Passing on a GREAT resource to inspire IBL lessons – The Futures Channel is a “must see” site. They offer short movies about real world jobs/topics in the STEM/METS areas all relating to careers students may someday have when they are grown up. It may also introduce kids to careers they didn’t even know existed. The coolest thing is that many of the videos have lesson plans (sometimes multiple plans for different focuses or ages) to go along with them.
Each week, The Futures Channel highlights a handful of movies and makes them available for the public where all of their resources can be viewed at any time with a subscription or purchasing CD’s full of TFC movies.
Many of the lesson plans are for older students (7-12) and they are not inquiry-based, but they are there to do what you want with them and make them fit what you need to teach. Teachers I have worked with in the past have used them as inspiration for Inquiry-based lessons or just used the videos as resources for lessons they were writing. Enjoy…. and if you really like the site, you can sign up to have their weekly newsletter sent directly to your email inbox or add the site to your Google Reader.
Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can visit her site here or read her blog, Higgins’ Helpful Hints.
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Edmodo is a microblogging site designed with education in mind. Teachers create a free account and can set up an online environment, which allows creation of groups, sharing of links and files, and an area for conversations but not private chats. Gradebook and drop boxes are also included. If you want to stay connected to your students at all times, Edomodo has a mobile phone application as well. Edmodo is like taking Twitter and Facebook and tweaking them to be used in the educational setting.
More on Edmodo from Ms. De Santis’ Blog.
Carmen Marty is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.
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Things are moving along here at Networked Teaching & Learning as we enter our second week of existence. However, if you have been following our posts, there was an entry published today that was meant for the Tuesday link. It seems scheduling ahead requires one to pay close attention to the calendar. Plus, the Monday Message was delayed a bit due to other duties. This should get easier as we go. Bear with us.
In case you missed our first week of posts, here’s a rundown of what we wrote…
- Tuesday Tool – Doug Caldwell provided some great ideas for getting the most out of Wordle.
- HD Link (Wednesday) – Brooke Higgins shared the “Hump Day Link”, Thinkfinity.
- Thursday Teaching Tip – Cara Wylie, using a narrative involving her own child’s experience at school, shared some great tips for interjecting various topics from all core subjects into our lessons.
- Friday – Friday’s are for miscellaneous topics and Cathie Loesing shared some valuable tips for getting the most out of PowerPoint.
Be on the lookout for another online tool tomorrow and for more great tips from eMINTS and eLearning throughout the week. Also, join our eMINTS Facebook group and stay connected with the eMINTS National Center.
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We have all heard phrases like “Death by PowerPoint”, and “Power Pointless” to refer to less than effective uses of that program. I have to admit that campaigning for the appropriate use of ppt by teachers AND students has been a crusade of mine for some time. I recently participated in a webinar on the effective use of visuals in slideshows. I exited the webinar with a renewed commitment to my battle. I vowed to write a post for the eMINTS blog.
Later that day I received a link to an article on Slate.com titled “No More Bullet Points, No More Clip Art.” The author, Farhad Manjoo, asked an interesting question, “…are bad presentations PowerPoint’s fault, or are they ours?” He correctly points out that we don’t blame Outlook for annoying e-mails, we blame the author.
At my house we often discuss “using your powers for good”. It’s a nod to the powers of a Star Wars Jedi and we have probably worn that phrase into the ground as we have used it to instruct our children over the years. However, that’s what pops into my head when I think about teachers using PowerPoint in their classes and their students who are learning from the examples set before them.
So, how do we use PowerPoint for good?
First on my list would be the number of words on each slide. Years ago I taught a course on creating slide shows for instructional purposes. Let me explain; this was the kind of slide show that used little square pieces of cardboard inserted into a projector. In that course we hammered the “13-20” rule into the students; as in “No more than 13-20 words on a slide”. (I won’t go into how we got the words onto the slides. Let me just say, life was hard, and leave it at that.) Today’s SMART Boards and screens are about the same size as the screens we used back then. There are formulas you can use to determine font size, etc. based on the size of the screen and the size of the room, but 13-20 is a good rule of thumb. Now that you have fewer words on your slides, use a font size that can easily be seen from the back of the room. Shoot for somewhere between 20 and 40.
Second on my list is reading the slides out loud—as in—Don’t! The slides are there to reinforce your point with a visual, hold the attention of your audience, and prompt you in case you lose your train of thought. Reading something that is in front of your audience was considered to be poor form even back when the words were in purple mimeograph ink. The words on your slides should not be what you are going to say. They should be key words to help your audience understand and remember your message. I would never allow my young students to “read” a PowerPoint presentation to the audience.
