Happy Holidays: #DITCHSUMMIT 2017

 

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Image from Pixabay

Folks, an AMAZING learning opportunity is coming your way in JUST 4 DAYS! Yes, starting this Friday, December 15, the @jmattmiller will be bringing together a host of fantastic educators and thought leaders for OUR benefit in what is called, #DITCHSUMMIT.

Each day for 9 days you will receive a link to the daily video. The speaker presentations will range from 30-60 minutes and will be available until the clock strikes midnight on December 31. After that time, they will *disappear*, much like Cinderella’s magic pumpkin.

Here is the list of speakers.

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If you do not know, DITCH is an acronym that stands for:

Different

Innovative

Tech-laden

Creative

Hands-on

I participated in this last year and LOVED it. You can read my posts on it here and here.

*If you made it to this point in the post, then you can view all the #DITCHSUMMIT presentations from last year right HERE!

 

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What’s New This Week

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Image from Pixabay

I read a great post from A.J. Juliani on Medium today titled, “The Three-Step System for Getting Students to Do the Talking”. We have all been there at least once- standing (or sitting) in your classroom with students ready to have a great discussion and the only one doing the discussing is you and maybe a couple students. Juliani makes a great point when he writes,

In order to get my students to take ownership in their learning, we started where they were at, instead of where I wanted them to be.

Of course we all would like our students to be able to lead and have a discussion on their own with minimal direction from us, but that takes time and practice. Juliani’s post offers three steps to get you going. I personally love the idea of The Discussion Game and plan on trying it out.

For more ways to get your students having great discussions, you can scroll to Let’s Discuss in this post.

This just in! While on Twitter, I saw this: Chat Stations. Of course I had to edit my post to include this additional way to get your students engaged in discussions.

Next up are two things I learned about from November’s Google for Education’s newsletter (yes, it is December, but I hang on to things until I can sit and really read them).

First is the ability to make diagrams in Quizlet. This takes the flashcard quizzing/studying site to a whole new level for you and your students. You may recall I have written about Quizlet here.

Second is a really cool science journal app from Making & Science initiative from Google. Using the light and sound sensors and the accelerometer on their iPhone, iPad, or Chromebook science students and teachers will be able to explore scientific phenomena all around them and record right into their journal. The Exploratorium has numerous activities to get you started. The science journal will offer you a whole new way of looking, listening, and moving through the world around you.

 

“Don’t Know Much About History . . . “

36404305214_75847ae915_n. . . but you will if you follow these links!

Recently I have been working with a colleague who teaches history in middle school. She is starting to teach a new unit on Civics and she and I have been sitting together to make some interactive, blended lessons. We have had a great time working on these lessons and are in the process of starting our third set of Civics HyperDocs that incorporate videos, readings from icivics, and check-ins using edpuzzle and Google docs.

While searching around, I came upon a treasure trove of resources that will make any history or social studies teacher swoon.

First is the Civics Renewal Network with resources for teachers from K-12 that you can filter by resource type, subject, issue, grade, Constitutional Amendment, and teaching method- yes, you can filter by individual, whole class, project-based, and more!

Next is the Annenberg Classroom that has everything you could possibly need to teach civics and the Constitution including games, timelines, lesson plans, links to other civics sites for teachers, discussion guides, today in history, and current events.

I happened upon the next site (60-second civics- see below) while browsing this Foundations and Formations of Government HyperDoc which I found from this link in the April 2017 section of this collection of Social Studies resources that Eric Curts has crowd-sourced and updates monthly. If his name sounds familiar, you may recall I shared some of his other resources here.

60-Second Civics is a daily one-minute podcast on topics related to civics, our government, and issues around the Constitution. 60-Second Civics is housed on the Center for Civic Education website. Here you will find lesson plans for K-12 like this middle school lesson, Why do we need authority?  as well as lessons on Voting, Women’s History, early Presidents, the Constitution, and much more.

The next place happens to be right in our backyard which is lucky for us who live in or near Philly. The Constitution Center happens to also have numerous resources on their site including interactive games, crafts, historical documents, lesson plans, and a host of other amazing resources like these videos.

Common Sense Media has this list of 13 Best Websites and Games for US History and Civics that includes links to PBS Learning Media (you know I love this site!), History Pin, Mission US (my third grade students play the immigration game during their Ellis Island unit) and 10 others for you and your students.

Teaching History has teaching materials for elementary through high school as well as quizzes, links to national resources, an Ask an Historian section, searchable multi-media that includes dramatic readings, podcasts, walking tours, and yada, yada, yada– you’ll have to visit to see the rest!

Happy learning!

photo credit: vandentroost old books via photopin (license)

Highlights from The Innovator’s Mindset Chapters 6 & 7 #IMMOOC

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We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience. ~John Dewey

This week I am sharing my highlights from the chapters 6 & 7 of The Innovator’s Mindset. These chapters focused on learning, particularly engagement vs. empowerment and solidifying learning through reflecting.

