Binge Watch-Worthy PD

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Have you ever had a time when you have so much to do, say, watch, read, or share and you don’t know where to start? Well, when that happens to me, I put things on pause, section things off, and then just move through them in order of importance. I have had several things to share while at the same time, I have several books to read, have had meetings, etc. so I have focused on finishing my book so I can get to the other things I want and need to do like share these great tools, tips, and sites.

Escape Rooms are all the rage (though recently, Axe throwing seems to be surpassing if my Groupon and Living Social emails are any indication). We did it with two other families and I can proudly say that we broke the code and got out in about 38 minutes! Well if you didn’t know, there are Breakout games you can create and use in your classrooms. What is a Breakout? You can learn about it this summer at ISTE but you can take a look at the pre-conference materials here. Of course I click on everything so here is Tom’s Digital Breakout Sites and the GSuite Escape both of which you can use to create your own digital breakouts. My very own colleagues Andrew loves using breakout games with his class and he and another colleague Sally created their own using the GSuite Escape so he would be a great resource as well.

Next up is DITCH Textbook’s own Matt Miller with his CUE Live session, “Tech Like a Pirate”. Nope, that is not a typo. If you are familiar with Dave Burgess, you will recognize the play on words of his Teach Like a Pirate book (and video) and Miller’s is another in the series of “Like a Pirate” ed books due to come out soon. Like Burgess who shares how to bring your lessons and content alive by hooking your students and making your content “sticky”, Miller shares how you can do these things using technology. You’ll want to watch the whole thing but if you feel like you want to jump around a bit, you can fast forward to time-stamped content that Miller has kindly listed in his post.

I have shared great tips and tools from Richard Byrne several times before. Today I am sharing his “Best of the Web- Spring 2019″ In less than one hour you will hear about tools for creating and remixing, workflow and management, exploring and more. Along with the video are the accompanying slides. A number of these I have written about before like Flipgrid, Google Science Journal, and GoFormative, and just as many are new to me like Go Synth, Game On World and Triventy. The next things I want to try are Go Synth, Brush Ninja, and Google’s VR Tour Creator. If you are like me and like to browse the web and social media, you might want to try the Recall Study Time extension. In addition to the great things he shares in this video, if you do not have your video in full screen and you don’t have your distraction free extension activated, you will see along the sidebar that Byrne has 602 videos you can scroll through and watch for other cool tips and tools.

Lastly, Earth Day is a week away and you can still sign up for activities to do with your class from Microsoft in Education including a Skype interview with Jane Goodall that Susan Reilly’s third grade class did and find lessons from PBS Learning Media. For even more ideas, head over to Roots and Shoots where you can browse projects and see ways you and your students can take action.

Handpicked Just for You

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I love when I have great things to share and today is one of those days. I have collection of items that include student voice, collaboration, exploration, and more than one that I think you will want to start using immediately.

First off is a favorite of mine for feedback, sharing, and reflection– Flipgrid. Here are some great ways to share your love of literacy from the Flipgrid blog. It’s titled, “Loving Literacy 365 Days a Year!” and it offers numerous ways you and your students can use Flipgrid to share a love of reading, discuss characters, learn from an author, and collaborate with other classes. For example, this teacher shared her 5th grade classes Flipgrid on book talks and opened it up to other classes to listen, comment, and add their own book talks. This authentic sharing of a love of books is just one of the amazing ways you can utilize this great tool. It’s not just for kids though, doing a search in their Disco (short for discovery) library will find that colleagues can participate as well through book chats, PD sharing, and more like this one on using tech in PE. Flipgrid is constantly upping their game and making it even better than it already is and it’s free for educators so why not get started and sign up?!

Next is a virtual book club paired with “a unit in a box” and it’s called #thebookchat. The creators of #Thebookchat choose books that introduce students to underrepresented voices and authors. Every six weeks or so educators from around the country are participating in an online discussion via Twitter using #thebookchat to discuss the selected book. Their next chat discussing James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time will be on March 10 at 9PM. What is fantastic about it is the list of diverse books and the accompanying resources for each. Everything you would need to share with your students as they read this book is included in the HyperDocs for each selected book. If you are looking for a way to add more diversity and inclusion to your curriculum (which we all should be doing), this is for you. While these books are mainly for high school students, this list from Edutopia offers books for all grade levels.

