TED-Ed Said…

I am now officially a member of the TED online community.  I imagine there will be a lot of interesting things to explore, but for now my assignment is FLIPPED CLASSROOMS.  Flipped instruction is one of the latest buzz words in education. In my 6th grade student teaching placement, my mentor teacher experimented with some flipped instruction in one of the social studies units, although it didn’t involve technology.  Reading the blogs on TED-Ed about flipped instruction,  there are lots of advocates out there.  The one blog I thought very helpful was by edutopia called Five Best Practices for the Flipped Classroom by Andrew Miller.  It’s not that Mr. Miller was “anti-flipped instruction” but he was the voice of reason.  He explained that flipped instruction isn’t an end or a solution, rather it is a technique for maximizing class time with students.  Mr. Miller says flipped instruction does free up the teacher’s time, but “just because I ‘free’ someone, doesn’t mean that he/she will know what to do next, nor how to do it effectively.”    Once you make the decision to explore flipped instruction, be sure to read Andrew Miller’s article to learn about the Five Best Practices for the Flipped Classroom.

Field Trip by Google

I watched the podcast by ToolZeit about the free Google app called Field Trip.  It is a pretty neat app that has implications for the classroom. Renee and Fred are the hosts and they give a short but thorough evaluation of the app.  What I found even more interesting; however, is that every Monday, Wednesday and Friday they evaluate tools and apps that may be of use for teachers, students, or even tools for your personal life.  They can be found on the EdReach home page.  I have attended many Webinars in my working life before changing careers.  What my employer liked most is that so many are free!  I also attended one this year as a kindergarten IA.  I would definitely continue to use podcasts for professional development.  They are easy, convenient, and offer many interesting topics.

You, too, can be read to!

Once upon a time there was a little child who loved books..and not just any book but EVERY book.  The child loved to have books read to her at night before bedtime.  How wonderful it was for her to hear the different characters in the book come alive.  Now the child is all grown up and still has a love of books.  The child has become the reader, inventing the voices so that the books can come alive for other children…and the cycle continues.

Can you remember being read to when you were younger?  Those times I read to my children were magical.  Picking the book was a challenge because of so many choices and so little time.  Then we’d snuggle under the covers and get lost in the story.  Sometimes sleep overtook us before we could finish, sometimes I had to say no more books tonight.  These are some of my most favorite memories.

Many think these read-alouds are just for the young pre-readers.  Au contraire!  Students of all ages enjoy being read to.  Whether a short picture book or a book that challenges, the lyrical sound of the voice and the mesmerizing tale … well let’s just say you NEVER outgrow that.  As the reader, I too get joy from reading to students.  I read at least one book, but usually more, to my Kinders every day.  Sometimes they were quiet, sometimes they giggled, oftentimes they joined in.  How I loved it when I heard, “I love this book!”  In my student teaching placement in 6th grade I used picture books to teach a lesson figurative language.  The students got so lost in the books they almost forgot the assignment!  I also chose a picture book to share with the students during our lesson on the Underground Railroad – Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson.  You could have heard a pin drop. The students were mesmerized.  I read it four times, to four different classes and they all reacted the same way.  It elicited a great discussion afterwards, too.

Well, if you’ve been missing this now it’s your turn for a read-aloud.  I worked with some peers to create a digital storytelling project and we chose the book Parts by Tedd Arnold.  It is a silly rhyming story with fun and creative illustrations.  We took a few liberties and created some of our own “illustrations”, added a few sound effects, and generally just had fun.  I hope you enjoy it!

If you want to grab a blankie first….I’ll wait for you!

Stay tuned…

Giving Reluctant Students a Voice

The article by Reynold Redekopp and Elizabeth Bourbonniere discusses the use of blogs and discussion boards as tools for students to contribute to classroom discussions.  According to the authors, the tools primarily help those students who seldom or never participate in class discussions.  The reasons for not participating isn’t really defined in the article and doesn’t seem particularly important.  When given a forum that is safe, non-threatening, and perceived as equal, those reluctant participants not only participate but have insightful and thought-provoking comments.

This article reminded me of the PBS program, Digital Media*New Learners of the 21st century and the segment on the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia.  Douglas Herman, a history teacher, discusses the use of chat rooms in his classroom.  He states that the students that have the least level of participation in an open discussion in the classroom become “rock stars” at posting to the forums – constantly posting their ideas and responding to others.  The instant gratification of putting an opinion out there as well as the immediate feedback and ability to respond, work for these reluctant participants. In the video the students were using these chatrooms while in class, which is counter intuitive to me.  I was thinking homework – but they were using it for classwork.  Instead of a single conversation happening, they could have 32 conversations going on simultaneously, leading to a much richer discussion.

According to the participation levels defined in the article, I would be a level 1.   I know that I talk a lot in class but I do try to formulate my comments so they are productive and helpful. Sometimes I may fall woefully short but at least I try!  I have noticed that others don’t talk.  This article made me reflect as to why.  Do I dominate the conversation so much that its like Janice was saying…”by the time I figure out how I want to [comment], the discussion is over or has moved on…”?  Sometimes I know I speak up to jump start a discussion because no one is talking and we’re supposed to be having a dialogue.  Sometimes I speak up to support a colleague who is presenting.  And, sometimes I just have an opinion to share.  Regardless, before I jump right in the next time I think I will count to 10 and give someone else a chance!  Will I be able to do it?

