April 25

#UnleashingLiteracy with #EngagingActivities

#UnleashingLiteracy with #EngagingActivities

#BlogAMonth Topic

Our Scholars need to create and not just test. Bubbling in is not the best way to assess all students. We are not all made equally and we do not all test equally. This month’s blog topic: How do you internally measure success (beyond that of test scores)?

It is nearing the end of the year and whether you are on the end or beginning of the testing cycle, I know that they are tired and  you are tired.

Your scholars are tired of the drill and kill and you are tired of drilling and killing. I propose that you instead assign them movies, memes, poems, and websites that allow you to assess their knowledge while they display their creativity.

Below are more than 50 alternative assessments that will mix up the normal bland test and allow your scholars to create something. My focus is on literacy activities but these assignments can be adapted to fit any content. Yes, math, science, and social study teachers can create role driven assignments that require students to create artifacts that demonstrate their understanding of your current unit.  Meaning, if you teach math, you can change up the topic so that the objective is to create an artifact (meme, video, blog post, timelime, IG post, hashtag, webpage, etc.) that explains the order of operations.  Assign them the role of .. parenthesis, multiplication, division, etc. and they will need to create an artifact that shows their content knowledge.

These activities are in alpha order. I have linked up student examples or related blog posts to some of them.

  1.       4 x 4 summary – create four four-word sentences about the text.
  2.  11 Sentence Summary
  3.      25 word Gist statement
  4.      A to Z chart with words, phrases, or sentences that are related to the test
  5.      Acrostic poem based on a character in the text from the viewpoint of the main character.
  6.      Advertisement about a person, place or thing from the text.
  7.      Analysis of poems related to the story events or theme.
  8.      Annotated bibliography of resources regarding your unit of study.
  9.      Author blog post that lets your audience gain insight into your thought processes. Pretend that you are the author and you have been asked to explain which parts of the novel were the easiest and the hardest for you to write.
  10.      Character Map that examines character traits, physical description, or personality traits
  11.  Character’s playlist
  12.  Collage that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  13.  Comic Strip that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  14.  Comparison of the text to another text on a similar topic that you have read.
  15.  Concept or Definition Map
  16.  Create a list of 15 words from the text and illustrate them to show their meaning.
  17.  Crossword Puzzle that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  18.  Diary entry that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  19.  Different ending for the text and create a Smore or poster showing the new story.
  20.  Digital story about an experience that you have had that was similar to that of one of the characters in the text.
  21.  Diorama that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  22.  Display that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  23.  Facebook or IG posts that show the changes that the main character underwent in the text.
  24.  Family Tree that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  25.  Fishbowl, Socratic Seminar or Chatroom questions
  26.  Flip Book that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  27.  Game that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  28.  Graphic Organizers
  29.  Hashtags for a person, place or thing from the text.
  30.  Illustration or Word Cloud  that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  31.  Interview one of the characters and ask him/her to explain some of the actions in the text.
  32.  Interview that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  33.  Jigsaw reporting of specific text element
  34.  Jingle that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  35.  Memes that depict the events or character interactions from the text.
  36.  Newspaper Story that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  37.  Notecard Confession Video that describes the problems the main character encountered in the text and tell how this character solved these problems.
  38.  Obituary that will describe the character. Pretend that one of the characters in the text has died.
  39.  Painting or Drawing that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  40.  Pamphlet highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  41.  Photo Essay that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  42.  Picture/Poster that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  43.  Podcast that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  44.  Poem that describes the plot of the text or poem created from an image related to the plot of the text.
  45.  Product based upon the text.
  46.  Radio Program that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  47.  Rap that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  48. Series of #hashtags that show how a character withing the text is similar to a person that you know. Discuss your answer in #BeLikeVal #ParenthesisRULE #1STandFOREMOST #YouDontMoveBeforeMe #Igo1stYouGo2nd
  49.  Text messages from or to the main character of the text. What do you see?
  50.  ThingLink showing the event highlights or locations of the novel
  51.  Tweets that describe events (real or imagined) that took place in the text.
  52.  Video that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  53.  Web Page that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  54. Youtube channel for the main character. What are some of the videos that he has uploaded?

Raise the rigor and have your students to defend their selection either in writing or orally.

Give yourself and your class a break and break up the testing monotony.