Sutori is a great tool for creating interactive timelines, but did you know you could do much more than that? This post offers 50 ways to use Sutori in all subjects and each level of school that you may not have considered. Think study guides, book reports, biographies, interactive discussions, assessments, lab reports, and 44 more.

Last and certainly not least is Classroom Screen. I learned about this yesterday from a tweet from my friend Loren and have been obsessed with it ever since. It is a multifunctional classroom management tool that you can begin using immediately. It combines timers, noise-level monitoring, stop light, a random name selector, white board, backgrounds, video, text, and more into one neat package. Just click the link, select the tool, and go. It’s that easy, that fun to use, and that good.

Free Teaching Resources: Always a Good Thing!

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Today I am diving right in to sharing some amazing free resources that are available for teachers (and parents too).

First is a set of evidence-based playbooks from Angela Duckworth’s Character Lab to help build character in your students and children. Everything from grit and purpose to gratitude and resilience with more playbooks to come, you will have research and evidence-based tools to help build and grow these skills. Looking to learn more about developing character in your students? The educator summit will be held this July 11-12 in Philadelphia.

Next is Open Middle: “challenging math problems worth solving.” I found this site from one of Robert Kaplinsky’s recent tweets and have been clicking around ever since. You’ll find problems for students from kindergarten through high school including this Ten-frame challenge for kinders.

The Math Vision Project is a team of teachers who set out to create free, printable math materials for teaching math that is inquiry-based, student-driven, task-based, and aligned with Common Core Standards. It is also a set of downloadable open source math resources created by teachers for teachers to use with their students learning Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, towards an Integrated Math I, II, II. When I say “resources” I mean everything you need to teach regular and honors math from beginning to end with both student and teacher editions, homework help, professional development resources and more. It is a complete curriculum offering multiple access points for students within the same classroom to be able to solve problems and show understanding.

Open Ed or ACT Academy is another free site with K-12 resources including lesson plans, assessments, homework, and videos for topics from all school subjects including Science, English, Math, and Social Studies as well as Social-Emotional learning, Electives, and Technology. You can search by grade, subject, resource type (interactive, lesson plan, audio, video, etc.) topic, standard, publisher, and featured content provider. Honestly, if all you do is click the type of resource you want, you will see the wealth of materials for you.

Last but certainly not least is Facing History, a site whose mission it is “to engage and educate diverse students on issues of racism, anti-semitism, and prejudice to promote the development of a more humane citizenry.” This site is rich with resources on topics from the Holocaust to Civil Rights, Race, Immigration, and much more searchable by subject (English, Psychology, US History, World History to name a few) and resource type (books and borrowing, lessons, featured collections, and beyond). They also offer several professional development opportunities to support teachers both in-person and online. This is a site you will want to spend time with.

I Went Browsing and This is What I Found . . .

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When I was a little girl going on car rides with my parent and/or grandparents (sitting on the fold down arm rest in the front was always a treat albeit an apparent danger but it was the 70s, who knew?), aside from listening to show tunes, Barbara Streisand, Barry Manilow, and Frank Sinatra, we played car games. One of the family favorites was, “Going Shopping”. Each person would start with “I am going to Pathmark, Shop ‘n Bag, the A & P (fill in any supermarket of the 70s and 80s here) and I am going to buy (something that begins with an A). The next person would then go to the market and buy what the last person bought and then whatever comes next in the alphabet. It was always fun when people would buy these obscure or even funny-sounding or embarrassing items (my mother loved to throw a Kotex in the cart). And then of course having to remember everyone’s previous purchases was always a challenge, especially as we neared the latter part of the alphabet. Anyway, browsing around thinking about this blog post reminded me of that game and those fun car rides. And now, on to the point of the post!

Here is what I put in my cart today . . .

I went browsing and I found ClassHook. A great FREE site for finding movie and TV clips to use in your class for any topic. Search by decade, grade level, topic, series, and clip length. You can even check the box to leave out the profanity.

I went browsing and I found Edulastic, a great FREE too for formative assessment that integrates nicely with Google Classroom. Upload your own pre-made assessment, browse their library, create your own from a variety of question types, and you are good to go.

I went browsing and I found Formative an in-the-moment way to visually assess your students and give immediate feedback (which, as we know, immediate or timely feedback is best to correct misunderstandings). Like Edulastic, it’s FREE, you can create from scratch, you can browse their questions and add them to yours, and you can upload one you already have made as a doc or pdf and transform it by adding to it and allowing your students to answer right there. The best element is the ability for your students to draw their responses (great for math) and your ability to see all your students’ responses at the same time. Check. It. Out.

