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Tech Integration for Busy Teachers

Tag Archives: differentiation

Paragons of the Week: Mapeas, Sight Words with Samson, Qwiki

Episode 35 >> Previous Paragons

1. Mapeas

Mapeas is a Google Maps mash-up that shows news happenings from around the world. The hot-spots are divided into categories: Business, Entertainment, General, Science and Sport, so you can select which one you’d like to see, or simply see all of them at once. Each dot on the map represents a story and the numbers indicate how many stories from that particular area there are. When you click on a dot it opens up a quick description of the news event along with a video that can be played directly in the site. EdTechIdeas Social Studies teachers can use Mapeas when learning about current events and also help students understand world geography at the same time.

2. Sight Words with Samson

Sight Words with Samson allows students to learn and practice word spelling and pronunciation in a fun, easy to use way. In a four-step process students are challenged to learn words, build words, identify words, and finally, take a quiz about everything they have learned. Within each step there are 4 different levels of difficulty that contain 7 lists of high-frequency words.  EdTechIdeas: Sight Words with Samson is a fantastic site for English language learners and students in lower elementary. It could be used as a center activity as it is a very intuitive site.

3. Qwiki

Qwiki is an impressive new website that just recently rolled out their alpha phase, which means they are still in testing mode, working out some bugs. Currently, you can request access via email and they’ll send you login credentials within a day or two. What Qwiki is, is this: Do you remember the scene from Wall-e where the captain asks the computer to, “define earth?” The computer then displays tons of pictures, videos and maps while spewing out (in a pleasant sounding voice) various facts and information regarding Earth. This, in a nut shell, is what Qwiki is aiming to do, and they do it pretty nicely. Users simply enter a word into the search form and a 2-3 minute “information experience” is displayed. EdTechIdeas: Once this is out of Alpha, Qwiki will be a great research resource for quick and easy information for students studying a variety of subjects. This would also be a great example for students to mimic. Make a “Quiki” assignment where students create a short film about any given subject, pulling in a wealth of facts and media and create their own “information experience.” Below is a quick demonstration of how Qwiki works.


Poetry VoiceThread

VoiceThread is a site that allows you to upload images or video, and comment on the images via voice recording, text, images, or webcam. Here’s a recent project (still a work in progress) one of my 5th grade classes did using poems they wrote, and pictures they drew which were inspired by the poems. After everyone had uploaded their pictures and recorded their poems, each student viewed all of their classmates’ poems and left a comment of either text or voice. In the embedded version below, you can navigate through using the play button and the left and right arrows. If the text comments are a little too small, you can see the full version here. Feel free to leave a comment to any of the poems.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
EdTechIdeas: Voicethread is a great platform for publishing student work and enabling others to view and comment on it. Students love hearing their peers’ thoughts and critiques. Once complete, a Voicethread can be shared around the world and comments can come from family members and friends living thousands of miles away.

Alan November Comes to Town

Christmas came early to Singapore! We had the great honor of having Alan November at our school this week, and I sit here now, trying to hash out and piece together coherent thoughts, head still swirling with ideas and discussions from this afternoon’s workshop. I think the most useful post is one that shares what was learned that will be useful in the classroom the next day. What have I taken away from the workshop that I can turn around and begin using in my teaching that will enhance and improve student learning? Below I have outlined the key take-aways and how I plan to implement them.

Diigo Social Bookmarking

Diigo is a fantastic tool. One I’ve used for quite some time now to keep my bookmarks organized and available no matter where I am.  During the workshop, Alan said something to the effect of, In the library, Dewey did all the tagging. Today, we have to teach kids how to do this.”

For those who do not know, Diigo, according to Wikipedia, is:

Diigo (pronounced /ˈdiːɡoʊ/) is a social bookmarkingwebsite which allows signed-up users to bookmark and tag web-pages. Additionally, it allows users to highlight any part of a webpage and attach sticky notes to specific highlights or to a whole page. These annotations can be kept private, shared with a group within Diigo or a special link forwarded to someone else. The name “Diigo” is an abbreviation for “Digest of Internet Information, Groups and Other stuff.”

What I didn’t know, (or knew, but forgot) is that educators can create groups and student accounts for free. It’s a fairly simple process that does take a bit of initial set up, but once you have it rolling, you and your students will be tagging, collaborating, researching, and learning at a whole new level. Here’s a link to specific directions on setting up your groups and student accounts. Ed Tech Ideas: I teach 3 different grade levels, and my different classes are always researching for one project or another. Students are always finding great sites, but at best, they bookmark it to their local computer, never to be seen by others. Now with our Diigo groups (I created one for each grade level), kids learn how to tag, organize, and share their finds with everyone else in the group. Everyone benefits from group knowledge, and the students learn an important skill that will stay with them and grow throughout their academic lives.