 

April 9

Blog Post Guidelines

At the completion of each mission, create a blog post with a brief reflection. The reflection should capture your experience and your thinking about the mission and the tool you explored. Here are some questions to guide you as you write your blog posts:

  • What did you create, and why?
  • What went well for you? What was challenging? What did you enjoy?
  • What ideas do you have for using this tool with your students, or for using this tool to communicate with families?

These questions are intended to be a guide, you don’t have to answer them.

Thanks for participating.

March 9

PhotoGrid

PhotoGrid – picture collage and photostory creator

PhotoGrid allows you to combine ordinary photos into worth-share photo collages; you can decorate your pics by applying filters, adding stickers and text.

PhotoGrid is a free collage app that lets you combine multiple photos into one large photo.  The app has a built-in text tool that allows you to add captions.

The Mission
Use the collage maker to create a collage that showcases four of your favorite books.

The Steps

  1. Gather pictures of the books. Either take photos of the covers or find them online and save them.
  2. Open PhotoGrid and click the + to create your collage or grid template. You can change the layout as well as the background.
  3. Adding text requires that you tap on the T – Text.  Type your message, and play with the fonts, color, and highlight to your satisfaction.  Pinch objects with two fingers and make the caption box smaller, or open fingers to enlarge.  Drag your caption to the desired spot.
  4. Click next and then save when you have personalized your collage.
  5. Upload your collage to your blog and complete your reflection.

Classroom uses:
PhotoGrid is a great tool for students to use to create posters, collages, photostories, and collections of images with text. Students can create collages about the current unit of study, favorite movies, or books. Have students take pictures along the inquiry process and collage them to create a reflection.  Students can also join photos to represent degrees of a concept (whisper, speak, shout or drizzle, rain, thunderstorm), to recommend books or represent a single idea visually.

PhotoGrid is great for you to share what your students are working on in class.

To earn your badge:

Complete a reflection blog post about your experience.   that describes your experience. Tag your post as #TchrScolrs and share your work so that we can all celebrate your creation.

February 19

Revamping my Summary Assignments

I am Shaking up the way I have my scholars summarize information. 

This MONTH’S #BLOGAMONTH TOPIC is a challenge to ‘do things differently.’

“Change a constant.”

Whether this is taking your class outside, putting music on, removing desks, unplugging your tech lesson, going paperless…etc, lets break the routine and reflect.

I decided to shake things up and do away with requiring summaries from my Scholars. I will instead be focusing on Gist statements, Blackout Poems, and Student Generated Questions. We do need to check on their understanding but as you read your 30th rendition of

  • First, this happened
  • Then, this happened
  • So then, this happened

It gets old and hard to deal with. They hated writing it and after picking up the 31st paper, I am apt to declare, “Nope not interested at all. No thanks. Don’t want to read anymore.” But what I can deal with is a quick check that requires my Scholars to summarize the text in 25 words. Okay yes, I know I used the dirty s@@#$%^ word but the number of required words in the summary gives it an interesting twist.

“Whoa! Wait!?!? What?!?! 25 words?!?!” – their response.

“Yes, 25 words. No more. No less. Exactly 25 words.” – my response.

Not only have I just decreased the number of words that I have to read but I have drastically increased the rigor. It takes some serious critical thinking to reduce a passage into a prescribed number of words. Gist Statements are just one way to rid your Scholars of the dreaded, boring, standard summary assignment.

Gist Statements

  • Objective:  Accurately paraphrase sentences, keeping original meaning, and changing the structure of the sentence if necessary
  • Learning experience: Learners will read and locate/synthesize information and create a summary of 20-25 words.
  • Student product:  Brief summary passage
  • Rationale: This strategy helps students identify the most important ideas in a text, put those ideas into their own words, and then make connections between among these important ideas.

BlackOut poem

  • Objective: Read closely to determine the main idea or purpose of a text and eliminating all other words. Blackout poetry is a page of text that has been partially blacked out – colored over with a permanent marker so that the only visible text provides insight into the text as a whole.
  • Learning experience: Learners will read, locate information of interest and highlight sections of a chosen text.
  • Student product: Text based poem that can be shared and displayed.
  • Rationale: Creating BlackOut Poetry is an effective strategy to promote active and critical reading skills by requiring students to read the text and identify points of interest. These points of interest can either be teacher directed or student driven.

