Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Common Good Forecaster



High-stakes testing season is upon us and budget cuts are in the news daily. Teachers are carrying the burden.  I can honestly say that in 36 years in education, I have really only met a few teachers that weren’t very good. Teachers are some of the hardest working, most ingenious, creative people I know and really need our encouragement now. Although I realize that most of you who read “tuesdays” are teachers, would you please go out of your way today and thank a teacher for all they do. Find a colleague who is discouraged and do a random act of kindness or something that will brighten their day.  Teaching is truly the profession that begins all professions and we need to find ways to ensure that our profession is regarded with the respect and dignity it deserves.  This week’s “tuesdays” is a look at the implications of education on all of us. Very interesting.

A creative website

The American Human Development Project has designed an open website, The Common Good Forecaster, that shows how education benefits us all.  This highly interactive study shows how more education leads to better jobs and higher incomes.  In turn, when America is more educated there are benefits in all areas of living: health, life expectancy, voter turnout and more. (Sounds like a thank a teacher moment!) The designers of the study define Human Development as the process of enlarging people’s freedoms and opportunities and improving their well-being. It’s about the freedom ordinary people have to decide who to be, what to do, and how to live. They have also created a “Well-O-Meter” to see how you personally measure up on the American Human Development Index.  Take the challenge. It only takes a few minutes. There are hundreds of downloadable reports and data sets to support the findings.  The most fun is clicking around through all the states to compare the state of education and the wellness of our nation.


An image to share 
I create an image of the results of my “Well-O-Meter” survey and was pleased to rate a 10! 



A proverb 
Education consists mainly in what we have unlearned.”  Mark Twain



An encouragement
Try to take some time to play on The Common Good Forecaster It’s very revealing.  I didn’t get a chance to click on all the states, but Connecticut and Colorado seemed to be doing the best. It’s amazing how reading correlates to our overall well-being.  Please share this site with your middle and high school students. It will be interesting to hear back with their reaction and interpretations. Math and science teachers will have data sets for graphing using these real world examples.  It even allows you to adjust the findings with sliders that allow for imagined “what if” scenarios.  If you can read this website, thank a teacher!



How do you do that?

The Common Good Forecaster is customizable with all the “what ifs” you can image, but I think it is important first to click on your state and see how its doing.  Begin with education and check the kids’ achievement in reading to see the percentage of 8th graders on grade level.  It’s not so healthy.  The Health tab gives life expectancy that amazingly correlates to the reading levels. Clicking around in the financial stability tab yield average income, poverty level and unemployment percentages.  The final tab is an anomaly as it presents voting percent and incarceration rates together which show a direct relationship with education.  We need our teachers more than ever.  Thank you to teachers everywhere and especially those who know it is their high calling.


As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,
K


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Table Top Texting



Educators everywhere have used video in their classroom at one time or another. I’ve been teaching so long that I even remember using reel-to-reel video and having to splice it when it breaks! I got really high tech when every teacher in Florida was given a laser disk player for their classroom with disks as large as turntable records. No matter what the device, video is a proven attention-getter for students. Why is it that as soon as you put a video on, students go into zombie mode? Their eyes glaze over, they’re lips are sealed and they actually seem to be paying attention. Are they really learning? Can video truly be a tool for research, understanding and inquiry? In this “tuesdays” I would like to explore some of the best practices I have seen that give teachers the ability to effectively utilize video in the classroom.

A creative website

As most of you know, I am so grateful to be part of the Discovery Education Professional Development team and one of our most precious resources is available to everyone whether your school subscribes to Discovery or not. As a public service from the DEN (Discovery Educator Network) the absolute best sharing of instructional strategies is made available at SOS – Spotlight on Strategies. Jannita faithfully compile current strategies, best practices, tips and tricks from teachers in the field that have student-proofed them for success and have even made video versions for the SOS – Spotlight on Strategies. One of my favorites is Table Top Texting that I used today with 8th grade class and tricked them in to writing an argumentative essay. I gave them the opportunity to watch a terrific video called, “Mumbai’s Delivery Service.” They were charged with decided whether this was real or fiction. I was so surprised to find that most of them thought it was an impossible task. Next, I showed them how to bring up the transcript and then they “read” the video as it played. In team of 4, the students created text bubbles to discuss their stand on whether the delivery system was real or a fake. This informal writing strategies lead to a more formal essay that they were very prepared to defend with text evidence from the video transcript. The SOS website is FREE and a great resource to share with teachers at all levels and for all subjects.

An image to share

Table Top Texting

A proverb

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth…..”


Karen C. Seddon (original, hee-hee)

An encouragement

One of the most important encouragements I can give you with video is a non-example. Never ask students to take notes while watching a video. We are all guilty of it, but think about it for a minute. Can you take notes while a video is running? Does it help you to pay attention while you are writing down information? There’s a time and a place for note-taking, but it’s not the initial viewing of a video. Instead, try playing the video the first time without the sound. Natural curiosity is tickled. Asking about what they think the video is going to be about can form a unique KWL chart. One of our teachers in Miami turns her projector off the first time and only allows the students to hear the narration! Effective learning from video happens with multiple viewing and deeper investigations. One of the best side effects of returning to video many times for information is to help students recognize the need to return to text multiple times. I encourage you to dig into some of the SOS – Spotlight on Strategies for exciting new ways to use digital media. Be sure to take the idea and make it work for your students.