Who Owns the Learning in the Classroom: Teacher or Students?

This was a question Alan posed an hour or two into the workshop that really got me thinking about how the traditional role of a teacher has changed over the last 20 or so years. Gone are the days (hopefully) of the sage on the stage teacher at the blackboard spewing out information to struggling students with 30 different learning styles. However, we do still need to recalibrate the balance of learning between teacher and students.

Who works harder in the classroom? The teacher or the students?

Ask yourself this question and see what answer you come up with. Then ask yourself, what can I do to recalibrate to enable students to own their learning. For inspiration, watch Michael Wesch’s Ted Talk called, “From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able.”

EdTechIdeas: Have students take a photo of something in your life and use it to explain a concept. Take a character from a book and have students write dialogue of a topic that is not in the book, that shows their understanding of the character’s qualities/personality. Use a hotseat-type activity and ask students questions. Have students go to the cafeteria and video what kids are eating for lunch – make a production about healthy choices; graph the results. Take photos of simple machines – use photoshop to diagram the parts of what makes the subject a simple machine. Ask Google-proof questions. Create a Google Map assignment. Have students make book trailers instead of writing book reports.

One Thing

As with most workshops, the overwhelming influx of ideas from Alan’s workshop left teachers with a mix of emotions, feeling somewhere in-between, “I’m not doing enough” and “There’s so much out there, I want to try everything now!” A suggestion that Mike Pelletier aptly calls, “TBC” (Tech Baby Steps) is always a good idea. Begin with just one thing that grabbed your attention and go with it – make it work for your classroom, not as an add-on, but as an integration.

Notes, take-aways, the Tweet Sheet, and workshop info can be found here, thanks to Jay Atwood. Also a very special thanks to Alan November for an inspiring,  thought-provoking, mind recalibrating day!

Paragons of the Week: PicLits, CyberChase, Incredibox

Episode 34 >> Previous Paragons

1. PicLits

PicLits is a site that allows users to choose a photo and then drag words onto the picture to create sentences.  There is a freestyle option that allows you to simply type on the picture, and keywords are suggested to help you out. When finished, you can save (free account required), email your piclit, or share it via Facebook, your blog, or other places. Soon there will be a print feature, a weekly contest, and the ability to search and tag photos. EdTechIdeas: This is a great site for inspiring struggling writers and for those times where you hear the complaint, “I don’t know what to write about.”

2. CyberChase

CyberChase from PBS is a fun place for kids with 45 games that focus on problem solving abilities. Challenging games like  Crossing the River, U Fix It, Tangrams, and more will have kids thinking out of the box in no time. EdTechIdeas: Fantastic site for problem solving and creative thinking. Would make a good go-to site for center time in your classroom or a fun activity to spend time on after working out difficult concepts. Use the lessons and activities section for ideas that are tied to the NCTM standards.

3. Incredibox

Incredibox gets my nod for the Odd Site of the Week Award, and I’m throwing it in, just because we all need a little obscure fun in our lives. Not sure of its educational implications, so I don’t have too many EdTechIdeas, but perhaps for music teachers, it could shed light on rhythm, vocal appreciation, harmonic structure, and polyphony. For the rest of us, it’s a great diversion and a good way to bring a little music into your life.

Relinquishing Control

Me in New Zealand

Today I relinquished all control of learning in my lab and shifted the responsibility of learning to the students. Most of my activities in my lab are project-based, but they are usually created by myself and the classroom teachers, have directions, pre-set expectations, rubrics, etc. In a recent workshop I attended, Alan November posed the question, “Who owns the learning in the classroom: the teacher or the students? This inspired me to relinquish control.

It went like this: My 4th graders are studying isopods and beetles in science so I presented to them a challenge: “Using any method you choose, you are to show your isopod/beetle expertise.” That was pretty much all the direction I gave, and looking around my lab, here is what I saw being created:

  • Bitstrip comics starring themselves as scientists explaining the diversity of crustaceans.
  • Students researching sources using advanced search features for trust-worthy and relevant information
  • Online jeopardy game creations
  • Using Scratch to create interactive stories
  • PowerPoint and Prezi presentations
  • Using Flipcams and Moviemaker to create infomercials
  • Podcast radio interviews
  • Glogster Posters

Some students worked in pairs; others chose to work alone. They assigned each other roles. One the researcher, one the graphic designer, one the note taker. They asked if they could research! They created their own rubrics. Their usual, “How do I do this?” questions to me were redirected and asked of themselves: “How can we find out how to do this?” It was truly an amazing experience. Their newly-discovered independence and ownership in their learning freed me up to go around and make suggestions, teach specific search strategies, work one-on-one with each student discussing their projects, and really feel the excitement and buzz of authentic learning taking place.

