Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Values



I was invited to visit a class today that struck me as so different. Due to budget cuts, the only guidance counselor in this elementary school has to teach 3 classes every morning during block time. He was such a good sport about this extra added duty assigned that he decided to teach life skills and values to his students. He used a website that I had only glanced at before and did such a great job drawing from the students’ hearts that I was inspired to dig deeper. Teaching values can be such a touchy subject for many, but finding common threads of human decency and passing it on is part of our high calling. I thought it would be so important to pass it on to you. This “tuesdays” is dedicated to all teachers who hope to instill classroom and personal values in their students and are not quite sure how to go about it.


A creative website

Values.com is loaded with inspirational quotes, videos and even billboards that you can make yourself. Their mission is to inspire people to live good values, seek out positive role models and lead better lives.  According to the founders, “The Foundation for a Better Life creates public service campaigns to communicate the values that make a difference in our communities. These uplifting messages, utilizing television, movie theaters, billboards, radio and the internet, model the benefits of a life lived by positive values. We believe people are basically good but sometimes just need a reminder. We also believe that the positive values we live by are worth more when we pass them on.”  The website is so well done with such diverse ways to disseminate their message. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the site, it is quite in-depth.





An image to share

Inspirational poster from Values.com


A proverb

There's only one way to succeed in anything, and that is to give it everything.
Vincent "Vince" Lombardi


An encouragement

We all teach values in our classroom whether we call it that or not. Who doesn’t want a classroom that is safe, loving and welcoming? It doesn’t just happen because it takes nurturing and constant maintenance. Teaching values is not subject specific. As long as human being come together, we must learn to treat each other with respect and compassion. I was really impressed with what Values.com has to offer that I really want to encourage you to investigate it. Making your own billboard is worth it alone!



How do you do that?

How do you begin to teach values in the classroom? Don’t go it alone. Partner with another teacher and share ideas for the betterment of both your classrooms. I’d like to recommend a few great ideas on Values.com.

Teaching values doesn’t have to be reserved for the guidance counselor or the few. Instilling values and living out values is a precious part of educating the next generation.


As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,

K

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Thinking Maps





It’s a new school year with new hopes, new dreams, new supplies and even some new clothes. Why not consider trying something new? Why not take it a step further and write down a commitment to try something new that will bring value to your classroom and then ask someone to hold you to it. Put your idea into writing and then give your plan to a colleague or friend. Have them check up on you in a few weeks and then continue to follow up with you until your “something new” has become a part of your new classroom environment. We all know that we flow with good ideas in the beginning of the school year, but all too often life takes over. Writing down your new idea and having someone hold you accountable to see it through will increase your success rate 10-fold. This “tuesdays” is the first one of the 2015-2016 school year with the great desire to encourage, equip and empower you to be all you can be in your classroom or other educational position.


A creative website

My absolute favorite thing in education is to be able to co-plan and then co-teach a lesson with a colleague. I’ve been very fortunate to coach so many great educators and learn so much from them. One of my favorite experiences was teaching with Dr. Jesse Cukierkorn in Miami. Her 1st – 5th grade gifted students were speaking a language I had never heard before. They were independently choosing to use things they called circle maps, bubble maps and even double bubble maps. When I inquired further, Dr. Cukierkorn showed me the intricacies of what looked like an average concept map or graphic organizer. She explained how Thinking Maps is a systematic and consistent set of tools that she was trained in that changed how her students were able to express their learning. I was intrigued. I can’t believe it’s taken me 2 years to feature them, but better late than never. Thinking Maps have transformation power and could be just that “new” thing you may be looking for that will make a difference in your student success and their ability to understand their own thought process. Thinking Maps allow teachers to “see” the evidence of their students’ learning, enabling them to assess more effectively. If done on a school-wide basis, a common language for meaningful collaboration learning. Thinking Maps is a language for learning. Thanks, Dr. Cukierkorn!


An image to share

One of Dr. Cukierkorn’s students using a Thinking Map.





A proverb

“I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.”


Eartha Kitt







An encouragement

The team behind Thinking Maps is totally dedicated to learning. In fact, Chris Yeager, Director of Consulting for Think Maps explains seven lessons learned on the practice of critical thinking. I encourage you to read his blog entry to better understand these seven lessons:
1.     Teach students how to think.
2.     The importance of prior knowledge.
3.     The power of asking questions.
4.     Gathering quality information.
5.     Sharing knowledge learned.
6.     Measuring the outcomes.
She writes her blog because she sees Thinking Maps as a realistic way to apply the principles of brain research in the everyday process of teaching and learning.



How do you do that?

How do you implement Thinking Maps in your classroom? First visit the Thinking Maps website. You will notice that they explain each of their maps and give you examples. I wondered why you would need support or training, but Dr. Cukierkorn explained that it made all the difference to take the training to tie it to brain research. Otherwise, we will use the Thinking Maps as just another graphic organizer. Thinking Maps are so much more because they become common signs, symbols and communication device very quickly in a classroom used to communication higher order thinking. Click through the “See our Maps” section and check out some of the testimonials. Thinking Maps build a common visual language not just in a single classroom like Dr. Cukierkorn’s, but has the potential to change a whole school culture. Looking for something new? Try Thinking Maps and think big – go schoolwide!

As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,
K

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Best of Summer #7 - Technology Integration Matrix




If you are trying to show teachers and administrators what good use instructional technology might look like, I commend the TIM (Technology Integration Matrix) designed by the Florida Center of Instructional Technology at the University of South Florida. It has emerged over the last nine years since I’ve known it, and it has been a work in progress that has now grown into maturity. As a technology coach for the Florida Digital Educator Program, the TIM has given us a great platform for sharing, modeling, and demonstrating the power of technology in the classroom. No matter what state you live in or what district you teach in, the Technology Integration Matrix (TIM), can give you a glimpse into everyday classrooms that are using technology effectively.  This “tuesdays” is a celebration of the most valuable technology measure available. (In my opinion, of course!)

