First Days of Spring, Time to Share

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“The secret of education lies in respecting the pupil” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is a multi-tab week on my laptop with many articles, tools, and thoughts to share with you.

First out of the gate are two posts on an oft-discussed and debated topic- homework: one from Time titled, “Why Parents Should Stop Making Kids Do Homework”,  in which it talks about the age groups homework actually is shown to benefit and how homework has become the “‘new family dinner'”. The other is from Alice Keeler titled, “Stop Giving Homework”.  Keeler gives many reasons why we as teachers should stop giving homework including kids should have time for other activities, it takes time to grade and go over homework so by not giving it, you are buying back instructional time, and often times there are gaps when some students’ parents are able to help with homework while others are not. She offers many other reasons in this thought-provoking post.

The next is a new digital storytelling tool I recently learned about called while reading about this Earth Day global collaboration opportunity, Buncee Buddies.  EduBuncee is a multi-media, drag-and-drop canvas that combines drawing, animation, slides, video, audio, images, and QR codes into one neat little product. EduBuncee is free to sign up and the paid version offers more options. For the Earth Day project, classrooms will be paired up with Buncee Buddies and all will be given the paid version of EduBuncee for free for the rest of the school year. So why not sign up to share how you celebrate Earth Day in your part of the world and try a new tool at the same time- two great things for the price of none!

We have all been there either with our school children, our personal children, or other’s children- they have just completed something, tried something, accomplished something and we are ready to offer our accolades. What can we say beyond the usual? This article gives us 25 Things to Say Instead of “Good Job”.

This next post is absolutely fantastic. Mrs. Lifshitz, a Fifth Grade teacher, has engaged and empowered her students and altered the way she is teaching writing (and so much more) as you will see when you take a look at Giving Writing Workshop Back to Our Writers: Choose Your Own Mentor Text and a Student-Led EdCamp. The post is lengthy because Mrs. Lifshitz has painstakingly described and documented how she transformed both her thinking about teaching and how it all went down in her class and the result- a Student Wonders site akin to their inspiration, Wonderopolis. It is a worthwhile and mindset-shifting read.

Finally, many of you– hundreds of thousands of you- participate each year in the Global Read Aloud. Well, it is time again to sign up for GRA2016! Don’t be confused by the header when you land at the site as it still shows the 2015 book pics. Scroll down to the form which has been updated for this next school year. If you have been part of it, you know what an amazing experience it is for your students; if you have not, take the leap!

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Science, Google, Growth Mindset and More

“The most important attitude that can be formed is that of desire to go on learning.” ― John DeweyExperience and Education

In honor of Earth Day and because I am a huge fan of Zaption, here is a Zaption tour on the Super Powers of Trees. Share with your students as a whole class and use the questions as discussion prompts, or share via your Edmodo class page and have your kids take a look tonight for some Earth Day fun. Be sure to browse all the Tours available for your use or remixing!

If you are someone who loves Science, teaches Science, wants to learn more about how memory works, or are just a Physics buff, you will enjoy this post 15 Science YouTube channels Kids Love. These channels explain science, they are not just how tos.

New features are coming all the time to Google Classroom, and today I learned about a few more. Now teachers can invite other teachers to be part of their classroom (think student teachers, co-teachers, etc) making sharing what’s going on and multiple teachers assigning work (or knowing what work your students have from other teachers) that much easier. The next is the ability to create an assignment and save it as a draft to post later. If you have other ideas, Google is happy to listen so think about what you would need from Google Classroom and let them know.

While we are almost at the end of April, it is still poetry month and so I thought I would pass this along to you. More likely something you might be interested in for yourself, or if you are a high school English teacher you might want to share with your students. This is the Library of Congress’  Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature where you can hear authors like Margaret Atwood and Ray Bradbury reading some of their poetry and giving commentary along the way. For more poet interviews (including spotlights on Hispanic writers, African writers, and more) both recorded and written, see here.

Some of you have started using Thinglink with your students as a way for them to share information about a topic. Richard Byrne shares how you can use your Thinglink classroom account and the Remix feature (where you take a Thing that’s already been made and remix it your way so you are not starting from scratch) to create review lessons for your students. This post is specifically about using it for map review, but I can see it easily being used for other purposes around your curriculum (Science you can have an image the students need to label, English they can answer Qs about a novel, etc).

We talk regularly about formative assessments, but have you thought about having your students use photos, screenshots, screencasts, and videos to find out what your students learned or found interesting today? Take a look at this article from Edutopia to see how your students can share artifacts of learning using digital media.

This next post by The Nerdy Teacher is about The next best thing to being there. The Nerdy Teacher, aka Nicholas Provenzano, is a 9th grade English teacher. He was going to be out of class at a conference for a few days but wanted his students to go on in class as if he was still there. He created some screencast of himself reading 4 different Emily Dickinson poems that he then wanted students to discuss. Since he was not going to be in class, he had the students do a “Silent Discussion” using their Google Classroom stream as their platform. You can read about it here. What he saw was how much discussion and interaction happened around these poems both during classtime and after it ended. It went so much better than he thought that he wondered if he holds his students back during discussions by being too involved himself. So, if you are going to be out of school for a day or two, why not be there virtually instead! For more ways to have class discussions where everyone gets a chance to speak up, not just the ones raising their hands, try Todays Meet, or if your classroom is on Twitter, use a hashtag to have a class chat.

I have shared several articles and posts on Fixed v Growth Mindset and today I am sharing one more. This one however, is a lesson plan developed in partnership with Khan Academy and it can be used over a few days with your students. It incorporates videos, discussions, and hands-on activities that help your students see that they can make a difference in their own learning, understanding and intelligence. I think this would be a great set of mini lessons to do with your students as you approach the end of the school year because it can be used in part as a reflection of their learning while they share information with future students of your classroom.