Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Best of Summer #4 - Got Centers?

Best of "tuesdayswithKaren" #4




Teaching with centers or stations is not a new concept, but it has had a resurgence in many of the schools I have been to and in many of the trainings I have been leading. Elementary teachers, particularly in the primary years are masters at creating centers of learning for their students and engaging them in multiple experiences with limited equipment. For some reason as the students get older, we do less station like activities. Why? I truly believe our secondary students have a greater need of learning activities. When we only have a few devices, stations are the perfect way to spread the wealth. Although there is A LOT of preparation that goes into the creation of stations, the time spent in the classroom facilitating, individualizing, working with the students and sitting in groups with them is priceless relationship building. This “tuesdays” is designed to help you take a second look at doing centers (or stations) or rotations or whatever you like to call them.


A creative website

Just yesterday I came across the most gifted centers teachers I have ever seen! Scholastic has always been a leader in supporting teachers, but I was totally unaware of their Top Teacher area until Barbara brought this particular idea to my attention on Facebook. Erin Klein is a second grade teacher who has created a hybrid flipped classroom like none I’ve ever seen. Her gift is for organization, sharing and creating a practical and appealing classroom environment. On her Scholastic blog, she has shared how she has leveraged technology in ways that are so creative. Not only is she utilizing a modified flipped classroom, she has trained her students to become very independent learners in 2nd grade! Her real gift is that she has made all her classroom organizational forms available for download. Now there’s a Top Teacher for sure.  I encourage you to check out her blog. It may be one of the best out there.  I did notice that Scholastic is highlighting 10 Top Teachers, but for me, Erin is my pick!


An image to share


6th grade students in centers

A proverb

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. 
Art is knowing which ones to keep.”

Scott Adams

An encouragement

There is no doubt that stations/centers in the classroom has its pros and cons. Teachers who use centers are the greatest advocates. Teachers who don’t use centers have many valid reasons such as pacing guides, pressures of testing, lack of planning time, etc., however I would like to encourage you to try one unit of study in a station setting this school year. So much of what we teach from the front of the room is not absorbed by our students even if they sit compliant, but when they are given an opportunity to get the same work that they may have had to do in class in a station setting, it suddenly takes on a more engaging environment. Being able to collaborate, work at your own pace and get to try technologies that are normally unavailable are great motivators for students. Don’t try to overdo it and bring out every great idea the first time you do centers or you will exhaust yourself. Instead create only 4 activities related to what you are studying and make 8 centers out of them (2 will be the same, of course). Put your students in small groups and rotate them through the activities. One of the most unused pieces of equipment in our classrooms is the projector as a station. Have the students do an activity using the teacher computer (logged out of everything important, of course) projecting to the screen.  Even a one-computer classroom can have technology in centers. Talk to your colleagues about trying centers and I bet you will get a great deal of support. Who knows? It may be just the medicine needed to add engagement to your classroom.


How do you do that?

How do you tackle centers in your classroom? Little-by-little and step-by-step. My favorite centers patterns happened by accident. When I taught 8th grade math, I had four times in the year that I ran centers (one a quarter). With 32 students in my class, I had 8 groups of 4. I designed 8 activities that took a whole class period, which meant I had centers for 8 days. Instead of doing them 8 days in a row, I had centers on Mondays and Fridays for 4 weeks and taught normally on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays. The students and I really loved Monday and Friday centers because without planning it, I gave them four days off.  There was no homework for them and no planning or papers to grade for me! One of the greatest tips I learned was to make sure I kept detailed information of their work in class and got everything graded while we were in the centers.  Like any learning environment, teaching strategy or classroom management piece, nothing works all the time, but having a classroom with variety is one of the great gifts you can give your students.

As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,
K

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Literacies for the Digital Age

Summer "best of tuesdays" #3




Have you considered how much literacy we are embracing now? I am always jazzed when I see financial literacy highlighted so when I was searching for this “tuesdays” I found Kathy Schrock’s expertise. Kathy has labeled 13 literacies: traditional, informational, visual, critical, media, tool, digital, data, global, economic, civic, health and historical. Wow! (See her graphic below). Giving our students an awareness and respect for their need to be literate in so many ways also opens opportunities for success. She has begun a series on the DEN blog on these 13 literacies that are second to none. I encourage you to check them out. To date, she has explored financial, visual and media literacies. This “tuesdays” is designed to give you a one stop shopping for everything technology – Kathy Schrock!

