Choice, Voice, & Assessment

This week there is a lot to share so I am going to jump right in and get started.

Read and Write Choice Board While many of you have your students reading and writing, how often are you letting your students make choices about how they are going to share their understanding of what they have read? This Choice Board offers nine tech tools/apps students that allow you to differentiate for your learners.

This next one is a BAM Radio podcast, “The Most Practical Ways to Get Students to Lead Their Learning” with Larry Ferlazzo, Yvette Jackson, Veronica McDermott, Rebecca Mieliwocki, and Gallit Zvi. This podcast speaks about using options like Genius Hour for bridging the gap between a student’s passion and the expectation for learning, and learning about students’ interests by asking them this question,

“If you didn’t have to be in school, what would you be doing?”

Alan November is an absolute favorite of mine as you probably know if you have been reading my posts. These next two shares are from his most recent articles Assessment for Learning  and Digital Citizenship Lessons from a 9-Year-Old With 18,000 Twitter Followers. In Assessment for Learning November asks,

“What if we could empower our teachers to turn assessment into a process of learning instead of a focus on measurement?”

He shares examples from Harvard down through middle school where the teachers and professors allowed their students to take assessments twice. Depending on the classroom example, teachers either had their students take the assessments on their own first and then take it again in small groups where they could work together and discuss how they arrived at an answer; or they take it in groups first, learn from each other, then take a similar assessment on their own. I think you will want to try this innovative way of assessing in your classrooms too.

In Digital Citizenship Lessons from a 9-Year-Old you will learn about Olivia Van Ledtje’s love of reading and how she shares that love and passion through her vlogs (video blog posts) and more recently, her Twitter account @thelivbits. You and your students should check out what she is doing and think about how they could share their interests too.

George Couros is another favorite educator who recently shared this post, “What Could Go Right?” Often times we are in situations or conversations with colleagues or students and coming up with a laundry list of reasons why this idea or suggestion will not work. We listen to the negatives that are shouting at us in the background- or even the ones who are speaking to them out loud- instead of thinking, what could go right. Couros posits,

“We need to make the positives so loud that the negative becomes almost impossible to hear.”

Many teachers love using Kahoot! for formative assessment and review, but how many are using it to teach or introduce new content? DITCH That Textbook’s Matt Miller explains exactly how to go about this in his post, “Teach With Kahoot!: Go beyond review with the Blind Kahoot! What is a Blind Kahoot! you ask? Check out this video (which you will also find in Matt’s blog post).

Lastly, I recently started using Flipgrid and participated in the first #FlipgridFever chat on Twitter this past week. “What is Flipgrid,” you ask? You can check out a recent post. There were so many great ideas being shared including using Flipgrid to practice a target language and connect with other classrooms around the world using their global grid connections. Teachers, get ready to make those student voices heard!

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

Spread Positivity

Positivity doesn’t just change the contents of your mind…It widens the span of possibilities that you see. ~Barbara Fredrickson

8705332490One of my favorite shows is Friends. I watched it when it first aired and continue to watch it in reruns each day. It makes me laugh and I love to laugh. I also try on a daily basis to be optimistic and find the positive events of the day, even when it is gray and gloomy and rainy like it was yesterday until 4:25. I had been dreading taking my dog J out to walk because he does not like to walk with purpose in the rain and I tend to have to half drag, half carry him. We left for our walk in a very light drizzle and while we were out there the skies began to clear and the sun came out. It turned out to be a beautiful afternoon. It amazes me how a hint of sun can turn things around.

Fast forward to later that evening when my daughter was watching Friends. She regularly tells me that I remind her of Alec Baldwin’s character, “Enthusiastic Parker” and coincidentally that was the episode she happened to be watching. Here is a short clip to give you a sense of this character. You can skip to 1:31 to truly get a sense of this guy or take the 3 minutes to enjoy a laugh.

