Category Archives: Inspiration

Math Stories or “There’s More Than One Way to Solve a Problem”

Maybe I have been watching a little too much TV with G,  my 4 year old, but I am absolutely LOVING Peg + Cat on PBS. It is the perfect mix of math concepts, problem solving strategies, songs, stories, and all around silliness. All of this stuffed into a cute little girl named Peg and her “AMAZZZINNNNGGG”, talking pet cat. One of the best parts of the show is when they finish every challenge with this song…

I am so inspired by all that G is learning from Peg and Cat that I thought I might share some Math inspiration for your kiddos in your classrooms. The Three Acts Of A Mathematical Story from Dan Myer is very similar to Peg+Cat in that teachers create a story built around real-life math.

Here’s the idea :

  • Act 1 – “Introduce the central conflict of your story/task clearly, visually, viscerally, using as few words as possible.” (check his site for examples)
  • Act 2 – “The protagonist/student overcomes obstacles, looks for resources, and develops new tools.”
  • Act 3 – “Resolve the conflict and set up a sequel/extension.”

Here is an Example – The Slow Forty

(eMINTS teachers….seeing any connections to the Instructional Procedures unit expectation?)

Check out Dan’s Three Act Math Tasks Spreadsheet and his 3-part blog series with videos and instructions.

This blog post is from 2011, but Dan is not a one hit wonder. I encourage you to explore his recent blog posts and see what he’s been up to….hint hint – he is quite an active presenter and does so much more than Three-Act Math Stories.

Brooke Higgins, occasional blogger, is an eIS for the eMINTS National Center working with eMINTS teachers, trainers, and administrators. All of her posts, including this one, can be found at The Higgins Helps blog.

Coding in the Classroom

Not every child will grow up to be a historian, yet there is value in teaching history. Not every child will be a mathematician, yet there is importance in teaching math. What about teaching computational thinking? Computational thinking is a way of describing and solving problems that applies higher level critical thinking. How can programming be a productive addition to an already overloaded curriculum? Consider this quote from Steve Jobs.

“I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.”

— STEVE JOBS, THE LOST INTERVIEW

AgentSheets Logo
AgentSheets is a software program that lets you create your own agent-based games and simulations using drag and drop, rule-based programming. For more information on AgentSheets and Scalable Game Design, visit scalablegamedesign.org.

Programming encourages children to use technology to solve problems, first by designing games, then by transitioning to STEM-oriented simulations. Learning to program with Scalable Game Design and AgentSheets software introduces computational thinking patterns using motivational and interesting methods tied to the core subjects. The benefits include enriching learning, elevating critical thinking and expanding 21st century and STEM skills.

eMINTS is offering a course in Scalable Game Design. The pilot begins in August and the course will be offered again in the spring. If you are interested in coding in the classroom, please fill out our eLearning interest form.

Carla Chaffin is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

Join Us in Celebrating Digital Learning Day on February 5th!

Can you imagine education without technology?  In order to prepare the next generation for college and for their place in the workforce, it is very important that students and teachers embrace the benefits that modern instructional tools can provide.

This is why thousands of educators answer the “call to action” and join the celebration of Digital Learning Day each February.  A national event designed to allow educators to gather virtually to share and discuss the successes and challenges that they are experiencing with integrating digital tools in their classrooms.

To help build this awareness and to promote enhanced instruction with modern technology tools, join us by participating in national Digital Learning Day which is scheduled for February 5, 2014!  The online event will feature demonstrations, interactive lessons, presentations, resource sharing, tips, and even tricks designed for classroom educators that possess a passion for incorporating powerful digital tools into their lessons.

Here are some ways you can participate…

I hope to see you participating and making a difference with digital learning on Digital Learning Day!

-Doug Caldwell, EdS, is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.

Comedians and Life Lesson’s

Life lessons and aha moments come at unexpected times. Yesterday, as I ate lunch, I watched the first episode in Jerry Seinfeld’s newest project called Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. I loved the Seinfeld show and continue to try and see Jerry Seinfeld in action.

Click image for source.
Click image for source.

The gist of this new show is that Jerry selects a car based on his “guest”, picks them up, they travel around catching up, and eventually stop for coffee. In this episode, he was catching up with his Seinfeld show friend, Michael Richards. As I listened, they began talking about the success of the show and their craft. At that point in the conversation Michael started to cut himself down saying he studied too hard and should have been more relaxed about preparing. He implied that others had fun and he didn’t because he felt that preparing took so much practice. Immediately, Jerry stopped him and said, “I don’t accept the judging of process.” He continued by stating, “we are all trying to get to the same island.” He then finished with, “what matters is when the red light comes on” … “our job is to make sure they enjoy it”. Jerry and Michael go on to talk about how it’s about working selflessly not selfishly and the importance in remembering that.

