What’s New This Week


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.


Games, Techniques, and Game Changers



“I am still learning” ~Michelangelo

This week was a busy week of reading and learning. I had about 20 tabs open in my browser of articles, posts, and videos waiting for me to sit down and take the time to view. Since it is a snowy day off, today is the day I will plow through them so I can share the learning with you.

Students as Problem Finders

“A great teacher makes themselves obsolete.” ~Vicki Davis

First on the docket is this podcast from George Couros and Vicki Davis. This episode is the 2nd in a series about The Innovator’s Mindset, written by George Couros, and it is about teaching children to become problem finders- to not just solve problems you give them, but to find problems that they want to solve. Students will not be with us forever, we need to teach them how to be independent, seek out learning opportunities for themselves, and take initiative.

Minecraft is Coming to a Classroom Near You!

This next is going to be very exciting for all of the Minecraft enthusiasts, especially your students. Microsoft, who purchased Minecraft in 2014  has announced a Minecraft Education Edition for schools that will launch this summer. As teachers, many (or some) of us, might be loath to introduce something in class that we are not familiar or comfortable with. What we need to do is set aside our fears and allow the students to become the teachers– let the students show us how Minecraft works. The Minecraft Edu Edition is going to have a community resource area for teachers to share their Minecraft settings so others can use them with their students. Check it out– there are already some starter lessons including the Pyramids of Giza and the Temple of Artemis.

iPad 9.3 Update is a “Game Changer”

If you are using iPads in the classroom this next article is for you! The new iPad update 9.3 will now allow for multiple users on one iPad with the addition of user profiles. Now if you are a teacher in a classroom (or even an adult with children who share your iPad) where iPads are shared with another classroom or amongst multiple students in your class, this new update will  be extremely helpful for you. One of the features is the ability for student work to be automatically saved to their own profile making loss or accidental deletion by another user a thing of the past! For more on this update, see here.

Let’s Discuss

I love this post from The Cult of Pedagogy (which includes a podcast if you’d prefer to listen) because it has ideas– 15 to be exact– you can start using right away to get the conversations flowing in your classroom. There are some excellent discussion techniques/formats divided into low prep (you can insert them on the fly), high prep, and ongoing strategies including the Fishbowl, Socratic Seminar, Philosphical Chairs, Pinwheel and 11 more AND each comes with a link to a video of how the particular technique works. So with this article you get the audio, the text, and the video!  I like that in addition to sharing the ideas and how to implement them, Jennifer includes variations on each. Many of these formats can be used from as young as elementary school.

What’s the Scoop?

I learned about Jellybean Scoop the other day and think it’s an excellent site to add to your toolbelt. Jellybean Scoop is a non-fiction news and high-interest stories site geared to appeal to younger students incuding beginning or reluctant readers. The site is divided in to news sections like World News, Inspirational and Health, Nature and Science, Fun Facts, and Odd News, and the stories are leveled for beginning, intermediate, advanced, and fluent. Each articles come with audio so that students can listen to the article making it the perfect site for your early elementary or ELL students. Additionally, each article comes with vocabulary, word and sentence builders, comprehension, and print options to engage your students. Teachers can create and account for as few as 25 and as many as 100 students.

Khan and Pixar: A Match Made in Learning Heaven

What I love about technology is the opportunity to learn something new everyday. Now there is one more thing we can potentially add to our repertoire thanks to Khan Academy and Pixar: Animation. Khan and Pixar have released a free online course that is sure to make aspiring animators very happy. If you have ever spent time learning on Khan Academy, you know that the courses are well laid out and they make difficult content easier to learn so you can feel successful. This is definitely one to check out!

Want more great information? Check out this week’s Shipley PLN Lower School Edition!