Student Generated Questions

  • Objective: analyze and synthesize a text and compose possible test questions.
  • Learning experience: Learners will read and locate/synthesize information to create questions.
  • Student product:  Discussion and/or multiple choice questions.to be used for a test, Kahoot game or a round of Quiz-Quiz-Trade.
  • Rationale:  Creating questions help students gain a deeper understanding of the text. It requires students to find textual evidence to support their question/answer choices. This activity requires students to explore concepts from the assigned text.

Can you revamp your summary game by using Gist statements, Blackout Poems, and Student Generated Questions? Try these activities out and I guarantee you that your Scholars will thank you.

(That’s not really true.) 

Condensing text drives many of them crazy and the responsibility of creating possible test questions scares many but at least it is not the same, boring assignment and you can get the necessary feedback that you need.

December 4

RAFT writing: giving their writing a purpose

 

RAFT writing requires that sturaft-writingdents become a person, place, thing or idea and write from that perspective. They ARE Cinderella, a cell, Santa Claus, a beach, the galaxy, an ordinal number, etc.

 

RAFT writing can be used to describe a chemical reaction, explain the process of condensation, describe a point of view, envision a potential plan of attack, or solve a problem. It can be creative and informative.

Teaching Process (Click this link for a ClassFlow.com Presentation Deck that can be used to help you RAFT your classroom.)

⇒Step 1: Once your content has been covered, consider all of the various roles and audiences that would allow students to demonstrate their new understandings from different perspectives. Conduct a class brainstorming session to gather numerous possible perspectives on your topic.

⇒Step 2: Introduce the RAFT acronym to with students, explaining what each letter stands for:

R = Role role of the writer. What persona are you adapting? You might be a person, place, thing, or idea.  In developing the final product, what role will the students need to “take on”? Who are you as the writer? Are you President Trump? A warrior? A homeless person? An auto mechanic? The endangered snail darter?

A = Audience. The who or what the RAFT is being written for. Who should the students consider as the audience for the product? To whom are you writing? Is your audience the Canadian people? An enemy? Your teacher? Readers of a newspaper? A local restaurant?

F = Form The form the writing will take, as in letter, song, meme, image, movie, diary, etc. What form will the writing take? What is the best product that will demonstrate the students’ in-depth understanding of their interactions with the text?  A writing task?  Art work?  Action plan?  Project? A letter? A classified ad? A speech? A poem?

T = Topic This is the what that will be the focus/subject of the final product. What are you writing about? What’s the subject or the point of this piece? What event will constitute the centerpiece of the action? To explain bloodflow? To persuade a gangster to spare your life? To plead for a re-test? To call for stricter regulations on logging? A list of characteristics?

⇒Step 3: Give students a RAFTed assignment. RAFTs can be directed or left open to students to choose.  Initially, it is best to assign students to complete specific RAFTs.  As they gain more experience and familiarity with the writing strategy, they can be allowed more freedom.

A lesson about the water cycle in science, can require students to RAFT about being a water droplet:

  • R – water droplet
  • A – water vapor in clouds
  • F – travel journal
  • T – the water cycle

After learning about the battle of the Alamo, history students might be assigned a RAFT that allows them to select from roles presented:

  • R – Any observer or participant in the battle
  • A – Any relevant audience based on format
  • F – A newspaper article, a letter, a diary entry, dialog, etc.
  • T – The events of March 6, 1836, the final siege of the Alamo

⇒Step 4: Students complete RAFTs individually or with partners. Allow them to do pair shares to insure that they are on the right track.

⇒Step 5: Students share their RAFTs with the class. Other students should listen for accuracy and logic. An accurate RAFT response will accurately reflect the views and perspective of their character.

When creating RAFT assignments, be sure to incorporate a variety of interesting responses. The form can be a photo album, letter of introduction, job resume, photostory, meme, gif, etc.The goal is for them to respond and demonstrate that they have mastered the content.raft-writing-prompts

Have fun and be creative with your RAFT assignments. Below is a chart with a few examples in each of the categories; it is meant only as a sampling to spark new ideas and possibilities for building RAFTs:

Role Audience Format Topic
writer

artist

character

scientist

adventurer

inventor

juror

judge

historian

reporter

rebel

therapist

journalist

self

peer group

government

parents

fictional character(s)

committee

jury

judge

activists

immortality

animals or objects

journal

editorial

brochure/ or booklet

interview

video

song lyric

cartoon

game

primary document

critique

biographical sketch

newspaper article

issue relevant to the text

agenda of events

topic of personal interest or concern for the role or audience

topic related to an essential question

solution to a problem

highlight of an event

 

Here are some examples of what RAFT writing assignments would look the classroom. 

