Saturday, January 31, 2015

Do Web Tools Interfere with Collaborative Learning?

Raleigh Werberger writes about using old-school strategies to help his students understand how dependent they have become using Edtech tools to learn and collaborate.  I especially liked the section about the power of Post-it Notes and what he asked the students to do with them.  Excellent and I highly recommend the following article to all teachers, tech savvy or not.

Using Old Tech ( Not Edtech ) to Teach Thinking Skills.  Raleigh Werberger.  01.28.15.  Edutopia

Are YOUR Behaviors Affecting CLASSROOM Behavior?

Check this article out.  If you have perfect control of your students at all times, then this post is not for you.  However, if you're like most of us, we do slip into behaviors that are disruptive.  Here's a list of  behaviors you need to avoid.  You'll be surprised what a difference that can make.

10 Ways to Sabotage Your Classroom Management.  Jennifer Gonzalez. 11.12.14.  Middle Web.

How to Avoid becoming App-a-holics

This post describes issues that schools face with abundant technology resources for teachers and students. However, for schools beginning to provide technology options for teachers and students, this post will help in the planning stage.   In some schools the technology demands are overwhelming, not only to teachers but to students.  Read how the author and his partner developed a plan that narrowed down the technology and established 5 parameters for the apps they were allowed to adopt for teachers and for students. This is excellent advice for us all.

Whose in Control?  Minimalism in the Modern Learning Classroom.  William Tolley. 01.29.15. CTQ Center for Teaching Quality

Friday, January 30, 2015

Brain Science Helps Explain Some Struggling Readers

There are multiple reasons why people, young and old, are struggling readers.  I'm sure you can name some of these people.  I do have some issue with the word "struggling" which to me infers that there is a "battle" or at least a  serious, unsuccessful attempt to improve.  Many adult dyslectics have discovered other means to learn and communicate and yet have successful lives.  Think of the late Steve Jobs, as one example.
However, in education we have teachers and instructional leaders who can help struggling readers while they are still young.  As you read the following article you'll understand more about our brains work in the reading process.  Brain science helps educators not only to understand but to help retrain brains so that students who struggle can become successful readers.

Inside the brain of a struggling reader.  Martha Burns. 02.2015 issue.  DA District Administration.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Glued to Technology? What Could Happen?

So many people are glued to technology - smartphones, tablets, and computers.  We socialize using these devices through texting, tweeting, and Facebook pages. What can happen in school when technology-dependent teens need to have face-to-face conversations?  According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America over 15 million Americans have social anxiety disorder.  Not just in school but people with this disorder are suffering in other public places.
Please read this is important.  There is help available.

A New Kind of Social Anxiety in the Classroom. Alexandra Ossola. 1.14.15. The Atlantic

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Is Your Technology Broadening Students' Learning?

Most of us will answer that question with a resounding, "Yes, of course!  We've gone through the training and the kids are really engaged."  This article poses 6 questions that perhaps you have not considered, but assumed was occurring because the students were so engaged.  Please read for interesting insight into what we want the technology to do but the result falls short.  The author, Alan November, asks, " Think your school is innovative with tech? Answer these questions and prepare to reassess."

These 6 questions determine if you're technology rich, innovation poor.  Alan November. 1.13.20. eSchool News

Monday, January 12, 2015

Connected Learning Through Game Playing

Game-related activity can be the container for all curricular content in most units of study.  This article focuses on a New York city middle school called Quest because it is a school for digital kids. It is founded on  concepts from the  Institute of Play, either hands-on or digital. .
Students using games do exhibit innovative ideas, collaboration, critical thinking, and other 21st Century skill important in today's classes.

A quest for a different learning model:  Playing games in school.  Mary Talbot.  01.09.15. The Hechinger Report

New Life for Boring Powerpoint

We all know that when Powerpoint first came out it was the most wonderful tool in giving "speeches" or presenting reports by students.  Now, however, there are many new cool enhancements that will give you and your students new ideas that certainly will not be boring.  Be sure not to miss this article that will tell you all about it.

4 Tips to Breathe New Life into Your PowerPoint Presentations.  Vicki Davis. 01.08.15.  EdTech Focus on K-12

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Are Your Students Learning as if You Didn't Exist?

