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)

Learn and Collaborate from the Comfort of Your Classroom

anthonyjdangelo1-2xI love to learn. It’s a true statement. When I get hooked on a topic, I just want to keep learning more about it. I also love to share my learning with others which is why I write these posts and send my colleagues and friends lots of emails whenever I find something that might be of interest to them. It’s why I share on Twitter. This week I am sharing a few things that I think may be of interest or use to you.

Learn

One of the things I love to learn about is learning- specifically what aids in learning. From the first time Judy Willis presented to us about the reticular activating system, I have been fascinated about this topic. I still have camp friends who remember a talk I gave about the health center (back when running the health center was my job) because of the way I made not-so-subtle changes before I said something important I wanted them to remember. Pooja Agarwal and her site, Retrieval Practice, offer numerous research and evidence-based resources and strategies for learning about which I have written several times before. On November 5 from 3 – 4PM, Agarwal, a cognitive scientist, and Patrice Bain, a veteran teacher/education specialist, along with Allison Shell, author and research fellow,  are presenting at a free webinar titled, Unleash the Science of Learning, where  they will share and discuss evidence-based learning practices you can use in your classroom.  I have signed up to participate and will share what I learn and hope some of you will do the same.

Just clicking around through some of the links provided in the webinar’s description led me to some fantastic resources like these:

  1.  learner factors that influence math success and strategies to help build lessons that support these different math PK-2 learners or
  2. the factors that influence reading from the Learner Variability Project.
  3. and this Practice Guide for Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Learning.

Collaborate

How many miles can you travel around the world in 24 hours?

On November 13-14, Microsoft and Skype in the Classroom is hosting a Skype-a-Thon to support quality education for children around the world. For every 400 virtual miles traveled, Microsoft will support educational resources for children in need. There are many classrooms and experts waiting to connect with you and your students. You can check out the different collaborations here. While browsing, I came across several that relate to our sustainability initiative like this on the ewaste movement,  this on plastic pollution, and this on managing garbage. There are many more on all matter of topics and subjects that you can search by age group, subject, and location.

In the effort to keep things short and sweet, I will stop here. Happy learning!

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If you are singing the song and thinking about the holidays, then you are partially correct. While this is not a post about the winter holidays as it is only nearly September, it is a post that brings “gifts”. These gifts, however, are in the form of great tools you can use and connections you can make right off the bat for the new school year ahead!

First off is the All New Educator’s Guide to Flipgrid 3.0. In early August, Fligrid launched a slew of updates including making it FREE to educators everywhere! Now you and your students can share your voices, connect with other classrooms, become epals, and co-pilot topics safely, securely, and easily. Just imagine using Flipgrid on one of the first days of school for students to share something they want you to know about them, goals for the start of the year, or a favorite poem.

Speaking of sharing, flattening classroom walls, and connecting, the 2018 Global Read Aloud will kickoff in just over a month on October 1. Join with over a million other students and teachers in reading one of this year’s selections.  Then use Flipgrid to share reflections, favorite passages, and messages about the book with other classrooms from around the globe.

Richard Byrne has recently released his Practical Ed Tech Handbook for the 2018-2019 School Year that you are free to view, download, and use in your classroom and schools. In it you will find tips for staying in touch with parents and students, ways to use online quiz platforms, tools for making stop-motion and documentary-style videos, and more.

As my school continues our implementation of Positive Education under the Positive Psychology umbrella, and schools are realizing the importance of promoting and facilitating a growth mindset in their learners and faculty, Learn Storm and Khan Academy offer these growth mindset lessons and activities for elementary, middle, and high school students that you can utilize with your free Khan Academy account.

Day one is coming or for some is already here. Here are three options for one-minute of retrievals from Pooja Agarwal you can use with your students to get them primed and ready to learn. These are simple, quick warm-ups you can easily implement that are research-based ways to deepen your students’ learning. You can subscribe for weekly updates, read about the research and download free guides and follow Agarwal on Twitter.

Lastly, while you are setting up your classrooms, taking a walk in the beautiful weather, or just like to listen to learn, then take a few (usually hovering around 5 – 10) minutes to listen to Matt Miller’s DITCH podcast. This will take you to a podcast about more ways to use Quizizz and if you scroll down, you can hear about Fliphunts (a mash up of Flipgrid and a scavenger hunt), changes to Google Classroom, Educator Goals and more.

What did you have for breakfast yesterday and other ways to make learning stick

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Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

If you are like me, one who eats the same breakfast everyday and has for years, answering this question is a no-brainer: Dannon coffee yogurt with sliced banana and a mix of Barbara’s cereals, Kashi, and someone’s granola (I’m a Gemini- I can’t have or choose just one cereal!).

But ask me what I did yesterday afternoon or evening or even what classes I taught, and I would have to dig deep and go through several associations to get to an answer: today is a P day, which means yesterday was I which means I saw fifth grade students; and since today is Friday,  yesterday was Thursday and we had a faculty meeting . . . You get the point.

