Tag Archives: Brooke

Tuesday’s Tool: Scoop.it

Scoop.it is an easy to use web tool that allows a user to quickly create a newspaper-looking webpage with links to resources that go together. Each link is displayed as if it is an article in a newspaper with a title, image, and snippet of text. The Scoop.it website says… “Be the curator of your favorite topic” but really it could be the topic of your next science unit or expert topics for your WebQuest.

First you need to create an account (free) to get started. You can include your Twitter and Facebook account information and Scoop.it will pull resources from those feeds that may fit your Scoop topics. To begin your own Scoop click the Create a Topic Button and fill in the title, description, language, and tags and you are on your way. You can add resources as you go from websites you have already found by using the Scoop It bookmarklet or you can include the suggested resources from Scoop.it. Due to the content that may be displayed on the curating page, this tool is a teacher tool. Once the Scoop is created then it can be safely shared with students by clicking “view topic” and then sharing that direct link.

Scoop.it also allows sharing through Facebook and Twitter, visitors to make resource suggestions, or viewing the tags the creator has included. Like a blog, if you like what you see you can always “follow” someone else’s Scoop and see how it evolves over time. Here is the Scoop.it that got me interested – Edu 2.0 created by Steve Dembo. He created a page with what he believes are the best Web 2.0 tools for education. And in just a few minutes I created a Scoop about Constructivism & more.

From their home page get an invite and watch their video on the front page to better understand how Scoop.it might benefit you, your instruction, and your students.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog.

Monday Message: Get SMART this summer!

Getting a new SMART Board in your classroom this year? Need a refresher to help increase your effectiveness using the SMART Board and SMART Notebook? Interested in making your SMART Notebook lessons more interactive and engaging for students? If so, you might be interested in one of the professional development opportunities eMINTS is offering around the state of Missouri this summer.

eMINTS will offer 2 levels of professional development in Columbia, St. Louis, and Springfield. All trainings will be led by SMART certified specialists. At Level 1 training, you will increase your effectiveness with SMART Notebook collaborative learning software at a full-day professional development on-site session. At Level 2 training, you will learn how to design lesson activities in Notebook collaborative learning software by adding style and incorporating interactive content at a full-day professional development on-site session.

Check the eMINTS website for dates, locations, fees, and more. Sign up now to guarantee your spot in this high quality professional development. Seating is limited.

Between now and the SMART training dates you may want to browse these SMART resources and fill your virtual file cabinet with great activities that support your curriculum.

  • The SMART Exchange: Professionally created Notebook activities correlated to state standards, from SMART Technologies, teachers, and even publishers. Download and use these SMART Notebook files as is or edit them to fit your needs.
  • eMINTS eThemes: Your source for content-rich, kid-safe online resources.
    • Technology Flash Files – find flash files specifically for using with a Smart Notebook. Includes instructions for how to import flash files into the Notebook and how to retrieve flash files.
    • Teaching Tips: SMART Board Resources – resources for various subjects and grade levels. There are downloadable lessons, interactive websites, templates, interactive videos, and teaching ideas.
    • Math: SMART Board Activities – activities for geometry, number and operation concepts, functions and algebra, fractions, and statistics. Explore the many different applets.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog.

jkmallen (Photographer). (2007). Image 0727. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/27291024@N02/4095775128/ – used with permission under the Creative Commons license.

Friday 4All: Planning For Next Year

Whew! The school year is over. We collapse in our favorite comfy chair, put our feet up, and relax with not a care in the world except how to spend our summer vacation.  We put school and planning in the back corner of our minds not to emerge again until August.   All the while humming to ourselves the old Alice Cooper song; School’s Out.

Who are we kidding?  We’re teachers.  We never truly stop thinking about our past school year and the new school year coming up.  We are constantly refining our skills as educators and as soon as one year is complete we start planning for the next year.

Planning is a crucial piece of the education process.  We can analyze past challenges and successes to build for the future.  We work on our skills as educators identifying our strengths and planning how to strengthen our weaknesses.  We seek out professional development opportunities and organize our thoughts, strategies, and time so that our students receive the best education they can possibly have.

In a previous post, we shared some possible reflection questions to help you identify what you have learned from the year and how you might apply those new learning’s to future situations.  Now we continue on from that reflective process and move into the planning process.  Here is a series of questions that may help you as you look ahead to the upcoming school year.

  • As you think about the new students entering your classroom, what might be some of the goals you want to focus on?
  • What might be some ways that you will know that you are successful?
  • What might be some strategies you are considering?
  • What will guide your decisions about these strategies?
  • What criteria might you use to determine which are most beneficial?
  • How might these strategies support student learning in other areas?
  • What do you want to make sure that you do very well in this new school year and how might you know you are doing it?
  • How might you incorporate this thinking process in other areas?

