Jump In

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Sometimes the empty title box and + at the beginning of a blog post can be intimidating. Sure, you may have plenty of things to say or share, but looking at the empty space can make you hesitate, second guess, and procrastinate. I liken that to both the start of the new year– be it in the fall when a new school year is beginning, or in the winter, when the whole year is in front of you — and a swimming pool. Some people like to dip their toes in the water to get them used to the temperature as they ease their way in; others just jump right in.

In this case, I am going to offer you both: things you can jump in and use right away with your students and other things you can dip your toes in to try out as you ease your way in to the new year.

The first two are from PBS Learning Media, a favorite of mine for all subjects, all ages, and all types of content.

First is for our younger elementary students: Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum. This series of episodes, lessons, games, and activities is based off the book series, Ordinary People Change the World. The group of lessons is designed to help children make the connection between the character strengths of the historical figures and the same strengths they may also have. So far there are lessons on Zora Neale Hurston, George Washington, Cleopatra, and Isaac Newton.

Next is geared toward upper elementary, middle and high school students in grades 4-12 and it is a collaboration between PBS Learning Media and Ken Burns called Ken Burns in the Classroom. I first read about this in this article from the Washington Post. Ken Burns has been photographing and creating documentaries on all subjects and this partnership with PBS Learning Media is a “one-stop destination” of “classroom-ready content.” There are lesson plans, media, photographs, a gallery, and documents searchable by era or film beginning with the Revolution and the New Nation in 1754 to Contemporary United States from 1980 to Present. Each lesson comes with supporting materials and articles and links to additional content. Just by clicking on the lesson tags will bring you to even more content from PBS Learning Media. For example, I started here with Ken Burns’ Civil War and Reconstruction, made my way to The Civil Rights Act of 1964 from the Library of Congress, then to more materials on Civil War and Reconstruction housed in PBS Learning Media.

If you are thinking about flipping your classroom, this article from KQED offers a few tips from a teacher who has been flipping her math classes for the last several years. First, a flipped classroom model is when your students view content at home, often in the form of a video or another online option, then use class time to work on clarifying understanding, working in small groups, or working through the problems at school. This allows for more interaction between the teacher and the students during class time which, in traditional models, can often be spent delivering instruction and covering content. In this article, Three Simple Tools to Make Math Thinking Visible, Stacy Roshan shares her flipped learning journey and some ways she has iterated on her original model including how she uses Flipgrid, Edpuzzle, and Sutori to enhance the interactivity with her students.

Next, you know my fondness for what Pooja Agarwal shares to help make learning stick. This past week she and her co-author, Patrice Bain were interviewed (again) as part of the DITCH Summit and this download is notes from their session, Using Powerful Teaching to Remember and Thrive. You’ll find easy-to-implement tips, practices, and tools that you can begin using with your students tomorrow like brain-dumps, retrieve-taking instead of note-taking, and Just two things.

Last, do you want to build a snowman? How about an app? In his recent, “Favorite New Updated Tools of 2019” post, Richard Byrne shared Glide Apps. Glide Apps creates an app from content in Google Sheets. If you can add information to columns and rows, you can build an app with Glide.

So, which one of these will you jump into and which ones will you choose to dip your toes in this new year?

Knock, Knock!

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On this Giving Tuesday, I am gifting you several learning opportunities to read, learn, and connect.

Gift #1: Stevey Wyborney’s Esit-Mysteries Do you love to teach math? Do you love to engage your students in rich talk around and about math? Then these esti-mysteries are for you. Esti-mysteries combine estimation and math mysteries in the form of clues to make a great activity for your students. For the folks in our lower school. you may remember the splat math that our wonderful math specialist shared last year; well, esti-mysteries come from the same guy! As of mid-November, Wyborney created the 51st esti-mystery. While the ones I have looked through may seem geared toward elementary school, I can easily see these being modified with more advanced math concept clues. I can also see students creating their own and sharing with their peers. So, put on your thinking cap and start solving these mysteries.

Gift #2 Tech Tools that Harness Retrieval Practice As you might recall (recall is a form of retrieval), I have written numerous times about Pooja Agarwal and retrieval practice as a way of solidifying and helping learning to move from short term to long term. Here is just one of those posts. Anyway, in today’s share, Agarwal lists the tools you can use in your class to help with retrieval practice. One of the ones I personally enjoy is Quizizz (you can read more here) because it allows you to shuffle questions (and responses) and shuffling questions, especially when they are on different concepts or even topics, is known as interleaving which is another way of helping students remember and learn the information.

Gift #3 Speaking of the brain, this next gift is 8 Ways to Create a Brain-Friendly Classroom Back in 2009, Judy Willis came to do a 2-day workshop at our school on learning and the brain where she offered strategies for teaching that aligns with the way the brain learns. It was quite interesting and I still remember a number of teaching strategies like change colors (novelty) when writing notes on the board (or projecting) so it activates the reticular activating device and brings attention back to what you are saying, do something different (novelty and unexpected) when you are about to say something important, etc. In this recent article co-authored by Willis, she offers more ways you can create a stress-free environment that is conducive to learning for your students and their brains.

Gift #4 A live webinar with Lucy Calkins. When I was a classroom teacher, Lucy Calkins was my idol. I read all her books, attended her summer workshops on writing and reading, and religiously did a reading and writing workshop in my classes. Those were the days. Well, next Tuesday, December 10, at 2:00PM ET you can participate in a webinar with Lucy Calkins where she will be discussing reading and writing instruction to support achievement in schools.

Gift #5 13 Unexpected and Fun Geography Lessons to Enhance your Curriculum Hear fun ways different teachers use geography to help their students learn about the world beyond their classroom. Mystery Skype anyone? #GridPals? #Epals?

