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/

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 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 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/

4ALL: Looking Back – Reflecting on the Year

“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” – James Levin

As teachers, we know and value the reflection process.  That time when we can think about what worked and what didn’t.  It’s a time to look critically at aspects of our year and make them a learning experience for our personal and professional growth; a way to think about how we can continue and/or change practices to meet the needs of our students.  Reflection is that piece that allows us to refine our skills and identify areas that we want to improve.  A way to develop effective action.  A true goal setting opportunity.

Here is a series of questions that may help you as you look back over the past year and assess your personal growth.

  • How did your year go and what makes you feel that way?
  • How did it go compared to what you thought might happen?
  • What things did you do that influenced the outcome of your year?
  • What skills, talents, and resources did you draw on to shape your learners?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What are you learning about yourself?
  • When might you apply your new learning in the future?
  • In what ways has this reflection supported your thinking and learning?

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.

Tucker, L. (Photographer). (2010). Reflections!. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/photographygal123/4948968848/

Monday’s Message: Supporting Thinking

eMINTS & Cognitive Coaching: A Professional Development Opportunity

Ever wish you could communicate more effectively with the people you supervise, work with or train? Do you find it challenging to help people solve complicated problems they are facing or to change how they are teaching or working with others?

The Cognitive Coaching Foundation Seminar® is an eight-day professional development opportunity for instructional coaches, administrators, teachers, mentors, professors, supervisors, eMINTS PD4ETS program participants, certified Educational Technology Specialists and anyone who wants to encourage self-directedness of others. Participants will learn strategies to increase others’ thinking potential and mediate thinking when working with someone who is planning, reflecting or struggling with a problem. Cognitive CoachingSM – a research-based model – encourages the process of decision-making to achieve goals through metacognition.

If you are interested in learning more about supporting people in becoming self directed please visit http://www.emints.org/programs/cognitivecoaching/index.shtml to learn more about our Fall 2011 Cognitive CoachingSM Foundations Seminar.

Carmen Marty, Terri Brines, & Brooke Higgins are eMINTS Instructional Specialists and are becoming Cognitive Coaching/eMINTS Agency Trainers.

Friday 4ALL: Reaching Visual Learners

Click to watch the video.

Let images speak in your classroom. Choosing a great visual to share with students will often enhance a lesson. Visual learners make up 60-65% of the population. Thanks to Creative Commons licensing there are a wide variety of resources to assist you with finding the perfect image to engage students. What do you want your lessons to say?

Using images also instills creative thinking in your students. I recently saw Dr. Howard DiBlasi at a conference. One exercise he shared during his presentation was to put up an interesting photo. Then choose three or four students from the class. Ask one student to talk for thirty seconds about the image. When the thirty seconds are up, the next student may add to the story or create a new story, this continues until all four students have had an opportunity to speak.

To assist students with learning how to “read” a photo, you can use the SMART Notebook spotlight tool. For example, display an image from a historical time period on the SMART Board. Launch the Spotlight tool before students enter the room. Move the Spot Light tool over the image, ask students what they are noticing. Based on what they see have them predict what time period the image is from and support their prediction with evidence from the photo. Finally reveal the entire image.

The links below are some of my favorite sites to find fascinating photos. What will your lessons say?

Flickr-an image hosting and sharing website. Users in the Flickr Community may use the Creative Commons license so others can view and use their photos. Use the advanced search feature to find photos licensed under Creative Commons and follow the directions for citing images.

Pics4Learning-a copyright-friendly image library for teachers and students. The Pics4Learning collection consists of thousands of images that have been donated by students, teachers, and amateur photographers. Unlike many Internet sites, permission has been granted for teachers and students to use all of the images donated to the Pics4Learning collection.

Wiki Media Commons- a media file repository making public domain and freely licensed education material available to everyone.

Edupic-a teacher designed free image resource for teachers and their students.