Some things resonated for me, specifically the quote from Bill Ferriter about empowerment, and the pages in which Couros juxtaposed School vs. Learning.

At first thought, engagement is something I believe we as teachers look for in our students- we want them to be engaged in the content, engaged in our class, actively doing; engagement is a good thing, right? Reflecting on Ferriter’s quote though, makes engagement more something we are doing to our students to get them to want to learn what we have to teach them. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but as Couros said, something we as teachers should keep in mind when our students are with us. Perhaps we can have both. Perhaps our students can be engaged and empowered at the same time- they can engage with our content and be empowered with choice to use their strengths and passions to share their learning, pursue their questions, and learn more.

I’ll leave you with these highlights.

Chapter 6

  • It is imperative that we teach learners how to be self-directed and guide their own learning, rather than rely on others to simply engage them
  • “Engaging students means getting kids excited about our content, interests, and curricula.” Empowering students “means giving kids the knowledge and skills to pursue their passions, interests, and future.” ~Bill Ferriter
  • If you had to choose between compliant, engaged, or empowered, which word would you want to define your students?
  • “Freedom is actually a bigger game than power. Power is about what you can control. Freedom is about what you can unleash.” ~Harriet Rubin
  • Our job as educators and leaders is not to control others but to bring out the best in them.
  • We need to create the same opportunities for our students as those we would want for ourselves.
  • Innovation cannot be relegated to a one-off event.
  • The shift in our thinking must focus on what learning truly can be, not what is has been.
  • School is scheduled at certain times. Learning can happen any time, all of the time.
  • School is standardized. Learning is personal.
  • School often isolates. Learning is often social.
  • School promotes developing your own questions and finding answers.
  • Thinking you already know the answer can keep you from exploring new options.

Chapter 7

  • Before we decide how best to communicate our vision, we have to establish one; we have to articulate the desired characteristics of our learners and the optimal learning environment.
  • The people who help set the vision and mission are most likely to embrace it.
  • If we want innovative students, we need to be innovative leaders and educators. If we want to create a culture of innovation  we must first focus on furthering our own learning and growth.
  • Providing choice allows students to build on strengths and interests to make learning relevant and fulfilling.
  • DEAR time should be an opportunity not only for reading, but to also “Drop Everything And Reflect.”
  • It is important that “innovation” does not become an event for our students but the norm.
  • Let’s start asking kids to find problems and give them a sense of purpose in solving something authentic.
  • Teaching students how to assess themselves, rather than just do it for them, provides another opportunity for reflection.
  • Portfolios are a great way for learners to share their knowledge and document the learning process.
  • Looking back helps students develop their own understanding of where they have been, where they are, and where they are going.
  • What if we recognized and built on learners’ strengths?
  • Dreaming is important, but until we create the conditions where innovation in education flourishes, those dreams will not become reality.

Just Keep Reading

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So many books, so little time. ~Frank Zappa

The last couple weeks have been busy! I like reading on my Kindle and often get my books using Overdrive which I have mentioned before. When I borrow from Overdrive, I get 21 days to read and complete my book before it “expires” and is no longer available as part of my Kindle content. I can put books on hold using Overdrive and then when they become available, they are automatically loaned out to me. Yay! So I have found, as long as I do not go to my home screen on my Kindle, I can keep reading a book even after it expires. Herein lies my problem: if I am in the middle or nearly finished with a book and it has expired, I have to finish it before I can read my new content. So this past week I was hurriedly finishing Building School 2.0: How to Create the Schools We Need by Chris Lehmann (highly recommend- I did a lot of tweeting about this as I was reading) so that I could start The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros for the #IMMOOC (you can read my first post about that here) AND When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (this book came and went from my Kindle library via Overdrive during the summer when I was trying to finish The Signature of All Things (yep- it had expired, or at least I thought it had- and so I could not visit my home page for fear of losing the book and I had come so far) so I had to get that started before I lost it again.

Anyway, to make a long story short (which it seems like I did not do at all), I have not shared anything recently and that is because I was busy reading.

So here I am and there are a few things to share. Don’t be fooled by the brevity as there is a lot packed into the few.

First is another really thoughtful, practical article on changing  students’ math mindsets from KQED MindShift titled, “How Showing and Telling Kids ‘I Believe in You’ Can Empower Them at School”. The article is an excerpt from Jo Boaler’s book ,Mathematical Mindsets: Unleashing Students’ Potential Through Creative Math, Inspiring Messages and Innovative Teaching. I wish everyone would read these articles (or get the book) because they include ways of thinking about and speaking to your students that can make an impactful difference in their attitude and achievement. Two quotes stood out for me:

“If students are placed into ability groups, even if they have innocuous names such as the red and blue groups, students will know, and their mindsets will become more fixed. ”

and

“’I am giving you this feedback because I believe in you.’”