Third on my list is to incorporate special effects, animations, and transitions carefully and sparingly. We are adults and just because you can choose to use a different transition for every slide, doesn’t mean it is a good idea. You probably won’t be wearing a clown nose during your presentation, don’t make your presentation wear one either. On this point I do differentiate between children and adults. If ever there is an appropriate time to try out all the bells and whistles of PowerPoint, it is when you are young. However, I tell the children that it is only acceptable because they are young and that they would never do that as an adult. Bear in mind that this is probably the first PowerPoint presentation they have created and the students are in second or third grade.
My current goal is to learn more about the effective use of visuals in presentations. The webinar I mentioned was conducted by Dave Paradi of ThinkOutsidetheSlide.com. He has some great slide makeover videos on Youtube. I could go on…however, if everyone reading this blog will follow my three rules, the world of PowerPoint will be a better place for us all.
Cathie Loesing is a program coordinator with the eMINTS National Center.
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My son came home from school today and asked me if I had a ruler. He said in a very irritated tone, “We are learning metric in science which is stupid!” I asked him, “Why is that stupid?” He responded with a “like duh” look on his face, “Because it’s math, not science!” We did have a short conversation, to his dismay, about all the ways we use math in our daily lives and connected them to the different “subject” areas.
Afterwards, I began thinking about what he said. Somewhere along the way, my sixth grader has learned how to identify and categorize subjects, topics, etc. However, he has not learned to see things globally and how they interconnect. I know I’ve had these conversations before with both of my children. But, his experiences have been very “packaged” into the core subject areas of math, science, social studies, and communication arts.
My kids have both had very dedicated, knowledgeable, and conscientious teachers throughout their entire school career. Both were fortunate enough to be in an eMINTS classroom for one year. However, the majority of their education has been textbook and worksheet driven.
My challenge to all teachers this year is to keep going back to those essential questions and the five E’s from the inquiry-based lesson plan. I know it is challenging. I found it difficult to take the time to create authentic learning activities for my students while making sure I met the GLE’s and the Standards. However, the learning and improved process and social skills that authentic learning fostered made it worth my extra time and effort.
Think of ways you can intertwine concepts from all the core subjects. Here are few ideas:
- During math lessons, infuse historical information about when those concepts were developed and how they changed cultures, economies, and life in general.
- During social studies lessons, have students communicate in ways in which they communicated during that time period and have them reflect on how information was transferred, perceived, and sometimes lost.
- During science lessons, allow students to explore how science shaped history. Give them an opportunity to find relationships between science and math.
- During communication arts lessons, use forms of writing to help students connect to their world.
- Art and music lessons can provide an opportunity for developing a deeper understanding of customs, cultures, and history.
The list is short, but hopefully it will spark some ideas on how you can create authentic experiences for your students. Maybe one day I will have a conversation with my grandchildren about learning metric in science and their response will be something like, “Why wouldn’t learn math in science? We use it all the time!”
Cara Wylie is an area instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.
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If you haven’t checked out the Thinkfinity site yet, it is a must. Great resources, ideas, and more for teachers that use technology in the classroom. When I was browsing earlier last month, I stumbled across their “Back to School” ideas and they have a section called Building a Classroom Community where they share ideas on how to build your classroom community like this poetry unit with already created teacher lesson plans. Love it when I find resources that align with the eMINTS Instructional Model so well.
Being highly resourceful teachers, if you are interested in getting Thinkfinity’s newsletter with MANY more resources than above, all you have to do is sign up. You can also subscribe to their RSS feed, become a fan on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
Originally posted on the Higgins’ Helpful Hints Blog.
Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can visit her site here or read her blog, Higgins’ Helpful Hints.
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Do you practice what you teach? I certainly hope so. Here are some ways that I have used Wordle lately to assist with reflections and self-assessment.
- Vision Plans or Mission Statements- Do you mean what you say?
If you are a school employee or a member of just about any organization, there is probably a series of documents that reveal the “vision” or “mission” of that group or your classroom. Here is a way to revisit these documents to see how they compare with the reality of practice. Paste the text or upload the documents into Wordle to find out which words are most frequently seen in the document. Do the most common words located by Wordle really represent what the plans are for that building or classroom? Does something need to be changed?
- Organization WebPages- Are you saying what you mean?
You probably maintain some web resources that are used for communication. Perhaps it is a website, blog, wiki, or moodle. Use Wordle to “check” to make sure that your ideas are depicted in the frequency of words that you are using. Just copy some text from your site and paste into Wordle. Do these words represent your beliefs about education or technology? Do you believe in something that you aren’t actually communicating?
- Delicious Check-What kinds of resources do you value?
Maybe you use a social bookmarking site to store and share great web finds. I use Delicious. During the course of a school year, I will add (on the spot) sites that peak my interest that I want to find later or share with others. There happens to be a nice connection between Wordle and Delicious. To make a Wordle of your social bookmarking tags, just visit Wordle Create and then enter in your Delicious username in the query box at the bottom of the page. Are the things that you value about the web the largest words in the Wordle? Or, are you bookmarking a bunch of sites with marginal educational value?