Smithsonian Images-Browse or search through selected images from the Collections of the Office of Imaging and Photographic Services. Included are images from current exhibits, Smithsonian events and historic collections

NOAA Photo Library- has been built to capture the work, observations, and studies that are carried on by the scientists, engineers, commissioned officers, and administrative personnel that make up this complex and scientifically diverse agency. Most Images are Public Domain. Those copyrighted are noted.

Morgue File-Free images for your inspiration, reference and use in your creative work, be it commercial or not.

Carmen Marty is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

Tuesday’s Tool: Word Sift

Word Sift is a great tool to help teachers encourage comprehension and understanding of vocabulary. Word Sift combines the idea of tag clouds, Google Images, and a visual thesaurus. Teachers can enter any text, click the sift button and it generates a tag cloud of the fifty most common words that appeared in the text. The largest words in the tag cloud are the most frequent words. The largest words from the cloud are entered into the Google Image search and the Visual Thesaurus. You can also click on any words in the cloud and access them via the Google Image search and Visual Thesaurus.

Other features of Word Sift are the ability to highlight words from a variety of content areas, and rank words from the most common to rare or rare to common. In Word Sift, you can click on the Create Workspace link. You can drag words from the tag cloud into the workspace area, set the Google Images to be draggable, and students can create visual meaning of words.

For more information on Word Sift, check out the video tutorial.

As you reflect on the tool Word Sift, what are some ways you envision using this tool in your classroom?

Video Tutorial: http://www.wordsift.com/site/video

Carmen Marty is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

4ALL: Friday Fun with Music

Just for fun or great tools for your music class? Both! The following resources are fun ways to bring music into your classroom.

In Bb is a collaborative music project. Play videos simultaneously or alone. Start different videos at different times. Use music to get your creativity flowing. Check out http://inbflat.net/.

Kisstunes turns your computer keyboard into a piano keyboard. This could be a nice alternative for the school that is short on pianos, but long on laptops.

Finally, we’re sure you have heard all the hype surrounding PS22 Chorus. Well, here is an inspiring blog of the children’s chorus from Staten Island, New York, keeping the arts alive in education!

Carmen Marty and Zac Early are instructional specialists with the eMINTS National Center.

Thursday’s Tip: Using Next Vista to Engage Learners

One way to engage students is through the use of video.  Sometimes it is challenging to find the perfect video to introduce a topic to your students.

I recently heard Rushton Hurley speak at the Midwest Education Technology Conference in St. Louis.  Rushton Hurley is the Executive Director for the project Next Vista for Learning.  Next Vista for Learning is a library of free videos for learners everywhere!  Next Vista videos currently center around three categories.  Light Bulbs, Global Views, and Seeing Service.  The videos are under five minutes long and are screened for weak content.  Videos can be streamed or downloaded.  Most videos are student and teacher created.

The Light Bulbs category introduces a wide variety topics from all subject areas.   The idea behind this category is that “learning is stronger with an engaging introduction.”  Here is an example of a Light Bulb about the Atomic Model.

The category of Global Views centers on students and teens introducing others to their school or community.   The goal of this category is to “help students understand the wondrous variety around the planet.”  View students’ in Yekaterinburg, Russia sharing their community’s unique monuments. Imagine the creative writing ideas which could accompany this video.

The Seeing Service category is a collection of good deeds.  ”The hope is that students who wonder about their own value will see what the people in these videos do and realize that those are things they are capable of doing, too.”  Good deeds, large and small, from around the world are documented in this section.  One example of a Seeing Service video is Carry Someone’s Problems.  In this video a young girl shares her work with the Kisa Project and Afric Aid.

Next Vista is supported by grants and private donations.   Next Vista also offers video contest.  You can sign up for the Next Vista News letter.  This letter comes about once a month to your “inbox” and offers learning opportunities, overviews of newly posted videos, and tons of Web goodies!If you are searching for a clever and engaging way to introduce a new topic to students, check out http://www.nextvista.org/.

Carmen Marty is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.