Lots of Awesome

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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.

 

 

 

 

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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.

More Than Just Music to Their Ears

5146079703_24f8fea201_m“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”
Rudyard Kipling, The Collected Works

I read a fantastic post about how teachers are using Hamilton the Musical in their history classes and it made me think about how I learned. My mother would say she taught me everything I know while singing to me in the bathtub and during potty training. While I may beg to differ on ‘everything’, I do believe that I learned a lot through music: the ABCs, how to spell my full name, the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence. Ok, the last was not while in the bath, but it was learned on Saturday mornings when Schoolhouse Rock came on in between cartoons.

There are many ways to use music to help boost memory so I thought I would share some sites you can use in your class to help improve your student’s memory for facts, concepts, and details. You can read here and here for more about tips on how to engage your students and improve memory.

  1. Teaching the American Revolution and Founding Fathers? Here is Hamilton, the Musical soundtrack on YouTube
  2. Teaching grammar, history, math? The complete Schoolhouse Rock on YouTube
  3. Flocabulary has a great channel with videos for digital citizenship, Social Studies, English, Math, and more
  4. History for Music Lovers has 53 videos on many historical topics and figures
  5. Harry Kindergarten Music is for the K-2 crowd

There are so many more to find, but why not have your students create songs to help themselves and others learn the way our 4th graders did?!

photo credit: Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds via photopin (license)

I Went to the Chrome Store and I Got . . .

Icono_web_storeWho does not love to shop?! Actually, I don’t love it and have to be in the mood, meaning I have to begin to feel withdrawal. And when I am in the mood, I rarely enjoy shopping if it involves going to the mall. This is why I enjoy “shopping” in the Chrome Store.

One of the (many) things I love about Chrome is the Chrome Store and I can get lost browsing the many apps, extensions, and themes all while on my way to looking for something else. So this post is my list of some recent Chrome additions and ones I think could be useful (and fun) to you and your students.

But first, some vocabulary.

App: Installs on your Chrome home page. Some act like shortcuts to sites, others allow for productivity (like Sheets, Slides, Docs, Drive), and still others just open in a separate window (like the Whiteboard app below).

Extension: These are tools that live on your bookmark bar

Theme: Colorful, fun decor for your Chrome home page, bookmark bar and Tabs (perhaps you have recently seen snow falling on your kids’ screens or beautiful flower blossoms on your colleague’s screen. These are themes.

This all started while I was looking for an online whiteboard app so that students who use a laptop can create math tutorials to show evidence of learning. I popped into the Chrome Store the other afternoon for what I planned on being about 5 minutes so I could do a quick search and found two to try: Ziteboard and Whiteboard Lite. After trying both, I am recommending Whiteboard Lite for its ease of use and the different tool options. You can add text, shapes, change colors, change background (to include something you upload) and change line thickness. Since we have Quick Time installed on our Macbooks, there is no immediate need for a different tool to record the screen, but if you do not, my friend and colleague Wendy recommends Screencastify. The whiteboard is a must.

Like Stacey’s Pita Chips and other salty foods, it is difficult to stop at just one and there are so many apps that I got caught up browsing the other educational tools.

I added the Highlight Key Words for Google Search extension so that when I run a search, my search words will be highlighted when I open a link. This will allow me to easily and quickly locate the info for which I am searching. This is one I am going to have my students install so that it will help make their research time more efficient.

Student-Created.TV is a fantastic site of tutorials on all subjects created by (6th grade) students for students. I first heard about this from Alan November’s, Who Owns the Learning and landed there again when I was looking for examples of math tutorials. Imagine how thrilled I was to see this can also be an app your students can add to their Chrome home page so that they can learn anytime. Then, they can use the Whiteboard Lite app and create their own!

Revolutionary War Guess My Name and Civil War Guess My Name are two “guess who” games will make learning studying the Revolutionary and Civil Wars feel more like a challenge than a test. There are four different modes: quiz, game, learn, and review so your students can get to know the various players in these important historical events. Clues are given and students choose between four possible answers. Add these apps to Chrome and your students can easily access it right from their Chrome home page.

Fraction Puzzles, Fraction Wall, Number Golf, Hundreds Grid Chart– Math game apps that your students can use to practice their math facts in a fun, interactive way. Add these apps to your Chrome and make this an option for your fast finishers. Both Fraction Puzzles and Number Golf are games within one site from MathPapa and would be great for all ages of elementary, middle, and quite possibly early high school math as they go from basic math facts, positive and negative numbers, to algebra and graphing. What I like about the Hundreds Grid Chart is that the chart can change from whole numbers, positive and negative, and decimals; it also includes a built-in calculator, a coloring tool, and the option to print. Additionally, it goes beyond numbers to 100. Fraction Wall by Visnos is an excellent visual of fractions, equivalent fractions, percents, and more. From simple to advanced, this interactive wall has many options for you and your students to practice and learn fractions.

Of course, there are countless others but I will save those for another day. . .

I went shopping in the Chrome Store and I got all these apps and extensions; what will you get?

Icono web store” by Google Inc. – Chrome Web Store. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
 

 

Boo! A Not so Scary Share

This week I am sharing articles and posts that I think are timely and important.

I just read this article about the importance of helping and teaching our students not only about how to be good digital citizens, but also how to be good digital leaders. Just because they don’t see themselves doing anything stupid or silly online when they Google themselves does not mean that they should not be found at all. We need to help and encourage our students to create a positive digital footprint so that they can be found when Googled, and that when they are, it shows their leadership, innovations, and inspirations.