 

While Enthusiastic Parker may take his positivity to the nth degree, being optimistic and noticing the positive around you does make a difference in your well-being and in the people around you.

This week I am sharing two articles that speak to the effects of positive leadership and how to teach your students positivity.

The first article, “The Effects of a Positive Mindset on School Culture” talks about practical optimism as “characterized by a belief—in yourself and others—that success is possible, which in turn fuels determination to accomplish what you have set out to do.”

Making a conscious effort to model practical optimism and support a positive school culture can be transformational for you, your colleagues, and students. Adopting practical optimism as your modus operandi and taking advantage of opportunities to build rapport with colleagues and encourage them to continually hone their professional practice in positive ways will further enhance your well-being, as well as the culture of your school. You will improve relationship-building and communication skills that support empathetic, productive interactions with all educational stakeholders involved.

The article offers four strategies for nurturing and enhancing your optimism: doing for others, expressing gratitude, getting exercise, and deliberately focusing on the positive.

Focusing on the positive might take some effort. You can read about Positivity Ratios here , watch a short video about Positive Emotions here, and take Barbara Fredrickson’s Positivity Ratio test over the next several days to see what kinds of things you notice as you go through your day.

The next article, “Teaching Happiness at School: 3 Activities to Cultivate Well-Being in Schools” is about teaching well-being to your students. It introduces the concept of the benefits of positive emotions as developed by Barbara Fredrickson,

… positive emotional experiences have long-lasting effects on our personal growth and development. Specifically, positive emotions broaden our attention and thinking, enhance resilience, and build durable personal resources, which fuel more positive emotions in the future.

The article suggest three easy ways to incorporate positivity in your classroom, my favorite being the “What Went Well Wall” where students write three things that went well for them during the lesson, school day, or week. I like this activity because it is an easy way to help your students reflect on each day and grow their ability to see the positive around them, plus, it is a visual reminder of all that is going well in their lives.

 

 

A Handful of Spring Sharing

6393548853It has been quite a busy six weeks and unfortunately, my blogging had to take a backseat. While I did share my learning from a recent Coursera course, I have not shared any tips, tricks, or articles since February. My apologies. Time to move on!

As per usual, I have numerous tabs open so here we go:

#1. A great post from Rick Wormeli (I have recently referenced him here) titled, “43 Things We Need to Stop Doing in Schools” .  This list is certainly not exhaustive. I feel pretty strongly about #s 2, 3, 5, 13, 18, 26, & 30; how about you?

#2 This next piece is fun, one you and your students will enjoy being creative with and sharing learning, and it uses something you probably already have. Intrigued? Many kids (and grown-ups) love making stop motion animation but did you know you could do it in Google Slides? This video shared by Daniel Kaufman to our Google Education Group shows how you can use Google Slides to make Stop Motion animation video. Kaufman shows how to solve an algebra problem and uses 88 slides to do it. I played around and made one using just 10 (see below). The key as you will see in his video, is to use the “duplicate slide” option.

 

#3 Since we are talking about things you can do with Google Slides, I thought I would remind you of two Chrome extensions I posted about before- Save to Drive and Drive Slides. You can combine the capabilities of these the Drive Slides extension with the Stop Motion capability of Slides for one really cool presentation. #ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmmm

#4 I have shared my excitement about HyperDocs in previous posts so when I saw this Padlet of HyperDocs posted on Twitter, I knew I needed to share it with you. I am certain there will be something you can use/modify in your classroom, then you can visit the teachers give teachers site for more inspiration! Click here to learn even more about HyperDocs.

#5 Think you are a smarty pants? How about your students? What about Smarty Pins? This next share is about another favorite of mine– Google– and it is “21 Google Tools That You Probably Never Heard Of”. OK, maybe you know that you can search for a stopwatch and Google will pull up their stopwatch function, or maybe you knew that you could type in an algebraic equation and Google would solve it for you and show the interactive graph (#3); perhaps you even knew you could do a reverse image search (#4), and create a story using Story Builder (#9); but did you know about Smarty Pins, an interactive mapping search game (#7) or Spell Up, a spelling game (#18)? Check out this post to see what else you can do with Google.

