Great Finds Lead to Great Shares

This week is a multi-tab week for sharing. I have come across so many interesting articles, sites, and tips that I am just going to move from left to right and jump right in!

Heather Lister is “Technically a Librarian” and definitely one to follow. Her latest post, “Make Writing” came out of a conversation she and a fellow colleague had about a recent book they read of the same title. Make Writing proposes combining the creativity and enthusiasm of the maker space with the creativity of the writers workshop. Lister shares eight options that you and your students can start trying now. Options range from stop motion stories to blackout poetry to coding.

Next up is a free download from Education Week’s Spotlight. This Spotlight features several recent articles on the topic of growth mindset. One of the articles, “In Math, Positive Mindset May Prime Students’ Brains” speaks to research on how a positive mindset can make learning math and solving problems come more easily by priming the part of the brain where math memory and recall for math knowledge lives. In another article Carol Dweck offers “6 Tips to Nurture a Growth Mindset” including this: move beyond effort towards strategies for doing something differently to improve effort, “What can I do to help myself?”

I recently learned about something new from PBS Learning Media and that is their Masterpiece Collection which features browsable lesson plans and video clips from Masterpiece  Theater to support writing about and understanding complex literature and texts. Authors include Jane Austen, Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, Anne Frank, and several others.

If you use Google Slides you will love this addition! Audience Q&A is a new feature that becomes an option when you go into presentation mode. If you want to allow your audience to ask questions and give general feedback, you select Q&A, project the link for your audience, then your audience is able to interact with you throughout your talk. Voila!

The final share of the week brings a list of amazing Google add-ons and scripts from Alice Keeler- Google Certified Educator (among many other things) extraordinaire- that will improve your workflow and organization and make you want to jump up and down with excitement because of what you will be able to do. Open the link and scroll on down to Filter Roster to see what I mean.

For a look at other articles and posts I recently had open, you can click here and view my One Tab.

Coming Soon & Here Now!

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#1 EdCamps are grass roots style education un-conferences that began a few years ago with the first being EdCamp Philly which @WendyE40 and I attended. EdCamps are known as “un-conferences” because they are free, often sponsored, attendees are encouraged to present topics of interest, sessions are not pre-planned, rather attendees write  and post their topicCo ideas on notecards on the day of the event, and if you are in a session that does not speak to you, you are encouraged to get up and move on to something else. There is one coming up in Philly on May 14 that Wendy and I again will be attending and you may sign up here. 

#2 While EdCamps are for the adults in the room, there are many schools and teachers who are hosting Student-Led EdCamps which are engaging, empowering, and a host of other “ings” for your students that I believe we could try to do too. You can check out these resources to get  your ideas flowing.

#3 Quizlet is a great for formative assessment, reviewing for a test or quiz, studying material, and learning new vocabulary and concepts, and it has gone live! Now you can turn your Quizlets into a live, team-based quiz show for your class. Students will join the live event from any device, be randomly assigned to teams (which you can reshuffle if need-be), and then the reviewing/learning/formative assessing can happen! Just another in a long line of options for having fun while learning in (and out of) class. For more like this, you can reread this post.

#4 PBS + I-Books is a match made in K-8 teacher heaven. This past Tuesday, PBS announced their most recent addition to their teaching and learning resources and materials- I-Books for K-8 teachers. These interactive I-Books will enhance a variety of curricular areas including beginning Spanish, math, and language arts and will include videos, professional development resources, lesson plans and games. These are available through I-tunes. You can read more about PBS Learning Media from a recent blog post.

#5 Many teachers are using Newsela in their classrooms for current events and election updates, but did you know that Newsela has leveled 18 Famous Speeches in their bank of resources for your classroom including several in Spanish! You can listen to Eleanor Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, Patrick Henry, Frederick Douglas, President Johnson, and President Obama just to name half a dozen. These can be filtered by grade level, standard, or language. Don’t just read about history- listen to it loud and clear! 

photo credit: Reputation Management Tips Businesses Can Handle via photopin (license)

Two Days in Bootcamp: No Sweat

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“We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.” ~Peter Drucker

Today was the second of two days of the Google Educator Certification Boot Camp led by Rich Kiker. If you have ever watched any of Lee LeFever’s in Plain English Commoncraft videos– and I recommend that you do because they are excellent explanations of what can be difficult concepts- you will absolutely think that Rich has been doing voiceovers and using a pseudonym because he sounds just like LeFever. But I digress. Rich made the two days of learning fun and informative and left many of us thinking, “Is there nothing that Google does not or cannot do or has not thought of!”

It is easy to get excited by the tools because Google has made it their business to make our workflow as simple, smooth, and as positive experience as possible.

Here is just a handful of things I learned today:

#1 Copy grades from Google Classroom to Sheets

If you are using Google Classroom and you are assigning points to student work, then you will want to choose the option to Copy All Grades to Google Sheets. Now all assignments, students, and grades are automatically added to a grade book that lives in your Classroom folder. Even better– this grade book can then be imported into tools like Power School and other online grade books that your school may use. Talk about ease of use and making life simpler for teachers, this one is amazing!