Science RAFT examples

Role Audience Format Topic
Duck U. S. Senator Photostory Effects of oil spill
Star Self Diary Life cycle
Electron Fourth grade students How to video Journey through a parallel circuit
Limestone Cave visitors Postcard Chemical weathering process
Liver Alcohol Letter to Complaints Department Effects of alcohol on your body

History RAFT examples

Role Audience Format Topic
Mohandas Gandhi Martin Luther King Jr. Letter Nonviolent opposition/ resistance meetup
Great Wall of China Self Diary Invaders I have seen and stopped
Colorado River Rafters Travel guide What you will see if you travel my length
Rain Forest Humans Complaint Letter Deforestation concerns
Benjamin Franklin Dear Abby Advice column letter “My son likes the British”

Math RAFT examples

Role Audience Format Topic
Zero Whole numbers Campaign speech Importance of the number 0
Percent Student Tip sheet Mental ways to calculate percentages
Parts of a graph TV audience Script How to read a graph
Acute triangle Obtuse triangle Letter Explain differences of  triangles
Container Self Diary Comparison of volume measurements

I hope that you have a great time RAFTing with your students.

MsBisOnline banner

November 6

Passionate Scholars

My Passionate Scholars will be researching topics close to their hearts and sharing the results. Many of us have heard of the Genius Hour or 20 time or Passion Projects. These projects are designed to allow students the opportunity to research topics that excite them. Last year I tried it (unsuccessfully) and I would like to do it again this year. I am trying to revamp the project and recreate what worked and change what didn’t work.

Here is what I hope happens….

PassionateScholars_banner

 

 The Project

Students will research a variety of topics and publish the results. The goal is for the students to become an expert on that topic and share what is learned.

The Project Requirements

To complete this project successfully you will:
1. Pick a topic you are passionate about, something you want to learn more about. medicine. cosmetics. baking. dog care. coding. learning a language. making a boat. You are free to explore anything that interests you.
2. Find resources, books, websites, blogs, brochures, interviews, etc. on your topic to guide your learning.
3. Blog regularly. You will need to complete several blog posts and interact with our community of learners to serve as guides and support. Your posts should reflect your progress. Each post should also incorporate reflections on how your research is going.
4. Connect with an expert on your topic and conduct an interview.
5. Produce something – a presentation, a writing piece, a website, artwork, a song, a dance, a show, something tangible – that you share with people outside of our classroom.
6. Reflect on what you have learned in a TED-style talk.
7. Share all of your work on your online portfolio.

The Research Topics

Begin by exploring interests, ideas and feelings.

  • What’s in the news? Why?
  • What’s happening in the world that affects others or yourself?
  • Who are people who have influenced the world?
  • What’s interesting to you?
  • What would be interesting to others?
  • What do you want to learn about”
  • What do you like?
  • What do you dislike?
  • What makes you laugh?
  • What makes you cry?

The Presentation Talk

The point of the project is to provide students with the opportunity and support to explore. The final piece of the project will be a reflection presentation.

What have you learned? In a TED-style talk, you will reflect on what you learned during your research process. Presentations will be approximately five minutes in length and incorporate a visual component that supports the presentation but does not heavily rely on text. Each research group will carefully prepare and practice presentations before delivering

The Grading of the Project

Your project should demonstrate:

  • an engaging, well-produced project that was presented to classmates via our online class site. 
  • well though out design and production choices made in order to engage the audience.
  • use of the research through weekly reflection blog posts. Each blog post incorporates significant reflection on how selected texts are helping to guide the student’s learning. Each blog entry must be a minimum of two substantial paragraphs and incorporate specific details, examples, and quotations from texts.
  • information gathered from a variety of quality electronic and print sources, including databases. Sources are relevant, balanced and include critical readings relating to the topic.

My Mistake 

Initially, I asked that they begin the research process and create a pitch video to get everyone’s interest. Time and poor directions changed the project in midstream. My directions weren’t clear enough and many thought that completing the video was the beginning, middle and end of the project. They weren’t invested enough in the topic research to continue their learning journey once the video was completed. We worked on the projects one or two days a week. Next semester, I want to spend a week (or two) doing the work and attacking the research process. I hope that we will be able to complete two projects per marking period.

Student Products

Here are several videos made by my students in my first #PassionateScholars Project.