EdTechIdeas: As teachers, it is often difficult to make a shift from forced learning (teacher delivered content) to student directed learning. I challenge you to just take one lesson; one activity; one afternoon and flip the way you’ve always done it in the past. Take a leap of faith, and relinquish control. See how you feel. Discover how your students feel. Feel the learning.

My Green School Dream

“Dyslexic, we’ve renamed prolexic.” John Hardy mentions about 10 minutes into his talk, and that kind of thinking is a big part about what makes the Green School so special. The architecture is beautiful, and the school is off the grid. However, anyone can build beautiful buildings – the approach that Hardy takes with the children – wanting to make them whole, is in my mind, what elevates the Green School to an amazing place of learning and growth.


What do you think of the Green School?

Stop Teaching Calculating. Start Teaching Math

“Math is very popular. Just not in education.”  Conrad Wolfram gives a great talk about how to bridge the math gap between the real world and the classroom by using computers to make math relevant to learners.

What do the math teachers out there think about Wolfram’s ideas?

Paragons of the Week – BibMe, Professor Garfield, Amateur Science Sites

Episode 32 >> Previous Paragons

1. BibMe

BibMe is a quick and easy to use bibliography maker that allows you to cite books, magazines, newspapers, websites, journals, films, and more. You begin by searching for a book (or any other media you choose). Once the book is found, you select it, make any changes (annotations, whether you are citing the entire book or just a specific chapter, etc.) and add it to your bibliography. You can choose a citation format (APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian), and voilà, you are done.

2. Internet Safety with Professor Garfield

Professor Garfield helps kids learn about online safety with several great videos, activities, and games. The site is broken down into the following categories: Online Safety, Cyber Bullying, Fact or Opinion, and Forms of Media. The “watch, try, apply” method keeps kids engaged and insures that they are learning the content. There are Teacher Materials, Parent Tips, a printable Internet Safety Certificate, and a printable Classroom Poster.

3. Amateur Science Sites

FunSci has been around for a long time, and I don’t think the design has changed since around 1997. What the site lacks in aesthetics, it makes up for in content. There are so many great resources here for young scientists to learn about and discover new things. It makes it a worthwhile visit.

Engage Students! ActivExpression Voting Devices

For a recent lesson with 4th and 5th graders on the subject of Internet Safety, I pulled out our ActivExpression (voting) devices and used a pre-made Promethean flip-chart that I downloaded from Promethean Planet. The students absolutely love using the voting devices and the discussion that ensues about each topic is amazing. The thing I like about the devices is that every student is an active participant and even the shy kids will “voice” their opinions. The graphs which can be embedded in the flip-chart, contain a wealth of instant information which show patterns that would be missed without the use of the voting devices.

Following are a few of the questions asked and answers the students came up with.

Which type of communication tool do you use the most online?

A. email
B. instant messaging
C. social network (Facebook, Myspace)
D. blog
E. other

This is the reality of today’s students. Even though 13 is minimum age of Facebook, over 26% of this particular 5th grade class uses social media as their main source of online communication.

Have you ever felt uncomfortable or unsafe while you were online?

A. Yes
B. No

The discussion that followed this question shined light upon some of experiences children have online, including: Weird emails from strangers; pop-up ads that take them to different sites; abusive/inappropriate comments on Youtube; virus attached via email; chat rooms in game sites; inappropriate images via Google image search.

When you are online at home are you usually:

A. working by yourself away from adults
B. working with a parent
C. working alone with a parent nearby

I was actually a little surprised by this number as I thought that more students would either be working with a parent, or with one nearby. The fact that almost 40% of 9 and 10 year old students are online away from parents is alarming.

As mentioned before, the discussion and aha moments that surfaced because of the devices was priceless. The students took away a lot more from this lesson because they were active participants and had a voice in the conversation.

Nuts and Bolts of using ActivExpression Voting Devices

Device Registration

The first step before you can start polling students is to register your devices. View the how-to video below to learn about this.

