Slow Jog to the Finish Line

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Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

The end of the school year is coming. I know this because the calendar says so. I also know this because the weather is finally looking and feeling like summer. And yet, as far as the work goes, we are still in the thick of it. So since we are still working, I will do one final share of resources and articles until we return from summer break.

7 out of 10 adults say they experience stress or anxiety everyday

First is somethingShawn Achor shared on Twitter.  Achor wrote The Happiness Advantage which we are reading as part of our positive education implementation. But honestly, if you interact with other people in any way, this is a book you might want to read regardless. You can read more about the book here in our ShipleyReads blog. This post from Happify is titled, How to beat stress and boost happiness. I feel like this is something we all could use at times and Happify has created a lovely infographic that offers numerous science-based suggestions that are easy to do.

“I don’t do math.”

Next up is a year’s worth (probably more) of materials from Jo Boaler that will enhance your teaching towards a growth mindset. The first is the mathematical mindsets teaching guide, teaching resources, and teaching videos. Next, if you have not browsed YouCubed’s site, you might want to get started. There is a wealth of material there including lessons, resources, articles, videos, and learning opportunities. It is really a treasure trove for those who teach or work with students. And for fun, an article from Stanford Magazine, Jo Boaler Wants Everyone to Love Math.

“You can’t get to the content if the relationship and the social-emotional well-being piece is not being attended to first,” 

If you boiled down positive psychology to just three words, they would be “Other people matter.” This next article, “The Power of Teacher Student Relationships to Boost Learning” highlights the importance of relationships between teachers and students to student learning. 

Consequences of Passive Learning = memorization without engagement

Continuing along the lines of how students learn best is this robust post, 102 Brain-Based Learning Resources for Brain-Based Teaching. This is basically a psych major’s dream list. There is A LOT here beginning with research. If you scroll down you will see a list of Brain and Learning Blogs including Brain Rules (which was one of our all school reading books) and Judy Willis’ R.A.D. Teach blog. Judy gave a two-day professional development at our school a number back in 2010 and I still remember the strategies she suggested to help the information stick. Towards the end of the article, you will find General Brain-based Learning Resources. 

I hope you have found these posts useful and that you will come back for new ones in the fall. Until then, I will repost some of the more popular posts from the archives!

 

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A Teaching Buffet: Something for Everyone

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Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Some might say that I am a hoarder. But not like the ones that you see on Buried Alive. I am more of a “tabs” hoarder. I have shared this tendency before: I tend to keep lots of tabs open until I really have time to dive in. Of course I could use my One Tab extension and place them in a single, “save for later” tab, but alas, I do not. I like to leave them where I can see them until I am ready to dig in.

So today is the day I am wading through my tabs so that I can share them with you.

First off is Peer Teaching options from the Teaching Channel. One of the best ways to know if your students understand a topic or concept is to have them teach another student. So in this menu of videos from the Teaching Channel, you will find several options to use peer teaching in your class from appetizers to dessert.

Next is a “Wow!” It is a collection of digital history projects for use in grades 9-12 but some can be widened to include 6th -12th. What first led me to this was my looking for resources to use with our fourth grade students in their study of slavery as they prepare to read Jefferson’s Sons. I found this post from The Global History Educator that really is a WOW for history teachers. Included are 12 digital history projects that include The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, Mapping the 4th of July, Back Story, and nine more incredible resources to use right now in history classes as a resource for you and your students.

The next two are from Matt Miller of DITCH Homework and DITCH Textbook fame. The first is several ways to end the year with GSuite tools and the next is 10 Things Teachers Should Know About the New Google Sites. Personally I love the new Google Sites and find it very easy to use. While I miss the sharing options for individual pages, I think the new drag and drop interface makes up for it until they hopefully bring that piece back.