How do you do that?

How do teach your students to return to video in a valuable manner? My favorite strategy came about through two years of coaching. It’s an example of a collaborative effort to help students learn effectively as it began as a debate activity. A few teachers and I liked it, but tweaked it to be a group activity that leads to an individual responsibility. As it became a graphic organizer, we called it, “Can You Make Sense of It All?” until one day I was in one of my teacher’s ESE class and he said, “Please take out your Video 4 Square sheet.” Bingo, that was the perfect name because students need to fill out 4 squares about the video they have watched.

I recommend that you introduce Video 4 Square with the whole group first. Typically, I will play a short segment of a video silently then gather their wonderings. Next, we will watch the same segment with the sound and narration to fill in the misconceptions and confirm the understanding. The video has been play twice at this point. These are the steps for the Video 4 Square graphic organizer:

Square 1: In the first square (as a whole group) we replay the video from the beginning to find 5 key words. Students watch the video as I watch them. If they think they’ve heard a key word, they raise both arms (as in “touchdown!”) If I have enough students agree, I pause the video and we discuss why the word is important to the understanding of the video or not. The process continues until we have at least 5 key words. (Warning 3rd grade teachers – they want to have 20 or more!)

Square 2: For the second square, all students silently write what they believe is the main idea of the video. They have now seen the video 3 times and generally have a good idea of framing the main idea.

Square 3: We return to video again to find evidence of the main ideas. The video is played again from the beginning and paused if there are a majority “touchdown” signals. We find only two supporting details/evidence of what the video is about and write them in the third square.

Square 4: Finally, the students are asked to write a summary of the video using the five key words, their main idea and the evidence collected.

This single graphic organizer is one of the most effective ways to see if a student is learning from video and not just appearing to understand the video. I’ve created a generic copy of the Video 4 Square graphic organizer for you that you can put your own header, logo or banner on. If you would like a copy, please feel free to email me at mailto:tuesdayswithkaren@gmail.com.



As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,

K

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Knowmia




Do you ever wonder when the development of new apps and software for education will ever slow down? We live in such accelerated times and sometimes it makes my head spin. However, I am really excited about learning new technologies from my colleagues. Last week we were working on a presentation project in a training and my teachers were amazing because without being prompted, they took the initiative to use a variety of tools other than PowerPoint. Some included Powtoon, Prezi, Animoto and more, but one of them was totally new to me so I just had to pass it along to you this week in “tuesdays.”


 A creative website

Knowmia is a game changer. This website and app driven technology is 1st of all FREE. (I knew you would like that!) Second, it has some amazing features to help us with instruction. You can build your lesson in a slide fashion, but add voice, video, images, graphics and a wide variety of other digital assets. If you are not into creating your own lesson, there is always the option to explore their growing video library. Presently, there are 30,000 videos created by teachers that can help you individualize lessons. Probably the most popular regular is Bozeman Science by Paul Anderson. So many of my Science teacher rely on his expertise. TechSmith is  the company that created Camtasia, Jing and Snagit for those of you who loved those products. Now they have made all three of them come together in one place. Naturally, there is a PRO version, but for most of us the FREE version is more than enough.


An image to share


A 3rd grade student using One Note to create a presesntation


A proverb

“Good teachers know how to bring out the best in students.”

Charles Kuralt

An encouragement

If you feel overwhelmed by too many things to learn or too many options for technology, turn them over to your students. You would be amazed at how much you can learn from them. They have time and patience to explore and Knowmia is one of those websites/apps where they can dig a little deeper and help us find nuggets of uses that we might not know are there. Students can create instructional videos for you. The app is very professional, yet graphically friendly and FREE. I highly recommend its multiple features such as drawing tools to explain, face recording for the view to see the instructor (or not!) and animation capability for your lesson. It’s a full service teaching tool for a teacher’s budget – FREE!


How do you do that?

How do you learn a new program/app like Knowmia? Fortunately, the expertise and quality of support is second to none. Because TechSmith has been an early adopter of creative ways of using technology, they have design great “how-to” videos through the website and app. They offer a great “How To” section that includes advantages of creating and using video, challenges and tips to overcome obstacles. I was really impressed when Kristen took the initiative to try show us this new tool and I just knew you would love it too. Please let me know if you create anything I can share with others. Great job, TechSmith!

As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,
K

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Digital Learning Day is March 13th



One of my teachers, Jonathan, asked last week, “Do you have any ideas for Digital Learning Day?” and I thought, “Wow, what a great question.” Thanks Jonathan. Do you ever wonder about having to infuse technology in your classroom or is it just a natural part of your environment? Most of the classrooms I visit these days are well-equipped with a least a projector, but even some of the best lessons delivered by the teacher are only entry level when it comes to digital learning. The one thing that makes all the difference in digital learning is to ask the question, “What are the students doing?” If the technology is in the hands-of the students, then we begin the integration possibilities. This “tuesdays” is just a small portion of how to get the students using the technology to enhance their learning.