#6 Last but certainly not least is a great tool for making student learning visible. Flipgrid is simple, easy-to-use, and made for teachers and students from elementary school through high school. You can sign up, set up, and begin using your Flipgrid in about five minutes. I recently used Flipgrid to have my students reflect on a Tynker coding project they did and the responses were fantastic and honest. You can use it to have a whole class respond to text prompt or quote, share their strategies to solving a math problem, reflect on their work, and so much more. Flipgrid gives every student a chance to share their voice and respond, not just the ones who like to speak out in class. You can make your Flipgrids private or public, and you can moderate your topic so that students cannot see each other’s responses until you have viewed them.

For more great articles, videos, and tools, you can read this week’s Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition.

Happy Spring!

Think on These

This week I have been spending a lot of time reading and watching videos. What can I say, I am addicted to learning! While I often share tools, tips, and/or tricks, this week I am sharing ideas in the hopes that you too will spend time thinking and imagining, and reimagining.

The first set of articles I am sharing is part of a thoughtful series of exchanges between two different educational leaders who conversed via a series of letters back and forth about School, Education, and of course, Students. The set begins with the Dominic A. Randolph, Head of Riverdale Country School in NYC, asking and writing on, “What is School?”. It is followed by Max Ventilla, CEO and founder of Alt School in San Francisco’s response, “Why is School?”. “How We Learn Best”, “How School’s Should Change”, and “Reimagining School” complete this thought-provoking series. The two speak to technology, engagement, purpose, mindsets, modeling, leadership, cultivating curiosity, passion, perseverance, and curating contexts that foster and allow for independence. The two are quite reflective in their thinking, and begin important conversations that need to be continued.

One click leads to another and so I went to Riverdale’s website to see some of the links that Randolph mentioned, one of which is the Character Lab. Since my school places a high value on our  Character Education SEED program (Social Emotional and Ethical Development), not to mention our forthcoming partnership with the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Education program (you can read the Storify here), I was interested to see what the Character Education program at Riverdale is about.

What I found is a series of videos on character, resilience, growth mindset, and more, beginning with this one from Dr. Martin Seligman from the Grit and Imagination Summit that was held at the University of Pennsylvania this past summer. In his lecture, Seligman speaks to the beneficial effects of Positive Education- teaching well-being to children.

Of course I wanted to see what the summit was about so I Googled it. You can learn more about some of the programs offered here. And, if you want to expand your teaching and continue your learning, take a look at some free courses offered from Penn, you can view them here and here (2 different sets).

If you like that set of posts, then you might consider more from from Bright which features articles on innovation in education.

“Developing the Innovator’s Mindset” is a video from George Couros, an inspiring and innovative educational leader. He was asked to give a keynote for an online conference and spoke about his book, The Innovator’s Mindset. Couros speaks to several things one of which is “innovating inside the box”. We are often encouraged to think outside the box, but for those in schools where there are pressures, initiatives, standards, and other obstacles, Couros suggests being innovative within the box of constraints. We cannot ignore the box but we can think differently within it. Couros gives us numerous other points and ideas to consider in this keynote video that I highly recommend taking the time to watch.

Last is a recent post from Alan November in which he describes his children and the two different types of learning experiences they had while in college.

We are in the midst of a historic transition in education, in which we are providing more options and flexibility in creating learning cultures that significantly raise the expectations of what our students can accomplish.

We now can rethink the allocation of physical space and how courses are scheduled to support various students’ learning styles. What is really exciting is the sense of student empowerment that can emerge from a highly flexible learning design, enabled by a robust digital campus.