Stay tuned…

Digital Media* New Learners of the 21st Century

ImageTruer words were never spoken.This insightful quote was made by John Dewey at age 85…8 years before his death in 1952.  Not only that, in 1915 Dewey was calling conventional public schools to task accusing them of structuring the system “to make things easy for the teacher who wishes quick and tangible results.” (John Dewey, Schools of Tomorrow, New York:  Dutton, 1915, p. 18)  Nearly 100 years ago, Dewey recognized the need for schools to prepare students for the future and to emphasize freedom and individuality.

PBS’ presentation of Digital Media*New Learners of the 21st Century examines five programs across the United States that have embraced technology, integrating it and sometimes replacing traditional curriculum with it in schools. I was particularly interested in New York’s Quest to Learn elementary school.  In this segment, John Seely Brown says that the 21st century and maybe even in the 20th century has overlooked the power and importance of play in learning.  This concept resonated with me from my preschool teaching days.  Our  philosophy at VBCC was that children learn through play…compromising, negotiating, critical thinking, problem solving etc.  Mr. Brown extends this concept to the students of today.  He states that the most important thing is for children to have curiosity and a questioning spirit. With this, students can take an idea and “play” with it, tinker with it, make the idea personal and relevant, and ultimately own it. Then, the student will indwell in the idea and the idea in the student. Long lasting learning takes place here that can be applied to future situations.

I loved the way the students in the program talked about the way they learn at Quest to Learn school. Their interest and enthusiasm are evident and contagious.  I had to keep pausing the video because my mind would start wandering to ways I could implement technology tools into my teaching.

All the segments in the PBS broadcast were interesting to me and I highly recommend you set aside 52 minutes to watch the program. Some of the quotable quotes I captured follow.

 “Assessments and testing drives current school systems.  We are not going to change the paradigm of schooling and get deeper learning and learning for problem solving and innovation unless we change the test and change the assessment.” James Gee, Professor, Arizona State University

“Why do we assume that kids’ socializing and play is not a site of learning?” Mimi Ito, cultural anthropologist , University of California, Irvine

“Is someone literate if they cannot critique media, take media in, if they’re only taking in traditional text – so if a 6th grader today, by the time they graduate from college is not fluent if you will, in some of these other forms of media, I would venture to say that they won’t necessarily be considered as being literate. Nichole Pinkard, Founder, Digital Youth Network

“If we know that learning outside of school matters a great deal to kids’ ability to learn well in school, we have to pay attention to that. Katie Salen, Founder, Institute of Play

Addendum: My favorite resources from the Digital Media page are:

Howard Rheingold – packed website and blogs but especially like the virtual classroom

Edutopia – cool website and blogs on tons of topics

Stay tuned…

We hold these truths to be self-evident…

declaration of independenceAs frightening it is for me to think about it…I think I’m becoming a history geek. Well, maybe “geek” is too strong. But, after student teaching in a 6th grade Social Studies class I am hooked. So, naturally my favorite blog was by Glenn Wiebe called History Tech.

Glenn is a history teacher turned technology geek and curriculum specialist. He has a lot of great ideas for using all types of technology to teach History. One of my favorite blogs he wrote was about making a Facebook page on Abraham Lincoln. I LOVED this idea. Any historical figure could be studied this way. Glenn teaches how to create the dummy Facebook page and gives ideas how to use the page. The link to this post is below.

This got me thinking. In Facebook you can create events and invite people to them. This feature could be used for studying significant events in history as well. By having the students respond and post to these pages, it can become a flipped classroom (my second favorite blog). Pictures (primary sources), videos, and linked pages can be shared with the students.

Another of my favorite posts by Glenn is using primary sources in the classroom. I’ve also posted that link below. What is particularly cool is that he has posted a Primary Sources page with a ton of links to primary source websites. My Mentor Teacher, Nicole, used primary sources so I naturally fell into that same practice when doing my takeover weeks. Primary sources were a great way for the students to critically think about what they were seeing instead of seeing it through someone else’s eyes. I’ve included that link below too.

Glenn is also really interested in video games and has a link to a whole presentation on how to integrate video games into teaching. I need to think about this more because I’m not totally sold here. Glenn has a list of games and how they relate to Bloom’s Taxonomy. While I get this part, I’m not sold on how it relates to “content knowledge.”

While the History Tech is primarily History focused, I think it would be interesting and fun to try to apply some of these ideas to other subject areas.

I mentioned my second favorite blogs were by the Flipped Learning Network. I explored here because I wanted to learn more about flipped classrooms. Again, I return to my Mentor Teacher, Nicole. The last few days of my time in her classroom, she was trying out the flipped classroom concept. She gave the students reading assignments and questions to answer at home to introduce some topics around the Civil War. This was my first exposure to anything like a flipped classroom. I want to read more of the blogs to get a good understanding of how this works, especially since I will have a flipped classroom assignment in ED554. I’ll admit; however, I am not looking forward to videotaping myself. After all, the camera adds 10 pounds!

Stay tuned…