When Opportunity Comes Knocking . . .

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“Teachers open doors, but you must enter by yourself” ~Chinese Proverb

 

When I was trying to come up with a title for this post, I thought about what kinds of things I was sharing. I realized that much of it, while presented as tips, tools, and readings, are really opportunities. Opportunities for our own learning, opportunities for our students’ learning, and opportunities to try something new.

Opportunity #1

I am excited that the Innovator’s Mindset Massive Open Online Course or #IMMOOC for short, is offering another opportunity for us to learn together as it is coming back for round 4. Whereas rounds 1-3 revolved around the reading and discussing of Couros‘ fantastic, thought-provoking book, The Innovator’s Mindset, this round includes two additional books to choose from: Katie Martin’s, Learner-Centered Innovation and A.J. Juliani and John Spencer‘s Empower. I loved participating in the previous round and looked forward to each week’s live video session as well as the weekly Twitter chat. If you would like to learn more about the previous round, you can read about it here.  This is a learning opportunity you will not want to miss.

Opportunity #2

This next opportunity is for World Language Teachers. Eric Curts always has great resources to share and this is no different. In his post, he shares 5 tools for increasing your students’ fluency with the target language including one that you probably had not thought to use this way. One of my colleagues has been using Google Hangouts with her students and she loves the authenticity of the conversations.

Opportunity #3

Equally as fantastic is this opportunity from Shake Up Learning to enhance your teaching life:  50 apps/sites that integrate with Google Classroom. As many of you know and can attest, Google Classroom makes your workflow that much smoother with your students. Having apps that integrate with Google Classroom makes using those sites even easier with their share to classroom option. I have personally used the Flipgrid, PBS Learning Media, Padlet, Nearpod,and Screencastify, as well as the Share to Google Classroom extension (which anyone who is using Classroom should immediately install) and find the integration to be seamless. It is really as easy as click, share, choose class, done!

Opportunity #4

While browsing the above post, I saw an opportunity to learn about a new resource and clicked on a site I had not heard of before– Open Ed. Open Ed is resources for teachers and students K-12 including videos, assessments, homework, lesson plans, interactives, and more. You can search by key word, grade, type of resource, standard, or school subject. Once you get your results, you can then share them with your students by printing or sharing to Google Classroom. If you create your free account, then you can create a class and assign things to your students individually, in groups, or as a whole class (similar to your options for assignments in Google Classroom). Your teacher dashboard shows you what you have assigned, what your students complete, how they did, and then offers specific additional resources for each student for each question they need more help with which you can then assign to those students. Talk about differentiation! Pop over to Open Ed to check out what they have to offer; you will not be disappointed!

Opportunity #5

This last site is an opportunity to engage your reluctant or struggling readers. A few weeks ago I heard about this next site and am excited to share it. Storyshares is a site dedicated to pairing books with struggling or disengaged readers that are compelling, age appropriate, and at the same time, are at their reading level. You can read about StoryShares here. What is great about Storyshares is it’s interactivity. You can search by interest level (late elementary through post high school), reading level (Fountas and Pinnell), or grade level (K-5). These are books written specifically to address the need for high interest and relevant books for those whose reading level is not the same as their age and maturity level. It’s really a win-win for everyone involved.

photo credit: PMillera4 Two Doors via photopin (license)

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Taking Time to Learn

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Taking time for learning is one of the ways I use my signature strength- Love of Learning. It is something I enjoy and often feel like I am missing something if I am not reading or engaging in some sort of learning whether it be a course or webinar. I recently participated in one hosted by Modern Learners‘ Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon. These webinars are thought-provoking, interesting, and leave their participants pondering things like grading, success, and questions like, “what matters” over “how”. When you subscribe to their newsletter, you get the free download of The Modern Learners Reader, a collection of essays on educational change. It is definitely worth the time to read it and would be great to read as a faculty.

As mentioned above, one of the webinars I participated in was with Scott Looney of the Mastery Transcript Consortium. In it he talked about his schools’ need for moving away from traditional grading and finding other ways of showing skills that students were learning and displaying that could not be assessed with letter grades. This recent article from Edutopia, “Will Letter Grades Survive?” offers a taste of that conversation.

“The purpose of education is not to sort kids—it’s to grow kids. Teachers need to coach and mentor, but with grades, teachers turn into judges.” ~Scott Looney, The Hawken School

As part of the Ditch Summit, Pooja Agarwal shared her research-based strategies for improving learning and retention through the use of retrieval practice. You can read about that in my previous post here. Last week Kate Jones, an educator I follow on Twitter shared her retrieval practice challenge grids that she created for her classroom along with images from numerous teachers who have adapted and shared her original challenge grid to use for spaced retrieval practice of their own content. Ah, the power of Twitter!

