Welcome back everyone! I hope you enjoyed your summer vacation as much as I did (a lot) and are feeling refreshed and ready to teach and learn. What better way to start the year than with Four Skills to Teach Students In the First Five Days of School. In this article by Katrina Schwartz from the MindShift blog, you’ll learn about four key concepts to talk to your students about early in the school year.
1. Power Researching – it’s important to teach our students how to find the information they need. The internet provides a vast wealth of knowledge but students need to learn which questions to ask. The article provides ideas for helping students search like learning more about Google Operators, the words that define HOW Google searches.
2. Meaningful Contributions – learning is impacted in a huge way when students realize their work can mean something to others. Provide your students with options that help them make a meaningful contribution to others. Blogging with your class is a great way to accomplish this by providing an infinite audience for your students’ work throughout the year. Check out my previous post on Blogging … in MATH Class for some ideas.
3. Their Passions – when students are working on something they are passionate about, the world opens up to them. If you can inspire your students to start a project now that they can build on throughout the year, they will accomplish some amazing things. Look for my post later this year on using Minecraft in the Classroom to see the work of students with some serious passion.
4. A Learning Ecology – be a co-learner with your students. Take risks and show them what life long learning looks like. I hope I can help you with that part by sharing some fun, interactive, engaging options for using technology to help support teaching and learning in your classroom this year.
Enjoy your first week back!
It’s been a while! As I’m sure most educators will agree, May and June feel like one month and the workload is more consistent with an average four month span. In any case, I’m glad to be posting again and look forward to a summer of sharing ideas in Ed Tech with anyone interested in hearing them.
Speaking of blog posts… ever since I learned about the concept of blogging in education, I’ve always considered it to be a powerful learning opportunity. Blogging provides an outlet for student writing that reaches an audience much larger than the one students usually write for (often an audience of one – the teacher). Let’s face it – some students don’t always feel the need to try hard to impress their teacher. When students are blogging publicly, they are potentially writing for ANYONE – their classmates, their friends, their family, complete strangers. For many students, this completely changes the level of effort they are willing to commit to an assignment.
All that said, I’ve struggled with how effective blogging might be in a math class. Then I stumbled upon Windsor, Ontario’s @mathleteblogs on Twitter. @mathleteblogs is the Twitter handle for mathblogs.ca or mathleteblogs.com, a math blogging site for teachers and students to assist in building #maths communication. If you visit their site, you can get a FREE MathBlogs.ca site or you can list your current blog in their directory.
Check out Sophia Mannina’s Marvelous Math Blog for one great example from the MathBlogs.ca Directory. You’ll see the idea is quite simple – students just post some of their math work (done on a tablet or interactive whiteboard, or even a digital photo of their work done on paper) and then write about. That’s it. We always want our students to talk about, and talk through, their math problem solving. This is a great way to have students show their learning, and have other students provide feedback and further comments.
If you’re a math teacher, this is definitely worth consideration for use with your math students when we return to school in the fall. If you have tried this before and can share your experience, or if you have anything else to add, feel free to comment.
On May 15th, 2014 over 200 students from across Grand Erie met in Brantford to share their thoughts on the use of technology in their learning. In the morning students were asked to describe interesting/innovative ways technology was already being used in their classrooms. They were also asked about how they learn and how technology has changed their learning. In the afternoon students designed their own ideal learning environment and described what that would look like/sound like/feel like. Despite our students “breaking” the hotel’s WiFi in the morning, the day was a huge success. And I’d like to add, thanks to Grand Erie ITS Support Staff for rescuing the WiFi in the afternoon.
For the second year in a row, we had the great privilege of working with Will Richardson, who facilitated the event. Will has spent the last 12 years developing an international reputation as a leading thinker and writer about the intersection of online learning networks and education. He is an outspoken advocate for change in schools when it comes to the diverse new learning opportunities that the Web and other existing and emerging technologies offer our students. Throughout the day he shared his thoughts on the current and future state of learning in a world where students are more connected and have more access to information than ever before.
To learn more about what students shared at the Ed Tech Student Forum, check out Jen Faulkner’s website where all learning was documented throughout the day (including a live stream of the entire day) – http://bit.ly/gedsb-edtech.