That is teaching in a nutshell…selfless not selfish. Our goal, as teachers, is to leave kids in a better place than when we get them. Each teacher has to prepare in the way that makes him or her feel ready to “perform”, to put on the best show possible. As I have reflected back on what I heard them say, I have wondered…in what ways might we support our-self and others in doing just that? And more importantly, how can we build each other up and not tear each other down with judgment as we all work to achieve that same goal? How can we be a positive influence and not a negative influence?

What I choose to take from this conversation is this: we each have to do what we feel we have to do to prepare, we must respect that in ourselves and others, and we must presume positive intentions of others, because we all have the same audience and the same goal. That audience, those kids, deserve our very best. Parents, communities, and the world are depending on us. We are all here for the same reason doing what we can. As Maya Angelou said, “When we know better we do better.” We are all doing best we know how.

So as many of you, my friends, go back to begin a new year with students, my hope is that you take care of yourself, you take care of each other, and give the kids the best experience possible. Make sure they enjoy the journey you get to share with them.

*Coincidentally, I heard about Comedians in Cars Having Coffee on NPR as I drove home from some class visits last spring, and yes, it took me this long to get back to it. I will be watching the rest of the episodes. Who knows what else I might learn.

Brooke Higgins, occasional blogger, is an eIS for the eMINTS National Center working with eMINTS teachers. All of her posts, including this one, can be found at The Higgins Helps blog.

My Conference Highlights #emints

While back in the office reflecting on this past week, I must admit I was sad to see the eMINTS National Conference come to an end. All of the presentations I attended were really excellent and truly inspiring.  If you didn’t get a chance to attend this year, I highly encourage you make it next year. Conferences always tend to re-spark my love of education — I leave with so many fresh ideas and tools, it would be impossible to share them all in one blog post. We promise to share these great ideas, tools and more with you in this blog over the next few months but, for now, here are my top four moments from the conference:

 

  • PictureThursday Keynote Speaker, Ken Shelton: Ken spoke about “Generation Now”, focusing on three themes: Information Literacy, Digital Citizenship, and Publication and Collaboration. Not only was his presentation informative, his slides were beautifully designed and well thought out. A hot topic of the conference came from this session when Ken brought up “selfies”, sharing a video spoof on Instagram to remind students that, once you post a photo online, it’s out there and there is no going back.  For those who don’t know, a “selfie” is a picture taken of yourself that is usually intended to be uploaded to a social networking site.
  • Friday Keynote Speaker, Howie DiBlasi: Dr. Howie went over the habits of highly effective 21st century classrooms, at one point posing the question of whether we were ready for the next generation of students. His presentation was fast-paced and fun, sharing many inspirational videos and current tools to help us prepare students for the changing world we live in. His presentation inspired some great ideas for future blog posts on building 21st century skills, so keep checking back for this in the next couple weeks.
  •  Falling Falling, Falling (A Model Lesson): This session was discussed in the last post, so I won’t go into too much detail at this time — but this was one of my favorite sessions of the conference. Doug Caldwell and Glen Westbroek presented a model eMINTS lesson with the session attendees as the students. We got to set up tracks of dominos and record how fast they fell, based on various factors. It was super neat to see, from the student perspective, how current online tools can be used in a hands-on lesson that promotes real-world thinking and uses the eMINTS instructional model. A big bonus of this session is that they provided everything you need to implement this lesson in your own classroom via a LiveBinder, which you can access here.
  • QR codes and the Four C’s: One of the last sessions on Friday, I ‘d consider this to be one of the more energetic sessions I attended. Shelly Tarter gave us an interactive presentation on QR codes and how they can be used with the 4 C’s of education:  Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Thinking. We got hands-on experience using QR codes, learned the difference between static and dynamic QR codes, and brainstormed possible uses in groups — all while having fun. You could tell this presentation was a favorite by how the conversation continued long after it ended.  Shelly put together a great Weebly site for this presentation, which you can view here.


These were only a few of my favorite moments of the conference, but every attendee had a different schedule with a different experience. Question: What were some the highlights of your own 2013 eMINTS Conference experience?

[This post was provided by Zoe Hyatt, an instructional developer for the eMINTS National Center and eLearning for Educators.]

