School is slowly coming to an end, final grades are in and students are getting a bit restless. What can we do to continue to build on that strong sense of classroom community and keep students excited and energized?
Images can be used to make us laugh, cry, think, reflect, and ask those higher level questions. Plus, students love taking pictures of themselves and their classmates. How can we use images to reflect on the school year? Getting Started…
First, have students do an internet search for inspirational posters. Looking at examples will help to get those creative juices flowing. Next, have students take a picture(s) or locate images that communicates their answers to a question prompt. Then, challenge them to create a caption for their image that communicates their answers in a limited number of words or characters. This will help to emphasize the importance of effective communication and create a positive atmosphere for creativity. Here are a few example question prompts…
What advice would you give to upcoming students?
Where are you now compared to the beginning of the year?
How has your teacher helped you become a better person?
What has influenced your thinking the most?
What do you now know about _________ ?
The final step is to create their posters. Below are just a few resources to assist in creating and editing images.
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.
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 world of technology and education” (About Edudemic). This site contains news, ideas for mobile learning, best classroom practices and more.
To get started using Edudemic…
Go to http://edudemic.com/. You do not need to register or subscribe you can start reading directly from their website.
You can follow their posts on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, RSS Feed or you can subscribe to their Daily Digest that is delivered to your email.
Here are a few of my favorite articles to get you started:
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 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.
As many of you begin to prepare for the first days of school, you may be pondering ideas for creating a strong sense of community in your classroom. Educator Chris Biffle shares one holistic approach at his website WholeBrainTeaching.com. He shares ideas for grabbing the students’ attention and directly engaging them throughout the entire instructional process. His methods assist educators on creating a fun engaging classroom, where even challenging students thrive. This brain based approach puts the fun back into the classroom for both the teacher and the students.
To view the basics of this approach view this YouTube video:
The BIG 6 of Power teacher are:
The Five Rules
The Scoreboard Game
Hands and Eyes
If I had to choose just a “few” to introduce on the first day, I think it would have to be “Class Yes” and “The Five Rules”. I think these basic classroom management tools will have your classroom booming with student engagement and strengthen the sense of community from day one.
“Class Yes” is an approach used to focus the classes’ attention. The teacher says “class” and the students say “yes”. This works because it gives the students something to do immediately and prepares them for the teacher. Part of this method’s effectiveness is it has the students mirror the tone the teacher uses. For example the teacher could drag out the word and add a funny voice “clllllasssssss”, which the students would respond mirroring the teacher “yeeeeessssss”.
On the first days of school, it is common to start with sharing the classroom rules. In the video you saw a demonstration for “The Five Rules”. Each rule uses visual, auditory and kinesthetic movement to help students reach a deeper understanding of how the rules relate to the expectations of the teacher and the success of the classroom as a community. Here is a brief explanation of “The Five Rules”:
Follow Directions Quickly (wiggling hand moving forward)
Raise Your Hand for permission to speak. (Raise hand, make a talking mouth hand)
Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat. (Raise hand, make walking motion with two fingers)
Make smart choices (point to brain)
Keep your teacher happy! (frame your face, wag head back and forth smiling)
This is just one way to begin building classroom community….
How might you foster and sustain a sense of classroom community during the first days of school?
Amy Blades is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.
Those who know me know that I am a little obsessed with QR (quick response) codes. You know those little boxes of rectangles and squares that are on almost everything now a days. They really are just about everywhere when you start looking.
Now I am from Sedalia and the biggest thing getting ready to start this Thursday is the Missouri State Fair. As I was taking routine drive through the fairgrounds to check on the progress of set-up, I suddenly noticed… QR codes. A sign is in front of the major buildings on the fairgrounds with a QR code boldly printed on it. Of course I whipped out my phone and scanned and was pleasantly surprised to see a page of historical information about the building. The fair has embraced a piece of technology and utilizing it to teach history by creating historic-walking-tours with QR codes. I love it.
This brought back the memory of a recent conference I attended where a group of teachers presented how they use QR codes in their classroom. Some of the things mentioned for their use were center directions, interactive bulletin boards, information to parents, and links to resources. With the combination of ideas from the conference and what the fair is doing, my mind hasn’t stopped thinking about how a school or classroom might utilize QR codes. I think about scavenger hunts, historic background, or even star student information.
So I would like even more ideas and possibilities. Please share with me how you have used or would like to use QR codes in your school or classroom?
Terri Brines is an eIS and Cognitive CoachingSM Trainer for the eMINTS National Center.
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…
Grappling’s Learning and Technology Spectrum is an important point of reference for eMINTS. We use the spectrum to help teachers determine how they are using technology with their students, providing depth and context to the “Powered by Technology” component of our instructional model.
While Grappling’s Spectrum does not necessarily provide a hierarchy of technology use, we do encourage teachers to push their technology use toward the “Transforming Uses” so as to make said technology use more purposeful. This can be hard to do, but breaking down a simple lesson for its key components can help us see that metamorphosis from literacy to adapting to transforming levels.
For example, let’s say a teacher is assigning a book report to be completed in PowerPoint form. To prepare the students to use the software, the teacher uses direct instruction to help the class build a generic PowerPoint presentation. Once the students know how to use PowerPoint, they can then apply it to their book report. This use of direct instruction hits the “Literacy Uses” level of the spectrum and the use of that software to complete a somewhat traditional book report falls under “Adapting Uses.” Teaching students how to use software is an important step in insuring their success.
