Rest on Your Laurels with Tynker

laurel-wreath-297040_640As part of the Fifth grade Laurels, the students used Tynker, a block-based programming platform, to show evidence of learning about each of five ancient civilizations: Sumer/Mesopotamia, Egypt, Maya, China, Greece. This was a multi-level process as it involved first the gathering of the facts in a skeletal outline, finding and saving images to illustrate these facts, uploading these images to Tynker, then writing the code for each “actor” including the “Stage”. The students worked for approximately three class periods on their outline, basically scripting their story. Each civilization represents a scene in Tynker, and each artifact from the different civilizations will become the actors. We likened this to writing a screenplay and the students were the authors and directors. Once the outlines were written the students used Pixabay, WpClipart, Pics4Learning, or Wikimedia Commons to find images that are in the public domain. Occasionally they could not find what they were looking for so they used an advanced search on Google for images labeled for reuse. Some students chose to find and gather all their images for all the scenes prior to getting started in Tynker, others chose to do this one scene at a time and then gather for the next. Writing the code in Tynker was painstaking. The students wrote hundreds of lines of code for their story to run, many without any actions on behalf of the viewer. They encountered “bugs” (problems with how their story ran) and had to go through the lines of code to find the problem. They used creativity, perseverance, persistence, problem-solving, logical thinking, and digital citizenship skills throughout the process all while leaving their legacy and effectively using technology. Please enjoy. More to come as they are completed.

Tynkers by 5K

Tynkers by 5S

Image from Pixabay

Get Your Learning On

All genuine learning comes through experience. ~John Dewey

I hope you are having a lovely day! I have been collecting some things to share with you that I think you will find useful, informative, and thought-provoking. I’m keeping it short today . . .

I have shared in the past about great current events sites to use with your students. This week I learned that Newsela announced “Text Sets” which are articles grouped by subject. You can create your own text sets, or use or remix other teachers’ sets. Here is the article and here is the link to current text sets.

For more sites to use with your social studies and history classes, check this out– resources for teaching current events.

You may have heard the phrase, “the sage on the stage,” well writers of anything- including tweets, texts, Facebook posts, and of course emails and docs- this one is for you! Grammarly is your grammar guide on the side!

Here is a great opportunity from Coursera to learn about Web 2.0 Tools and put them into use in your classroom.

Who says young students can’t reach an authentic audience and do something with their writing?! This article about a fellow Twitterer’s 9-year-old daughter and her food blog will show you that your students can write with a purpose and for an authentic audience reaching far beyond the classroom with their writing!

Summer is coming which means you will have time to rethink your classroom space and do some garage sale shopping to make your space “more like a nice restaurant” (said a student in this teacher’s classroom) and open and inviting to more collaboration and group work.

With summer coming, you’ll have time to get your learning on. PBS teacher line has some excellent professional development opportunities that include both self-paced and instructor-facilitated grad credit courses. They range from 1.5 hours and $49 to $335 and there are numerous options that I think are worth the look.

Have you thought about how you might like to help your students become more creative? Wednesday afternoon there was a great webinar (1 hour long but even if you listen to the first 28 minutes, that would be enough-dayenu) from @edtechteacher and the topic was How to Unleash Your Student’s Creativity so they can tell the story of their learning. I watched the recording because I was unable to attend it live,  and I highly recommend viewing and trying some of the ideas. A big takeaway- if everyone’s products look the same, it’s a recipe, not creativity. We must create the space for student choice and voice.

I will leave you with this visual on the impact of technology use in the classroom. Food for thought.

Science, Google, Growth Mindset and More

“The most important attitude that can be formed is that of desire to go on learning.” ― John DeweyExperience and Education

In honor of Earth Day and because I am a huge fan of Zaption, here is a Zaption tour on the Super Powers of Trees. Share with your students as a whole class and use the questions as discussion prompts, or share via your Edmodo class page and have your kids take a look tonight for some Earth Day fun. Be sure to browse all the Tours available for your use or remixing!

If you are someone who loves Science, teaches Science, wants to learn more about how memory works, or are just a Physics buff, you will enjoy this post 15 Science YouTube channels Kids Love. These channels explain science, they are not just how tos.

New features are coming all the time to Google Classroom, and today I learned about a few more. Now teachers can invite other teachers to be part of their classroom (think student teachers, co-teachers, etc) making sharing what’s going on and multiple teachers assigning work (or knowing what work your students have from other teachers) that much easier. The next is the ability to create an assignment and save it as a draft to post later. If you have other ideas, Google is happy to listen so think about what you would need from Google Classroom and let them know.

While we are almost at the end of April, it is still poetry month and so I thought I would pass this along to you. More likely something you might be interested in for yourself, or if you are a high school English teacher you might want to share with your students. This is the Library of Congress’  Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature where you can hear authors like Margaret Atwood and Ray Bradbury reading some of their poetry and giving commentary along the way. For more poet interviews (including spotlights on Hispanic writers, African writers, and more) both recorded and written, see here.