Since many are implementing digital portfolios, I thought this EdWeek article by Larry Ferlazzo about the importance of making reflection a habit would be appropriate to share. EdWeek articles require a log in to read. This is free to subscribe to with your school email and a password.

I read an article from The New York Times about teaching math and in it was this great site for math riddles to be used for problem solving and critical thinking that I thought you might like to try with your (older for many riddles) classes. The riddles range in difficulty from easy to very challenging and topics from Geometry to Algebra, probability, logic, and more and would probably be best if these were worked on in small groups so students can practice problem solving collaboratively. 

Here is a site that I shared last year but that came by again in my Twitter feed this morning. Hstry.co is a cool site for learning and creating using interactive multimedia timelines like this featured one on Life in the Colonies or this one on Using Twitter in your classroom. You can include text, images, videos, and quizzes in the timelines you create and then share or embed these on your site. One drawback that I have is the inability to filter timelines by subject. The site is free to sign up and free to create, though access to some of the really great bundles that Hstry.co creates  (and there are some really perfect ones for our 4th and 5th graders) are for premium users at $49/year. Beyond that, it’s pretty cool.

That’s all folks.

Final Share of the School Year

Thank to Twitter, I have come across a few things that I think you might enjoy reading, trying, viewing.

The first is Context U. For those of you who teach History (I would say grade 4 and up as it is designed for middle school and high school) or who are history buffs, this site is for you. It is currently in Beta which means its developers want and ask for feedback so give it to them. What it is is actually in the name- Context U is a site that puts historical events in context by placing them on an interactive timeline, pinning them on a Google map, grouping them in groups, and showing cause and effect. The best part is it is all interactive. As you know, understanding the context and background offers insights and understanding in a deeper way, making the learning of the topic go deeper. So, take a look, offer feedback, and share it with your students.

Next are some great Google Chrome extensions that will make reading online more about the reading and less about the distractions of the ads. I use the Evernote Clearly extension and love it because it I use Evernote to store articles (and recipes) and links from the web and the Clearly extension merges clean reading and the ability to then clip and save the article to my Evernote notebooks seamless.

 This next is an article about how one teacher made some shifts in her thinking and teaching and how these shifts allowed her to have a memorable 13th year of teaching. Before we all move on from this school year, what things will you think about that went well, and what things will you want to leave behind?

About a month ago was Google Education on Air, a two-day live streamed event that was all about the Skills of the Future for our students. I watched a number of the speakers live, and found the event to be exciting and motivating. Fortunately, even though the event is long over, the videos and the messages are archived for our viewing and reading pleasure. First is the skills report, a 21-page survey report on the skills students will need in the future to be successful. The top 3 from the survey are Problem-solving, teamwork, and communication. Read on to see what other skills students will need for the future. 

And what would a share of mine be without multiple somethings from Google. This time it’s Google Photos. Many of you are cleaning out laptops and want to know where to put your photos that are not synced with the I-cloud. Well, Google Photos is a great option. Take a look at all you can do with the Google Photos app for your mobile devices as well as the app for your Chrome home page. Seeing is believing.

It’s About Passion

If you don’t have passion for what you do, then what you are doing will do you in.

Just my opinion of course, but I think passion is the key to turning a “job” into a vocation. After all, when you love what you are doing, it ceases to be just a job.

And, I also believe that for students, having a teacher who is passionate about their subject, who is passionate about teaching, makes all the difference in the world with respect to students’ interest and enjoyment of the class, and, I believe, their performance.

Case in point: my son who is a junior in high school has the most amazing US history teacher. His passion and enthusiasm for the subject is palpable. The students eagerly go to his class and engage with the material and the teacher in a completely different way. They are not memorizing facts and figures, they are discussing motivation, reasoning, impact on society and impact on their lives. Now, one could say that passion alone will not make a student like a class or even do well in a class. But I will say that it is a large part of what makes a class or subject come alive for them.

Case in point number 2: I happen to have introduced coding to my eighth grade students during the Hour of Code this past December. Many of the students enjoyed it so much that I decided to suspend my regularly scheduled class programming so the students (and I) could explore a bit more of the coding. We are using code.org and Khan Academy and we spend about 48 minutes once a cycle solving puzzles and creating code. It’s been very exciting. One of my girls who started off as a reluctant participant (she preferred the discussions we were having over the coding we were/are doing) told me today that she is going to be participating in the LEAD program this summer and she will be continuing to learn computer programming! Now this is quite a turn around for this student who begrudgingly started coding with me just a short time ago. But, because of the excitement and enthusiasm in our classroom environment, she has become excited and enthusiastic about learning how to code! Quite wonderful if I do say so myself.

SO what can we as teachers do to keep the passion alive?

  1. I think we need to begin every year as if it is our first. We should not just open our plan books to see what we did last year at this time. New students, new interests, new personalities, teach them differently; one size does not fit all.
  2. Try something new. Coding is not something I knew a lot about. I had taken a Coursera course from Stanford, which I loved, and tinkered around in Tynker, but it was not until this year that I really began embracing the excitement and challenge of solving these puzzles.
  3. Keep learning. As John Cotton Dana says, “Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.”
  4. Find other teachers to learn with and from- create your PLN
  5. Lastly, take risks. There is nothing difficult about doing everything the same. It’s easy certainly, and comfortable, but you can’t grown when you don’t change.