A creative website

I have watched Kathy Schrock with great awe over the last 17 years. She’s an expert who is down-to-earth, funny and super eager to learn and share. I always thought, “I want to be Kathy Schrock when I grow up!”  I have no idea how she keeps up with trends and technologies in education, but I am sure glad she does.  A portion of her main website, Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything, is packed with EVERYTHING – she’s not kidding.  Look at some of these topics: App for That, Assessment and Rubrics, Concept Mapping, Creating a PLN, Digital Storytelling, Intellectual Property, Literacy, 60 Tech Tips in 60 Minutes and that’s just to mention a few.  Go visit her site, it’s amazing! As if keeping up with such a vast website is not enough, she hosts a monthly “best of the month” on Kathy’s Katch of the Month and writes a current and most interesting blog at Kathy Schrock’s KaffeeKlatsch.  Her credentials are very impressive and VERY interesting. I have no idea how she get’s it all in! Thank you Kathy for all that you do for educators everywhere. The upgrade of her website is quite impressive.


An image to share


6th grade student using her tablet in class.

A proverb

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.

Mahatma Gandhi


An encouragement


If you are blessed enough to have a mobile device initiative in your classroom, treasure it! One thing I would like you to consider is breaking away from the 1:1 setting from time to time. It must sound strange that if you have the capability to have every student on a device that I would propose that you work in groups or in a 2:1 setting, but there is real value in being purposely collaborative.  When a student is on a device all day long, it begins to lose its “wow” factor and they tend to be more isolated. Students in a 2:1 initiative have the advantage of explanation, cooperation, and interaction. Having stations or centers in the classroom also gives the students a chance to work more collaboratively without the need for each student to have a device in hand.

If you do not have a 1:1 device classroom, be creative at sharing the laptop or device cart that your school may have. If there are 30 devices on the cart, split it with three other teachers and only use 10 of them. Students quickly learn to share and get more engaged in the lesson when there is a device included.  Even if you only had 3 devices in the room, don’t forget that your projector hooked to a computer can be a student station also. The important part is to mix-up the learning environment so that it is a fresh, innovative platform for being “a community of learners.”




How do you do that?

How do you make the time to consume a vast website like Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything? One bite at a time! Take a glimpse at the topics along the left side of her website and try to look at one a week. Tonight I chose her 60 Tips in 60 minutes to examine and only got a few down the list and was blown away by some hidden iPad keyboard tips I never knew.  There is so much to learn and no one can really keep up, but isn’t it great to know that Kathy’s out there to catalog and share EVERYTHING she comes across?  The good news is that she has SO much. The bad news is that she has SO much. Don’t feel overwhelmed. Revisit time after time and take in her wealth of information incrementally.  You’ll be glad you did.

As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,

K

Aloha from Hawaii!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Literacy

Summer "Best of tuesdays" #2



Understanding the importance of literacy in our times is huge. I am part of a team that is working with a great district that has its yearlong vision for literacy that says it all – “Literacy is a right, not a privilege”. I’ll give you a chance to chew on that. I think of the boldness of that statement and want to commend them for their high expectations. As we move to better understanding the importance of literacy more than ever in education, our elementary teachers typically excel in literacy while our secondary teachers aren’t always sure how we embrace literacy. I know that everyone agrees that being literate is the key to everything in our lifelong learning, but not everyone agrees on how to implement literacy initiatives and shifts in teaching. This “tuesdays” is just a small glimpse into where to begin with literacy strategies and ideas.


A creative website

Podls – Portable On-Demand Learning Strategies is a one-stop shopping area for classroom ideas at all levels. This site is a labor of love founded by a retired educator who loves children and teaching, and has a particular fascination with research and its connection to accelerated learning. Donna Sawyer, the developer of PODLS is an Instructional Technology Specialist, Consultant, and Educator of 30 years from the state of North Carolina. I was immediately attracted to the Literacy section of her website where she lists her top 10 FREE technology tools to increase fluency with audio-assisted reading. Her #1 pick is one of my all time favorites – Lit2Go from the state of Florida. My second favorite site is her #3 pick - Storyline Online. (If you get a chance, try A Bad Case of Stripes read by Sean Austin. Not only does she give us great suggestions, she even supplies directions for using your computer to read text aloud. A teacher’s dream!

After following these instructions, always remember to FIRST HIGHLIGHT the text that you want the computer to read to you.

After following these instructions, always remember to FIRST HIGHLIGHT the text that you want the computer to read to you.

Thank you Donna. This truly is a labor of love.


An image to share


Frankie designs her own strategy for reading.