I hope that next semester I will be able to share more student-created videos from my #PassionateScholars. I also hope that they will be more in depth.

Does anyone out there have some tips? Shortcuts? Better ideas? Prayers for success?

Thanks.

VRBurton signature

November 6

8 problem solving tools (well, 4/8)

Last month, I shared some tools that can help solve ANY problem that you might be 8-resourcesexperiencing. I talked about 4 electronic resources that can help you out of many situations. These resources, strategies, techniques can help with problems with student engagement, organization, student submissions, student creativity, teacher efficiency, effectiveness, data gathering and assignment tracking.

  1. Google Drive
  2. Edublogs
  3. Classflow
  4. Remind

I hope that you tried out or revisited or continued to use some of them. Google Drive, EdublogsClassflow, and Remind are all great resources and play a key role in my teaching life.

Now, here are 4 more problem solving  resources or techniques to explore:

5. Policies / Routines / Procedures

6. Interactive videos or Images

7. Checklists / Participation sheets

8. Badges / Leader Board

SOLUTION 5: Policies / Routines / Procedures

Many student behavior ‘mishaps’ can be prevented when there are classroom procedures in place for daily tasks and activities. Please don’t get insulted by thinking that I am implying that you don’t have procedures in place. Yes, yes, yes, we all know that it is important to have procedures and routines in place but many times we start off strong and then lose our way as the year progresses. (Okay, maybe not you, but … I have. Sometimes.)  For me, it’s important to remember that we, as Professional Educators, always have the power to hit the re-do button. The re-do button allows us to revisit, reteach or revise the policies and procedures that we have in place. It is a refresher course for both teacher and students. If you initially required a raised hand before speaking and now you are taking responses from the loudest student, it’s time for a refresher. Hit the re-do button. Remind students that there are routines in place that need to be followed.

Your routines can cover: entering and leaving the room; rules for group work; asking for help; going to the restroom; getting a pen; handing in work; etc. What do you need them to do to help make the classroom run smoothly?

Procedures for entering the room can be as simple as:

Be sure to enter the room quietly; put bookbag in front; put homework in the bin; report to your assigned seat; check the board for today’s assignment; begin your DoNow silently and fill out your participation sheet after completing the DoNow.

Remember that it’s okay to re-do, revise, revamp procedures, if necessary. You have my permission to take the time to re-teach procedures and make your classroom climate stronger. 😉

Solution 6: Interactive images or videos

Using videos and images in student learning activities can inspire and engage students. Many display increased motivation because of the enhanced learning experience. Being able to see and hear images / videos breaks down walls for many students and allows the learning to begin.

Visuals allow us to take students to places textbooks can’t go: a digestive system, another country, another planet, another decade. Students have a better chance of understanding complex and abstract concepts when they can see the concepts.

Animoto  (quick and easy way to make photo-movies)

  • Here is one introducing my class
  • Student created this one in response to a research project about gaming and violence.

Notecard confessions: Notecards are displayed with the message and recorded. (Your cards can be about ideas from the text)

Memes and Gifs: Memes are images with a related text message and Gifs are a rapidly moving series of images. I used these slides to collect memes from my students about poems that we read in class.

STUDENTS can create WordArt, memes, gifs, interactive images, etc.

 

Here is a post that wrote about students creating memes and interactive images. 

Solution 7: Checklist / participation sheets

I am currently teaching 9th graders and they need to have an agenda and checklists so that they can monitor their work.

I use checklists to support and scaffold their learning. Checklists break up a task into bite-sized pieces that students can successfully complete complex tasks. They do a better job of completing a task if they can tackle small steps along the way.

My students fill out participation sheets that record the lesson’s objectives and daily assignments and then they check off the assignments that have been successfully completed. Every day my students use computers to complete their work and many of them waste time and do not complete their needed tasks. Their participation sheet allows them to see and check off completed assignments before jumping onto sites to play games and other time wasters. Many of you probably have your own setup. Whether it is a sheet like this participation sheet or using their agendas.

If your students are having trouble keeping up with or turning in assignments, try checklists or participation sheets. Each can be sent home and signed if you want to be sure that the parents are also on board with class assignments.