I have written before about Jo Boaler and the other day I came across this video where she introduced Polyups. Never being one to pass up on anything from Jo Boaler, I took a look. After I figured out how they work, I was hooked and your students will be too. Polyups is a computational math thinking playground for students in grades 3 through 12 and covers Number Sense, Operations, Order of Operations, Problem Solving in 3rd -5th; Functions, Sequences, Logical Thinking, Algorithmic Thinking in 6th-8th; and Series, Numerical Methods, Calculus, Algorithms in 9th -12th. You can take a look at their videos here.

I learned about this next site on Twitter. Taste Atlas is just that– a world map of foods. I just finished reading Americanah and Jollof of Rice was one of the dishes Ifemelu (main character) mentioned several times. Taste Atlas has Jollof of Rice on Nigeria since it is a national dish. Once you click on a food or search a country, you will get foods of the region, where you can find the best of it, and recipes, and more. Interestingly enough, when I searched Florence, Italy (since I was recently there and my son is there studying abroad) one of the places they mentioned as best places to eat is the pizza place my son raves about, Gusta Pizza. Pretty cool.

Class Pad is a free digital math tool that makes solving math problems on the computer as easy as click, type, draw, and solve. It’s your digital scratch paper with built-in calculator that I can see teachers using along with Screencastify to make tutorial videos and your students doing the same to show how they solve problems. One of the cool aspects of Class Pad is the ability of Class Pad to recognize your geometrical figures that you draw and turn them into sharp figures (unless you draw a circle- no sharp lines there!). Subscribe to their YouTube channel where they will be adding more videos as they create them.

For more great articles, tools, tips, and videos, check out this week’s Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition.

 

 

What did you have for breakfast yesterday and other ways to make learning stick

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Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

If you are like me, one who eats the same breakfast everyday and has for years, answering this question is a no-brainer: Dannon coffee yogurt with sliced banana and a mix of Barbara’s cereals, Kashi, and someone’s granola (I’m a Gemini- I can’t have or choose just one cereal!).

But ask me what I did yesterday afternoon or evening or even what classes I taught, and I would have to dig deep and go through several associations to get to an answer: today is a P day, which means yesterday was I which means I saw fifth grade students; and since today is Friday,  yesterday was Thursday and we had a faculty meeting . . . You get the point.

I have talked about retrieval practice and Pooja Agarwal in recent posts here, here, and here and I have started implementing spaced retrieval practice with my students often at the beginning of class to do a quick check in of material and concepts we have discussed recently (and recently could be several days ago as I see students maybe once or twice in our 7-day rotation so they have to go deep into their memory reserve) to help make the learning stick.

Interleaving is a retrieval practice that mixes up what students need to know in order to solve a particular problem. It’s the “fruit salad” of learning. When students are solving problems that use the same formula or strategy, they are given “a false sense of mastery” because they can solve the problem, but they are solving a set of problems where they already know the strategy in advance. What interleaving does is mix up the concepts so that “students are forced to choose a strategy on the basis of the problem itself. This gives students a chance to both choose and use a strategy.”

The key to effective interleaving is to mix up similar topics, which encourages students to discriminate between similar ideas, concepts, and problems.

~Rohrer, Dedrick, Agarwal

To learn more about Interleaving and to get a Retrieval Practice Guide, click here. You can also look at their videos here. And, as if that were not enough, Pooja Agarwal will be the guest this Saturday- tomorrow- on Classroom 2.0’s Live webinar! Don’t worry if you cannot “attend” as the recording of this as well as all the others are there for your viewing pleasure when you are able to watch.

Speaking of watching, if you have not been watching Modern Learners webinars and podcasts, you should. I recently watched, then watched again, the podcast with Ted Dintersmith of “Most Likely to Succeed” and the new book, What Schools Could Be. I will leave you with this quote from the podcast,

“We prepare kids for the college application, not college.”

Mic drop.

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Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash

After you watch the podcast, you can let me know what you think . .  .

 

Whose Choice is it Anyway?

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Photo by Letizia Bordoni on Unsplash

I had a moment today. It was kind of big.