A proverb 

The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”  
Mark Twain

An encouragement

It never ceases to amaze me how children learn to read. My grandbaby went into kindergarten last year as a non-reader and came out a reader. This summer, just before she went into 1st grade she created a whole new way to read to us. She loves “The Tales of Peter Rabbit” and with a very small version of the book, she asked us to sit on the coach so she could read it to us. Instead of the normal read and show technique, she put her book in front of the iPad, sent the image up to the TV through Apple TV and proceeded to engage us in the story through this simple, yet profound digital upgrade. I want to encourage teaches in any discipline and at any level to consider this simple system for sharing literacy through the eyes of their students. 


How do you do that?

How do you get around on the PODLS website and not miss out? First of all, Donna has a very deep site and I am sure I cannot even give it justice, but I think the best place to begin is at her framework of:

PODLS also provides an area for educators, parents and caregivers, administrators and professional development. If you are anything like me, having everything like this in one place is a priceless gift. Donna Sawyer is an example of excellence and a heart for educators. Kudos to you and your team, Donna.

As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,

K

PS. I'm posting this from Waikiki Beach - Aloha!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer fun



My granddaughter is 7 years old and she made this Powtoon called, "How We Want Our Kids To Learn." The best part is that I learned a whole lot from her today. (;

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Why Don't They Want to Work?


Summer "best of tuesdays" - #1





One of the most elusive keys to success is understanding how to teach grit to our students. Grit is defined as courage, resolve and strength of character. Students who display grit have passion for what they do, stamina to keep going even when they fail, perseverance and sticking to a goal that is often off in the distance. Anyone with grit knows that it’s just worth it. We stick to something because it pays a dividend that far exceeds immediate gratification. It’s often the difficult path to take, but is always rewarding. In education, grit is the perseverance and passion for long-term goals. How in the world can we teach that to students? In this “tuesdays” I hope to get help to encourage our teachers today with our students who don’t have grit.

A creative website

The Duckworth Lab is a fascinating research study at the University of Pennsylvania conducted primarily by Angela Duckworth. The focus is on grit and self-control. From their website, “Grit is the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals (Duckworth et al., 2007). Self-control is the voluntary regulation of behavioral, emotional, and attentional impulses in the presence of momentarily gratifying temptations or diversions (Duckworth & Seligman, 2005; Duckworth & Steinberg, in press).”  They have published all their scales and are for personal, not public use. I am fascinated by her study because we have an epidemic of students in 
our public schools who go out of their way NOT to work. I worked with incredible teachers at a credit recovery school in Pennsylvania last week and marveled at the lack of motivation and desire to achieve anything. What do we do with our students who have decided to take education for granted and not appreciate this gift? How can they develop grit and self-control? (I don’t have the answers – I just wish I did.) The Duckworth Lab has a link on their site to Character Lab where they have developed a system called WOOP to help initiate and sustain effort to achieve goals. It’s got to be worth a try.


An image to share


A gritty student making up his own system for getting his research essay completed.

A proverb

“We need to be gritty about getting our kids to be grittier.”

Angela Lee Duckworth

An encouragement

I would like to encourage you to do a little research on grit. Angela Lee Duckworth has a great little TED talk about her research on grit in the classroom. I was particularly impressed with her honesty that we really don’t know how to teach grit to students, but we certainly can model it. Angela has created a 12 item grit scale that may be interesting to try on yourself or perhaps your students. Edutopia re-blog Vicki Davis’s post on True Grit in the classroom and it’s worth your read. Finally, I would like to recommend ASCD’s Educational Leadership article from September 2013 – Research Says/ Grit Plus Talent Equals Student Success. One thing we can all observe in today’s classroom is an increasing pattern of a lack of grit. How can we turn that around so that more of our students reap the benefits of hard work and its beautiful payoff? I encourage you to instill that in your students with perseverance. Don’t give up. You may make the difference for one of them.

How do you do that?

How do we teach grit to the students? Frankly, no one is really sure, but the indicators are clear that grit can be learned through inspiration. Dr. Carol Dweck has written a book entitled, “Mindset.” She is passionate about helping people make changes to reach their highest potential. She says, “I have always been deeply moved by outstanding achievement and saddened by wasted potential.” Her theory of fixed mindset vs. growth mindset is very helpful for us as educators. How can we expect our students to become “grittier” if they have no confidence, good examples or reason to be motivated? Our minds are constantly monitoring and interpreting. Fixed mindsets are focused on judging. Growth mindsets are more concerned with correcting a problem, changing a course and being attuned to making things better. I highly recommend some time well spent with Dr. Dweck’s Nature of Change


As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,
K