 A creative website

There really is such a thing as Digital Learning Day. In fact, this will be the 4th annual event that will be held in classrooms across the country. This year the official date is coming soon – Friday, March 13th which gives us plenty of time to plan student learning using some form of digital median and/or devices.  I found this great promo from the Digital Learning website. 

Calling all teachers, librarians, media specialists, principals, parents, community members, and administrators from public, private, charter, and homeschool settings. Want to join the wave of innovation happening across the country? Each year, more than 30,000 educators will try something new on Digital Learning Day and share what they learned. From statewide celebrations to small group lessons, Digital Learning Day activities come in all shapes and sizes. No matter your level of comfort with instructional technology, Digital Learning Day has something for everyone. Digital Learning Day was started as a way to actively spread innovative practices and ensure that all youth have access to high-quality digital learning opportunities no matter where they live.


An image to share


Using a iPad to find the main idea in a video.


A proverb

“Let’s celebrate the potential of digital learning.”

Governor Bob Wise

An encouragement

Don’t reinvent the wheel! The Digital Learning Day website is loaded with getting started ideas. There are lesson plans in all disciplines: lessons for photo stories, silent movies and non-verbal communication, blogging, persuasive writing, digital citizenship, strategies and just so many that you will have to go and see. Here’s an encouragement – don’t do the research yourself – you are too busy. Tell your students about Digital Learning Day and take them to the website and have them research each section and report back. Once they have all had a chance to tell about the great ideas, have them brainstorm a way to get involved. Wouldn’t it be great to have your school represented this year? If you don’t think you are the right person to get the ball rolling, please mention it to someone else in your school. Our students deserve a chance to be involved in cutting edge learning. It really doesn’t matter what kind of devices or programs you have. Students can be VERY creative with very little. Time and opportunity are the real gold mine. Let’s empower them.



How do you do that?

How do you know what’s best for your school? That’s very personal and very customizable. My best advice is to find a way to digitize or “upgrade” what you are already doing. For instance, if your students have done science fair projects – digitize them. Put them on digital boards (Board Builder, Prezi, Powtoon, Padlet, etc.) If the students are practicing writing like crazy – “upgrade” their writing to a digital format and then have them record what they have written in audio format. The power of their own voice is amazing. Consider digital tools that your district allows. If you have Office 365 and One Note or Google docs, get them collaborating. If you have a website that is block by your district and you and your students believe it is critical to digital learning, have them create a persuasive video PSA convincing them to unblock it. No matter what digital opportunity you try, be sure to celebrate and let others know what you are doing. That kind of encouragement is contagious.

As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,
K

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Shake Up Learning



FETC, the Florida Educational Technology Conference was last week and I have so much information, tips and tools to share that I haven’t even been able to process it all just yet. One of my main goals was to gather tips for learning to code with my 7-year-old grandbaby. I was very pleased with two sessions that appealed to the younger coder. It is without a doubt in my mind that students actually want to code and are intrigued by the challenge. Since I am still processing and gathering all the coding sites, apps and advice, I decided to highlight an extremely knowledgeable and well-prepared presenter. This “tuesdays” has a dual purpose – to introduce you to a great new source and to look at the topic of gamification.


 A creative website

Gamifying the iClassrom (FETC 2015) is the first of many resources I would like to bring to you hot off the press from FETC. Kasey Bell has a sweet, professional and interesting presentation style who modeled the gift of sharing. Her resources are totally available to anyone. What was great to me was her use of Google slides and how her presentation’s links and videos are totally live from this link. (Yes, she actually looked like her avatar!) Her main website is equally as impressive because of her sharing power. She has won awards for her website and blog and is a huge Google fan. One of my favorites is her Google Cheat Sheets.

An image to share


Students working in a 2:1 environment

A proverb

“An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” (from Kasey’s website)

Edwin Land

An encouragement

I would like to encourage you to check out the resources on Kasey Bell’s website, Shake Up Learning, because she definitely understands teachers. Her handouts and tutorials are bright and engaging and even easy to understand. As I realize that most of you did not get to go to FETC, one of the best lessons I’ve learned is that sometimes we just don’t need the newest thing out there. We have SO many resources in education now that we cannot even come close to using them all. Let’s start taking an inventory of our district resources and begin to use one or two new things between now and the end of the year. It doesn’t have to just be devices or equipment, but software and online resources that your district provides.


How do you do that?

How do you look around your school or district to find out just what you already have available? Make the investigation a part of your PLCs. Challenge each member of the team to investigate just one resource, software or online program and give a 2 min. introduction to it at the beginning of each meeting. Make a commitment to learn one or two new things before school is out and try to focus on creativity and productivity by the students. The more we can get to do the work, the more they learn and more technology integration becomes a reality.

As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,
K