Kathy Post
December 28, 2020
Kathy is the TEU Assessment & Accreditation Specialist at East Stroudsburg University's College of Education.

At Learnics, we are all about improving student online learning experiences and we think often about what those learning experiences might look like. At a recent Teacher Ambassador Meeting (TAP) meeting we were discussing what to call our lessons after one of our latest improvements to the assignment creation process - in-assignment questions.

In the end, we recently started calling these activities online inquiry assignments. Heather Wolpert-Gawron discusses boosting student engagement by activating students' insatiable curiosity through inquiry-based learning. She recommends using class time to do online research because “[i]t’s crucial to have some of this be classwork so students have access to the head researcher in the room—you. You aren’t going to do the work for them, but you are going to guide them and model methods of researching reliably.” Within hybrid and 100% virtual learning scenarios, it may not be beneficial to use class time for the research, but having students do the research in preparation for the next class meeting can provide insights for the teacher as they plan for the next lesson as well as provide important points for in-class discussions. 

“What new piece of information might help you trigger your own enthusiasm that can then trigger your students’ curiosity?”

To spark (y)our curiosity, the Learnics team devised an online inquiry assignment to investigate the time honored tradition of the New Year’s Eve ball drop. Here is the direct link for this assignment if you would like to try it yourself: https://app.learnics.com/assignment/01UWO88

Use LearnicsIL to answer the following questions:

  1. Why do we drop a ball on New Year's Eve?
  2. New Year's Eve ball drops occur in other cities across this country and the world, but not all cities drop a ball. What is the most interesting alternative ball drop item you found? Be sure to discuss where this item is dropped and the tradition behind the use of this item.
  3. The New Year's Eve ball in Times Square in NYC has a long history and has been made of a variety of items. Discuss the size, weight and materials of one of the balls in earlier years and compare it to this year's ball.

Never used LearnicsIL, click here to watch a quick screencast that will walk you through completing this assignment for the first time as a student.

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