If you answered "Yes" to the title of this post, then you can skip this article.  Marilyn Price-Mitchell PhD has conceived a wonderful framework for understanding what kids need to become self-sufficient and life-long learners.  Teachers, along with other caring adults can change lives.  Read this article and view her graphic of necessary pathways to achieve success.

8 Pathways to Every Student's Success. Marilyn Price-Mitchell PhD.  01.07.15.  Edutopia

We all try some or all of these pathways. How are they working for you.  Share your thoughts with other teachers in Comments below.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Use Technology to Collaborate with other Schools

Certainly it's not impossible to collaborate with others these days with technology to connect with students elsewhere.  Read how one class paired up with another class in another school district and learned both positives and negatives about the project. There were problems, of course, and the students agreed that problem-solving was part of the process.  They would do it again for sure.  An extra bonus for this class is that they got to meet their collaborative partners on a joint field trip.

West Stanley Middle School students team with Cabarrus class.  Shannon Beamon. 01.06.15. The Stanley News & Press.

Got an Old Typewriter?

Yes, I certainly do remember typewriters.  My masters research paper was typed on one with carbon copies and countless other papers for school classes.   Here in 2015, what value are they if you still have any laying around?    This interesting story about a first grade teacher gathered enough old typewrites from garage sales and eBay for her class.  Why?  Guess I better let you read her story.  Could be you'll be looking in garage sales too.

Old school:  Kirkland first-graders are using typewriters every day.  Rachel Belle, Ron & Don Show Reporter. 01.08.15.

What Can Increase Student Reading?

As predicted, more and more students are opting out of reading for pleasure in favor of other pastimes - mostly digital distractions, games & TV.  But what can encourage them to read books for fun?  Turns out that reading aloud to children by teachers and parents interest children in reading books independently.  

Study Finds Reading to Children of All Ages Grooms Them to Read More on Their Own.  Motoko Rich.  01.08.15.  New York Times

What Your Words Can Mean to Your Students

The author of this insightful article, says it all in her first sentence recalling a familiar saying, "Sticks and stones can hurt my bones, but names can never hurt me."  Because of her own experience in school,  Cheryl Mizerny is very aware  that the language she uses in class can either uplift or destroy.  Sometimes it takes only one teacher to acknowledge and support supports, even in casual conversations.  We'll never know how we truly affect our students in the long run but each day our words do make a difference in their lives.  Any stories you'd like to share with our readers?  Please use the Comments section below.

I am my words.  Cheryl Mizerny.  12.4.14.  SmartBlog on Education

IMPORTANT: Help Students Find Copyright-Free Images

Many students have no idea that many photos have copyrights that prevent them from using them in other contexts, such as school reports.  It is essential that this topic be taught in school.  Good news... There is a new way to find licensed images using search engines, Google and Flickr.  It is also important that students learn that images are not the only copyrighted items - so are music, video and other multimedia.  Creative Commons helps locate them on their website.....  Please read the following article for more explanation.

Finding Copyright-friendly photos for the Goggle Images generation. News Staff. 01.06.15 eClassroomNews

Monday, January 5, 2015

Have 'Gumption' - Move Forward to Excellence

For teachers as well as manyothers, this is the time of year where we reflect and look forward to a year better than last year.  How to we do this?  With 'gumption' declares Vicki Davis, author of today's article.  Little steps are fine but big steps require gumption.  What are her recommended steps to make this year a one of greatness?  Each of her steps are explained carefully but they require you to go forth with gumption in order to make a difference.
  1. Learn From Mistakes and Move On Smarter
  2. Set Audacious goals
  3. Make Epic Memories
What has made a difference to improve your teaching life?  Please share your thoughts in the Comments below.

3 Steps to Make 2015 Epic. Vicki Davis.  01.02.15. edutopia

Benefits & Growing Popularity of Personalized Learning

In the Summit Public Schools in California, teachers do not teach lessons at all. Instead, students use semi-autonomous guides relating to a syllabus; the teachers are available to help when asked. Teachers also lead group discussions or manage group projects devoting time to do what an automated system can't do easily. Students set their own goals and use a personalized dashboard.  The system provides regular feedback to the student & teacher.  Systems like this are growing across the country.  Results are showing gains in achievement, especially in math. But even more importantly, students are in charge of their own learning and are much more motivated. 
     The reading program mentioned in the article is Curriculet.

