) type notes with students.  Using a projector-connected computer, interactive whiteboard, or classroom computer, students can begin the chart and fill it in as they learn more.  The simple built in search and definition make it ideal for this type of use. Tips: Quicklyst is a fantastic example of student innovation, it once again begs the question are we providing opportunities for this kind of creativity in schools?  Shantanu created Quicklyst in his free time for fun, amazing! I asked Shantuanu where the idea for Quicklyst came about and how he learned how to program, here is his response: Mainly, notes were something I always had a problem with. I’d either lose them or forget them, or just use a textbook since my notes weren’t very good. Although my school doesn’t have laptops for every student, schools are slowly getting more and more computers for use directly in the classroom. I realized it might be interesting to create something that stores a person’s notes online and allows a person to search his or her notes easily. That solved my first problem of losing and forgetting my notes. But there was one thing I found missing when looking through some of my notes: structure. I’d try to continue my notes chronologically, but sometimes there’s a gap when a teacher stops teaching one subject and jumps to something else that’s more urgent. Other times, I’d miss a lesson, and I’d forget to copy someone else’s notes. On a computer, this process is much easier, and copying/moving things around can happen in a couple seconds. I also realized that notes feel very disconnected — there’s a wealth of information available online, and there’s only so much a teacher can fit into a class period that’s less than an hour. Providing that information to a student while they take their notes in class seems like the right direction. It encourages active learning by allowing a student to ask a lot of questions and find answers themselves. Part of the reason I am really excited about the amount of information available online (and the quality of the information) is because I was able to teach myself how to code in the 6th grade. I just followed some tutorials online, and whenever I was confused I just asked a question on a forum and I’d get an answer pretty quickly. There are a ton of people who write excellent materials and answer questions completely in their free time. It’s really amazing. Once I got into high school, I found out that I could get credit by taking some community college courses in programming, so I took Java and C++ classes. But my favorite programming language is really the one I learned first — Python. Thank you Shantanu for creating such a useful application and sharing it with all of us! Leave a comment and share how you are using Quicklyst in your classroom.

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“Facebook” profile pages for literary characters

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Character Education, Create, Download, Evaluate, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 04-03-2011

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Today I worked with a mixed seventh and eighth grade class who is reading To Kill a Mockingbird.  The teacher was looking for ways for the students to explore the characters more in-depth and think about how authors develop characters.  I thought having the students create a fake “Facebook” profile page would be a great way to accomplish all of those learning goals. As one of the students said, “It is totally fun!”.    The challenge with this particular classroom is that we are working within a mixed platform environment.  There are PC’s and Macs of all different operating systems and ages.  The one common we have going for us is an Internet connection.

Each student created an information page about one of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird that looked just like a Facebook information page.  This gave them the opportunity to think  about characteristics, interests, activities, quotes, and some creative license to flesh out the details.  I knew about My Fake Wall, but because of the HEAVY advertising, and request for an email address I wasn’t convinced it was the best place for students to create a character profile.  For the record I like the site a lot and the results are impressive but all of the advertisements are obnoxious and I wasn’t convinced it wouldn’t get hung up by a filter.  I needed a plan B.  I ended up creating a Facebook information page template using Pages.  The problem: not all of the students had Pages to use the template (that mixed environment thing).  So, I got creative and settled on exporting the Pages document as a PDF and uploading it to Crocodoc for students.  I uploaded it once for each student (so each would have a unique URL to edit).  It worked great! Students used Crocodoc to annotate over the template and then could download the finished pdf it to their computers.  Some students chose to find an online picture that they could use for the profile picture, other students created their own avatar type pictures of the character using the drawing tools in Crocodoc (they turned out great…such little artists).

When the students were finished, they headed over to see if they could get My Fake Wall to work.  Miracle of miracles it wasn’t blocked (I was surprised!).  My Fake Wall has the students create the profile page of a character where they can create posts and discussions between characters.  They used the information page they created as a starting place and created a conversation between several characters.  It was a big hit except they were disappointed that it didn’t actually work like Facebook. They were wanting to each create their character and actually interact as the character.  If they were older I would have considered letting them use Facebook this way.

The students really enjoyed thinking about characters this way and as we were wrapping up for the day they asked, “could we go on here and create some of these for historical characters?”  One wanted to take on Hitler and another Columbus.  I always consider a lesson successful when students aren’t ready to stop the learning…this one was a success!

If you are interested in using the template I created, you can do so by first downloading the original from Facebook Template.  Next, upload the pdf template to your own Crocodoc page.  You will need to do this for each student or they will all be collaboratively working on the same document.  Give students their unique URL, and they are off.  If you don’t have access to computers but would still like to use my template, feel free to print it out and have students work on it the old school way.

Comments (35)

Cool
Thanks for the reflection and the resources.
Kevin

I did the same project with my bible class. They had to make a page for a biblical figure from our studies. I used a PowerPoint template which allowed them to create additional pages and links between the pages. They loved it as well.

Just forwarded this to my ELA teachers…good idea.

Jill

I think your plan B innovation was brilliant!

wow! what an awesome idea – I can’t wait to pass it along to the literacy teachers at my school! do you think it would work with younger students (4th/5th graders)?

I haven’t used it yet, but I am looking forward to using this with my 5th graders!

[…] 9. Are We Wired For Mobile Learning? (Infographic)http://bit.ly/ezfOR1 10. http://ilearntechnology.com/?p=3719 “Facebook” profile pages for literary characters “To Kill a Mockingbird” template […]

Just so you know creating “fake ” Facebook profiles is against facebook’s terms of use agreement that you sign when you sign up for Facebook.

Truly an awesome idea. Thanks for this and all the other fabulous ideas and sites. I teach in a very remote school in Central Australia, and the kids just love the connection they can get through technology – even though our small community is 1200kms from our nearest capital city. Your site helps this happen. Thanks again.

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Have students that want to interact as characters??? Edmodo is the answer! Students and teachers have been using it to great advantage in our district. In a nutshell, edmodo is secure social networking for the classroom. It is simple to use and WONDERFUL for integrating technology.

Here’s a post from my district’s tech blog with more details: http://icafe.lcisd.org/why-i-love-edmodo-and-you-will-too (Be sure to check out our cheatsheet for getting started!)

Additionally, one of my wonderful colleagues, Jennifer Mitchell, has developed a lesson plan which spells out how to use edmodo for a project (like yours above) where students post information as if they were historical or literary characters. Here’s a link to the lesson plan she has created: http://goo.gl/Q1JsB

Thanks for the great blog post! I haven’t checked out CrocDocs yet, but I intend to.

Yes, I will second this Holly- Edmodo is a GREAT way for students to interact this way online. Thanks for the comment.

Thank you so much for the kind words Stella, I am so glad that you can use this and the other sites I share!

Hi PJ, this is only partially true. You are right, creating a fake profile is against the rules. However, students can create a Facebook Page of a fictional character (fan page). Choose “Person” on the page and choose the fictional character option. Within the Page students can create a profile for the character and interact as the character.

Thanks for sharing Lisa! I hope it goes well!

Hi Martha, yes it will work with younger students, I have used this with younger students 4th-6th grade and they really enjoyed it.

Thank you Susan!

Thanks Jill!

Great idea! We did the same at my school with 5th grade students. Each was assigned a Biblical Figure and had to interact with each other as that figure.

You are so welcome!

Thanks so much! I’m using this for an undergrad research project involving curriculum development… I hadn’t heard of myfakewall, either, so now I’m playing with both :)

Glad that you can use it Sara!

[…] ‘Facebook’ Profile Pages for Literary Characters […]

[…] the social media sphere.  Last week (or was it the week before?) I shared that I had created a Facebook Template that could be used with students for creating a fake Facebook profile.  Since then I have come […]

I recently had to do a project in my teacher prep program and chose to do a fake Facebook page for a main character in a book for middle schoolers (Jerry Spinelli’s “Loser”). There are so many directions students can take the project (wall posts from other characters, status updates, likes, photos, etc.) that demonstrate their comprehension of the literature.

Also observed a 7th grade class, in which an ELA teacher had students make profiles using construction paper. The projects came out great and the students were very involved in the work! I will let the teacher know about this useful tool, which might make the project less time-consuming (I did mine through Paint, which took many more hours than it should have).

I also like the suggestions for teachers outside of Social Studies and ELA – never thought it could be used in that way.

Keep up the great work; the information on this site is very useful.

Thank you Brett, and thank you for sharing the ways that you are using this idea with your students!

i used myfakewall but i prefer this tool http://thewallmachine.com

Thank you so much for sharing! I am excited to try this for my grad class. I am a little bummed though because I thought the literacy character facebook page was a new idea I just came up with :-( awesome though to hear how others have accomplished this though… And addressed my initial concerns.

Know what you mean…happens to me often! BUT, the passion behind the “new idea” is the best part…whether it is new or not! 😉

I think your document link has been hacked. It has scribbles and profanity written over it. I would like to check out your version of the template to use for my Honors English 1-2 class and The Odyssey. Do you have a clean copy you might be able to email me?

Thanks,

Rachel

Oh dear! I’ll send you a copy Rachel. Thanks for letting me know!

I was really excited about the idea and went to the link that allows me to download your original page…It’s been vandalized. I just wanted you to know. I tried to click on one of the buttons to edit and remove some of the markings, but I didn’t quite know how.

Thanks for letting me know, I think I’ve solved it!

Hi – Any chance you could either reload the PDF page to the link above (where we click on “here” or send the PDF to me? I’ve been messing with trying to make a template – and I’ve discovered I know just enough about graphic software to frustrate myself!!

@KC- I just updated the link. It should allow you to download now! Give it a try :)

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