#2 Start a Google Hangout right from your calendar

Yes, that’s right. If you create a meeting appointment on your calendar, a link to a hangout is automatically created. If you invite someone outside of your organization, an invitation will be sent along with a link to join the hangout. You can open the event in your calendar and start the hangout when it’s time. Easy as pie.

#3 Senders Remorse or Undo Send an Email

Have you ever clicked send in an email and then realized there was a mistake, or worse- like Gloria in Modern Family you said things in the heat of the moment and wished you could un-send it? Well, now you can- within 30 seconds. In your mail settings you can enable undo send and choose from 10-30 seconds within which you will have that capability. Emails that you recall will automatically be moved to your drafts where you can leave it until you are ready to edit, send, or delete it.

#4 Right Click Your Way to Options

You may have used the right click/command click option in a window, document, or even a cell in Sheets, but have you right clicked on a tab in your Chrome browser? Try it.

#5 Step Onstage with the Orchestra

Have you ever dreamed of performing on stage at Carnegie Hall but you know it will never happen because you are not talented in that way? Google can put you on stage with their 360° experience. Give it a try!

For more on today’s boot camp, and to hear about some really cool tools you can check out my Storify of tweets. Trust me, there are things there you won’t want to miss.

 

photo credit: Tough Mudder Training Week 1 via photopin (license)

There’s Always More to Learn

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“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”
Michel Legrand

This post is all about learning. Many of us can get into a routine of doing things the same way we always have and thinking that we know all there is on or about a particular subject. This is not the case.

Today I spent the day with Rich Kiker for the first of two days of Google Educator Certification Boot Camp and while I thought I knew a lot about Google tools, today proved there is always more to learn.

Example #1 Set an Expiration Date for Shared Items

I thought I knew all about sharing, but I did not know that there is a new feature that allows you to share items for a limited time. Just hover over one of the people with whom you’ve shared something and a little stopwatch icon appears. Just set up the expiration date for the item and you’re good to go!

Example #2 Advanced Search Within Drive

If you are really organized and use proper naming conventions and folders then you probably do not have much of an issue with finding your files. But if you have been using and creating items in your Drive then you may fall into the category of people who can’t remember where they’ve put things or what they called them. Google Drive has a robust search feature which goes beyond just typing some words into the search bar and offers advanced features like searching by owner, file type, date, and more. Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 9.32.56 AM.png

Example #3 Automatically Search and Hyperlink Text Using the Research Pane

While you are working in a document, select a set of words, open the research pane and voila! your words are already in the search bar. Then new features in the results allow you to preview the page, link to it, or cite the result. If you choose to link, the original words in your document are now hyperlinks. Cool!

For more on Day 1 and some really cool tools and tips, you can check out my Storify (which I like to use to collect my notes).

Tree of Knowledge Image from WPClipart

 

 

 

 

First Days of Spring, Time to Share

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“The secret of education lies in respecting the pupil” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is a multi-tab week on my laptop with many articles, tools, and thoughts to share with you.

First out of the gate are two posts on an oft-discussed and debated topic- homework: one from Time titled, “Why Parents Should Stop Making Kids Do Homework”,  in which it talks about the age groups homework actually is shown to benefit and how homework has become the “‘new family dinner'”. The other is from Alice Keeler titled, “Stop Giving Homework”.  Keeler gives many reasons why we as teachers should stop giving homework including kids should have time for other activities, it takes time to grade and go over homework so by not giving it, you are buying back instructional time, and often times there are gaps when some students’ parents are able to help with homework while others are not. She offers many other reasons in this thought-provoking post.

The next is a new digital storytelling tool I recently learned about called while reading about this Earth Day global collaboration opportunity, Buncee Buddies.  EduBuncee is a multi-media, drag-and-drop canvas that combines drawing, animation, slides, video, audio, images, and QR codes into one neat little product. EduBuncee is free to sign up and the paid version offers more options. For the Earth Day project, classrooms will be paired up with Buncee Buddies and all will be given the paid version of EduBuncee for free for the rest of the school year. So why not sign up to share how you celebrate Earth Day in your part of the world and try a new tool at the same time- two great things for the price of none!

We have all been there either with our school children, our personal children, or other’s children- they have just completed something, tried something, accomplished something and we are ready to offer our accolades. What can we say beyond the usual? This article gives us 25 Things to Say Instead of “Good Job”.

This next post is absolutely fantastic. Mrs. Lifshitz, a Fifth Grade teacher, has engaged and empowered her students and altered the way she is teaching writing (and so much more) as you will see when you take a look at Giving Writing Workshop Back to Our Writers: Choose Your Own Mentor Text and a Student-Led EdCamp. The post is lengthy because Mrs. Lifshitz has painstakingly described and documented how she transformed both her thinking about teaching and how it all went down in her class and the result- a Student Wonders site akin to their inspiration, Wonderopolis. It is a worthwhile and mindset-shifting read.