Student empowerment, access to content, social tools and online communities are just some of the ways his children’s learning differed though both went to (his son will graduate this spring) top universities. Which one do you think his children say will be “better prepared for the world of work”?

For more great learning, check out this week’s Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition.

Lots of Bang for Your Buck

8700093610Being an educator on Twitter is a daily learning adventure. Each day I find something new to read, try, think about, and share. It is what makes me feel connected to both my virtual and my local pln. It is also part of what motivates me to continue learning.

This week I have four great things to share. While four sounds like a small number, each of the four has hours worth of learning included. It’s a lot of bang for your buck!

The first is an article from one of my favorite thought leaders, Alan November. I have shared many thoughts from previous articles and with each one, I find myself questioning, reflecting, thinking, and rethinking. This article is no different. “Crafting a Vision for the $1,ooo Pencil” challenges us to hold a mirror up to our use of technology and ask ourselves several questions, one of which is, “are we applying new tools to do old work.”  This article is about transformation- using technology to transform teaching and learning, “What have we never done before that technology uniquely enables to enhance teaching and learning?” November offers a framework of six questions that will help educators decide if technology has brought a transformative value to instruction. As always, Alan November gives us a lot to think about.

The next article is from another favorite, the oft-mentioned Alice Keeler. This time it is a guest post on Keeler’s site from another fantastic educator, Shaelynn Farnsworth. In this post Farnsworth suggests six alternatives to traditional reading logs that you can begin using with your students right now that offer your students different ways to engage, celebrate, connect, and share what they are reading.

Speaking of reading, last week the amazing 5th grade teacher Paul Solarz tweeted this link to a video library from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. If you have ever been to the reading and writing project in person, you know how exciting this is. If you have never been to the TCRWP, then you also know how exciting this is. When I was a self-contained classroom teacher, Lucy Calkins was one of my teaching idols. I read her books, attended her summer workshops, and implemented the reading and writing workshops. I can still remember hearing her speak and asking if as adults, when we finish reading a book, look over to our partner, friend, or spouse and say, “I loved that book so much I am going to make a diorama.” This library of videos is a treasure trove of learning for anyone who implements or wants to implement the reading and writing workshops in their classroom. What you will see are 59 videos and 17 collections of Kindergarten through 8th grade reading and writing videos. These are actual teachers in actual classrooms teaching mini-lessons, doing pre-conferences, and more. There is some serious professional development in this collection! By the way, the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project site is also an incredible resource for educators, students, and families. Just check out the resource and clearinghouse pages to see what I mean.

Last, in terms of collections, this next series of videos put out by Rich Kiker of Kiker Learning, gives you everything you need to get started, use effectively, and feel confident and competent about using Google Classroom. There are 21 step-by-step videos that can take you from “novice to master in no time” so you can begin, or enhance your use of this incredible- and -keeps -getting -better workflow tool from GSuites.

This Week’s Time-Sensitive Exciting Shares

3271558744_148687882f_mI have been collecting some tabs of great things to share this week but you have to act fast as some are time or space limited.

Making Connections

First off is the World Read Aloud Day Skype-a-Thon coming in February. For one day only you and your students can connect with another class (or classes if you can fit them in your schedule) and share a book. This year WRAD has made it even easier to connect– even if for some reason the scheduling will not work for you, you can create a video of your class reading or re-enacting the story and then share it on World Read Aloud Day. If you want to have a virtual face-to-face with another class, you can fill out the registration and the organizers will pair you up with a partner class. Either way, your students can experience the flattening of their classroom walls and let their voices be heard by other children. Time is limited, you have until February 1 to register and sign up to be paired with another class so click here to get started!

There are other ways you and your class can make connections with others. The Flat Connections Global Online Projects for K-12 classes is beginning in February with numerous ways to connect. There is limited space for each project so take a look and sign up.