Personalised learning lets children study at their own pace.  Hal Hodson. 01.02.15.  NewScientist - Tech

Project Based Learning - An Amazing Collaboration!

This small group of high schoolers who had experience with robotics teamed up with a local university to do cancer research.  What an amazing partnership!  We promote project-based learning in the real world and this one certainly is a true winner.  Read how these juniors and seniors collaborated regularly with university staff using Skype and produced excellent results! 
While your high schoolers are not apt to engage is such ground-breaking studies, it is a fine example of engaged kids doing something extremely meaningful.  Guess we don't have to worry about these students ever finding a job.

Dawson High students pursue cancer breakthroughs with school project.  Kieran Nicholson.  12.28.14. The Denver Post

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Psychology of Middle School Students

While not strategic in nature, this article is pre-requisite for middle school teachers who have never taught this age group or have never had children their own at this age.  It is really important to understand the thinking behind the kids at this vulnerable, changing age. Effective teaching will depend on your understanding.  So learn, remember, and chuckle!

8 Things I Know for Sure about Middle School Kids. Jenniver Gonzalez.  12.28.14.  Middle Web

Anything else you'd like to add?  After reading the article, share your thoughts in the  Comment section below.

Vocabulary Tips from Dr. Marzano

The following tips are listed from Dr. Marzano's book Vocabulary Games for the Classroom by Linday Carleton and Robert J. Marzano, 2010.  Each are summarized briefly in this article but expanded more fully in the book.  The list is long and your questions aren't answered here.  Please read the article.
  • Use data from student responses during game play to guide a three-step process of direct vocabulary instruction. The three-step process helps teachers apply direct instruction postgame to improve student understanding of specific terms.
  • The first two steps of the three-step process involve (1) identifying difficult vocabulary terms and (2) clarifying their definitions
  • The last step of the three-step process involves students amending previous entries of a vocabulary notebook—a space for students to track understanding of specific terms as definitions are learned and expanded upon.
  • To be effective, vocabulary games should be based on relevant topics that students understand.
  • When creating new vocabulary games, each game should be constructed into five categories.
  • Classroom games can be adapted for younger students in the following ways:
  • Ideally, after each game is played, students should review the terms in their vocabulary notebooks that were addressed in the games.
  • Only teachers know their class well enough to decide how much competition is appropriate.
  • Teachers should identify what students know and do not know about the difficult terms.
  • There is an effective six-step process for teaching new terms.
  • Direct vocabulary instruction is fundamental to effective teaching.
  • Note:  Data collected as far back as 1941 indicates there is roughly a 6,000-word gap between students at the 25th and 50th percentiles on standardized test in grades 4–12.
Have you used any of these tips in your classroom?  What have worked well?  Not so well?  What changes might you make the next time?  After reading the article, share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

Tips From Dr. Marzano - Vocabulary Games for the Classroom.  12.14.  Marzano Research

Teachers: Time to Relect on What's Most Important

This wonderful article by Sarah Brown Wessling, teacher of the year in 2010 and Teacher Laureate for the Teaching Channel has reposted this article about reflecting about what's important in teaching.  Very insightful and worthwhile your time in reading and reflecting.  Here are her 3 main questions for reflection...
  • What are the three things that make a successful teacher?
  • What are the three things that make a successful learner?
  • What has been the hardest thing you've faced as a teacher and how did you deal with it?
Sarah shares her responses to these questions.  Can you identify with her answers?  What keeps you in the teaching field when so many have given up and left for another profession?  After reading her article, please return here and share your Comments with others.  You may help them immensely!

Teachers:  Three Questions for Reflection.  Sarah Brown Wessling. written 11.21.13 and posted 01.03.15.  TCH Teaching Channel

Changing Your Mindset

What kind of teacher will you be in 2015?  Now is the time most people make resolutions that they will not keep very long, if at all.  Deidra Gammill, blogger for CTQ (Center for Teaching Quality)  reflected this New Year's and decided that changing her mindset will make the most difference to her students.  Read her entry.  We might all learn something.  I know I have.  Please share your thoughts in the Comment section below.

I Don't Want New Resolutions for 2015; I Want a New Mindset.  01/01/2015.  CTQ- Center for Teaching Quality