Express Poll

Sometimes, you’ll want something quick and easy. Making an express poll is the way to go.

Making a Quiz

To create a quiz in ActivInspire, follow these steps:

Have you had experiences using voting devices? What has worked well and what have been some of the challenges?

Here’s a quick-start tutorial to help you out.



Paragons of the Week – Google Tricks, Surfing Scientist, Art Babble

Episode 24

Paragons of the Week is a reoccurring post highlighting resources that I find to be worth mentioning. I come across 100s of useful tools for educators each week. Below are the top 3 “paragons” that I found this week that I feel teachers might dig. To view previous Paragons, click here.

1. 100 Google Tricks

From Onlinecolleges.net comes a great Google list that will “save you time in school,” and life in general. Everything from timelines, definitions, currency conversion, keyboard shortcuts, Google Squared, and beyond. There are actually 102 tricks listed here, but who’s counting?

2. Surfing Scientist

Great science tricks, lesson plans, conundrums, and more at this fun, activity-based site. Surfing Scientist Ruben Meerman from Bundaberg, Queensland takes kids and teachers on learning discoveries.

3. Art Babble

Art Babble is a site dedicated to the discussion about and promotion of Art, in its numerous forms. This is a great place for kids to learn about different types of art and artists, as well as gain an appreciation and inspiration of artistic endeavors. The Channels section allows students to view videos on hundreds of different genres, and the Artists section has hundreds of videos on specific artists. Thanks to Richard Byrne for this find.

Top 3 Paragons of the Week – Science House, ViewPure, TeachingBooks.net

Attribution: "Pinwheel Star" http://www.flickr.com/photos/40147761@N04/4193248881Episode 23

Paragons of the Week is a reoccurring post highlighting resources that I find to be worth mentioning. I come across 100s of useful tools for educators each week. Below are the top 3 “paragons” that I found this week that I feel teachers might dig. To view previous Paragons, click here.

1. Science House

Science House is a great site created and maintained by scientists that has a plethora of quick videos of science experiments. They show you the materials you will need, walk you through the experiment and give you the educational background as to why this is important.

2. View Pure

The above image is an entire screen shot of a YouTube video being played on ViewPure. You’ll notice no distractions, no ads, basically nothing but the video. Thanks to Makeuseof.com for this great find!

3. TeachingBooks.net

Teachingbooks.net is a great resource for elementary school teachers who are looking for new ways to explore the series of books that their students are reading. One very cool feature is that kids can listen to authors give introductions to their series and read a bit of one of the books. Mary Pope Osborne does a great job explaining how she came up with the idea of her Magic Tree House Series. Thanks to Julie Niles Petersen for the find!

Top 3 Paragons of the Week – Episode 21

Attribution: "Antikythera Mechanism" http://www.flickr.com/photos/9506589@N05/2556676025Paragons of the Week is a reoccurring post highlighting resources that I find to be worth mentioning. I come across 100s of useful tools for educators each week. Below are the top 3 “paragons” that I found this week that I feel teachers might dig. To view previous Paragons, click here.

1. Conjugation.com

Conjugation.com is an easy to use website that works by just typing the verb that you want to conjugate in any form. Any verb, regular or irregular. You then Click on “Conjugate,” and a new page is instantaneously displayed, with the verb shown in all of its forms, voices and tenses.

2. Signapp Now

SignApp Now is the easiest way I’ve seen to create a sign-up sheet for keeping track of who’s coming to what. You don’t need to register, people signing up don’t need to register. You just create a sign-up page, email the url, and wait for people to sign up.

3. Virtual Manipulatives

Very useful site from MacGraw Hill, Virtual Manipulatives has a nice set of interactive manipulatives that would work great with an IWB. The manipulative sets are broken into grade levels (pre-K through grade eight) and have some fantastic tools for teachers and students.

The World Needs All Kinds of Minds

Temple Grandin is an amazing person. Born in 1947, she is a Doctor of Animal Science and a professor at Colorado State University. She is known for her work in the livestock industry, but is perhaps most famous due to her openness about her autism, and advocacy for autistic individuals. Watch the video and be inspired!

Temple Grandin is such a strong reminder that as educators, we need to continue to find what motivates each child, and find a way to light every single one of those individual flames.