I like giving my students feedback forms. I use them a lot! I use them in the beginning of the year, after big projects, check-in times, and at the end of the year.  I like the feedback and the information that these check-ins provide. One of the questions I asked my students at the beginning of this year was, “What is one thing Mrs. Finger can do to improve your experience in this class?” Kids responded with several, “Nothing, Mrs. Finger is great!”, (which is lovely. I could stop looking at the others and rest on my laurels)- “More coding,” “Learn more tools,” and “More freedom.” There were other similar responses, all of which I have tried to incorporate into class so that my students would feel more engaged and empowered. Thankfully, no one said, “she can leave us alone to do as we will.”

The end of the year we do a big project that basically lasts from April until the end of May and in the past, this has been a coding project. I love to teach the kids coding and this end-of-year project has been a highlight (for me).

The children have learned about several ancient civilizations and using Tynker, they share their learning about three of the five civilizations. This year I have decided to make a change: I decided I would let them choose which digital storytelling tool they would like to use share their learning. They will all have the same initial content from which to work: the GRAPES of the civilizations (Geography, Religion, Achievements, Politics, Economy, Social Structures) as that is the lens through which they studied, and from there they can choose their storytelling tool and go. This year they have used Google Slides, Animoto, Tynker, and MySimpleShow. Since Adobe Spark just became available as an edu tool, I won’t have time to introduce it for this year but will definitely add it next school year.

The introductory class went off without a hitch. Kids were excited about the project and eager to get started drafting their outline. They loved the idea of having a choice to use one of the tools they used this year. I figured with choice, they would choose something they felt comfortable and skilled using and therefore would be more engaged in the project (this is not to say that the previous years’ students using Tynker as their sole option were not engaged- they definitely loved the project, but it was easier for some than others).

So today I had the first group of students ready to get started and I was excited to  hear their choices.

Until I started to hear their choices.

Until many of them said they wanted to use Google Slides.

Not that there is anything wrong with Slides. There is not!

I guess I was just expecting them to go another route. Animoto or My Simple Show. Or Tynker since I know a lot of the students like to code.

And so I asked them why they were making the choice they were. I figured it best to hear their reasoning.

  • No text limits (like in Animoto and My Simple Show)
  • Freedom to be creative with text boxes, shapes, arrows
  • Easy to manipulate
  • Limitless images and creativity

OK. I took some deep breaths. I reminded them that they should choose something that will highlight their creativity and skills and not choose the easy way out. Perhaps I was trying to sway them into making a different selection.

That is where the big moment came for me.

I gave them a CHOICE. They made it. I have to live with it.

I suppose one cannot give a choice unless one is ready to hear the answer.

And, one cannot give a choice hoping to hear an answer.

I still have two more classes to introduce this project and I have two more classes to get myself ready to hear their choices.

I can do this.

 

 

 

In the Know

34604271491_919b678a1c_nLast week during the IMMOOC live session, one of the things discussed was how to keep track of everything that is out there and the pressure some feel to be in the know and keep up. A few quoteables that I tweeted from the conversation are below:

It’s not about adding on and doing more; it is about what we want our kids to learn and how we are going to get there- what conditions we need to set. Season 4, Episode 3 with  via

‘I might not be able to keep up with what’s new, but I will try to keep up with what’s best for Ss’

“We need to support & praise everyone where they are at”

“We need to be innovating out of a desire to find what’s best, not just what is new”

With so much out there, it can be tough to keep up with it all. That is why I tell teachers to find what works for you and these students right now, and go from there. There are many different versions of the same thing that one need not use all of them; choose the one that you and your students like. Now of course, what works this year with this group might not work for next year’s students so we have to keep in mind the needs of the group we have at the moment.

