Trello

I first learned about Trello at an International Baccalaureate (IB) workshop on integrating technology into the classroom, and I started using it about 2 weeks ago in the classroom.  I am very excited about how easy it is to use and how quickly my students have grown accustomed to it.  It has made organization of group work so much easier to manage for both me and my students.  I would describe Trello as an organizational and collaboration tool.  My husband, a software engineer, uses Trello at work to keep track of on-going projects, and he would describe it differently, but it is mostly a place for you to make lists and add information under that list.  This information, called “cards”, can be notes, attachments, videos, or images.

I decided to use Trello during my current unit on conflict to help us all keep track of what we need to accomplish.  I was tired to having all of the information myself and was ready to give my students more practice with self-paced learning.  With Trello, each group can move through the unit at his or her own pace, and they have all of the information that they need, when they need it. I put information on Trello, and the students log in and see what they have to accomplish before moving on to the next topic.  I created a Gmail account for my class to use this year, and they log in using that group Gmail address.  While I control the content that goes on the site, my students have access to all of the material.

I have four groups of students, each one learning about one major, historical U.S. conflict: Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI, and WWII.  Each group has a Trello board.  This is what the main dashboard looks like, with my four current boards:

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When you click on one of the boards, you will see their lists.  These lists are what each group needs to accomplish within a certain track.  In the IB program, we call each track a “line of inquiry”.  They can move through their list at their own pace, and I can see where everyone is and what else they still have to accomplish.  This is what the boards looked like at the beginning of the unit:

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For my Revolutionary War group, they have several primary source documents to look at as they synthesize the causes of the Revolutionary War.  They have documents, an image, a voice recording, and a video to watch before they complete the formative assessment.  When you click on one of the cards, more information pops up.  You can see a variety of cards below:

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As the students complete each task, they archive it, so it disappears from the main board.  It’s still there to access if they need to go back and look at it for any reason, but it is no longer on their main page.  They can now move on to the next task.

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At this point in the unit, every group is finished with their primary resources and is ready to move on to the formative assessment.  Everyone’s board now looks like this:

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I started using Trello on a bit of a whim, but I am confident that I will continue to use it in my classroom.  It is so easy to use, and the students are using a collaboration tool that is being used out “in the real world”.  While I control the content now, in the future, I see my students adding in their own cards and content as they create more of their own units.  This will be very helpful not only for the group, but also for me, as I can see what each group is doing, how their pacing is going, and what I can do to support them as they move through the unit.  I would highly recommend using Trello if you use consistent group work or if you have several projects going on at once, whether group or individual.  It is easy for you and your students to use, and it makes group work management much more manageable.

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