Voice Your Opinion About Homework

Next are two surveys from Alice Keeler and Matt Miller that invite you to think about homework in two different ways. The first asks you to think about  your views on homework and how homework has impacted your life and that of your students. The second asks what your classroom would look like if you did not give homework. These surveys are an opportunity for you to give pause and think critically about an oft- debated topic and give your opinion.

PBS Learning Media

These next few items are from a favorite resource I love to share and that is PBS Learning Media. PBS Learning Media has standards-based resources for all areas of your curriculum from Pre-k through 12th grade and of course the great series of shows we adults like to watch.

This first resource is for Prek-2 Spanish teachers and it is a series of animated videos that help teach Spanish. The next is Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood which is an animated series for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten children that explores many different topics including social and emotional skills, social interactions, holidays and celebrations, back to school, and more.

Do your have high school students who absolutely love science, can see having a career in science, and would be interested in a mentorship with a university-level research scientist? Well PBS Learning Media and Stand Up to Cancer have opened this year’s Emperor Science Awards, a unique virtual mentoring program that pairs university-level research scientists with high school students, presenting an exciting opportunity for them to explore the world of science, grow their skills, build confidence and conduct rewarding cancer and cancer care research.”  The deadline is March 17 for a June through August 2017 mentorship. Register here.

@rmbyrne shares . . .

The last two shares come from Richard Byrne of Practical Edtech and FreeTech4Teachers. The first is Twisted Wave and is a free, browser-based audio recording and save-to-drive- or Soundcloud editing tool. Not only can you record your voice with Twisted Wave, but you can clip, edit, loop, fade, and save to Drive. The next is a fun take off of the game “Would You Rather” and asks math-based “Would You Rather” questions. This is a great way to bring some discussion and real-world math questions to your math classes. I can see using these as class openers and as ways to bring the real world relevance to your lessons.

 

More Cool Tools for Schools

8297369596Learn as if you were to live forever ~Mahatma Gandhi

This past week I learned about some great tools and upgrades that I am happy to share with you.

First off is Pixiclip which I heard about from Richard Byrne’s Practical EdTech Guide. Pixiclip is like a marriage of an online whiteboard and Screencastify or Quick Time or Jing. You get my point. It is your online tool for making whiteboard explainer videos. What is great about it is that it starts recording as soon as you start working on the whiteboard. You can type, draw, and record yourself or your microphone. You can upload your own images and then mark them up while recording your mouse movements. It’s not only great for teachers to use but for students as well.

Next up are two great extensions from Alice Keeler and Matt Miller, two names you should remember from my previous post about the #DitchSummit among other mentions. From Alice Keeler comes Slideshot, a Chrome extension that takes a screenshot of your work once a minute (or you can do it manually) and then creates a slide presentation of those images. For your students, it is a great way to see their progress in a time-lapse sort of way. You may remember my mentioning Slideshot before the winter break but it is worth mentioning it again because it works so nicely with this next extension created by Keeler and Miller. DriveSlides takes photos from a folder in your Google Drive and automatically creates a Slides presentation with them. Miller explains how it can be used and gives great, step-by-step instructions in both video and text formats that you can read about here.

This afternoon, at precisely 12:03 when my TechCrunch email arrived in my inbox, I heard about a new FREE digital storytelling app from Google called Toontastic 3D. Yes, that’s right, 3-D. Using Toontastic 3D kids can draw pictures, animate, insert images, and narrate while moving their characters around the screen to make their story come alive. What makes this app even more exciting are the story arc options kids can choose from to plot our their tale. From “family flicks” to “social lessons”, “cooking shows” to “documentaries” and more, there are a variety of ways for students to tell their story. In just a handful of steps – literally 5 – you can go from ideas to export.

Just when you thought Google couldn’t get any better comes an upgrade to Google Classroom that I think teachers are going to love! In the past teachers had to post assignments to everyone in their class; now teachers can assign to individual or small groups of students. This is something that I personally know my colleagues love about Edmodo, now they can differentiate in Classroom as well.