I went browsing and I found Infographics in Foreign Language Classes. If you teach a world language, you just might want to have your students share their research using an infographic. This post will explain how.

I went browsing and I found over 500 High School Math Videos. Mr. Robb is a high school math teacher who has created videos for his AP Calculus AB and Integrated 3 Math courses. His Xtranormal video on his home page introduces the idea of having the students watch the videos before they are introduced to the content in class so that they have an idea and familiarity when the teacher intros the topic (Flipped classroom model). For more help with PreCalc and Calculus, take a look at the 100+ videos from Mr. Berberian. He started making these before Khan Academy was a household name. Looking for Algebra or PreAlgebra help? My colleague has created more than 120 videos and several playlists teaching concepts and going through whole chapters to help his students. Check out the videos and playlists on his YouTube page.

I went browsing and I found Story Maps. If you have a location-based story or event, or series of events, what better way to tell it than through maps using pictures, videos, and text. StoryMaps is similar to Google’s Tour Builder.

I went browsing and I found the Visions of Education podcast episode 100, Teaching Racial Literacy and Controversial Issues with Genevieve Caffrey. I have the tab open and have started to listen and looking at the accompanying links and resources I already know it’s going to be good. Within the first fifteen minutes Caffrey talks about why teachers fear having these controversial conversations or discussions of current events in their classroom, which, if you were part of our recent in-service, much of what she says will sound familiar. Caffrey talks about the “risks of silence” in not having these conversations and how we can start using the acronym, LET’s ACT to start. We are currently reading Not Light, But Fire by Matthew R. Kay and discussing creating the safe, caring, trusting communities in our classrooms for having meaningful conversations (and then how to have them), and this podcast and it’s accompanying resources is a good pairing. Browsing the titles of the other episodes on the podcast I found episode 67, American Indians in Children’s Literature. I encourage you to look around and listen in. Great quotes from these episodes: “Who’s past and who’s future are we talking about?” and by not talking or learning about others’ perspectives, we may be inadvertently saying, “Some people’s experiences is not important or worthy of discussion.”

Read, Connect, Listen, Learn

Each week when trying to find things to share with my colleagues, I spend time clicking links in emails, opening links from Twitter, engaging in webinars, and reading different books on my Kindle. This week’s share pulls from all these places and comes with opportunities for everyone. Get comfy, there’s a nice amount coming your way.

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First off is an opportunity to connect with other classes during World Read Aloud Day. World Read Aloud Day (WRAD) is just two weeks away, happening February 1st. Lit World has pulled together the many ways you, or you and your class can celebrate WRAD including connecting with an author via Skype. Additionally, Mike Soskil, a teacher whom I follow on Twitter and wrote about during the 2017 DITCHSummit has created this connections project that your students can do synchronously or asynchronously depending on what works for you. However you choose to participate, it will be a great way to share a love of reading with another class.

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Speaking of reading, next up is Common Lit: leveled reading passages, text sets, instructional materials, and text-dependent questions created by teachers for teachers and is FREE “because teachers shouldn’t have to pay.” Common Lit recently, they added literacy materials for third and fourth grade so now the literacy support materials go from third through twelfth grade! There are many ways to find what you need including a searchable library, search by book, genre, grade level, lit device, text set, or theme. You are going to want to browse their collection and do some looking around at everything they have; it’s quite robust!

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The other day EdCurrent offered a free webinar titled, “Moving from One-Size-Fits-All to a Universal Design for Learning”. I signed up and then watched the recording the next day, which, as a side-note is a great way to deal with webinars that you are interested in but may not be able to participate in when offered. In any event, the next day in my inbox, along with the “sorry we missed you” message was the link to both the recording and the resources.

A great quote to come out of the webinar is this one, “How can we maximize the amazing strengths that Ss have so that we can eliminate barriers and make everyone successful?” It made me think of Lea Waters who recently tweeted this, “We often ask ourselves the question ‘What is wrong with me?’ But when we ask ourselves the question ‘What is right with me?’, we start to get a fuller sense of who we are. We start to identify the #strengths and assets that really help us to thrive and reach our full potential.” Its up to us as educators to create an environment in our classroom where all Ss can feel successful. To learn more, check out the recording.