Finally, many of you– hundreds of thousands of you- participate each year in the Global Read Aloud. Well, it is time again to sign up for GRA2016! Don’t be confused by the header when you land at the site as it still shows the 2015 book pics. Scroll down to the form which has been updated for this next school year. If you have been part of it, you know what an amazing experience it is for your students; if you have not, take the leap!

More Than Just Music to Their Ears

5146079703_24f8fea201_m“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”
Rudyard Kipling, The Collected Works

I read a fantastic post about how teachers are using Hamilton the Musical in their history classes and it made me think about how I learned. My mother would say she taught me everything I know while singing to me in the bathtub and during potty training. While I may beg to differ on ‘everything’, I do believe that I learned a lot through music: the ABCs, how to spell my full name, the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence. Ok, the last was not while in the bath, but it was learned on Saturday mornings when Schoolhouse Rock came on in between cartoons.

There are many ways to use music to help boost memory so I thought I would share some sites you can use in your class to help improve your student’s memory for facts, concepts, and details. You can read here and here for more about tips on how to engage your students and improve memory.

  1. Teaching the American Revolution and Founding Fathers? Here is Hamilton, the Musical soundtrack on YouTube
  2. Teaching grammar, history, math? The complete Schoolhouse Rock on YouTube
  3. Flocabulary has a great channel with videos for digital citizenship, Social Studies, English, Math, and more
  4. History for Music Lovers has 53 videos on many historical topics and figures
  5. Harry Kindergarten Music is for the K-2 crowd

There are so many more to find, but why not have your students create songs to help themselves and others learn the way our 4th graders did?!

photo credit: Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds via photopin (license)

How Things Catch On: Marketing Your Lesson’s Message

4281814950_7feffddb9d_mI took a great course from Wharton through my favorite online learning site- Coursera. The course was called, “Contagious: How Things Catch On” (currently called “Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content”) and I loved learning something new. However, while it is a marketing course, I think it has applications in education, especially for teachers who are trying to teach lessons and concepts- which is all of us!

One of the questions Professor Berger posed in the course is Why do some messages stick and others don’t? As teachers we can edit this to read, Why do some lessons, topic, concepts stick while others don’t?

There are six principles of “stickiness” that make up the acronym SUCCESs:

1.Simple– “Less is more”

We can apply this idea to our lessons. What is the one idea (maybe two or three max) that you want your students to walk away with today? Use analogies to help relate or compare the idea or concept to something your students already know and understand. Find the core then pull your students in, leave them wanting more tomorrow. Simple opens up a “curiosity gap”.

2. Unexpected– Novel or surprising

We need to make our messages novel or surprising. We need to hold our students’ attention so that they want to find out what happens. If they think they already know what is going to happen, their minds may wander. Add something unexpected to keep their attention and interest. “This is not about doing something crazy, it is about violating expectations.” (Berger, Week 1)

A few years ago we had Judy Willis -educator and neurologist come to speak about brain-based teaching and learning techniques. The principle of making our messages novel, unexpected, or surprising is a brain-based methodology. Information and stimuli need to be selected and accepted by the Reticular Activating System. To get through the RAS, information must be novel, changed or different. If information is not selected by our RAS, it will not reach consciousness and not be retained. To sustain the attention we can use Discrepant Events. D.E. are novel or unexpected so the RAS will let them in; they’re predictive because you already are thinking one way then you throw in a discrepant event and people are curious.

“Once you have their attention, you empower your students to become engaged in their learning process. Using wonder (discrepant events), humor, movement, change, advertising, and provoking curiosity capture students’ attention. They will be ready to focus on the sensory input (information) in the lesson . . . ” Judy Willis

3. Concrete– “Show, don’t tell”

As teachers we can apply this principle of concreteness to our practice. We can use vivid language & images that help students imagine/visualize/see the message we are trying to make stick. The question we should keep in mind is, Can you see it?

4. Credible– Use statistics and information in a WOW way

Just like we can use analogy to help students understand new concepts by comparing them to things they already know and understand, we can share statistical information with our students in comparison to things they already know. For example, we can make a numerical analogy to give large numbers a context, California is larger than the 12 states that make up New England and the Middle States or 20 of Rhode Island (source).

5. Emotional “How can we get people to care about what we are saying?” (Berger Week 1)

The principle of using emotions to help messages stick incorporates concreteness as well. Concrete ideas generate more emotion. The more something pulls us in, the more likely we are to remember it. The more we are able to evoke emotions in our students with the concept or idea we are teaching, the more likely the students will care about and remember what we are saying. So we can do this in many ways. In social studies and history, we can utilize personal accounts, reenactments, experiential learning, and historical fiction  so that we can pull our students into that time in history. If we think about the emotion we want our students to feel then we can design the lesson’s message to evoke that emotion and make the message of the lesson stick.

6. Stories

It is much more interesting to listen a story than to just a list of facts and figures. It also helps with memory because stories often trigger emotions, allow the listener to create images in their head, and make connections to things they already know. Additionally, “stories are easy to retell.” (Fahey)

For some highlights from the course, you can check out my Storify.

How will you use SUCCESs to make your content stick?

photo credit: beautiful bun (Shannon 139/365) via photopin (license)