For more information on Will Richardson or to hear more on his view of education and learning, check out his website, www.willrichardson.com and/or the video below of his TED talk in Australia.
The Flipped Classroom is not an entirely new concept, but this form of lesson design is quickly growing among teachers. In case you’re not entirely sure what this flipping stuff is all about, Wikipedia says, “Flip teaching or a flipped classroom is a form of blended learning in which students learn new content online by watching video lectures, usually at home, and what used to be homework (assigned problems) is now done in class with teachers offering more personalized guidance and interaction with students, instead of lecturing.
eduCanon takes the Flipped Classroom to a whole new level. Using eduCanon, teachers can pull videos from YouTube, crop them, and insert comments and questions throughout the video to help engage students and make them accountable for their learning. It also tracks students’ progress as they answer the questions and provides the teacher with a clean report that can be used to identify individual or whole class areas of need to help inform instruction.
Check out this video to see how easy it is to setup your eduCanon lessons:
Thanks to Mike Parsons for sharing this great tool to help teachers flip learning.
Recently at the Microsoft Build conference in San Francisco, Microsoft announced a few big updates. A couple of them will be of importance for Grand Erie English teachers and Grade 3 or 4 teachers as they will impact the teacher/student experience with Dell Venue tablets now being used in our classrooms.
1. The START MENU is coming back. Many Windows 8 users have complained that the familiar Start Menu (from Windows 7, Vista, XP, etc) is missing. Personally, I’ve found that the new Windows 8 Start Screen does the job of the old Start Menu, and more. If you simply go to the new Start Screen, swipe up for All Apps and start typing, you can easily find what you’re looking for (much more quickly than manually browsing the old All Programs list). In any case, for those who prefer the old Start Menu, it will be returning along with added links to live tiles on the Start Screen.
2. Apps from the Start Screen can appear as windows on the Desktop. If you prefer to operate solely in Desktop mode (rather than working from the Start Screen), you will be able to have apps from the Start Screen open within a window on the traditional Desktop.
For a 90 second summary of things that happened at the Microsoft Build conference, checkout THIS POST by The Verge.
Note: release date for the above updates is not yet known.
TodaysMeet is one of the EASIEST web tools that exists. It’s purpose is to host backchannel conversations in a safe, secure environment. The backchannel includes all the “stuff” happening in the background during a presentation – passing notes, texts, or emails, whispered conversations, etc. TodaysMeet streamlines the backchannel into one location established by the presenter (teacher) so all attendees (students), are conversing in the same place during a presentation.
The most popular backchannel tool is Twitter. However, anything posted on Twitter is public (can be seen by anyone). If you’d like to leverage the backchannel in your classroom without engaging in the wide public audience of Twitter, you can try TodaysMeet and the only people who can “see” the conversation are the people you share the link with (your students). TodaysMeet is also a great stepping stone to teaching students about their digital footprint and appropriate online behavior before using Twitter in a similar way.
To start, just go to https://todaysmeet.com to create your room name and choose how long you want the link to remain open. Then give that link to your students (or anyone else you would like to be involved in the conversation) and they can enter their name and join in.
I’ve seen this used in several classrooms during a student or teacher presentation/lesson or during a class debate. TodaysMeet can be accessed from any web browser, including on students’ smart phones. It adds a whole new dimension to student engagement and interaction and often pulls ideas from students who may not frequently share their thoughts aloud with the class.
What is CAMPUS?
Using 3400+ NFB films in the classroom has never been easier, quicker or more efficient! The NFB gives educators access to 600+ films not available for streaming to the general public, in addition to the 2500+ films already available in the NFB.ca screening room. The features are outlined and linked directly on their Education webpage: www.nfb.ca/education. It features an array of exclusive features to help teachers use NFB films in an educational context.
If you’re an Ontario teacher, click HERE to setup your Campus Profile today. Note that it may appear as though your license expires March 31, 2014 but it will automatically be renewed until March 31, 2015. Once you’ve created your profile, just go to www.nfb.ca and sign in at the top right of the screen to get into your account.
For more info, check out our Grand Erie Ed Tech Wiki Page on the NFB and/or check out the NFB Education Blog.