Next and last, but certainly not least, is this gem of a find from Control Alt Achieve that will keep you busy learning and doing for quite a while. 23 GSuite Ideas to Excite Your Students About Learning with Eric Curts. This is a podcast by Vicki Davis where Curts of Control Alt Achieve shares different ways you can use the Google Suite of apps with your students including: “Choose your own adventure stories”, blackout poetry, tangram shape drawings, and more. You can listen to the podcast here.  Davis links to all resources but I have included  the Slides resources here, the Drawings resources here, the Docs resources here, and the Sheets resources here. Open when you have time to appreciate- there is A LOT to see!

Math Mindset

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Success in math does not depend on how many answers you know, but by what you do when you don’t know the answer.

~ author unknown

This week’s focus is on math. It just so happened that the tabs and things that I clicked on all happened to have that common denominator (pun intended!). Get ready- lots of great resources within . . .

It all started with this guest post by John Stevens on Matt Miller’s blog titled, “How to Assign Challenges Instead of Math Homework”. Intrigued? Of course I was and so I opened it right up and found several links to sites like this that go beyond computation towards more conversations about math. Curious? Then click.

I’m sure at one time or another whether in your classroom or even your own home, you have heard a child say,”I’m bad at math.” In this article, Sheila Tobias, Carol Dweck and others discuss how to respond when one of your children says this.

Of course what would be a post of mine without some mention of Alice Keeler. In this article from MindShift KQED News (if you don’t follow them, you should), you’ll see how Jo Boaler has influenced Keeler and how Keeler uses the GSuite tools to enhance math exploration and understanding.

much of traditional math teaching focuses on numerical representations, teachers demonstrating procedures, and memorization, when it would be more effective to try to strengthen connections between the various parts of the brain needed when working on math. ~Jo Boaler

You can see Jo Boaler’s Cue17 keynote, and learn about her site, Youcubed (from my Happy end of school year post). 

While looking for a great quote to share, I stumbled upon this post of Carol Dweck quotes that I think would be great to either print out and hang in your class or read at the start of each day. One of my colleagues (Carole K) has printed different motivational quotes and applied them at each of her students’ tabletops as a subtle reminder to her fifth grade students.

For more fantastic articles and resources, please visit this week’s Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition where you will see posts like this one: “Neverending Problems: Math Tasks That Keep on Giving” ; this one, “How a Strengths-Based Approach to Math Redefines Who is ‘Smart'”; and this one, “Kahoot! Debuts Studio of Curriculum-Aligned Games for K-12″ including a math collection!

photo credit: dullhunk Who needs Pythagoras’ theorem? via photopin (license)

Back to School with a Growth Mindset

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“There is a difference between not knowing and not knowing YET” ~Sheila Tobias

Welcome back to what I hope will be a positive school year for everyone. I have collected some posts that I think will help you make this year of learning in your classroom memorable for you and your students.

First off is a post from esteemed educator, George Couros titled, 5 Questions to Ask Your Students to Start the School Year, one of them being, “What are your strengths and how can we utilize them?” In his post he emphasizes how the impact our experiences with our students helps shape their thoughts and reflections and memories of school. Coming off our school’s recent Positive Psychology/Positive Education retreat, we know that positive psychology is about recognizing that “Other People Matter” and if we keep this at the forefront of our mind, we can hope to positively shape and influence our students’ experiences for the better. This involves how we listen to, respond, speak to, and engage with our students. To see the rest of the questions Couros suggests, click here.

The next is from Khan Academy and it ties in with positive psychology’s emphasis on Growth Mindset. Khan Academy has partnered with PERTS, a Stanford-based research group that includes Carol Dweck, Joe Boaler and others. They have created a series of lessons on growth mindset for students ranging from third through twelfth grade as part of their LearnStorm activities (What is Learnstorm- watch here). Within each of the six growth mindset activities, you will find readings, videos, reflection prompts, and more. You can do the activities one per week over six weeks, or whatever works for your classroom. For more information on how a third grade teacher used the lessons with his classroom, you can watch this recording.

I have posted about this next tool before here and here, but with so many new features as well as the opportunities it affords to learn your students’ stories, thoughts, reflections, and connect with others around the world, it bears mentioning again. Flipgrid is the easiest way to have your students create video responses to your prompts which with the wide array of amazing new features (yes, I have said it again because they are really that great) includes text, video, image, or uploaded document prompts.

The final share is a two-part post on bell-ringer activities from Matt Miller of DITCH Textbook fame. I have previously written about him here and here and several other mentions. In his two-part post he offers 20 digital ways to kick off your class and hook your students into each learning experience to make their learning memorable. Some of my favorite ideas are the QR code on the board, a What If Flipgrid , tweeting for someone, blackout poetry, and s- (to see the rest and figure out what I was about to say, visit 10 digital bell-ringer activities to kickstart class and 10 MORE digital bell ringer activities to kickstart class.

Photo credit: Foter.com