Some of you have started using Thinglink with your students as a way for them to share information about a topic. Richard Byrne shares how you can use your Thinglink classroom account and the Remix feature (where you take a Thing that’s already been made and remix it your way so you are not starting from scratch) to create review lessons for your students. This post is specifically about using it for map review, but I can see it easily being used for other purposes around your curriculum (Science you can have an image the students need to label, English they can answer Qs about a novel, etc).

We talk regularly about formative assessments, but have you thought about having your students use photos, screenshots, screencasts, and videos to find out what your students learned or found interesting today? Take a look at this article from Edutopia to see how your students can share artifacts of learning using digital media.

This next post by The Nerdy Teacher is about The next best thing to being there. The Nerdy Teacher, aka Nicholas Provenzano, is a 9th grade English teacher. He was going to be out of class at a conference for a few days but wanted his students to go on in class as if he was still there. He created some screencast of himself reading 4 different Emily Dickinson poems that he then wanted students to discuss. Since he was not going to be in class, he had the students do a “Silent Discussion” using their Google Classroom stream as their platform. You can read about it here. What he saw was how much discussion and interaction happened around these poems both during classtime and after it ended. It went so much better than he thought that he wondered if he holds his students back during discussions by being too involved himself. So, if you are going to be out of school for a day or two, why not be there virtually instead! For more ways to have class discussions where everyone gets a chance to speak up, not just the ones raising their hands, try Todays Meet, or if your classroom is on Twitter, use a hashtag to have a class chat.

I have shared several articles and posts on Fixed v Growth Mindset and today I am sharing one more. This one however, is a lesson plan developed in partnership with Khan Academy and it can be used over a few days with your students. It incorporates videos, discussions, and hands-on activities that help your students see that they can make a difference in their own learning, understanding and intelligence. I think this would be a great set of mini lessons to do with your students as you approach the end of the school year because it can be used in part as a reflection of their learning while they share information with future students of your classroom.

Spring in the courtyard

Spring in the courtyard

This past Thursday was a beautiful Spring day and I had lots of great things to share!

This first is an amazing opportunity for your classroom to connect with Jane Goodall on Monday, April 20 from 1-2PM. This is something you won’t want to miss (especially if you are in our third grade and reading biographies!) You can submit questions ahead of time using this link; she will also answer ones asked during the webinar. The webinar will take place from 1:00 – 2:00pm ET, on Monday, April 20, 2015. For more information and to register, please visit: http://bit.ly/1y5wZaD

Thinking about adding blended learning (teaching using multiple formats some of which happen out of the classroom) to your classroom? Last month I shared Edynco which is a great way to incorporate blended learning using learning maps (they look like graphic organizers and move like a Prezi). This week I read this blog post from one of the co-founders of Edynco. In it, she shares how to go about curating the content and creating the maps. By the way, this is not just an approach for middle or upper school teachers, it can actually work in an elementary classroom too by scaling it down, having students move through the modules in the classroom, and then having them do various activities based on the learning.

I love this next short post by Silvia Tolisano. It’s titled, Used Effectively or Simply Used? And it’s based off a presentation of the same name by Beth Holland (@rbholland) that she gave at the ASCD15 conference. Silvia shared the presentation slide deck as well as the questions Beth posed in her presentation (all with respect to the use of technology): are children engaged, are they sharing their learning, are they creating evidence of their own knowledge, and more. These questions should make us all think about our own use of technology in the classroom and how if it is used effectively, our students should be leaving a legacy of learning as well as doing things they otherwise could not. In the slide deck (which by the way is an embedded Google slides presentation) Beth shares examples from classrooms that I think are pretty great. This is a video of a student sharing her thinking and understanding about a piece of writing that she then turned into a blackout poem (see here and here for explanation). There are other videos embedded in the presentation that are worth the time to watch. 

Though this next link is for our Science and Engineering teachers, I think it deserves to be shared with all of you just so you can see how vast the resources and ideas are that are out there for everyone and you don’t even have to look that far. Not to mention, it’s from PBS Learning Media which means that if you hit the “browse by options button” you will likely find something for your classroom or subject (and I mean all subjects including the arts, world languages, physical education and health! Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Engineering Design Through Media has a myriad of activities, resources, and lessons for K-12 teachers that all share ways of bringing the engineering and design curriculum to life for your students. 

I love a good wthese examplesord wall and (which seem familiar to me so it’s possible I’ve sent this before) are amazing. I particularly like the synonym wall which is great for your writers and going beyond “nice” and I love the science one.

You all know how much I love my Google, well here are 14 Google search tricks that you might not know about. My favorites are the Karaoke, reverse image, and recipe (type in the food to the search, use Search Tools, then choose by ingredient, calories, cooking time). Which ones are yours??