Gift #6 Civics 101: A Podcast and when I say, “podcast” I am talking about more than 150 episodes on everything civics related like impeachment, how to run for president, the Federalist and anti-federalist papers, and around 147 more. Each episode comes with a transcript, the full episode, several audio clips, and more. It’s really a history teacher’s jackpot. If you check out their educator’s page, you will find a link to graphic organizers you can have your students use while listening and other ways to use these podcasts to enhance learning. You’re welcome!

Gift #7 DITCH SUMMIT Last but not least, DITCH Summit is coming! Everyday from December 21-January 8 a new video will be released with an interview between Matt Miller, the host of the summit, and his guest of the day. DITCH Summit is where I first heard Pooja Agarwal speak and she will be presenting again at this year’s summit along with Toney Jackson, Omar Lopez, Austin Kleon, and more. It is all virtual and all free. Each video comes with related notes, links, documents, and you can get a professional development certificate, and more. Like years past, the summit is only open for a limited time so sign up and get ready to learn.

For more articles, videos, tools, and more, read the Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition.

New Year, New Links, New Learning

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”
― Oprah Winfrey

We are only back from winter break since Monday, yet the the number of open tabs on my laptop make it feel like it’s been weeks.

This week I have several things to share so sit back, get comfortable, and enjoy.

Time-Sensitive Learning Opportunities

First, Will Richardson and Modern Learners has a free, one-hour webinar, Reimagining Assessment, coming this Tuesday, January 15th at 3PM and 8PM EST.

Next, if you were busy getting ready for the holiday break and did not get a chance to participate in the DITCH That Textbook Digital Summit, the videos are back. For a limited time only, you can watch all 35 videos. Yes, I said THIRTY-FIVE because this includes not only this year’s DITCH Summit videos, but the 2018 CUE videos, the 2017 DITCH Summit videos, and the 2016 DITCH Summit videos. This is 35 hours of professional development that you can use right away so start clicking!

Also on January 15th at 8PM ET/5PM PT, Newsela and EdCurrent are hosting a free, one-hour webinar on Moving from One Size Fits All to Universal Design for Learning. Don’t worry if you cannot make it, all registrants will get a link to the recorded video.

Tools for Teaching

Remove. Have you or your students ever wanted to remove a background from a picture so you could layer it on another background? Well, look no further than here. It’s literally two steps: upload a photo or paste in a url; the site does the rest in as long as it takes for you to identify which images have a traffic light or bus. Then you can download your image and use it wherever you want.

Ms. Havrot’s Math Videos. Ms. Havrot is a retired Canadian math teacher who missed teaching. She began making math videos and posting them on her YouTube channel to help high school students with Trigonometry. She even includes practice quizzes! A great resource for math students and a great inspiration for math teachers to create and post their own.

Geography Games.  If you teach geography or want to brush up on your map skills, then you will want to take a look at and bookmark Setera. I learned about Setera, “the ultimate map quiz site” from Richard Byrne’s website. Setara is addictive to say the least. I started with the map of the United States and had to stop myself from moving on to the state capitals. You and your students can play online, or you can get the printables. There are over 300 games to choose from including ancient civilizations, latitude and longitude, flags, oceans, lakes. and they are in 34 languages. This site is amazing!

Retrieval Practice. Do you teach content that you would like your students to be able to learn deeply and remember later? Would you like to teach students the right way to study for learning, exams and tests? Pooja Agarwal, cognitive scientist, has a new retrieval practice guide out, “How to Use Spaced Retrieval Practice to Boost Learning”. This Spacing Guide joins the others in her resource library that are free for you to download. If you want to learn more about Agarwal, be sure to check out her video, “Brain-Friendly Learning That Works”, in the 2017 DITCH Summit.

Learning Theories. When was the last time you thought about why you teach the way you do? Well, this visual summary of 32 learning theories will remind you of the whys of yours and others’ teaching philosophies.

 

photo credit: ★Yo photography Sparkling Sydney via photopin (license)

NINE Days of Learning Coming Your Way #DITCHSummit

Image from Pixabay

Friends, it’s almost here: The 2018 DITCH Summit is two weeks away and with that will come NINE fabulous presenters that will leave you pumped, energized, motivated, and armed with tools, tips, and ideas that you can start using right away with your students! You can sign up here.

Beginning December 14th and daily through December 31st you will receive your daily gift of learning in your inbox along with all the accompanying materials for the day’s presentation.

This year’s schedule for the 2018 DITCHSummit:

December 14 (Fri) — How Students Are Using Technology to Change the World (Ken Shelton, Disruptor, Keynote Speaker, Techquity Voice)

December 15 (Sat) — Building Relationships and Communicating with Students (Kim Bearden, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Ron Clark Academy)

December 16 (Sun) — Six Practical Ways to Amplify Learning with Technology (Matt Miller, Head Textbook Ditcher, Ditch That Textbook)

December 17 (Mon) — Appsmashing Your Way to Redefinition (Jornea Erwin, Head of Educator Innovation, Flipgrid)

December 18 (Tue) — Infusing Coding in Any Class (Bryan Miller, Co-Founder, TopTechEDU, Director of Education Strategy, Wonder Workshop)

December 19 (Wed) — Fantastic Learning Activities with Google Drawings (Tony Vincent, 5th grade teacher / LearningInHand.com)

December 20 (Thur) — Using Visual Thinking to Unlock Powerful Learning (Manuel Herrera, doodler and visual thinker)

December 21 (Fri) — Sparking Student Creativity and Creation with Video (Claudio Zavala, video/creativity/storytelling enthusiast)

 If you are curious about DITCHSummit, you can read my posts from the previous years here, here, and here, and I promise you will be happy that you did!

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 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!