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If you like to watch videos to help with learning, then you will like Edutopia’s, research and science-based “How Learning Happens” video series. Currently there are 22 videos on topics like Cultivating a Belonging Mindset, Fostering Positive Relationships, Building Academic Confidence, and Developing Foundational Skills.

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Lastly, if a child you know has anxiety, Renee Jain, a University of Pennsylvania MAPP (Master of Applied Positive Psychology) graduate and creator of the GoZen website (tools for dealing with anxiety and building resilience in schools and at home), now has a FREE podcast, Dear Anxiety. Jain and her guests share research-based solutions for “greater mental wellness for the whole family.” Currently there are four episodes, “Worrying about Worry”, “Tackling the Perfectionism Monster”, “Transforming Anger for Parents” and “Transforming Anger for Kids”.

Happy browsing!

New Year, New Links, New Learning

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”
― Oprah Winfrey

We are only back from winter break since Monday, yet the the number of open tabs on my laptop make it feel like it’s been weeks.

This week I have several things to share so sit back, get comfortable, and enjoy.

Time-Sensitive Learning Opportunities

First, Will Richardson and Modern Learners has a free, one-hour webinar, Reimagining Assessment, coming this Tuesday, January 15th at 3PM and 8PM EST.

Next, if you were busy getting ready for the holiday break and did not get a chance to participate in the DITCH That Textbook Digital Summit, the videos are back. For a limited time only, you can watch all 35 videos. Yes, I said THIRTY-FIVE because this includes not only this year’s DITCH Summit videos, but the 2018 CUE videos, the 2017 DITCH Summit videos, and the 2016 DITCH Summit videos. This is 35 hours of professional development that you can use right away so start clicking!

Also on January 15th at 8PM ET/5PM PT, Newsela and EdCurrent are hosting a free, one-hour webinar on Moving from One Size Fits All to Universal Design for Learning. Don’t worry if you cannot make it, all registrants will get a link to the recorded video.

Tools for Teaching

Remove. Have you or your students ever wanted to remove a background from a picture so you could layer it on another background? Well, look no further than here. It’s literally two steps: upload a photo or paste in a url; the site does the rest in as long as it takes for you to identify which images have a traffic light or bus. Then you can download your image and use it wherever you want.

Ms. Havrot’s Math Videos. Ms. Havrot is a retired Canadian math teacher who missed teaching. She began making math videos and posting them on her YouTube channel to help high school students with Trigonometry. She even includes practice quizzes! A great resource for math students and a great inspiration for math teachers to create and post their own.

Geography Games.  If you teach geography or want to brush up on your map skills, then you will want to take a look at and bookmark Setera. I learned about Setera, “the ultimate map quiz site” from Richard Byrne’s website. Setara is addictive to say the least. I started with the map of the United States and had to stop myself from moving on to the state capitals. You and your students can play online, or you can get the printables. There are over 300 games to choose from including ancient civilizations, latitude and longitude, flags, oceans, lakes. and they are in 34 languages. This site is amazing!

Retrieval Practice. Do you teach content that you would like your students to be able to learn deeply and remember later? Would you like to teach students the right way to study for learning, exams and tests? Pooja Agarwal, cognitive scientist, has a new retrieval practice guide out, “How to Use Spaced Retrieval Practice to Boost Learning”. This Spacing Guide joins the others in her resource library that are free for you to download. If you want to learn more about Agarwal, be sure to check out her video, “Brain-Friendly Learning That Works”, in the 2017 DITCH Summit.

Learning Theories. When was the last time you thought about why you teach the way you do? Well, this visual summary of 32 learning theories will remind you of the whys of yours and others’ teaching philosophies.

 

photo credit: ★Yo photography Sparkling Sydney via photopin (license)

A Chance to Be Part of History, Herstory, & Ourstory

Great learning opportunities are coming your way! If you are a history or social studies teacher, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History’s teacher seminars series is open now for applications. What is the Gilder Lehrman Institute you ask? They are a non-profit organization whose mission is “to promote the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources.” You can read a previous post about Gilder Lehrman here.

To learn about their online courses, click here.

For information about this year’s teacher summer seminars, click here.

To apply, click here.

Neither a history or social studies teacher ? Feeling left out of the learning? Not to worry, you can learn everyday from December 14-31 form the comfort of your own sofa or classroom being part of the DITCHSummit. For more information, you can see my previous post.