One of the sites to which I subscribe is the Global Digital Citizen Foundation or GDCF Ninjas for short. They have a fantastic blog as well as excellent resources on all topics including STEM, digital citizenship, formative assessments, writing, rubrics, and lesson plans (for premium users), and professional learning articles. It really is a site that has something foe everyone. One of the posts they shared is on formative assessment that includes several non-technology based ways to check in with your students. They also have a downloadable and printable pocket guide with over 70 different fun, quick, and easy ways to formatively assess your students. Pair these with or use for spaced retrieval practice as recommended by Pooja Agarwal, for a great way to ensure your students’ learning retention over time.

If you would like to find even more great articles, videos, tips, and tricks, check out this week’s Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition.

photo credit: Anne Davis 773 learning via photopin (license)

Happy “20CHAI”!

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How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world ~Anne Frank

Welcome back! In case you are questioning my title, 20CHAI refers to the new year, 2018. In Hebrew, the number 18 stands for Chai meaning Life. If you want to get technical and use gematria (pronounced with a soft g like in gem) the two letters that make up the hebrew word, Chai (the CH pronounced like you are trying to tickle your throat), are Chet (CH pronounced as above) and Yud (yood) represent the numbers 8 and 10 respectively and when you add them up you get 18. So 18 is the number that Jewish people often refer to as Chai.

So, I thought that with the new year being Twenty-Eighteen, it would be interesting to think about it in terms of positive psychology (since we are implementing at my school) and ask the following question, what will I do to improve LIFE this year, be it mine or those around me? This first article offers a new way of thinking about getting started.

I am generally not one to make resolutions, but Dr. Lea Waters proposes reframing our resolutions/goals and using our strengths to help attain them.

When we place the bulk of our attention on improving a strength we are starting at a higher baseline, and this is where we really have the potential to thrive.

Next is a list of books on wellbeing and character from the International Positive Education Network that I am looking forward to reading. Improving your wellbeing will have a ripple effect on those around you at home and in the workplace so selecting from here will be a step in the right direction for our 20Chai year.

Over the winter break I had the wonderful opportunity to learn from from amazing educators during #DitchSummit, one of whom is Dr. Pooja Agarwal. Agarwal’s presentation was on improving learning and retention by using non-graded, spaced retrieval practice throughout the learning. As she said in her presentation, it is not just about getting information in, but about getting it out. She proposes many research- and evidence-based ways to do this. You can read about them here in her retrieval practice guide and can sign up on her site to get email updates as new research, resources, tips, and articles come out. Implementing some or all of her tips will be helpful for your students (and you) and improve school and learning life for them.

The crux of positive psychology is “Other People Matter”. This next article, “The Magic of Validation” from the Cult of Pedagogy will help improve your relationship with students, colleagues, family, and friends. In it she discusses and offers ways to change how you listen to and respond to others thereby showing them you are hearing what they are saying and acknowledging their feelings (not necessarily changing your viewpoint, but seeing their perspective). Just the slightest change to how you interact can make a big difference on your relationships. Did you know that the way you respond to someone else’s good news has a large impact on your relationship with that person?

Last up are two resources to enhance your teaching repertoire for writing workshop and teaching least common multiples in math (actually, Kaplinsky’s site is one I have shared before and there are numerous resources for teaching countless other math concepts).

The first is a playlist from TED Ed for writer’s workshop mini-lessons. Here you will find 25 videos that are 6 minutes or less- most of them less than 5- on topics ranging from writing more descriptively, how to make writing more suspenseful, what makes a poem, and word choice.

The last resource is a complete lesson from Robert Kaplinsky and he uses a very funny scene from Father of the Bride with Steve Martin to illustrate the concept of least common multiples.  You will definitely want to check out his other lessons for students from K though 8 including algebra 1, 2, and geometry.

Images from Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons respectively.

 

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!

 

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)

“Isolation is a choice educators make” #IMMOOC

12160694833I often start my weekly shares with my colleagues with, ” I found this on Twitter” or “I heard about this from so-and-so’s (most recently, “so-and-so” is often Alice Keeler, George Couros, or Eric Curts) post on Twitter.” I say that because at any given moment, one can learn so much so easily and without a lot of effort. Don’t get me wrong, when I say “without a lot of effort” I don’t mean that it is effort-less, I just mean that if you know what hashtags to look at (or even if you don’t and just do a search for a subject), who to follow, and then take some time to scroll through and look, you will most definitely find something new and interesting and with relative ease.

There is a quote by Steven Johnson from his TED talk, “Where Good Ideas Come From” that says, “Chance favors the connected mind.” This is one quote that I always come back to time and again and that I have written about before. I can honestly say that connecting with others via Twitter has been life changing for me as far as my professional life is concerned. Many of the books I read, things that I do with my students, and ways that I share are directly influenced by those I follow on Twitter.

In his book, Couros made a statement, “isolation is a choice educators make.” That is one decision I choose not to make.