This just in! Let your students create StopMotion Animations right from their browser (I.e Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc) with Parapara. Open the site, click the color crayon of your choice, and start drawing. The great thing about it is the previous part of the drawing is grayed out on the next slide so your students will know where to add. Now your kids can be like Harold and the Purple Crayon, only they will be drawing separate images that when put together will become animated. Here is one that I madeThis is VERY cool!

Last one of the week. How many of you have things in your classroom that you regularly lend out to students (or other teachers)? Well, Google has a new add-on called Check It Out. Here is a post by Richard Byrne and here is a link to a screencast showing you how to set one up for your classroom.

For more great articles, videos, and links, please visit the Shipley PLN Lower School Edition.

Something for everyone: #Reading, #Writing, #Grammar, #History & #Music

I have just perused this week’s Shipley PLN Lower School Edition and found some excellent articles, videos, and posts for you. 

In no particular order, here you are:

Teach With Movies (now free) is a site that allows you to do what it says, teach with movies and accompanying lesson plans. There are movies for all topics and subjects as well as all ages from 3 to college level. This happens to link to movies that teach US History- the Colonial Period. You can view whole movies, snippets, clips, and short subjects. This is COOL!

This next is exciting news for all of our lower school teaches who are going to be having our laptops refreshed this summer! It might not mean anything to you now, but this is one you will want to put in your back pocket because it involves AIRDROP! Let me put it this way, sharing amongst friends (or anyone in the room really with an IOS device- and I mean laptops, iPhones, and iPads) just got a whole lot easier.

Speaking of iPads, here are 5 Great Writing Apps!

Reading and Writing go hand in hand- to become a better writer, write more and read more; to become a better reader, read more and write more. At least this is what Lucy Calkins and Reggie Routman espoused in the 90s. Now I have not pulled this from nowhere, this post by EdTech Teacher speaks to the relationship between reading and writing and what sounds like an amazing app to help children become better at both. How, you ask! Read on to learn about Write Reader. Imagine your students typing and the app SAYS EACH LETTER SOUND AS YOUR CHILD TYPES! Now also imagine that there is a space below for you to write the words correctly a la language experience. Yep, it seems that good!

FREE posters, charts, and lesson plans for writing and grammar! Enough said.

Planet Nutshell is a video site for teachers and students. Now they have added videos for PreK too! Read about it here from Free Tech 4 Teachers. For more educational video sites, visit my livebinder!

You have heard of teachers teaching teachers, this is students teaching students and that is why I love this next one- Learning Walls. Why I love it is because it leverages the knowledge in the room because everyone knows something that someone else might need help with. Each one teach one!

Anxiety is a word we all know and have maybe even experienced at times, and this sketch artist explains it perfectly using pictures and some very good analogies. Something we can all learn from.

Our very own 3R was featured in the paper.li today!! Check out their Aquatic Animal Research Google Slides presentations. I promise you will be impressed by their bullet points, pics, and overall research presentation!

One of the skills students need to have for modern learning is critical thinking- the ability to question, analyze, and make judgments. This site The Historical Thinking Project aims to help teachers create lessons that will engage their students in critical thinking with regards to history and how what they are learning about is relevant today. After browsing through the site, one of the things I like are the different historical thinking concept templates that you can use with your students because they ask your students to take different perspectives, give evidence, and think about history with a critical eye. While this site is based in Canada, the templates are for everyone.

Music lovers and teachers, Stringquest is for you! It brings musical enjoyment, learning, history, and knowledge to students and lovers of music of all ages in a fun, game-based way. Resources, curriculum and more. Seriously, there is so much here that I think you will love it.

For word cloud lovers, this is for you. I happen to enjoy a good word cloud, but did you know that word clouds are a great way to find themes in writing, speeches, poems, and more? Read on for 5 Ways to use word clouds in your classroom.

Last is the relationship between Questions and Answers, aka QAR. This post from Reading Rockets speaks to why, how, when to use the QAR approach (you can use it in math for word problems!) and also gives some great examples of books you can use to teach the different response strategies (Right there questions, think and search, author and you, and on my own). 

I hope you find even one of these useful or interesting; if you do, feel free to drop me a line!

Spring Forward!

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Hello Friends!

This is our spring break edition of the weekly/bi-monthly pd shares.

First up is something I learned about through a new Twitter follower and it is pretty cool! It is called Edynco and it is a teaching and learning tool that I think you will like. Think of it as if Prezi and Inspiration had a baby this would be it. It has the look and design of a graphic organizer, but the movement and paths of a Prezi. What it does it it allows you to create learning maps for your students and include text, images, video, audio, links and more right in the design. You create it and set the not-necessarily linear order and then share it with your students so they can use it to enhance their understanding. Great for blended learning, flipped classrooms, or as study guides- this tool will definitely make a difference in your classroom. Check out this learning map on Designing (learning) according to cognitive theory of multimedia learning (and if you read my Wow from about a month ago, the information should sound familiar as I included a video about the same topic).