Carmen Marty, Terri Brines, & Brooke Higgins are eMINTS Instructional Specialists and Cognitive Coaching/eMINTS Agency Trainers. For more information about Cognitive Coaching and upcoming related seminars visit the eMINTS National Center events page.

sntgmdm (Photographer). (2007). Twyfelfontein Binoculars. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/fotos_medem/3399096196/

HD_Links: Making Sense of Measurement

Here are some links to support students of all ages by giving visual references to help make abstract measurements more concrete.

The Learn.Genetics site created by The University of Utah has created a Cell Size and scale visual that allows visitors to view the size of cells from a coffee been down to a carbon atom. Use the slide bar to zoom down from 12 ml (millimeters) all the way down to 340 pm (picometer = a trillionth of a meter).

Let students compare themselves to other animals by measuring their ear, height, and foot length and see where they line up in size to other animals with similar dimensions. The Lawrence Hall of Science has created the Measure Yourself and other measuring activities such as “Jump Start” which has students jump as far as they can then measure the distance they covered to compare it to their friends and other living organisms like a grasshopper or rabbit.

From the BBC’s Math files, Animal Weigh In, has students balance a scale with weights that equal the same amount as the animals sitting on the scale. Student will practice adding and converting weights in pounds, ounces, grams, kilograms, stones, and tons.

eThemes, your source for online resources that are content focused and are safe for students, has 4 “themes” on measurement that might include additional links to help your students learn about this topic. Check out Math: Metric Measurement, Math: Customary or Standard Measurement, Math: Telling Time, or Science: Temperature.  If you are an eMINTS teacher and still can’t seem to find the exact resources you are looking for resources, you can always request a new eTheme and get what you are looking for and save yourself the time searching Google.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog. Diane McCormack, a PD4ETS Graduate and Instructional Technology Facilitator with the Affton Public Schools, shared some of these and other great resources.

Tuesday’s Tool: Classroom Architect

As the year winds down, many teachers are already thinking about next year and planning the space their new community will fill. They may be moving to a new classroom, getting an eMINTS classroom, or just looking into creating a new feel in their current classroom. Classroom Architect might be the tool to help create a new classroom environment. The Classroom Architect tool from 4Teachers.org offers a simple interface to help teachers create an online floor plan of their classroom. Before beginning, measure the room and take inventory of the items you would like to arrange. Then visit the Classroom Architect site, plug in the dimensions, and start dragging and dropping items on the grid. Additional items and labels can be added using the draw feature. When it’s finished, print the diagram and start moving furniture. Get students in on the planning and teach measurement, map scale, grids, along with 21st Century Skills in Learning and Innovation or Life and Career Skills areas, and technology standards such as having students use technology tools to use critical thinking skills to solve problems and make informed decisions. Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her

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blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog. A big “thank you” goes out to Diane McCormack, a PD4ETS Graduate and Instructional Technology Facilitator with the Affton Public Schools, for sharing this great resource.

Thursday’s Tip: Projects to Encourage Student Reflection

In our previous post, Helping Students Learn Through Reflection, we shared questioning strategies to engage students in reflective thinking as a way to transfer learning beyond subject areas and beyond the walls of the classroom and shared some online tools that might facilitate those conversations.

On a daily basis eMINTS teachers craft lessons that ask students to think about and address real-world problems. By embedding reflective activities into those lessons, students can have authentic opportunities to learn from their experiences and then be able to apply that learning to new situations.

Some projects teachers may want to plan into classroom lessons to facilitate reflection could be using portfolios, journals, surveys, and even multimedia projects.

Portfolios that include students selecting items to showcase their learning and then reflecting on why they chose those items will require students to evaluate their learning and possibly set future learning goals. Weebly for Education, an online application for creating websites and blogs, is an option for creating student portfolios. Students can include video, images, and files by uploading them to their site which can even be password protected.

Reflection journals, with daily prompts or a scoring guide, can purposefully direct reflection and allow students to be constantly growing. You might use a blog post with students commenting on reflective questions or have students make posts to individual blogs. Check out WordPress, EduBlogs, or Weebly for Education to create class and/or individual student blogs.

Using surveys can help students monitor their progress over time by responding with both qualitative and quantitative data that could even be charted and analyzed for personal growth. Google Docs allows for creation of survey’s that can be completed by learners. The data is automatically compiled in a spreadsheet and could possibly be turned into charts or graphs for easy analysis.

Creating multimedia projects is another way that students can reflect on what they have learned at the culmination of a unit or project such as a WebQuest.  Some ways you might use technology to put this into practice could be creating still or action movies using iMovie, Movie Maker, Animoto, or even VoiceThread which can add collaboration.

As you consider using these and other types of projects to facilitate thinking and reflection, you might think about:

  • How could your learners become more self-directed through individual and/or group reflection?
  • What might they gain from the reflection process?

