Wednesday, October 16, 2013 by Melanie Healy

Ever have a hard time prying your students’ eyes off of their cell phones as class begins? A tool I like to use in my classes is Unlike some of the other free web-based polling tools available, there is no class size limit to this tool.

I’ve used this tool in a couple of ways. The first is as a “quick and dirty” method to engage students in the upcoming topic, or as check of base knowledge as the students enter class.

I send a bulk email to students five or ten minutes before the start of class with a link to the poll, along with the four number poll ID. A note on the overhead projector will prompt them to use the link and ID on their email to answer the questions via phone, laptop or other device. Students can complete the quick survey as they’re settling into their seats.

Students can then watch real-time results as others log in and complete the survey. As class begins, I project the results on the overhead, and talk briefly about each question.

The other way the tool might be used is as a midpoint or end-of-class check for understanding, or as a review of content from the previous lecture. This tool can also be used effectively as a prompt for a discussion question in an online course. is another good alternative for class sizes of 40 or less.

Try one of the mock polls that my students helped me with here. Poll ID is 1487:

Submitted by Melanie Healy, Exercise and Sports Science

Jing by Tim Gerber and Greg Wegner

Combining Science and Social Studies Methods classes lends power to teaching combined content topics in teacher education courses.  Our science/social studies methods teacher education candidates used topics from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) 2012 annual meeting theme:  “Flattening the World:  Building a Global Knowledge Society” ( to build interdisciplinary lesson plans.  Each lesson plan had a “technology in the classroom” component which required our teacher candidates to incorporate Jing into their plans. Jing is a screen and voice capturing software available on all lab computers and available free for download at this site:

Tim Gerber
To prepare students for working with Jing, we scheduled the first Jing session in a computer lab with a technology trainer from Academic Technology Services, in IT at UW-L.  This session was conducted to allow our teacher candidates to “play around” with the software.  The second Jing session was for our teacher candidates to work together on their connected lesson plans.  At the end of the semester, each student group presented their Science/Social Studies Integrated Curriculum lesson plans to the entire class including their Jing-based materials.  Among the environmentally-related lesson plan AAAS topics developed by the students were biodiversity, population, global health, agriculture, renewable energy, development, climate change, and economics.
Greg Wegner

Combining Science and Social Studies Methods classes was a valuable experience for our teacher candidates from both the integrated curriculum development and technology in the classroom perspective.

Submitted by Tim Gerber, Biology and Greg Wegner, History 

Zotero by Deb Hoskins

I use Zotero ( as my research note-taking system, and I teach students how to use it too. It mimics my old system that I learned in graduate school – separate bibliography cards and note cards with hand-written entries, sortable to an evolving outline, and filed in shoeboxes. Zotero functions within a web browser (Firefox, Chrome, or Safari), and there is now a stand-alone version as well. Because Zotero stores information in a cloud, I can have my work with me anywhere I go. Zotero captures a copy of any electronic source and generates a bibliography entry. Then I record my own notes on the sources. I can tag each note for quick searching, and generate citations that import easily from right inside Microsoft Word using any variety of citation styles. Students can collaborate very easily in Zotero simply by setting up a shared folder. This video explains the major features of Zotero Because our librarians are awesome, Jen Holman has developed an excellent library guide to help us and our students learn how to use Zotero ( Zotero also has a mobile application called ZotPad, designer for both iPhone and iPad (

Other developers have created a variety of enhancements, including apps for Apple and Android devises that allow you to view your Zotero library and attachments on a mobile devise, and/or apps or plugins to send a .pdf to an annotation/highlighting program (like Notability for iPad), where you can highlight and make comments on the .pdf, then send the .pdf back into Zotero, saving each highlight and annotation as a separate note.

No more shoeboxes.  And I don’t have to store my precious research notes in the freezer in a vain and paranoid attempt to protect them from fire.

Submitted by Deb Hoskins, CATL