To advance this use of the software to the next level, a slight shift can happen incorporating a constructivist approach. The teacher could simply assign the book report to be completed with PowerPoint, allowing students to learn the program through their creation of the final product instead of teaching the skills separately. There is nothing new about a book report except that students are using a new(ish) technology to complete an old task. Still, it’s important for students to apply traditional tasks in non-traditional modes.
How do we make this a transformative project? The teacher could ask students to crowd- source their presentation through social networks. Interaction through blogging, discussion boards, or Twitter might provide discussion and insight into their book report. Students could use these discussions in piecing together their book reports or even share their presentation online using Google Docs or Office Live. The online, real-world interactions transform the traditional book report into a conversation that reaches beyond the student’s insular interpretations.
The PowerPoint book report was simply moved from literacy to adaptive to transforming uses with slight shifts in approach. Instead of teaching software skills separately from the academic task, the two were combined to adapt a traditional activity. Then, that traditional activity was revised again to include online, interactive components, increasing the complexity of the original project.
Other examples of shifting the technology levels of typical lessons may include…
How to use Skype or G+Hangouts to communicate
Use Skype/G+Hangout to demonstrate and share results from an experiment
Use Skype/G+ Hangout to collaborate the planning and implementation of an experiment, responding and revising each other’s process
How to use Google Sketchup
Use Google Sketchup to design a structure using common geometric shapes
Use Google Sketchup to design a structure using common geometric shapes; share drawings on a blog, inviting submissions for revisions and improvements from architects
How to use an online timeline generator
Use an online timeline generator to retell the major events of the Civil War
Collaborate on a timeline with a school from the opposite side of the Mason-Dixon line to create site-specific timelines that show both sides of the Civil War
Of course, this is a limited list of activities to adjust for the various levels of Grappling’s model. Simply, direct instruction on how to use technology fits the literacy uses level. Learning that same skill by applying it to a typical activity meets the adapting uses level. Finding ways to make that same activity interactive with audiences beyond the classroom can convert this activity to one that applies to the transforming uses level of the spectrum.
Not every use of technology has to be revised to meet the transforming uses level of Grappling’s spectrum. In fact, there are reasons for using technology at all levels. However, as shown above, it is easy to adjust an activity to transform how students use technology to support their learning.
How do you use technology in all levels of Grappling’s spectrum? How have you revised an activity to meet the transforming use level? What kinds of activities best lend themselves to the transforming uses level?
Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center.
I caught a bit of inspiration at the tail end of the following TEDEd video, “The Wacky History of Cell Theory.”
The video conclude with the following quote:
If something bores you, dig deeper. It’s probably got a really weird story behind it somewhere.
Of course, as professionals who have chosen to teach our favorite subject(s), little about these subjects bore us. However, that doesn’t often apply to our students. Many topics bore them. While the message in the video could apply to students taking some initiative to dig deeper for those “weird” stories behind “boring” content, the responsibility also lies with teachers to find and share these stories.
Storytelling is vastly overlooked in a standards-driven educational environment. However, just because standards and curriculum direct what we should teach it doesn’t mean that we can’t find new and interesting ways to deliver said content. Imagine how much more engaged students would be if there were stories like the one above for every content strand and state standard.
Maybe some of our work or even casual reading choices this summer could be re-purposed for digging up these stories. Let’s find ways to tell the stories behind the topics that bore our students most. Better yet, let’s have our students dig up these stories and tell each other.
The key is to remember that all the content we cover in school has an interesting story or collection of stories behind it. This is what connects this content to the real world. Knowing that an idea learned in school has a story involving real people with common obstacles makes that content even more authentic in its origins. Plus, a really engaging story can be something to which students can connect.
How have you used storytelling to further your students’ understanding of a topic? Which topics lend themselves best to storytelling? In what ways could you imagine storytelling helping your students understand various concepts?
Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger with the eMINTS National Center.
Constructivism is a key component of the eMINTS model. Basically, the belief is that students learn better when they build their own knowledge from observation and inquiry. However, the challenge is providing adequate experiences that allow for this knowledge construction.
One solution for providing these experiences is YouTube. On a daily basis, users are uploading phenomena that need to be seen in order to understand.
For example, watch the video below…
What do you see?
The video shows a 747 sitting idle on the runway. However, strong winds literally lift the giant plane off the ground. The wind flowing over the wings are enough to slightly lift the plane without any assistance from the plane’s engines.
This is the point where students consider the reasons why this might happen. Ideas about the air flow over the wings would eventually arise. At some point, students would consider the shape of the wings as being a contributing factor. Further discussion may even make connections between the wind and how air moves over the wings when the engines are running.
Student observations (along with some supplemental information about the shape of the wings) would lead to Bernoulli’s Principle. This principle explains how a wing’s shape contributes to lift. Air flows more quickly over the top of the wing thanks to its downward curve. Quicker moving air means lower air pressure. If the pressure on top is less than the pressure below, the plane moves upward. The only difference in the video and a plane actually taking off is that the air is moving due to wind instead jet engines moving the plane through the air.
A video like the one above can demonstrate a complex idea like Bernoulli’s and give students something to which they can connect. This is not the only example found on YouTube. There are countless natural phenomena all over YouTube. It just takes a little searching.
How have you used YouTube to expand your students’ experiences? How have you used YouTube to help students construct knowledge? What other kinds of phenomena could you find on YouTube for this sort of activity?
Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center.