Solution 8: Gaming leadership awards badges

Leaderboards really do make a difference with my kids. I use Kahoot regularly for review because the students are extremely excited and engaged while playing. We recently played a game that I used to gather information to see what they knew about Word icons. I couldn’t stop laughing because many of them went out of their way to make sure that they appeared on the leaderboard. Kahoot allows them to get bonus points for answering not just correctly but the fastest. Many of my students took advantage of that and tried to answer first. Sometimes they knew the answer and other times didn’t but they knew that points could be gained for answering first even though points would be lost for wrong answers. This year I have displayed leaderboards and printed out certificates from Typing club and I have created and issued badges using Classflow.com. My students love to earn badges and have their accomplishments display on the leaderboard. Acknowledgment helps. For them and for us (I won’t stop playing a Solitaire game until I win. YES, I still play Solitaire.)  As adults, we too, appreciate acknowledgment and recognition.

 

Now that you have gone through my list, honestly, is there a problem that you have that can’t be solved by one of these resources? Seriously? Hmmmm, think about it. These techniques, procedures, and resources allow you and your students the opportunity to ORGANIZE and CREATE. Those are two of the most critical things that we have to address regularly. If we, students and teacher, aren’t organized, NOTHING works right. If we, student and teacher, can’t create, learning is just a chore and not a joy.

Quick recap of these 8 tools

  1. Google Drive – Teachers and students create and organize notes and slides
  2. Edublogs – Teachers create blog posts as an online classroom and students can blog and publish their creations
  3. Classflow – Teachers create assessments, organize data and allow student creative responses.
  4. Remind – Teachers organize classroom notifications
  5. Policies / Routines / Procedures – Teachers organize classroom movement and students will flourish with the consistency.
  6. Interactive videos or Images – Teachers create engaging images and videos for learning activities and students create visual text responses.
  7. Checklists / Participation sheets – Students organize their classwork
  8. Badges / Leader Board – Teacher rewards academic excellence and students blossom under the attention

Because I live in Louisiana, I can’t give you a list without giving you lagniappe. Lagniappe is an extra gift.

Soooo, here is tip #9 Your cellphone

Your cellphone can be a connection to… everything. It’s not just for selfies, talking to friends and texting family members. I have my apps organized into folders so that they are easy to navigate. If I forget to post to my assignment blog, I have the ability to pull up the app in my

If I forget to post to my assignment blog, I have the ability to pull up the app in my Work Station folder and post as I walk towards my room. But before I post it, I grab a bitmoji image or create a word swag picture from my Pics folder to insert into the blog. When my scholars do something awesome, I open up my Social Me folder and post a picture on Instagram. A coworker needs access to something I have in Google Drive, my app in the Work Station folder lets me quickly send out a link.

 

my-phone

I grabbed some pictures and quickly made this video about what we were doing in class. Yes, I know that the template isn’t the best for the subject matter *(although I do love my kids, of course) It was me experimenting with a new app in my pic folder. If you want to see kids get on task, start to make a movie about their work. My phone allows me to work without having a laptop or desktop. I can edit Google slides, grade papers, post to my blog, create cute photomovies, share files, etc. If you have not fully embraced the power of your phone, try it. It might become a great resource for you and your class.

I ask again, is there a problem that these resources can’t handle?

Let me know.

 

 

 

October 2

These 8 tools can help solve ANY problem

8-resourcesThese 8 tools can help solve ANY problem that you might be experiencing. Seriously, give me a problem and I guarantee you that one or more of these sites/strategies/resources will help you out.

Are you having problems with student engagement? Problems with organization? Problems with student submissions? Problems with student creativity? Teacher efficiency? Teacher effectiveness? Data Gathering? Assignment tracking?

What do you need?

help with… 

organization? presentation? engagement? accountability? assessments? platform for creative student responses? way to keep students and parents informed? means to share and collect information? 

Solution 1: Google Drive 

Google Drive .. to the rescue. I use Google Drive every day. My lesson plans are created in Google Docs and they are hyperlinked to a larger Google Doc that houses relevant lesson plans, presentation slides, resources, and assessments for my weekly lessons. Google Slides with the daily agenda and directions are embedded on the class blog. Google Forms allow you to create a quick and easy assessment or poll. Google Drive allows me to have access to my documents from anywhere on any device. The majority of my photos, videos, and files are in the Google Drive cloud.

For Student use:

  • create a class journal or resource guide. These slides were created in response to the prompts I’m from or Where I’m from
  • create a presentation to display research results

For Teacher use:

Solution 2: Edublogs.

