I am regularly blown away by the sheer volume of information, resources, and opportunities for learning (our own and our students) there are out there. I am continually learning about new resources and tools each week and while it takes time to read, watch, listen, comb through them all, it is time I find worthwhile and purposeful. This week I will share a few with you.
Earlier this week one of my colleagues, a Pre-K teacher, and I took time outside of our learning day (we are empty nesters so we can do this) to participate in an edweb webinar, “Creating Fun AND Instructive Learning Centers”. The big takeaways for me were the importance of making the learning accessible and equitable for all students, the learning centers need to align with the topic, they need to be intentionally created, teachers need to help guide the conversations with the students at the centers, and follow-up activities to do or discuss at home is a way to bridge the home-school connection.
The biggest takeaways, though were the additional resources for continued learning. First, is the edweb community of educators and the calendar of FREE webinars and resources. Three of the things that makes edweb such a great resource are the different professional learning communities for educators (there are close to 100) to join and learn with and from (for free), the webinars that happen everyday at varying times throughout the school day (and just after), and the continuing education certificates you can get for your participation. Second is the PBS teacherline professional development opportunities. PBS teacherline offers online, facilitated courses for graduate credits searchable by grade level, subject, and hours; and self-paced courses searchable by subject that are 1 1/2 – 3 hour commitments in total and are available to you for one year from the time of purchase ($49/course).
Curiosity drives the acquisition of knowledge
If the above quote is true, how do we promote inquiry and curiosity in our classrooms? When Couros posed a similar same question in the Innovate Inside the Box Facebook group, among the many responses was one from a teacher who shared that she uses the QFT technique with her students. Since I had never heard of the QFT technique, I went to find out. I will leave you with a bit of curiosity and let you follow up on the questions you must have. If you want to go even further than that, then this may be what you are looking for.
Last week I shared my post, Much Ado About Everything that included information about all the new features of Flipgrid. As I was going through some flagged emails, I came across this video tutorial by Richard Byrne (aka Free Tech 4 Teachers/Practical Edtech) where Byrne reviews the whiteboard and drawing features from teacher and student views as well as how to create a grid and download student response QR codes (which would make your walls come alive). As if that were not enough, Matt Miller posted 20 Activities to Bloom (think Taxonomy) with Flipgrid’s new features where he shares different ways you and your students can use these features. Of course the Flipgrid blog has their amazing resources including their Innovation Station with their age and subject-specific integration docs.
So, whether you are someone who is new to Flipgrid, or someone who has already drank the Kool-Aid, there is something here for everyone.
“Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.” Ann Landers
It always amazes me how many tabs I find myself with each week full of things to read, share, or try. I know I have said it before, but I am not a hoarder of things- my house is very organized- (though my children would say I have emotional attachments to some things)– I do tend to hoard my tabs until I am able to share them. And while I do use my One Tab extension when I am sharing a group of links on a particular topic with my students or colleagues, I keep the ones for my weekly share open as a visual reminder.
Many teachers at one point or another have their students participate in a group project. I use the term participate loosely as you will see in this post by John Spencer, The Four Biggest Pitfalls of Collaborative Groupings (and How to Avoid Them) that there are various forms of participation depending on the group’s individual members and their personalities. His post (which also has the podcast version included if you are more of an auditory learner) is full of great examples, strategies, and helpful videos like Collaboration vs. Cooperation, and The Seven Keys to Creative Collaboration (or more affectionately titled, Why Group Work Doesn’t Have to Suck). If you are one who either participated in group work as part of your PLC, your department, your grade level, or graduate class; or if you do any sort of group work with your students, this is one post you may want to take time to read/listen to/watch.
Who doesn’t love a good smackdown! Matt Miller posed variations had a tech smackdown during his #DITCHBook Twitter chat (every Thursday at 10PM Eastern) on this question, What are your best tips for using (GSuite tools, Flipgrid, Quizlet Live, Quizizz, Kahoot; , in your classroom and got countless responses. He culled them and put this post together, sorted by the three questions and I am sharing them here with you ICYMI. No need for FOMO here. So if you have been thinking about incorporating some new ideas into your repertoire, or have been thinking about trying a new tool, take some time to learn from fellow educators.
Continuing on the learning path, MCIU (Montgomery County Intermediate Unit) has some excellent offerings this fall that you might be interested in taking advantage of. You can filter through 12 different categories like Social Emotional, Equity and Diversity, Literacy, or you can just scroll to your heart’s content and see what catches your eye. If you really want to dive deep, there is this Universal Design for Learning Professional Learning Community (PLC) that will be run from mid-September through May.
Last is a fun extension to your Flipgrid, Padlet, and Epic books experiences. #EpicPals is now in it’s 5th year running and is brought to you by Sara Malchow. Each month there will be a new collection of primary and intermediate books available in Epic (you can use the app or the browser version) that you can search for using EpicPals. There is also an accompanying Google Doc for each month that has the books as well as both a link to the Padlet that goes with the particular book. You can read about getting started with EpicPals here then you will want to join in the fun with your students and the hundreds of others who are also participating.
“LEARNING IS NOT ATTAINED BY CHANCE, IT MUST BE SOUGHT FOR WITH ARDOR AND ATTENDED TO WITH DILIGENCE.” ―ABIGAIL ADAMS
I love the start of the school year because it gives me a chance to think about what I want to do with the year ahead. I am not saying that the days leading to the beginning of school are not fraught with thoughts of wishing I had more time to stay home and relax (I work out of town most of the summer break), but, once I am back, I am all in! It’s kind of like when I wake up in the morning and calculate the number of hours until I can go back to bed, once I put my feet on the floor, I am up and there is no turning back.
