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.

Happy New Year of Learning!

75052863082016 came to a close with an inspiring list of educators brought together in what was called #DitchSummit by Matt Miller, author of Ditch That Textbook. As mentioned in my pre-break post, each day between December 18-24 a new video was released along with notes and relevant links.

Speakers I viewed included

  1. Mike Soskil who spoke of the importance of giving students opportunities to solve real problems and making global connections by Skyping or doing the 5-Clue Challenge;
  2. Alice Keeler who discussed homework and asked,”Does homework inspire kids to love learning?”;
  3. Kasey Bell who discussed the creative ways you and your students can be using the GSuite for Education tools (formerly known as Google Apps for Ed) and how GSuite makes it easy for parents to stay connected and informed;
  4. the HyperDocs Girls- Lisa Highfill, Sarah Landis, and Kelly Amick Hilton (while I did not watch this particular presentation, I did watch their recent presentation during Google Edu On Air and they are always worth mentioning);
  5. Paul Solarz who challenged teachers to give over some control to students for a student-led classroom, and allow our students the opportunity to learn from mistakes. Additionally, Solarz talked about beginning with the end in mind, part of The Leader in Me program.
  6. John Spencer who wrote the book, LAUNCH and discussed making and creativity using the LAUNCH cycle, a design-thinking process in your classroom; and
  7. Dave Burgess , the original Teaching-Pirate, who talked about teaching with passion, making our content sizzle, and creating a classroom our students want to enter each day.

Each speaker shared their passion for educating children and will motivate you to be the best you can be so that your students can be the best they can be.

These days I use Twitter for the dual purpose of taking notes and sharing information and then pull it all together using Storify. You can view my Storify here.

Happy New Year!

Lots of Awesome

8530583926

It has been a great week of learning beginning with Google Education on Air last Friday and Saturday, December 2-3. It was amazing to be part of a global education experience learning from inspiring educators. In one of the sessions What is your spark, I learned about Classroom Bridges, a way for teachers to connect their classroom with classrooms around the world. Just sign up and start connecting! If you are looking to connect your class with others around the country and around the world, this is as easy as it gets! Another fantastic session was the one on HyperDocs which I have written about before. Here is the link to the recording and this links to the resources from the session. You can view all keynotes and sessions on demand by clicking here.

The next thing I want to share is this article about which research and evidence-based teaching strategies effect student learning, “8 Strategies Robert Marzano and John Hattie Agree On”. Clear focus, overt instruction, and student engagement with the content are the top 3; read on for more!

This week’s Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition has some excellent articles, tips, and ideas.  I think you will love this idea for your English classes- Memes Everywhere wherein you will learn how one teacher has his students create memes for literary characters while reading novels. It is a fun way to engage students with content while reading. Though I shared this a couple weeks ago, Book Snaps is another way your students can interact with text while reading.

I was interested in reading this next article, “PD Should Model What You Want to See in the Classroom”, since I recently read and wrote about best practices for professional development.This article is a recap of how the presenter designed the PD day so that he incorporated modeling various ways to teach while presenting on creating lessons incorporating and using primary sources from the Library of Congress.This post comes completely loaded with both ideas for different ways to teach, AND complete lessons for teachers in this PDF The Student as Historian. In it you will find the PD piece and lessons from 4th grade through high school including lessons on Lewis & Clark, the Civil War, and Native Americans of Oregon. You will need time to digest this one but it is worth it!

Continuing along the history path is this recent post by Richard Byrne, “Two Good Sets of Animated Maps for U.S. History Students” . Here you will find Byrne talks about two sites: one that shows animated maps of historical battles, and the other that shows map changes over time. Both are great supplements to your history and social studies classes.

For more great articles, visit the Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition.

 

 

 

 

His Story, Her Story, Their Story, Our Story

11627048594I have had two tabs open in my browser for the last rotation and a half. Since my school is on a 7-day rotation, with each day being a letter of our school name,  that means this tab has been open since the previous P day. Today is E day. That is a long time to keep something hanging around but these two tabs are worth it and here is why.

The first is a blog post from the Cult of Pedagogy that got me from the title, Best PD Ever: The Gilder Lehrman Teacher Seminars. At the time that I first saw this post, I was researching effective PD (which I then shared here) so of course I was going to open it up and read it. Gonzalez talked about a series of teacher seminars that immerse the teacher learners in the specific history experience during one week residential seminars. Depending on your area of study, this could be Mount Vernon for the George Washington experience, New York City for the 9-11 experience, or Missoula, Montana for the Lewis and Clark experience.

I had not heard of Gilder Lehrman so I went to visit their site. I have still not left. It is a veritable treasure trove of learning from all eras of history from The Americas and American Indians,  exploration to the present.  You can explore by era or by themes across time. There is so much here for history teachers, history buffs, students, or anyone like me who just likes to learn. There are primary sources like letters from soldiers that you can listen to while reading along, or this letter from a slave to his mother, or this one from Abraham Lincoln to his wife. They also have Multimedia like this one about Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass that I coincidently heard about during Dave Chapelle’s opening monologue on SNL, where Abraham Lincoln asked Frederick Douglass what he thought of his inaugural speech (Douglass was not allowed in to the White House because the guards did not know him. Lincoln saw him and shouted, “Let him in, he’s that’s my friend Douglass,”), or these about the Thirteen Colonies. There are Interactive features, teacher resources, video series, and so much more. The site is free to sign up and use, many things viewable without logging in. For educators there are professional development opportunities, online programs, self-paced courses,  summer seminars, teacher resources, and that is just the beginning.

To have this amazing collection of resources at your fingertips is incredible. While this post may be short, it is packed with information that I encourage you to spend some time checking out and then passing along.