- Community Check-What do your students or co-workers believe about you?
If you want to know how others perceive you, your class, or if you want to identify recognized personality traits in a group here is the fun way to do that. First, have each member bring open a blank Wordle text box on their computer screen. Then have them start a sentence pattern. (Mrs. Jones is helpful, math class is challenging, Tommy is kind, etc.) Have each member then rotate around the room, visiting each station, and adding another sentence that follows the pattern. (Mrs. Jones has compassion, math class makes me happy, Tommy helped me, etc.) When the rotation is complete, just press “submit” to see a Wordle generated about that person, class, or teammate. The topic will the largest word in the visual and surrounded by the “traits”. This type of Wordle can be easily displayed on a wall, on a desk, or on a classroom webpage or class moodle. Are the words that define you or your class how you perceive yourself? Is this what you had in mind? Do you have traits that others depend on that you didn’t know about?
Now that I have you thinking about some reflective uses for Wordle, here are some other resources you might also enjoy:
Top 20 Ideas for Using Wordle
Guess the Wordle Activity Page
Other Places to Make Word Clouds:
Doug Caldwell, EdS, is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.
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This post kicks off the eMINTS National Center’s first foray into the blogosphere! We want the world to know about the kind of work we do at eMINTS and eLearning. This blog will be the source for all the brain power in our collective organizations as well as the fruits of our labor.
For every day of the week, those edtech leaders associated with eMINTS and eLearning will share resources and news that demonstrate the many great things that are happening here in Missouri and around the globe in the world of education and education technology (edtech). Monday’s will feature a message from the our offices, usually from our director, Monica Beglau. On Tuesday, you will find a post featuring an online tool excellent for classroom use. Wednesdays will provide a helpful link or series of links on a common theme. Thursdays will showcase a teaching tip and Fridays will be a miscellaneous edtech topic.
Be on the lookout for these and other posts from the eMINTS/eLearning blog, Networked Teaching & Learning.
Monday Message Items:
Hallsville (MO) eMINTS Teacher Named Finalist for Award: Congratulations to Betsy O’Day, Hallsville (MO) Intermediate Science Specialist, who is one of four Missouri teachers named as finalists for the Presidential Teaching Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Betsy is an eMINTS teacher and was selected for the Missouri Mathematics, Engineering, Technology and Science (METS) model eMINTS classroom project in 2008. For more information go to the DESE Awards and Honors site at http://dese.mo.gov/commissioner/awards/ and the Presidential Awards site at http://www.paemst.org/controllers/home.cfc?method=view.
Summary of eMINTS Program Evaluation Research Findings Now Available: A full summary of the past ten years of program evaluation and research findings is now available on the eMINTS website at: http://www.emints.org/evaluation/index.shtml. The summary was completed by Learning Point Associates as part of the eMINTS Investing in Innovation (i3) grant application. The summary may be downloaded to highlight how eMINTS changes teacher practice and student achievement. It contains references to complete reports published about eMINTS. Instead of having to search through all of the reports for research information, it is now available in one handy document.
Also, be sure to check out eThemes for new resources every week!
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What motivates us? What motivates students? Enjoy this video based on Daniel Pink’s book Drive. How might this content be applied to your classroom and your students? What truly motivates our students? Grades, free homework pass, knowing they did a great job? How might we change our classrooms from focusing on carrots and sticks and help student become self-directed, autonomous thinkers?
Carmen Marty is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.
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First off, Wordle is not the only word cloud generator out there. Sometimes sites are blocked 🙁 in some schools and you may not have access to Wordle.net so you may want to try WordSift, VocabGrabber, ABCya!, or Tagul the next time you want your students to create word clouds. What sets them apart are the ease of use and customization options each site offers. Play around with the different word cloud online tools to see which might be the best one for you and your class.
If you need some help on how to use Wordle and other word cloud generators, or need some ideas on how you might use them during lessons, check out Peter Pappas’ blog post “Building Literacy Skills with Wordle” where he not only gives step by step instructions on using the site but also ideas for application such as defining skills, summarizing skills, and comparison skills.
The collaboration Google document which today is called “47 Interesting Ways to Use Wordle” has been created by educators for educators and was started by Tom Barrett. It’s an excellent source of implementation strategies for classroom use of word clouds. The coolest part…if you come up with a different use, you can add it to the Google Doc and share it with tons of teachers that visit that site daily and then you will be part of their PLN.
And for a little fun and learning – check out Guess the Wordle daily (M-F). Students will need to use their deciphering skills to figure out the topic for the Wordle each day. Today’s GTW is a great one for Missouri students.
Not sure what a Wordle word cloud is….take a look at the header and the PLN image in the previous post.
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