One of the things I like to do is find tools, articles, websites for my colleagues and students that will enhance their teaching and learning, will reinforce initiatives, are helpful, or are just plain fun. This week’s share has all of the above!
First, a great tool that keeps getting better: Flipgrid (what is Flipgrid you ask? You can check out my previous posts that include it) has some exciting updates and improvements which you can find here in their blog, one of which is Shorts. Shorts is the ability to use the camera to make videos for your students, colleagues, parents, and community that includes a whiteboard mode, picture overlays, cool filters, and unlimited clips. You can see an example here.
Next are some tools I learned about from a recent post on Twitter asking people to share their favorite tools.
Genial.ly is a free tool for making and taking your images and presentations to the next level. You can begin a genial.ly in just a few clicks choosing first what you want to create. The options are many going from blank slate or template to learning experience, presentation, interactive image, vertical infographic to name just a few. You can work on your own or invite a collaborator. I made this one in about five minutes and it was not only easy to do, it was really fun looking at all the optional elements to include. Be sure to hover over the overlaid images and click on the button.
If you are a teacher, parent, librarian, someone who enjoys reading aloud to others, then this app is for you. Novel Effect amps up your read-alouds- no pun intended- by adding sound effects to the stories as you read bringing them to life like never before. Using your phone or tablet, find the book in their ever-growing library (currently over 200 favorite story and poetry books), plug in to a speaker (if reading for a class), then just start reading (note: you need to have a copy of the book, they have the music and sounds that correspond to the book). Novel effect adds the soundscapes, music, and sound effects as you read in the spots where the sounds go. If you stop reading, the sounds stop, if you slow down, the sounds will wait for you. You can check out their FAQs here and read how teachers are using it here. Adding this to your app collection is really a “no brainer.”
Speaking of stories, who does not love listening to a good one!?! Six-Minute Stories is a podcast I literally just heard of. When I say, “literally,” I am not being dramatic. I took a Facebook break and checked out the recent post from George Couros on the Innovate Inside the Box study group page and while reading the comments, I learned that one of the teachers uses Six-Minute Stories as a transition to class with her students. Of course I had to check it out (Curiosity is not in my top 5 signature strengths but is gaining ground with all its use). But I digress . . Six-Minute stories follows one storyline all year long, six-minutes at a time. It will definitely keep your students coming back for more. But wait, there’s more! The options do not stop at Six Minutes. Kids Listen has a whole host of podcasts (like Girl Tales and Tumble Science Podcasts for Kids) and story podcasts (like Sparkle Stories) for children on a whole range of topics! This one is definitely click-worthy.
While we are on the topic of kids, this next site will quickly become a favorite resource for your students of most ages (I try not to overgeneralize, hence “most” and not “all”). The Kids Should See This is a growing library of educational videos curated by its founder (with help from her two children) for kids of all ages. You can search from the more than four thousand videos in the Science, Technology, Art, Music, DIY, Space, Animals, Nature, Food, or Random categories, or get the list of new ones delivered to your inbox each week. I did a quick search for “sustainability” and got quite a list — 130 to be exact.
Last up is strictly for middle school science teachers; everyone else is free to go check out the other items :). In yesterday’s EdWeek email I clicked on an article about Next Gen Science Standards open educational resources called Open SciEd. Open Sci Ed is a fully free set of high-quality, full course, instructional materials for middle school teachers and student, along with accompanying professional development resources for science teachers. Currently there is one 6th, 7th, and 8th grade unit available for your use on the following topics: Thermal Energy (6th), Metabolic Reactions (7th), and Sound Waves (8th). By 2022 the full middle school science course that aligns to the NGSS will be rolled out and available but until then, there will be one unit available every six months. Their goal is to expand the resources from Elementary through High School.
Lovely thing to learn from water. “Adjust yourself in every situation and in any shape. But most importantly, find your own way to flow.”
~Buddha Teaching & Science
There are a plethora of opportunities on tap to take your teaching to the next level by participating in webinars. Here are just a few to get your mind percolating and start the year off energized. . .
Thursday, August 29 gives you two different webinar options:
“Building Teacher Confidence and Camaraderie Through Math Coaching.” from EdWeek
EdCurrent and Newsela are offering this, “Ed Current: The Case for Differentiated Instruction on the First Day of School” at 7PM Eastern Time. You can register here.
I have enjoyed participating in webinars (click to read!) as they are both reminders of good teaching practices, and that there are many like-minded educators who are always looking to improve their teaching and therefore student learning, achievement, and engagement.
So whether you are interested in one, all, or some, all it takes is a click to get started!
hope you have all had and are continuing to have a great summer!
With the start of school around the corner, there are many learning opportunities to be had for all areas of the curriculum. Here are just a few to get you started on a great year ahead.
This opportunity popped in to my inbox this morning so I wanted to pass it along to you. It is a FREE, ONLINE workshop for teachers (and school leaders, curriculum coordinators) about turning units and experiences into Project-Based Learning. You can check out the email below and click this link to register. A. J. Juliani will be leading this tonight.
Differentiation from Day ONE
“How can district leaders and educators make decisions that promote equity, inclusion, and learning for every student?”
Newsela and Ed Current offer monthly webinars throughout the year. You can read about the one I attended on Universal Design for Learning in this post. In this webinar, you will hear from Dr. Rhonda Bondie Director of Professional Learning at Harvard Graduate School of Education and how you can begin differentiating from the first day of school. Click here to register. Can’t attend? Not to worry, register then you will get the link to the recording and the materials!
Fall History Courses with Gilder Lehrman
You know the amazing resources you find at Gilder Lehrman, and these fall online history courses are yet another reason why you should check it out.
All NEW Flipgrid
You loved Flipgrid before, you will love it even more now! Check out the new features like whiteboard mode, photo overlay, and more.
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.