Carmen Marty, Terri Brines, & Brooke Higgins are eMINTS Instructional Specialists and Cognitive Coaching/eMINTS Agency Trainers. For more information about Cognitive Coaching and related seminars visit the eMINTS National Center events page.

~*Dawn*~ (Photographer). (2007). Reflections on the Stream. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/naturesdawn/1283502759/

Tuesday’s Tool: LiveBinder

livebinderLooking for a place to store and share resources with your students? LiveBinder might be the perfect Web 2.0 tool for you. LiveBinder is an online web resource that will help you organize online content, documents, pdf files, videos, images, and more. In 3 easy steps you can collect your resources, categorize and organize them to share them with your

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learners so that they can easily be used during your lessons. Students could even use LiveBinders to showcase their learning in projects they create. To make your first LiveBinder create a free account and click online casino the “Start a Binder” button. Begin adding links while you browse the web. LiveBinder makes it even more easy by having a Bookmarklet tool. After adding the button to your favorites toolbar all you have to do is click the “Live Binder It” button to add links to your binder. Learn how to use it by watching the How-To video. There are a variety of ways to use LiveBinders. You can use it as a teaching tool, a student end product, or a way to share resources with your colleagues. The Evidence of Learning 2.0 LiveBinder by mikefisher821 is a jumping off point to software and web apps that teachers can use to facilitate authentic learning experiences. The Sample 6th Grade Book Report by Guru was created to show how you might have students use LiveBinder as part of a classroom lesson. What might be some ways you are thinking about using LiveBinders in your classroom? Carmen Marty & Brooke Higgins are eMINTS Instructional Specialists.

Thursday’s Tip: Helping Students Learn Through Reflection

River reflection day

As teachers, we value the time for reflection, but how do we teach our students the value of reflection?   Each day our classroom is filled with learning experiences.  Our students need time to reflect on their work as an individual and as a group.  This reflection will help them transfer life skills beyond the walls of the classroom.

There are many ways we can help students reflect.  One way to promote deep reflection is in the questions we ask.  Here is a list of tips to help create reflective questions:

  • Begin your questions with a positive presupposition-As you reflect, when you planned your project etc.  These stems presume that as a learner is reflective, did plan etc.
  • Use tentative language to open up thinking-How might, What are some things etc.  Tentative language makes the questions less threatening. Tentative language lets students know there is more than one correct answer.
  • Use verbs that access high cognitive process levels-As you compare this experience to a past one,  If you were the audience member, (another perspective) Asking questions from the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy gives students opportunities to process, think, and create deep answer.
  • Ask question with intention to explore thinking or specify thinking

Students love to be published and often times are more motivated when using electronic tools for reflection.  Here is a short list of tools you might use to assist students with reflecting:

Carmen Marty, Terri Brines, & Brooke Higgins are eMINTS Instructional Specialists and Cognitive Coaching/eMINTS Agency Trainers. For more information about Cognitive Coaching and related seminars visit the eMINTS National Center events page.

Tanakawho (Photographer). (2007). River Reflection Day. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/28481088@N00/2112377904/

Tuesday’s Tool: Create Quick and Easy Visual Organizers

Popplet is a Web 2.0 tool for creating graphic/visual organizers with a simple, easy to use platform. Popplet allows users to explore ideas, create galleries, record thoughts, collect inspiration, collaborate together, and present it all to the world.

Popplet creators boast that their tool will allow users to sort, discuss, share, visualize, mash-up, plan, remix, express, create, decide, and so much more. The tool is so simple that you won’t need to teach your students how to use it before you start your lesson; they can jump right in and figure it out as they begin to create their first organizer. Each click gives basic instructions to support users as they work.

In addition to using Popplet on the web, it is available for the iPad in a full version with all the website features for only $4.99 or a free light version with many of the same features. For those of you thinking about how you might use an iPad in your classroom, check out how the full version of Popplet works and see if it might be an app for your students.

As you continue to plan authentic, student centered lessons that will engage your kids as they collaborate and learn from each other, how might you use this Web 2.0 tool to support their thinking?

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog.

Thursday’s Tip: Vanished-A Problem-solving Online Project from MIT & Smithsonian

An environmental disaster has taken place on Planet Earth and we need your help.” is how it starts.

An online project called Vanished, is a new opportunity for kids (ages 10-14 1/2) to be a part of a mystery game of problem solving and investigations. The goal of this project, created and run by MIT’s Education Arcade and the Smithsonian Institution, is to engage kids in on and offline challenges, collaborating with peers and experts, and solving the mystery of Vanished using the scientific method.

The project runs from April 4, 2011 to on or around May 31, 2011 and is only open to kids. It’s not too late to sign up, kids can jump in anytime and start the challenge. AdultTeachers and parents may sign up but can not participate or assist but only “watch”.

To be a part of the project have your kids visit Vanished, create an account, and begin the challenge. Or to learn more visit their About page.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog.