Tuesday, March 31, 2015

FINDS - Florida's Research Model



Research is a critical tool for learning at any age. Today’s students have more information available to them that any other generation and most of us (me included) jump on Google, do a quick search and call it a day. Our expectation for good researching skills needs to be much higher and very tangible for our students. Our tendency is to create a rubric, set come guidelines and let them go. Did you ever think there may be a reliable research model available for ALL grade levels? Ironically, the FL DOE created a research model for students that is exemplary and almost forgotten. Wouldn’t it be great to have a common language of expectations for research across all the grade levels? We have it! Let’s get it out in the forefront again. This “tuesdays” is for all teachers and students who have ever done research.


A creative website

The Florida Research Model – FINDS is a collaborative effort through FAME (Florida Association for Media in Education) to help media specialists and teachers combine reading and writing skills with information literacy.  This model has been around for a few years now, but I don’t think it’s been given enough attention.  I sure hope you have the opportunity to look into it more. The site is loaded with resources for teachers and students. It includes media standards that match the Florida Standards for each grade level. When planning a project, it is critical to give the students a sense of self-checking. Through FINDS, an acronym for:

·       Focus on the information need
·       Investigate resources to search for answers
·       Note and evaluate facts
·       Develop information into knowledge for presentation
·       Score presentation and search


This model will help both teacher and student to develop high quality projects with accountability.


An image to share


Students researching

A proverb
"There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.” J.R.R Tolkien



An encouragement
I would love to encourage you to share the FINDS model with your students even if you don’t think you will eve have time to use it because they can really benefit from the self-check questions throughout the model.  For instance, the F in FINDS stands for – Focus on the information need. Two questions in this section include: “What is my assignment or the information problem to be solved? What are my questions and/or thesis sentence?” The I in FINDS stands for Investigate – Investigate resources to look for an answer.  The question I like the best in this section is “How can I find what I need and respect the rights of others to equal access to information?” The N in FINDS is for Note – Note and evaluate facts. An interesting question posed to the students in this section is “Do I have all the facts from all points of view on my topic?” The D in FINDS is Develop – Develop information into knowledge for presentation – Of course, my favorite question is “How do I integrate technology to enrich, publish or present my project?” Finally, the S stands for Score – Score presentation and search.  This introspective section includes four questions and ends with “How can I improve my search process next time?” Two more places where you can do deeper with information about FINDS are from Broward County -  Reference and Research and the FINDS Livebinder.

How do you do that?
How do you institute the FINDS model in your classroom? Investigate its many resources within the site. It even includes online graphic organizers, think tank tools, wizards and many, many pdfs that you can download and share with your students.  You could spend a whole day with the students simply teaching them the value of this site alone. In fact, it may even be very wise to divide and conquer it in a jigsaw puzzle type search and let them bring it all back together for the class.  You will probably learn a whole lot more about the resources because they will dig deeper and find more than we have time to! Kudos to the SUNLINK team for developing this incredible gift to research and to FAME for keeping it alive! Any digital project that includes research, storyboarding and scripting will make a final product that others want to see (or hear).

As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,

K



Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What Are the Students Doing?



Calling all creative teachers! I need your help! I need your ideas and expertise! My partner and I have the opportunity to do a model lesson at an elementary school this May, but instead of just doing one model lesson, we are going to create two multi-aged classrooms for the whole day. My partner is going to teach a K, 1, 2 group and I will do a 3, 4, 5 group. We want to demonstrate technology integration by asking the question, “What are the students doing?” throughout the whole day. We will have a co-teacher from the school in each group who will be responsible for supplying the standards and co-planning before the model lesson day. We will also try to replicate their classroom settings as much as possible in order for it to be an experience that can be replicated. This “tuesdays” is a totally different one because I am really seeking the absolute best experience and realistic implementation of student engagement and interaction. That’s why I need your help.

A creative website


Instead of a creative website this week, I would like to lay out a few details to this unique model lesson delivery. Our school where we will create this multi-age model classroom for the day is at Thompson Elementary, one of 3 schools in their BYTE – Building Your Technology Expertise grant. This beautiful brand new school is well-equipped technologically with a faculty that is very willing to integrate technology. They have been very receptive to ways to increase student use of technology.  Here are a few logistics/details that may help with your brainstorming:
  • This model lesson will have 18 students in the primary group and 22 in the intermediate group.
  • The K-2 group will have 8 student laptops and the 3-5 group will have 11 student laptops. Both groups will have an EPSON/ELMO presentation station that can be used as a center.
  • Our theme will be Trailblazers.
  • Our focus will be interdisciplinary.
  • Teachers at Thompson will be given an hour to observe one or both of the model classrooms throughout the day.


This is such a great opportunity on so many levels. We just want to do an excellent job which is why I am seeking help from all of you. After all, iron sharpens iron.

An image to share


4:1 student/computer ratio at Thompson in K-2

A proverb

“It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.”

Erma Bombeck


An encouragement

I wanted to give a shout out of encouragement to the teachers at Thompson Elementary. I have never seen such an immediate impact with technology integration. Once they understood the language of the TIM (Technology Integration Matrix) and realized that no matter how great a lesson is delivered, it will only be entry on the TIM. Until the technology is in the hands of the students and they begin to develop content and proving their understanding of the material learned, technology integration remains stagnant. Kudos to the Thompson teachers because on our 1st visit almost all lessons were entry level. By the 2nd visit, no lessons were entry level and all were adoption or adaptation. What an encouragement. This is why we want to make these model lesson super special for them.


How do you do that?

In this section I normally give you steps or suggestions for the idea of the week, but this Tuesday I need your help on some of these “how to”s.

How would you:
  •  teach a multi-age class most effectively
  • give the students a meaningful technological experience throughout the day
  • group multi-age students AND a combination of both groups once during the day?
  • develop the “Trailblazers” theme? (that’s their mascot)
  • create an interdisciplinary lesson in math, science, social studies and language arts?


As you can see we are very excited about this opportunity and have six weeks to plan the best lesson ever, especially with your expertise.



As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,

K

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

MineMum




I had the delightful opportunity to watch the light bulb come on for over 100 6th graders last week as their teachers and I co-planned and co-taught a lesson on Minecraft and the Coordinate Plane. We called the project, “From one blockworld to another world of blocks,” the students all had “Ah-ha” moments when they realized that those little X and Ys running around on their game console had something to do with the coordinate plane! It was one of the best connections to real world (their real world) I’ve ever experienced in all my years of teaching. The project actually took 3 class periods to do, but it gave us all a connection to the coordinate graph that we never had before. This “tuesdays” is dedicated to the exploration of video games as a tool of connection and in particular – Minecraft.

A creative website

In my research to make a valid connection between Minecraft and math, I was delighted to find GREAT resources. Two of my favorites for your further exploration are Minecraft Edu, and MineMum. I was so intrigued by MineMum because I could relate to her fears of allowing her children to play Minecraft. In my case, I’ve allowed my 7 and 3-year-old grandbabies to play and at first was very concerned. Now, I stand in awe of how the 7-year-old creates, designs and collaborates things that I have no clue how to do. MineMum not only set out to make sure she knew what her children were doing, she’s on a mission to help other concerned adults understand this phenomena better. Her website is super creative, super helpful and super intuitive. MineMum is Bec from Australia and according to her, “MineMum is a site for families who are new to Minecraft, have a ton of questions and would like to get answers from another parent. It's also for people who want to understand what their kids are talking about, need ideas for Minecraft-themed parties and activities, or want to use the game for learning.” Well done, Bec. You have helped this little grandma and digital coach help others to see the value of this unique tool of our times.

An image to share


Minecraft and the coordinate plane

A proverb

“"What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway."

Mother Teresa (used out of context for Minecraft players!)








An encouragement
If you have never played Minecraft or have had the pleasure to watch a pre-teen play, I highly recommend observing them. The engagement level is off the charts. The creative power and intricate design tools allow them endless possibilities. I am still reading and researching educators who are using Minecraft to replicate the Wonders of the World or famous buildings while reenacting famous battles. Any subject has applicability in Minecraft’s interface. It takes imagination, purpose and patience. If you don’t have a child to show you, there are tons of You Tube videos that can help you understand the value of Minecraft in education. One of the best places to learn about Minecraft is in the new Microsoft stores in the mall. It may not be obvious, but all you have to do is ask for a Minecraft lesson and there is always someone on staff who loves do a one-to-one lesson. I was so pleased when I brought my granddaughter in and John took 90 minutes with her as they built a giant statue of Steve together.