Part of why I like to share the way I do is to help my teaching colleagues who might not have time to sift through all that is out there. I love to find articles, videos, research, tips, and tools. I then read, watch, try, and think about what might be helpful, useful, interesting, and thought-provoking. The rest is what comes next- the weekly, or every-other-weekly share. So without further ado, this week’s share.

This first share is from Matt Miller and it is all about taking annotating to a whole new level. I love the idea of taking articles or pdfs and formatting them within a table so that students can annotate alongside it. The comment option in Google Docs is another way to do this. Check out the highlighting and sticky note add-on options in the post.

Speaking of annotating, Richard Byrne is always sharing great tools and tips and this week is no different. In his Practical Edtech Tip of the Week he shares Tools for annotating videos and images. If you are a teacher who uses videos for teaching, introducing these tools to your students or using them yourself will definitely enhance your teaching and their learning. And, if you are someone who uses Edpuzzle, you are used to adding questions, text, and other information to spots along your video timeline, so using one of these should feel natural.

Next up is a podcast from Modern Learners wherein Dr. David Gleason and Will Richardson discuss The Costs of High Expectations. Adolescence is starting earlier and going later. People have social/academic expectations of the kids who may develop earlier because they look older than they are, but don’t have the mental capacity to meet these expectations yet.  This is just a taste of what was discussed:

Is it our fear of losing our reputation for getting kids into competitive schools what holds us back from doing what we know to be right for kids as far as over-scheduling putting undue stress on them? “Who wants to come to a vanilla school?”

For additional reading on expectations, executive functioning, and the mismatch between developmental readiness and expectations, you can take a look at this linked-in  article, “All Aspects of Students’ Development Varies, Including Executive Functioning Skills”.

Student voice, choice, and empowerment are themes in this round of the Innovator’s Mindset Massive Open Online Course. These interactive learning menus from Shake-Up Learning offer your students (and colleagues if you use these during PD sessions) the opportunity to choose their learning path from various choices on the learning menu choice board. These boards also allow you to differentiate by offering options that speak to different strengths and ways students like to learn and share their learning.

If you would like to read more about the importance of giving students choice, Alfie Kohn’s article, “Choices for Children: Why and How to Let Students Decide” is on point.

Lastly, I have mentioned Pooja Agarwal and retrieval practice as a learning tool a lot recently. That is because of all the science and evidence behind the practice of retrieving that Agarwal shares on her site. This week she shared a quick, no-quiz retrieval strategy called Two Things and it is a fast and easy way to have your students think about what they are learning.

photo credit: wuestenigel What’s new? via photopin (license)

Lucky 7

8187170652_bf6e3c2463_nWe recently became premium users of Screencastify, a screencasting tool that integrates extremely well with the Google suite of products. I love using my Screencastify extension to share instructions, how-tos, and more with my students and colleagues and it saves time for work during class if I am not performing a stand and deliver with the content. The students can proceed with the task at hand and if they need to, can revisit and re-watch the videos as often as helpful. With that being said, here is a list of educational uses of Screencastify that you might want to check out.

I don’t remember how I found this next site but am very glad I did! Curriculum Pathways is research-based technology resources for K-12 educators and students and they are FREE. You can browse the resources by grade, subject, or standard. You also have the ability to filter by discipline, grade level, type of resource: tools and apps, lessons, primary sources, etc.; compatibility to device: PC/Mac, iPad, tablet, iPhone, Chromebook; and 59 categories from Art & Architecture, to Trig, Spanish to Biochemistry, Modern Europeans to American Lit, Grammar to Statistics. There is nothing that is not included here on this robust site. Sign up- it’s FREE!

There is a new update to BookCreator that now allows for collaboration! Students and teachers can create books and get feedback in real time. This is part of their paid plan. With the free plan, one teacher can invite students to create up to 40 books for the class library ranging from portrait to square and landscape and comics in those same sizes. Did I mention that this is also browser-based?!

I have written and shared resources from Robert Kaplinsky before. Today I am sharing his Depth of Knowledge Matrix for Elementary Math.