A creative website
What is technology integration? There are measurable models of technology in the classroom that can be observed. The TIM (Technology Integration Model) is a tremendous tool to help teachers and administrators begin to understand the rigor that technology adds to the curriculum. It is much more robust than meets the eye. As you click on the TIM, you will notice that it is a 5 x 5 grid making 25 rectangles. Be sure to hover over the four icons that represent the core subjects because there are 4 video vignettes in each of those rectangles for a total of 100 classroom experiences. Dig deeply. Watch a few videos, click on a few success stories and dream of a way to make an impact at your school.  Technology integration is a process. Take your time, but try  to upgrade a project or emerging technology this year that you’ve never tried and make sure the students have an opportunity to become more engaged with technology. These are a few of my favorite videos from the TIM:

An image to share.


Students doing a paper slide project 



A proverb
I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.  ~Lily Tomlin as "Edith Ann"






An encouragement
It takes time to integrate technology.  It takes patience and it’s well worth it.  Doing a digital project with your students requires risk taking.  It will never be perfect and because it is technology, you can be guaranteed that there will be issues, but the learning that takes place in a technology rich environment gives students that hook to keep them engaged and a unique sense of accomplishment. Probably the most powerful reason to go digital is the ability to share projects with a larger audience.  I want to encourage you to get help before you take on a digital project.  If you don’t have anyone at your school that can work with you on the planning and implementation of a digital project, ask for help at the district level or from community members.  If it is a matter of equipment, ask your Advisory Council, PTA or other school support group if they would help supply the school with more technology or write a mini grant through DonorsChoose.org  
                                                                                              
How do you do that?
How will we ever effectively integrate technology in the classroom?  I believe that one of the most important factors that will raise the ROI (Return On Investment) for districts that have spent tons of money on technology is to have a technology integration coach at every school. A technology integration coach is not the network person, nor the one who fixes the computers, but instead works closely with teachers to recognize and implement opportunities to bring 21st Century skills into the curriculum.  The technology integration coach can work in a teacher’s classroom by helping design the procedures of the project, train the students on the nuts and bolts of caring for the equipment and learning to utilize software programs that will help them express their learning in creative and dynamic formats.  A school that is rich in technology without the support of a coach, risks having the appearance of 21st century tools without the reality of changing the learning environment. Unless the technologies are getting down to the students, there can be no real systematic change. When it is all said and done, it’s just good Harry Wong – let’s get the students doing the work!


As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,

K

PS. Next week, August 25, 2015 will be the start of a new school year "tuesdays with Karen."

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Best of Summer #6 - Powtoon



One of the signs of true technology integration is choice. When students have a choice to explain their learning in a variety of mediums, we’ve empowered them to take risks, add rigor and be unafraid to try new tools. It may be safe to say that the majority of students have created a PowerPoint presentation by the time they have finished middle school. It’s time to make sure we give them more options. Some of the latest presentation tools are Google DocsiWork for iCloudHaiku DeckPrezi, Emaze and more. No matter what medium a student chooses, the best plan is to storyboard the presentation first. This “tuesdays” is to encourage you to give your student options for their presentations this year.
             
A creative website

Although any of the online presentation formats above are worth putting on an option list for your students, the one that is catching everyone’s attention these days is PowToon. This clever never format is a cross between “POW”erPoint and car”TOON”s. It’s intuitive interface looks just like any other presentation software when you first log in, but you can quickly find a variety of cartoon images to make your presentation one that no one has ever seen before.  Perhaps the feature that caught my eye the first time I saw a Powtoon was the realistic hands grabbing and sliding pages across the screen. This fun way to explain a concept will take a little time to master. Don’t be fooled by its seemingly simple interface. It’s quite advanced. Your presentation can be in movie mode or presentation mode and then exported to any online channel (You Tube, Teacher Tube, etc). Unfortunately, you are only able to download your presentation if you upgrade to premium, but it is more than adequate to create and present online in the free version. You just have to put up with their snappy little commercial at the end. PowToon is a great way to add a refreshing change to any presentation. Warning! PowToon can be addictive!


An image to share


A Powtoon I am working on

A proverb
“You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.”

John Ford

An encouragement

Sometimes it is very difficult to let our students use tools that we do know how to use or perhaps have never even heard about. However, I would like to encourage you to think about this for a minute. If we give our students options to use any type of presentation software that they like, we remove the need to teach the tool! Teaching students each step of the process rather than concentrating on the quality of the content can waste so much instructional time. If a student wants to choose Prezi or PowToon, they are on their own to watch video tutorials or other help manuals. It is just amazing how much students learn from YouTube today. It’s a normal process for them so let’s give them the opportunity to teach themselves some innovation forms of presentation and if they can’t figure it out or have no desire to push themselves, they can always return to PowerPoint. Just remind them that PowerPoint is so – 90’s!


How do you do that?

How do you use PowToon? After creating a FREE account, I highly recommend taking a pre-made presentation and tweaking it. This will afford you the opportunity to change the text, add/subtract characters and edit the slides. The most interesting part to me is the slide bar timeline at the bottom of each presentation slide. As you slide the red triangle, you can see each of the animations on the screen. When you add a new character, text or image, it may not seem to be where you want it, but sliding the timeline reveals all the moves on your slide. You can play each slide individually or from the beginning. It’s quite ingenious. Make sure you look at the variety of characters and sample what others have made to get an idea of what looks good (and what does not.) Most importantly, make a rough draft storyboard of each of the slides before constructing your presentation. Good luck and please consider giving your students options, options, options!


As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,


K