How do you do that?

How do you get the most from MineMum? Dig around. Her website is deep, but not complicated. I recommend you begin with her side panel and do the Minecraft basics particularly if you are not familiar with the game. She has a very nice style for explaining everything Minecraft. Next, I would recommend the How To section that has everything from how to change your skins to how to make the music louder. Probably my favorite section is the Minecraft Glossary she created to help us begin to understand all those crazy characters like: Creepers and Antvenom and Steve! Thank you MineMum for the dignity of Minecraft.



As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,

K

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Khan Academy





When I write “tuesdays” it will always be a part of something I experienced myself, observed or shared. This week I experienced Khan Academy in two unique ways. First, I introduced Khan Academy to a 6th grade class and not one person ever heard of it NOR the teacher. I was a bit taken back by that because I not only thought everyone heard of Khan Academy, but I thought it was widely used in the classroom. When I got home, my grandbaby asked me to Facetime because she wanted to show me how she was using Khan Academy! She’s in 1st grade! I was so encouraged that I knew I just had to dedicate this week to Khan Academy.  I love to hear entrepreneurial stories of forward thinkers who take a risk and make a difference. I hope you can take the time to listen to Salman Khan in his TED Talk.

A creative website

Salman Khan has created a not-for-profit organization, Khan Academy, to provide a free whole-class education for anyone anywhere! Now before you think that’s impossible, he has created an extensive video library of practice exercises and assessments that are available to anyone who had web access.  He began as a senior analyst at a hedge fund with impressive degrees from Havard and MIT.  In an effort to help his nephews with mathematics, he decided to post his instructions to them on You Tube.  His nephews began to prefer his video tutorials over his face-to-face instruction because they could pause-play-pause-rewind at their hearts’ desire. Instead of becoming insulted, he decided to make instruction freely available to anyone.  Much to his delight, requests poured in. He quit his job and created the Khan Academy.  Millions of students from all over the world learn at their own pace on Khan Academy every single day. There are almost 40 languages and counting represented Many notable people have supported his efforts including the Bill Gates Foundation.  He is now a stand-alone virtual school where students are encouraged to work at their own pace.  He’s a pioneer who is blazing a trail to mastery.



An image to share


Taking a test in a BYOD classroom

A proverb

Practice is the best of all instructors.” Publilius Syrus (Roman author, 1st century B.C.)



An encouragement
The Khan Academy videos are 12 minutes long complete with a knowledge map.  He begins with the premise that everyone needs to master content, not just pass.  An infinite number of problems are available until mastery is achieved. Once you get 10 problems in a row correct, you earn “energy points” and badges according to difficulty. To encourage engagement, he has created a whole system of positive qualities rewarded by mastery and proficiency.  The gaming concept is totally incorporated into the system. He has also supplied numerous graphs and charts that show time on task, types of studies and progress. You can even see every single problem ever done along with the path taken to understand.  Unreal.  Probably the most encouraging part of his Khan Academy is that he is flipping education around.  Instead of lecturing in class and then assigning homework, why not watch the videos at home at their own pace and at their own level and then come to class to do homework!  The classroom truly becomes a collaborative and facilitative model where teacher and students help each other to become proficient in the standards and master each benchmark with help from each other. Salman Khan is a genius!









How do you do that?

How do get started in the Khan Academy?  Anyone can use the entire Khan library by signing in with a Google or Facebook account. If you don’t have one of those accounts, create one!  As soon as I signed in with Facebook, it recognized me.  I have access to all my trials and review error analysis through his graphically friendly and detailed interactive charts. To keep up with his progress and future outreach, subscribe to his Khan Academy blog.  Probably the most notable paradigm shift at the Kahn Academy is that mastery is expected.  Students are not allowed to move on until they have proven mastery. They can take as long as they like working at their own pace.  He’s providing real-time data for immediate analysis and allowing teachers to what they do best – coaching and giving students what they need – a challenge in a fun environment. Can’t wait to see where this leads.  Salman Khan gives us the good news in education!  (Be sure to check out his incredible team!)


As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,
K