This past week the Modern Learners webinar was on Learner Agency and asked, “Why do we do what we do, and How can we make learner agency a reality on our classrooms?” These webinars are always thought-provoking and make us take a hard look at our practices. You can listen to the recording here.

George Couros’ blog posts never disappoint and this one is no different. A hint of the gist of it is below.

“the best classroom management is always excellent teaching and learning.”

What would you do for a Klondike Bar? OK, that is not really what I am asking you. What can you do with 5-minutes? If you are like me, then you like to fill free time with something of substance. Be it reading, working out, phoning/texting a friend, tossing in a load of laundry, I like to make every minute count. Well now I have something else to do with that little bit of time. Matt Miller of DitchSummit and DITCH that Textbook now has a podcast! Yes, that’s right. In just about 5 minutes a day 5 days a week you can get great tips, tidbits, and inspiration that you can take right back to your classroom. The first 5 are here and each Tuesday, a recap of the previous podcasts will be right on his blog.

400 Minutes #IMMOOC #EmpowerBook

36540548000_8df1a2051b400 minutes. A typical school day is about 6 hours 40 minutes which translates to 400 minutes that the students are with us. To be honest, I had not given it thought. We are on a 7 day rotation so usually I am caught up in which letter it is barely even thinking about which actual day of the week it is let alone getting to the nitty gritty of thinking about the time. But in one of the opening chapters Empower, by AJ Juliani and John Spencer (one of the books included in #IMMOOC round 4), that is exactly what we are asked.

“What are we doing with all of this time? More importantly, what are our students doing?”

So for me, someone who goes in and out of classrooms working with students and teachers on integrating technology, I don’t have a personal classroom of students. I have multiple classrooms of students with whom I spend between 30-45 minutes once or twice every 7 days. And since I also work cooperatively with our science teacher once a rotation with our 4th and 5th grade students I can add another 90. So what are my students doing with their 60-180 minutes and what could I do differently to make it better for them?

At the beginning of this year, I started with a survey asking my students what kinds of things they like to do and where they see their strengths during our technology time. I like surveys and use them after each project to hear back from the students what worked, what they liked, what they might do differently, and what I could do differently. So for this survey, what I heard from the students was that they like being creative, they like the videos we watch for digital citizenship lesson, they want more choice for projects, and (many– most actually) like coding. So now I am using these results to make changes to our class time. The students have more choice in the type of projects they do to share their learning, they are able to choose the best place for them to work in the classroom, and they have more time to explore on their own and then share back. They are using tools like Flipgrid and Today’sMeet to share their voice so everyone has a chance to be heard. They are working together and at times on their own. They are creating things to teach others. It’s a start.

“Scientific principles and laws do not lie on the surface of nature. They are hidden, and must be wrested from nature by an active and elaborate technique of inquiry. ”

During my time with the science teacher, we are using a constructivist approach when introducing different topics and concepts. For example, when the children started using Little Bits, rather than give them the guide book to how to use them (a recipe for success perhaps but not a recipe for learning), the students work together in teams to figure out what each bit does, which pieces they can connect together to do something different, and then make real world connections. It was great seeing the “aha moment” when a student made the connection between the power bit, the button, and the light bulb bit and the light in their refrigerator that turns on when the door is opened and off when it closes. When the students were making paper circuits, we could have given them a template to follow that would definitely work, but we wanted students to make the connection between the copper wire, the +/- sides of the battery, and the short/long end of the bulb. We wanted them to have time and space to try and fail and try again.

“We only think when confronted with a problem.” ~John Dewey

What else am I doing with the time I have with the kids? I’m trying to give more wait time so as not to value speed and allow for more students to have time to process the question and formulate their response. I am trying to wean the kiddos off of the spoon and encourage them to “figure it out” and then giving them the time to do so.

It is not enough, but with time . . .

photo credit: suzyhazelwood DSC03868-02 via photopin (license)