I have talked about retrieval practice and Pooja Agarwal in recent posts here, here, and here and I have started implementing spaced retrieval practice with my students often at the beginning of class to do a quick check in of material and concepts we have discussed recently (and recently could be several days ago as I see students maybe once or twice in our 7-day rotation so they have to go deep into their memory reserve) to help make the learning stick.

Interleaving is a retrieval practice that mixes up what students need to know in order to solve a particular problem. It’s the “fruit salad” of learning. When students are solving problems that use the same formula or strategy, they are given “a false sense of mastery” because they can solve the problem, but they are solving a set of problems where they already know the strategy in advance. What interleaving does is mix up the concepts so that “students are forced to choose a strategy on the basis of the problem itself. This gives students a chance to both choose and use a strategy.”

The key to effective interleaving is to mix up similar topics, which encourages students to discriminate between similar ideas, concepts, and problems.

~Rohrer, Dedrick, Agarwal

To learn more about Interleaving and to get a Retrieval Practice Guide, click here. You can also look at their videos here. And, as if that were not enough, Pooja Agarwal will be the guest this Saturday- tomorrow- on Classroom 2.0’s Live webinar! Don’t worry if you cannot “attend” as the recording of this as well as all the others are there for your viewing pleasure when you are able to watch.

Speaking of watching, if you have not been watching Modern Learners webinars and podcasts, you should. I recently watched, then watched again, the podcast with Ted Dintersmith of “Most Likely to Succeed” and the new book, What Schools Could Be. I will leave you with this quote from the podcast,

“We prepare kids for the college application, not college.”

Mic drop.

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Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash

After you watch the podcast, you can let me know what you think . .  .

 

In the Know

34604271491_919b678a1c_nLast week during the IMMOOC live session, one of the things discussed was how to keep track of everything that is out there and the pressure some feel to be in the know and keep up. A few quoteables that I tweeted from the conversation are below:

It’s not about adding on and doing more; it is about what we want our kids to learn and how we are going to get there- what conditions we need to set. Season 4, Episode 3 with  via

‘I might not be able to keep up with what’s new, but I will try to keep up with what’s best for Ss’

“We need to support & praise everyone where they are at”

“We need to be innovating out of a desire to find what’s best, not just what is new”

With so much out there, it can be tough to keep up with it all. That is why I tell teachers to find what works for you and these students right now, and go from there. There are many different versions of the same thing that one need not use all of them; choose the one that you and your students like. Now of course, what works this year with this group might not work for next year’s students so we have to keep in mind the needs of the group we have at the moment.

Part of why I like to share the way I do is to help my teaching colleagues who might not have time to sift through all that is out there. I love to find articles, videos, research, tips, and tools. I then read, watch, try, and think about what might be helpful, useful, interesting, and thought-provoking. The rest is what comes next- the weekly, or every-other-weekly share. So without further ado, this week’s share.

This first share is from Matt Miller and it is all about taking annotating to a whole new level. I love the idea of taking articles or pdfs and formatting them within a table so that students can annotate alongside it. The comment option in Google Docs is another way to do this. Check out the highlighting and sticky note add-on options in the post.

Speaking of annotating, Richard Byrne is always sharing great tools and tips and this week is no different. In his Practical Edtech Tip of the Week he shares Tools for annotating videos and images. If you are a teacher who uses videos for teaching, introducing these tools to your students or using them yourself will definitely enhance your teaching and their learning. And, if you are someone who uses Edpuzzle, you are used to adding questions, text, and other information to spots along your video timeline, so using one of these should feel natural.

Next up is a podcast from Modern Learners wherein Dr. David Gleason and Will Richardson discuss The Costs of High Expectations. Adolescence is starting earlier and going later. People have social/academic expectations of the kids who may develop earlier because they look older than they are, but don’t have the mental capacity to meet these expectations yet.  This is just a taste of what was discussed:

Is it our fear of losing our reputation for getting kids into competitive schools what holds us back from doing what we know to be right for kids as far as over-scheduling putting undue stress on them? “Who wants to come to a vanilla school?”

For additional reading on expectations, executive functioning, and the mismatch between developmental readiness and expectations, you can take a look at this linked-in  article, “All Aspects of Students’ Development Varies, Including Executive Functioning Skills”.

Student voice, choice, and empowerment are themes in this round of the Innovator’s Mindset Massive Open Online Course. These interactive learning menus from Shake-Up Learning offer your students (and colleagues if you use these during PD sessions) the opportunity to choose their learning path from various choices on the learning menu choice board. These boards also allow you to differentiate by offering options that speak to different strengths and ways students like to learn and share their learning.

If you would like to read more about the importance of giving students choice, Alfie Kohn’s article, “Choices for Children: Why and How to Let Students Decide” is on point.

Lastly, I have mentioned Pooja Agarwal and retrieval practice as a learning tool a lot recently. That is because of all the science and evidence behind the practice of retrieving that Agarwal shares on her site. This week she shared a quick, no-quiz retrieval strategy called Two Things and it is a fast and easy way to have your students think about what they are learning.

photo credit: wuestenigel What’s new? via photopin (license)

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.