I use Edublogs daily. It serves as my chalkboard. It houses my daily assignments and directions for the students. Each of my students also has an ePortfoloio that is hosted by Edublogs. I fell in love with them years ago because Edublogs is geared towards teachers and students. They are very responsive to customer needs. I had problems when my students were creating their ePortfolios and the Edublogs crew quickly responded with solutions.

For Student use:

For Teacher use:

Solution 3: Classflow

Online assessment for me has now become a must have. Classflow allows the students to receive immediate feedback on quizzes so that they can see where their strengths and weaknesses are. Classflow assessment allows me to quickly copy and paste and populate the fields to create an online assessment that allows me to gather data about my students’ strengths and weaknesses.

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But don’t think that it’s only good for assessing. It is also a great tool for creating and delivering assignments, providing students a space for creative submissions and a collaborative space.

For Student use:

  • create cards that display research results

For Teacher use:

  • comprehension quizzes are simple to make and deliver
  • lecture cards can be delivered to different students for differentiation purposes

 

SOLUTION 4: Remind.com

I use a reminder to send out reminders about assignments as well as relevant mean schedules resources to my students I can schedule reminders to go out during class before class before school after school that future is one of the most convenient features of all with remind. You don’t have to send it when you remember it, you can schedule it to be sent when appropriate.

For Students

  • class assistants can send out reminders
  • students can contact me for information

For Teachers

  • notification of class assignments
  • send links and documents out

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Alright, I know I said eight tips and resources. I decided to break my tip list in half so as not to overwhelm anyone. That is why I am willing to give you four resources now and four resources the same time next week I challenge you to use and talk about these resources this week and next week try out the other four resources that I share with you.

I do not want to hit you with you too many things to try out and examine. See if these resources don’t help make your life easier and take care of some of the problems that you might be having in your classroom. Try them out. See if they help.

If by chance, you are living on fairy dust and are not having any problems, try out one of the resources to see if your world can get even better.

Now that you have gone through my list, honestly, is there a problem that you have that can’t be solved by one of these resources? Seriously? Hmmmm, think about it.

If you do still have an issue that I haven’t given you the solution for, be sure to tune in next week.

Same bat time.  Same bat station.
When I will share the FOUR other survival resources.

 

September 3

YES, you can create memes and gifs for class

You use interactive notebooks, Socratic Seminars, Kagan Strategies, online testing, flashcards, foldables, and everything including the kitchen sink to make sure that your students have mastered the skills identified on the daily agenda.Now it’s time to let them create something. They have done the hard work of reading, re-reading, annotating, defending, and explaining War and Peace, Metamorphosis, and Wuthering Heights. Now what? You need them to prove to you that they recognize the themes, characterization methods, and other literary elements in the text.

Do they really have to write a 500-word essay? Really??

Can’t they do something else to show their mastery of the content?  Something fun??? (imagine that in a preteen or teenaged whiny voice)

Of course, they don’t need to publish 500 words – although it would be a smart move to have them write a response so that you can get the data you need. Have them publish relevant images instead. Students can easily create memes and gifs that depict main idea, mood, theme, characterization, etc.

What are they studying?

Madame Curie’s contributions. Have them show the effect these contributions have had on our lives

Barrack Obama’s presidency. Your scholars find a picture and insert talk / thought bubble text.

Math formulas. Your mini-mathematicians can create memes that highlight formulas.

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Memes allow you to add commentary to images and gifs allow you to display several images that play automatically.

 

Before letting them loose, be sure to give them directions. What do you want them to display? Their knowledge of …. main ideas, emotions, patterns, themes, historical observations, etc.

We use the https://imgflip.com site because this site works at school. There are many free meme and gif makers but this one gets through our filters. The site has a large selection of pictures to choose from for meme making. A student could easily create memes and then turn them into gifs to share the collection.

Memes and gifs can be used to introduce and support material and students can create them to display their knowledge.  These links are for short how-to videos that show how easy it is to create memes and gifs.
Imgflig allows you to change the font type and color to allow you to personalize the images.

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Try making memes and gifs for your class. Once I started creating them, I have not stopped yet. It is slightly addictive and you will find yourself making them for everything. C’mon… try them.

They’re fun and easy to make and share.

July 23

Kagan Structures

Kagan Strategies to use

Spencer Kagan has developed many classroom structures that promote positive interpersonal peer relationships, equality, self-esteem, and achievement. Students follow the structure steps, work together and strengthen the classroom climate. The structures are designed to build team spirit and positive relationships; share information; assist critical thinking; support communication skills; and, develop mastery of specified material.

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