Tag Archives: New York Times

Friday 4ALL: More Than Just Technology

students at computers
Click for source.

Recently, this article popped up in the New York Times, reporting that teachers are up in arms over an initiative to put computers in the hands of every student. Additionally, students will be required to take online courses as part of their studies in high school.

From what I can tell, both sides are missing the point. The state legislature and school administrators are giving technology to students in order to prepare them for the 21st century workforce. Conversely, teachers are complaining that technology can’t replace good teaching. However, what educators and politicians in Idaho are missing is that without a change in instructional philosophies, nothing will change.

Technology alone cannot improve student learning. Because a student writes a paper on a word processing program or reads a newspaper article online does not mean that he will become a better learner. Specific and proven teaching methods must be applied to help facilitate that student’s learning. Only skilled teachers with the proper training can do this.

Teachers should also not be so afraid of technology, rather they should be thinking about how outdated teaching strategies do not work with technology. Instructional strategies from the 19th century do not work in the 21st century. Even those teachers employing progressive teaching strategies could very easily utilize technology to improve interactivity between students both in and out of the classroom.

The problem lies in the limitations put on technology. Technology is neither the sole answer nor the only obstacle for reaching the 21st century student. Sound pedagogy that promote student-centered learning works best with technology and builds creativity and critical thinking skills.

Too much of the focus in Idaho is on the technology and the teaching instead of the learning. Students learn differently than they did twenty years ago. They are digital natives who long for instant access to information and the ability to converse with their peers. Of course, they still rely on the steady hand of a teacher who can guide them through their learning experiences. These teachers just need training in methods that can make this all possible.

Granted, as an eMINTS Instructional Specialist, I am biased. However, if we look at the kind of professional development eMINTS offers, one will notice that only one-fourth is technology-focused. The rest of our time is spent bringing teaching methodology up to the 21st century. Plus, unlike the mandates in Idaho, we have the data to back it up.

There are ways that Idaho could solve this issue. It may take politicians and policy-makers recognizing the importance of providing good teachers the support and training they need to make this technology initiative work. It may also require teachers to adjust their own teaching strategies to incorporate technology and embrace the many advantages it can provide. I worry that this debate will carry on without improved student learning resulting from their efforts.

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center and he believes in the eMINTS instructional model and what it can do for student learning.

HD_Links: Halloween

Click for source.

Halloween is almost here, but we’re ahead of the curve at NT&L and have your resources for the scariest of American holidays…

The first link is an older post from Science Education on the Edge, but the Halloween ideas within are perfect. Imagine Physics teachers and students designing ways to dispose of all the pumpkins we’re left with after Halloween. Now, think of all the scientific properties that would be discovered in building a trebuchet or simply blowing up a few pumpkins. Sounds like a good way to study Physics and a lot of fun.

Is your school jumping on the iPad bandwagon this fall? Teacher Reboot Camp has a great list of apps for iPads, iPhones, and iPods. Most of the apps are Halloween games, but a good teacher can find some great classroom applications or just give the students a brain break now and again.

Edgalaxy has a couple of useful posts for Halloween. Try having students create a choose your own adventure story using a PowerPoint template. Or check out these five fun classroom ideas for Halloween.

For those who maybe want to research Halloween or practice reading infographics, Daily Infographic has several interesting infographics. There’s the Costume for Every Era graphic that demonstrates how students can create costumes based on historical eras. For students who are older and ready for the Dark Side of Halloween, there’s an infographic available. An economics lesson can stem from this “Candynomics” graphic. Check out the graphic below for another example and keep an eye out for whatever DI comes up with next.

The Learning Network blog at the New York Times is prepared for Halloween. In one post, they ask students what they are afraid of. Look to see some of the student responses and have your own students participate. It might be the opening for a new topic in your class.

In another post, a picture slideshow is used to spur on a research project on Halloween. Questions, procedures, and even resources are provided. Even if you don’t use the lesson, some of the linked resources can be helpful.

Of course, if you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, there is always Larry Ferlazzo. His post on “The Best Websites for Learning About Halloween” contains a huge number of resources to get you started with some Halloween-related studies in your classroom.

Also (H/T Jennifer Foster, eIS):

What are your plans for Halloween in regards to your students? What are some Halloween resources we may have missed? Of course, what are you planning to be this Halloween?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. He does not currently have a costume, but his three-year-old plans to dress up as Rosie the Riveter.

HD_Links: Occupy Wall Street

Click for source.

Much of the news right now is focused on the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York and all around the country. When movements such as Occupy Wall Street happen, a fantastic opportunity arises to teach a cross-curricular collection of topics that utilize current events to relate to our students. Politics, economics, rhetoric, civics, history, and environmental studies are just a few subjects that relate to Occupy Wall Street.

This week’s set of links gives you what you need to address this important event that applies to 100% of us, not just the 99%.

  • The New York Times’ The Learning Network blog has a comprehensive list of lesson ideas and links to resources for the protests and the issues surrounding it.
  • Another newspaper, The Washington Post, has a primer up for its readers.
  • Comedian and actor Mike Myers visits the protest in this YouTube video:

  • Ecology of Education has an educator’s perspective of the protests.
  • Of course, to follow the events and gain some perspective on all the late-breaking news from the Occupy Wall Street protests, watch the action on Twitter. Much like the protests in the Middle East, this is a movement born and developed online.