For iPad teachers, take a look at what this teacher has created for her students during her daily 5 center time— a QR code Reading Box for read alouds. I love that this allows students to work independently and have choice in what they are doing.

This next one is really the motherlode. Richard Byrne, aka Free Tech 4 Teachers has been busily creating tutorials on just about everything and he has just reached number 80. His Practical Ed Tech Tips is a youtube playlist where you can view these tutorials from the comfort of your own choosing, most of which are under 4 minutes. He also has 40 Google tutorials that are well worth your perusal. So, you can’t beat professional development that you can do on your own time in less than the time it takes you to drive to work and less money than that cup of coffee from your favorite coffee place. 

PreK-3 teachers, tutors, and parents this one is for you! Sight Words is a site with printable flash cards for you to use. They are divided by grade, by word list type (Dolch, Fry), quarter page, half page, blanks, customizable (you can add your OWN list here)- pretty much everything you need to make, download, and print these for your classroom or home. For my teachers of older students- say upper elementary through high school- you might want to make a free account in Flashcard Stash and share cards with your classes and students. They have lists on just about every topic imaginable including Spanish and French and they include options for seeing the words in a sentence, getting synonyms, and audio. Pretty nice! Other flashcard sites I like and use at home are Quizlet and Studystack. Both are free, Have pre-made lists on many, many topics, allow you to create your own lists, learn your words then play games. Studystack offers more types of games for learning your words, offers option to print, share, embed, but Quizlet allows you to make a classroom account and share words with your students, and offers the ability to embed the stack on your site. To be honest, try them both and see which you like.

Lastly, you know how much I love all things Google and this one is no exception. It combines your love of tabs with art. Really. I learned about this from a post on the FreeTech4Teachers blog and after some additional browsing, I became fascinated. The Google Art Project share beautiful collections and exhibits from all over the world in an effort to bring art to everyone. You can browse the hundreds of collections, or you can create your own gallery by dragging pieces you like together and then sharing the gallery with your students, friends, or whomever. Well Google Art Project has a Chrome extension which when you open a new tab, you will see a new piece of art. The collection is changed everyday, or you can change your settings to see a new one with each new tab you open. Imagine your students (or you) opening a new tab, seeing a piece of art that inspires them to learn more about the artist, the period, the style, or the subject. Now that is incidental learning!

photo credit: pidgin point lighthouse 1 via photopin (license)

“‘Assessments that Don’t Suck'” the Art of Color and Twitter

I know many of you have thought about using Twitter with your classroom and now Twitter  has come up with a way to make multiple users able to tweet from a single account (your class account) without the need to share your password. Now you have to be tweeting from Tweetdeck, which is a platform that allows you to create columns so you can see the twitter searches that you are interested in without having to do a separate search each time (ex. You could have a column for #edchat a column for #4thchat –or whichever grade you follow- a column for your notifications), which is not a big deal at all. Just think how great it would be if your class was tweeting about their learning, sharing the excitement, sharing the innovations, and learning from other classrooms. This might also be a great way for a team of teachers (think grade level or department) to tweet about what they are doing.

This next is absolutely the best thing of the week hands down. The title is “Assessments that Don’t Suck” and the teacher, Paul Bogush, offers 24 different ways to creatively assess your students, rather, they are 24 ways your students can creatively show and share their learning. One of my favorites, is the Notecard Confessions idea. In this he gives a day-by-day account of how he introduces the lesson and then step by step how to do this with your class. It puts your students right into the character, whether historical or fictional, and clearly shows evidence of their deep understanding of the material. Now you really must take a look at all of the 24 ideas as each one offers different ways for your students to show what they know. Some are tech based, others are not (like the Footsteps idea, or the  “I’m Breaking Up With You” letter- aka the Declaration of Independence lesson- which I love). Imagine trying different ones as a class, then allowing your students choose the one they want to do for an assignment later in the year. Now that would be empowering and engaging! I am serious when I tell you how excited I was to see this on Twitter today and I would love to help you implement these assessments with your class.

OK, I thought the last was the best of the week, but I think my art friends will beg to differ once they see this learning series from PBS Learning Media. This is the sixth of an installment on Elements of Art, this on Color where you can share short videos and hear from artists discussing the various elements of art. The rest of the art school series includes videos on space, form, shape, texture, as well as videos on hip hop, printmaking, crocheting, and more- all areas of the art world. These say they are for grades 6-13, but I do think that with guidance and facilitation from you, our upper elementary students can enjoy learning from these artists.

For those of you who would like to see what else there is this week, then please visit today’s Shipley PLN Lower School Edition.