“I can’t find Blaise Pascal’s friends….”

My FakeWall/ Diigo project was due this past week and, while the website’s instability proved to be a bit of a challenge, I am excited about what the students learned from this.  When myfakewall.com was working, the students found it very easy to use. When it wasn’t, they learned that things like this happen and they needed a little patience and resilience in the process. “It happens…” “Keep trying…” were phrases I used often. Ultimately, all students completed their work within the appropriate timeline.  On the research side, the students definitely saw the benefits of using Diigo (Digest of Internet Information Groups and Other Stuff  www.diigo.com) to organize their images, research and notes surrounding the mathematician that they chose to learn more about.  According to them, having all of their research available at home and in school or wherever they were working on the project made the process a lot easier.

The final walls were amazing, in most cases, but the creative component of this project forced some of my students out of their comfort zone. During our research phase, it was interesting to observe how they were figuring out how to put all the pieces of the project together. Some were very frustrated. One student looked up at me and said, “I hate this. I keep trying to google Blaise Pascal’s friends and the list isn’t coming up”. At first, I was a little surprised at this.  These students were in 9th and 10th grade.  Did this student actually think that a list was going to come up?  The answer is “yes” and I realized that I had to regroup and have a discussion about how to analyze information in the articles they were finding online.  Shame on me for assuming they knew this. We talked about how they actually had to READ the information, and I demonstrated how to use the diigo notes area and highlighter to help organize what might be helpful in figuring out “friends”. I continued to guide them through this process and most “got it”.  My bottom line message to them: “You can’t just “google it” and expect to get all the answers to a project like this.” Have they heard this before? I hope so. It’s just another reminder that we do need to continue to reinforce this to our students regularly.

Here are some of the final products:


Carl Gauss



Albert Einstein

For an additional perspective on students’ reactions with tech, see my colleague Sarah Ludwig’s post: “I hate technology.”

Here’s an update to this project from 2011-2012 school year.

Here are additional resources for using Diigo in the classroom:
Diigo for Educators
A Quick Tour of Diigo
Free Tech for Teachers: Diigo Teacher Accounts
Student Learning with Diigo
Will Richardson’s Annotating with Diigo
Three Uses of Diigo in the History and Language Arts Classroom



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