How are you addressing the Occupy Wall Street protests in your classroom? How do the issues brought up in the protests apply to our students’ lives? How does this movement compare to social movements of the past or in other parts of the world?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

HD_Links: Teaching 9/11

National Park Service 9-11 Statue of Liberty and WTC
Click for source. - Public Domain
The tenth anniversary of 9/11 is approaching and there are plenty of resources out there to supplement your teaching of recent American history, a history that has had far-reaching effects.

The Learning Network (a New York Times educational blog) has been featuring documentaries for teacher use on various subjects. Their most recent entry into the series features a set of docs that highlight those who were affected directly or contributed to the efforts surrounding the events on 9/11. Read more about the four documentaries featured here. For even more resources from The Learning Network, check out this post, complete with thought-provoking questions and prompts.

A pretty comprehensive database of 9/11 teaching resources and lesson plans is maintained by the Clarke Forum at Dickson College. Be sure to check out the award-winning lesson plans for various grade levels.

Teaching 9/11 provides a large amount of resources, including many video interviews that provide some additional perspective on a historical event. The site also provides a suggested interdisciplinary unit and lessons for teaching 9/11.

Larry Ferlazzo might as well be a regular contributor here for our HD_Link posts as his single posts on almost any topic far exceed what we post here. Of course, Larry’s post on 9/11 teaching resources is unmatched. His secret is that he constantly updates older posts, always keeping up with the latest resources.

There are many more resources for teachers to utilize when teaching about the events of September 11, 2001. Between the three links above, one should be able to obtain all the vetted resources needed to do this event justice in our classrooms. That said, I would like to know what you are doing to commemorate the tenth anniversary of 9/11. What resources will you be using for teaching 9/11?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center and he can remember the exact moment when he informed his class of the terrible tragedies taking place in New York and Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001.

4ALL: Student-Centered and Self-Directed Projects

When considering today’s post, I went searching through my Google Reader for articles and posts on student-centered instruction. The first result was a post in the New York Times educational blog The Learning Network. I remember reading the post in May and sort of forgot about it just as quickly. I checked it out again this week and thought it was worth sharing.

The post is about an experimental student-directed learning project. I’ll let the accompanying video explain.

There’s also an Op-Ed piece that goes into further detail.

Besides being stirred and inspired by the stories of the students in this video, one can pick out some valuable lessons in making our own classrooms more student-centered. The students featured were allowed to explore their own questions but were held responsible for teaching their classmates about these topics. Plus, allowing time for their own individual projects which were more ambitious than anything they would typically do in school showed that they had desire to learn, to be better students.

A good starting point for creating a project like this (or one with a few personalized adjustments) can be found in the original post cited above. As mentioned on Wednesday’s post, the New York Times is a great resource for lesson plans. The plan that goes along with this story is designed to help teachers facilitate student-directed projects in their own classrooms.

What do you think of the Independent project? How might this approach work in your class? What concessions would you have to make in employing this lesson?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center and wishes he was able to experience the Independent Project when he was in high school.

HD_Links: Getting Started

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons - Click for copyright.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons - Click for copyright.

The new school year is quickly approaching. Many of you are already sitting through professional development sessions or readying your classrooms for the arrival of young minds ready for molding.

This week’s links are here to help you get ready for your new school year…

There are two educational technology experts everyone should follow. The first is David Warlick and his incredibly thought-provoking blog 2¢ Worth. In this blog, David likes to describe his travels as he works with teachers all over the country. Within those narratives, themes and invaluable insight are shared. The other blog to follow is the new Tumblr by Will Richardson. Richardson, like Warlick takes on the many issues teachers face in reaching the student of the 21st century. Both blogs give plenty to think about and inspire new approaches to teaching with each new post.

With each new year, we find that our equipment and software are also a year older. Technology that worked well five years ago has suddenly started to show its age. On top of that, there just isn’t the staff or resources to upgrade technology in your school or district. In Edgalaxy‘s letter of the week, plenty of practical solutions for refreshing the technology in your district are offered. Following their tips, one can see the light of the end of the tunnel that is a long school year with outdated technology.

Also from Edgalaxy, there are several good suggestions for calculator games. Want to get students acquainted with the calculators they’ll be using throughout the year? Check out the aforementioned calculator games to break the ice a bit in your math class. (BTW, I love how the other English-speaking nations call it “Maths.”)

Over at School Library Journal, there’s an interesting take on fair use and copyright. It seems that as long as materials are used in a transformative manner, educators are generally protected from coyright laws. for example, using a television ad to study body images in the media is an acceptable use. Read the rest of the piece to get a full picture of what the author is saying on this hot-button topic. Copyright and fair use are certainly important considerations as one begins to choose the media he or she will use this school year.

Looking for some new lesson plans to spice up your 2011-2012 class? Look no further than the lesson plans provided by The New York Times. There are lesson plans for all subjects across the curriculum available for your perusial. Most, if not all of the lessons tie in the country’s most read newspaper so that you can make those real-world connections with your students.