Goal Setting and Feedback To Support Learning

Recently a colleague shared with me a couple of articles written by Grant Wiggins on the use of feedback in the classroom. In his posts he highlighted several key strategies for trying to promote and incorporate quality feedback. He defines feedback as being “useful information on one”s effect or results, given a specific measurable goal.” He goes on to state that feedback should be descriptive in nature and free of judgements or praises. This made me think about the way feedback is used in the classroom. It seems that feedback is most often used as a form of assessment, but how effective is it in supporting growth in our learners? Could students benefit more from receiving feedback before a grade is given cheap inflatable toys?

“Whether feedback is just there to be grasped or is provided by another person, helpful feedback is goal-referenced; tangible and transparent; actionable ; user-friendly (specific and personalized); timely; ongoing; and consistent.” stated Wiggins. This statement outlines his essentials for providing feedback, which can lead to great gains for the recipient. He centers helpful feedback around these seven key elements. This led me to reflect on how we use scoring guides in the classroom. It seems as if scoring guides are one way that teachers can guide students in setting goals and producing high quality final products. However, what might be some other ways to use feedback in the classroom?

Here are a few ideas one classroom teacher shared with Wiggins for fostering feedback…

  •  Students are asked to drjeffsklar.com review their finished products. Before they hand them in they must reflect on what they did that was high quality, and one thing they could do differently to increase their quality of work. Students could then implement their own suggestions; revisions, or make adjustments to their products.
  • Students invite peers to provide feedback on what they did well and on what they could do better. Students could then implement their peer’s suggestions, and revise or make adjustments to their product.
  • Students are asked to review their work and share a brief statement explaining the goal behind their final product to the teacher or with a peer. This checks student understanding and their individual commitment to their project.
  • At the start of each class, students’ write down their goal(s) for the day. At the end of class reflect on what they did well and one thing they could have done better to meet their goal(s). Revision of the project can be performed for the next class period.
  • Students self-evaluate and reflect on the week and how they did in meeting their  weekly goal(s) or objective.
  • Teacher records student provided feedback and any additional efforts taken toward meeting their goals. This can be used as part of a whole group discussion to assist students in evaluating and setting future goals.

As educators we want students to self-evaluate and use peer evaluations to support educational growth. However, teaching students how to give feedback that is tangible is a tough task; this requires opportunities for students to work with and create feedback often.  As we go forth into the New Year and the second semester of the school year, what strategies might you use to foster the use of feedback in the classroom?

_____________________

You can read his full article published on ASCD here.  (Seven Keys to Effective Feedback).

 

This post was provided by Amy Blades, an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.  Thank you to Brook Higgins, an eMINTS Instructional Specialist, for sharing this resource with me.

Hooked on Edudemic

How do you stay connected to the latest trends in education?

Recently I discovered a resource called Edudemic. It started out as a search for educational apps for my iPad, which lead to my discovery of their website. Instantly I was hooked! As I browsed their list of featured stories, I found myself wanting to read them all. The headlines ranged from ways to use social media in your classroom to information about other countries using technology. I am ashamed to admit it, but I hardly find myself reading the news as much as I read my email. When I discovered that Edudemic would send me an e-newsletter with their daily digest, I just had to subscribe. Now when I am checking my email I am able to scan through their newsletter and read the articles that instantly catch my eye. Plus once it makes its way to my inbox, I can read them at my leisure gonflable Arches.

What is Edudemic?  It is “a global community designed to keep educators, administrators, and everyone up to date on what is happening in the world of education and technology. It pulls from more than 100 different online educational resources to inform and connect the

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To get started using Edudemic…

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Here are a few of my favorite articles to get you started:

How might this resource be utilized by students?

_____________
This post was provided by Amy Blades, an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.

 

To Tweat or Not to Tweat

So Twitter can have value to learning in the classroom, but how?

We’re studying rocketry and just getting started with blogging and tweeting this year.  I wanted to demonstrate how we could reach out to experts.  So, I asked what questions we had for Astronaut Clay Anderson.  A student was curious about what Zero G feels like.  We tweeted and later that day, students were thrilled to see we had received a tweet back.  One simple exchange.  We had just exchanged a message with an astronaut.

It made me wonder, what about other fields? Meteorology. Zoology. Geology.  How would I find these experts?  Then, I came across a list “100 Scientists on Twitter: Organized by Category.”   What if Twitter is not just a tool to connect with other classrooms, but to connect with experts in the field? Powerful.

So, you might be wondering, how do I get started?

Want to have a classroom chat that kids can have individual accounts in a small, classroom environment? Allow kids to start out with a version of Twitter that is only available in your classroom? Try Twiducate.  At the end of the day, ask every student to tweet what they’ve learned.  Twitter allows you to share with the world, Twiducate allows your kids to share with each other.