Global Book Club

What do you get when you connect elementary students from New York and Singapore with the single focus of books? You get the Global Book Club (GBC), a Shelfari group organized by George Haines. GBC currently stands at 76 members of students and teachers from different classes from the Diocese of Rockville Centre and Singapore American School. Each week students login to their Shelfari group and have discussions about a variety of books which are self-selected by the students. The discussions are started by the students about books they’ve recently read, and if other students have read the same book, they chime in to the thread with their two cents worth.
Here are some examples:


Students love adding books to their shelves and sharing what they thought of each book. Knowing that they have a real, genuine audience truly motivates them to write more detailed reviews and improve their spelling, grammar and word choice. Being that this project also emphasizes discussions, we encourage the students to ask questions and keep the conversations going. Students also discovered some new books they probably wouldn’t have ever found, after reading some reviews written by other students.

46 Stellar Math Sites for Kids You’d be Obtuse Not to Visit

Kids can always use some extra help with mathematics. From fractions to basic math facts; problem solving to number sense; geometry to algebra, there is always room for improvements. Here are 46 sure-fire sites that will engage, enlighten, educate and Einsteinify your students. Most of the sites listed below are geared towards students in grades 1-6.

Fractions

Basic Math Facts

  • Multiplication.com
    Really cool games to help you master your math facts. 
  • Number Lines
    Work on your addition mastery by shooting number balls that add up to a specific number.
  • The Math Page
    This is a really great site from Manhattan Community College 
  • A+ Math
    This site is great fun for third graders and up.
  • Math Dictionary for Kids
    Great math dictionary for kids.
  • DiscoverySchool.com Worksheet Maker
    A super way to make math worksheets. Try it! 
  • Aunty Math
    Aunty Math presents math challenges that encourage thinking skills for students in grades K-5. 
  • Cool Math
    Cool Math is “designed for the pure enjoyment of mathematics.” This interactive site features games, puzzles, calculators, and lesson plans. 
  • Harcourt Animated Math Glossary
    This is a complete online dictionary of math terms. 
  • Math.com
    Math.com: The World of Math Online is chock full of everything to do with math from the most basic to advanced topics. It includes homework help, calculators, games, practice, and much more. 
  • Teach R Kids Math
    I dislike educational sites that misspell words on purpose (in this case, r instead of our) to look cute. However, this site provides online interactive math practice that covers a range of topics from simple to advanced for elementary school children. 
  • AAA Math
    Hundreds of pages of basic math skills to more advanced challenges.
  • BBC Math
    Math game wheel.
  • Multiplication Mystery   
    Drag numbers into the multiplication grid.
  • Fun Brain
    Multiplication Baseball
  • Multiplication
    Multiplication Speed Grid Challenge. Fun game where you race against the clock to complete multiplication problems.
  • Powerlines
    Cool game – students arrange numbers in lines that have to add up to a certain number. Harder than it sounds.
  • Practice Fish
    Help Jungle Jim catch fish by solving multiplication problems. Good for IWBs.
  • Math is Fun
    Assorted math puzzles and quizzes.
  • Mrs. Glosser’s Math Goodies 
    Math Goodies is a free math help portal featuring in-depth lessons, worksheets, and homework help. A pioneer of online help, this site has been reviewed on television and in other media. Math Goodies has hundreds of resources for students, educators and parents.

Miscellaneous Math

  • Graphing
    Create-a-Graph
  • Clocks – Teaching Time
    This resource, produced by the Franklin Institute Online Fellows, takes an educational look at timepieces in the collection of the Franklin Institute Science Museum 
  • Polygon Playground
    All about polygons!
  • Builder Ted
    Number line – help Builder Ted fix the roof by putting decimals in order on his ladder.
  • BBC Maths File Game Wheel
    12 games here categorized by: Shape Space & Measure, Algebra, Number, and Data Handling.
  • Magic Squares
    Lots of links to magic square games and activities.
  • More Magic Squares
  • Yet even more magic squares
  • Allmath
    The last magic square site here.
  • Math Cats
    Explore the Polygon Playground to explore symmetry, make tessellations and pictures. Good for IWBs.
  • Math in Everyday Life
    When you have a student ask, “When am I ever gonna use this?” You can direct them to this site.
  • Math Stories
    The goal of this math website is to help elementary school (Grade 1st through 6th) children boost their math problem solving and critical-thinking skills. MathStories.com has over 15,000 online and printable NCTM compliant math word problems for children to enjoy. Word problems are available in both English and Spanish.
  • Prongo.com
    Prongo.com is an educational website for Kids. We offer fun, interactive, and educational games for kids. For teachers, Prongo.com also offers Quizstation. Quizstation allows teachers to create online quizzes for their students.

Got others? Share below.

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