That should be enought to get you started for the year. What are you reading to get you inspired? What new tools or resources have you discovered that you’re willing to try this school year?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center and he’s ready to get starte!

HD_Links: Today’s Five

eMINTS staff are in meetings all week. So, these posts are being written before, during, and after these meetings. For today’s list of links, we present five interesting and useful resources for your perusal. Enjoy.

  1. Daily Inforgraphic‘s graphic today is “Most Targeted Books.” The titles featured in this inforgraphic are those most targeted by parents for concerns over questionable content. Some old favorites like Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird still worry parents, while newer, popular titles like Twilight cause concern. The infographic originates from the “good” folks at Good, also a great resource for infographics in their own right.
  2. The Learning Network blog at The New York Times has a post today that asks some interesting questions about how we identify ourselves ethnically on college application and financial aid forms. The questions are paired with a Times‘ article on the same topic and stir up some interesting issues that don’t provide black and white answers.
  3. Edgalaxy features The Science of Cooking‘s cooking candy resource. Not only is candy making a fun (and sweet) art, but there is some science involved that will either make or break yummy treats.
  4. For those looking for new ways to share documents with students and colleagues via your website or blog, Embed.It has the answer. You can upload up to 20 MB in the following formats: Documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, WPD, ODT, ODP, ODS, PDF); Images (GIF, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, BMP, PSD); Vector Graphics (API, EPS, PS); Text (TXT, RTF, CSV); Code (HTML, SQL, JS); Web (Web pages or other URLs). Just upload your file and Embed.It will give you a handy embed code to plug into your site’s HTML.
  5. Finally, here’s an end-of-year video for one fifth grade class that looked to have a pretty fantastic year of learning. Gifted teacher Jason Smith of West Chatham Elementary School in Savannah, GA has pieced together a pretty slick look back on his year. Maybe it will spark some ideas as you plan for the coming fall.

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

HD Links: Must Reads Online

Here are five links you should read right now!

  • “Let Kids Rule the School” (New York Times) – A unique program in western Massachusetts combined both struggling and high-achieving students in a program they design. What emerges is an authentic and student-centered learning experience that holds students responsible for their own education.
  • “Whiteboard hardware battles, what do they mean?” (Education, Teaching, Technology) – A blogger senses the ever-escalating “arms race” between interactive white board manufacturers and points out what’s missing: a new pedagogical approach.
  • “You Can Now Embed Corkboard Me” (Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…) – One of the great collaborative tools for brainstorming is now embeddable. Corkboard Me is a collaborative tool that works as a virtual corkboard, perfect for brainstorming. Now that it is embeddable, users can place a corkboard on their website, blog, or classroom portal.
  • “Tools to Go Paperless” (Teach Paperless) – Teach Paperless is a blog dedicated to reducing our dependancy on paper in schools. This post simply lists many of the great ways one can go paperless in their own facilitation.
  • Council Bluffs Community School District Guidelines for Facebook™ as a Parent Communication Tool – Normally, district policy is not the most intriguing example of reading material. However, this document outlines ways in which one district has found justification for Facebook use in the classroom.

Zac Early is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.

    Thursday’s Tip(s): Top Five Tips

    Typically, we give you one great tip on our Thursday post, but today is your lucky day. We have five top tips from around the Web to get your 2011 off to a great start.

    1. Larry Ferlazzo has updated his list of great temporary email services with Webemail.me. Why do you need temporary email addresses? If your school doesn’t provide email to students and you want to use an online tool which requires an email address, you’ll need some temporary email addresses. Webemail.me is just the latest in a long line of such services. Larry’s complete list is here.
    2. Looking for a large data set for teaching students statistics, graphing, and various other math concepts? Or are you looking for geographic and demographic-centric lessons for you students’ social studies education? Check out the US census data for all your data needs. In the New York Times’ Learning Network Blog, there’s an easily adaptable lesson on utilizing this data in a social studies setting. At the very least, the lesson gives some great ideas for using census data with your students.
    3. Also from the New York Times’ Learning Network Blog, a reader of the blog submitted a fantastic lesson idea using a Nicholas Kristof piece on Guinea worms. There are plenty of resources and activities in this rather engaging unit.
    4. Looking for ways to use Skype in the classroom? How about assessment of learning? Silvia Tolisano at Langwitches Blog does a great job of sharing many ideas and resources for using Skype in formative assessment. Don’t take my word for it, check out her post here and begin downloading Skype for free ASAP! (H/T Carmen Marty, eIS)
    5. Finally, from the tech/online tools side of things, Mashable offers up a list of tools that can be used to help you and your students make sense of the enormous amount of data available on the web. The hot new practice of Web 2.0 is the curation of information. The tools identified in this post are perfect for organizing and collecting all the data under a given subject. Check the post out and choose the one that best suits your needs.

    We hope these tips provide some inspiration for a new year and new semester. What tips do you have that might help your fellow teachers out in 2011? If you have a tip that requires an in depth look, submit your idea to our blog submission form and join the conversation at Networked Teaching & Learning.

    Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.