Want to work with your kids to develop Social Media Norms?  Have a class discussion about what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate to share.  Build a classroom community where kids support each other.  Whether sending a tweet from a classroom account on Twitter, or an individual account on Twiducate, help students understand that if you wouldn’t shout it in a crowded shopping mall, you shouldn’t share it on social media!  Post the norms.  Watch how kids take ownership in what they’ve decided upon as their norms.

Wondering how you will fit in time to tweet?  You may be thinking, I don’t have time to add one more thing to my classroom.  Ask one kid to take on the role each day or week.  Give him or her a “Media” badge.  Allow him to share what’s happening, 140 at a time.

Thinking about how you will find other classrooms that tweet?  Don’t worry!  I’m building a Twitter list.  Pick one or two to get started with.  You don’t have to follow hundreds of classrooms to get started.  Start small. Chat with a class in Australia or Illinois or your own school.

This is the second in a series of posts on using Twitter in the classroom.  Next up, five ways to use Twitter in the classroom. Our class tweets at @greatdaytolearn. Our Google Doc “Classrooms That Tweet” is growing everyday!  If your class is on Twittter, please add your name! If you’d like to get connected, check out the Twitter list “Classrooms That Tweet!

This post was originally published at Venspired.com September 9, 2012. Blogger and gifted teacher Krissy Venosdale has graciously given permission for us to share her work here on NT&L. Be sure to jump over to Venspired to see what else Krissy is doing with her students.

I Tweat. Therefore, I Learn

I Tweet.
I tweeted one request, “Please share your location and current outdoor temperature with my class today.”   Throughout the day, the tweets poured in from Australia, Sweden, Spain, New Jersey, Brazil, and the list goes on.  As I shared with students, they looked at the temperatures and their questions reminded me that using Twitter as a connection point with the world has true value for learning.

  • Why are some of the temperatures being reported in Celsius instead of Fahrenheit?
  • How do I convert a Celsius temperature to Fahrenheit? Is there a formula for that?
  • Why is it so cold in Australia right now?
  • What time is it in Sweden?
  • They just said “Morning”, what time is it there?
  • Can we put these on a map so we can see how much of the world we covered?
  • How do I pin something on a Google map?

Time zones. Patterns. Data. Metric System. Weather. Google map creation. Geography. Continents. Temperature conversion. Collaboration. The world.  Learning.  From one tweet.

I’m not saying that tweeting automatically equals learning.  But, look what happens when tweeting (or any tech tool!) is used in the classroom to connect.  Real thinking and learning.  The kind where kids deepen their understand of the world around them.

This is the first in a series of posts.  Next?  The day we tweeted an astronaut and he tweeted us back. For real. Our class tweets at @greatdaytolearn. Our Google Doc “Classrooms That Tweet” is growing everyday!  If your class is on Twittter, please add your name! If you’d like to get connected, check out the Twitter list “Classrooms That Tweet!

This post was originally published at Venspired.com September 8, 2012. Blogger and gifted teacher Krissy Venosdale has graciously given permission for us to share her work here on NT&L. Be sure to jump over to Venspired to see what else Krissy is doing with her students.

Access/Share Google Docs in Edmodo & the Power of My PLN

Edmodo and Google Users…

I guess I am a bit behind in the game because I just realized you can access your Google Docs in Edmodo now. This new feature came about in March and allows you to Sync your Google Docs (Drive) with your Edmodo Library. That means you can share documents with your Edmodo groups and students can easily turn-in assignments completed via Google Docs.Find the instructions to do this at the Edomod Help site. FYI all users will need to link their Google Docs account with Edmodo before and sharing of docs with users or groups takes place.

Wondering how I heard about this new feature of Edmodo??? Maybe not but here’s the power of my PLN…

I found this blog (while I was browsing Pinterest one evening). It’s by a Digital Learning Coordinator in the Chicago Public Schools > Teaching like it’s 2999 . I first pinned her idea to my “learn” Pinterest board and then visited her blog and found that what the author, Jennie Magiera, blogged about was so connected to what I do so I added it to my Google Reader.

One day this week Google Reader showed that the author had posted something new to her blog called More Ideas to Googlize Your School. That post linked to a Google Doc that she was going to share at a presentation she was doing with teachers. As I scanned the doc I noticed a reference to “Edmodo’s Google Doc integration” so I did a Google searched for edomodo google docs and came up with the link that I shared with you all above.

Isn’t that so cool…in a nerdy sort of way 🙂 In what ways do you “harvest” great teaching ideas from the web? And a big shout out to Jennie Magiera for sharing her ideas and more with us all.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialists, Cognitive CoachingSM Trainer, and sporadic blogger for the eMINTS National Center. This post was originally posted at the Higgins’ Helpful Hints Blog.