It has been almost a year since I have posted to this blog and now I have so many great resources to share that I have to get back to blogging!
The first resource is the Professor Word site. This site can help students improve their vocabulary and is geared toward ACT/SAT prep. It is also FREE and SO EASY to use. You just go to www.professorword.com and drag a “bookmarklet” to the shortcut bar. There is a 1 minute video on the site to show you exactly how to do this on a computer or iPad. Then whenever you go to a website Professor Word automatically highlights all the SAT/ACT words found on the page. You then click on the word or any other word on the page to get a definition. If you print the page all of the words you clicked and viewed will print as footnotes. Eventually students and teachers will be able to sign up for free accounts to save the words but right now this is a great tool as it is.
At this year’s tech conference I often heard phrases like “game-based learning”, “game-ified classrooms” and “Game-Up”. I attended sessions where these phrases were thrown about and then watched as educators played games in the exhibit area.
I also found out that gamifying your classroom did not mean the students played games all day but that the whole class was set up so that students earned points or badges and advanced to higher levels on Leaderboards by scoring grades on assessments or mastering a standard or skill.
I heard from one teacher who said that after posting leaderboards with total earned scores -“there was a spike in iteration with students redoing work so that they could do it better and advance a level”.
There are even websites like www.classbadges.com where teachers can design virtual badges and then assign them to individual students or whole classes and lots of other ideas on line about how to gamify your class.
Of course if you did want your students to learn while playing games there are some great games already on line. In fact BrainPop has an entire “Game-Up” link on the BrainPop home page. There are 45 science games including virtual labs, 34 Math games for all grade levels including Project Trig, 21 Social Studies games and 10 for ELA.
One of the games I got to see in action was Quandry. This game is listed under ELA, Science, and Social studies because there are versions for each subject. And according to the description of the game “Students need to analyze issues from multiple perspectives, distinguish fact from opinion, and weigh evidence while judging potential solutions. As students evaluate the claims and arguments that other characters make, they’ll need to validate their reasoning and ensure that the evidence they present is relevant.” Wow, wouldn’t we all like our students to enjoy doing all that!
This game like many others are built to address many Common Core State Standards, particularly within the Reading and Speaking & Listening ELA strands. Also just like the BrainPop movies each game has lesson plan suggestions and a quiz to be printed or projected to the whole class.
For more games you can go to www.playfullearning.com and http://1bpopne.ws/1hLT01S. Also a game in the making for grades 5-9 can be found at www.playhistoria.com and many were excited about www.minecraftedu.com. Although I am still not sold on using Minecraft in the classroom but maybe some of you teachers that are also gamers can convince me otherwise.
While teachers back in Louisiana were enjoying their rare snow days Suzie and I were attending the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC). After driving all night to get ahead of the ice and snow we arrived in Orlando around noon. The temperature was in the high 70’s and there were many people in the pool. But alas, the cold was right behind us as evidenced in the picture taken on I-10 later that day. The cold and rain settled in and remained the rest of the week. This did make it easier to stay inside the Orange County Convention Center all day and gather some great technology resources which you will see on this blog in the coming weeks.
Monster Match on the Teaching Channel
Check out this video from a school in Covington, Louisiana. These teachers have a very creative way of teaching their students how to write a descriptive paragraph. There is even more directions and helpful hints on their classroom wiki. You may want to create an account while you are on the Teaching Channel, it is a great resource for Common Core lessons and videos.
Can you believe it is already time for the first reports to go out and the first parent-teacher conferences already! This is also the first chance I have had to post on my blog. Start-up this year has been demanding with new software, new teachers, and even new hardware.
My first blog this year deals with communication between teachers and parents and teachers and students. Teachers in the our district have been showing me this week some ways they stay in touch with parents. One way is through text messages. They use remind101 a safe and one-way text messaging system to send homework and test reminders to parents. The parents are directed to a site to sign up for these messages where they can not see the teachers phone number nor can the teacher see theirs. Teachers also use the site to easily send out mass texts to parent who have requested them.
Some teachers set up distribution lists in their district email account to send out emails to parents. They send the email to themselves and blind carbon copy the distribution list so that the parent email addresses are not shared with everyone. Teachers have been given directions on the type of information that should and should not be included in email communication.
I know of at least three teachers that have created wonderful class web sites for students to access handouts at home or to go to for reminders of homework and upcoming assessments. Check with your principal first if you are thinking about creating a web site. You can view this link for information on creating an effective classroom website. If you already have a website please comment on this blog with the site’s address. I would love to share it with other teachers.
This past week I worked with a foreign language teacher and her students as they created Voice Threads. It was a great opportunity for students to hear themselves speak in another language.
The picture above links to another wonderful project using voicethread.com. In “Letters from the Internment Camp” 4th grade students read letters they wrote as if they were in the Japanese internment camps during World War II. These students first read the book “The Bracelet” by Yoshiko Uchida about Emi, a Japanese-American in the second grade,who is sent with her family to an internment camp during World War II. They then created the artwork and wrote their letters for the voice thread. Listening to these students and the shared conversations with those who have experienced social injustice first hand is inspiring. The students were able to hear how ordinary people found the strength to overcome adversity.
Teachers have told me they love socrative.com. This site turns ipads, laptops, and even smartphones into student response units. It is super easy to use and the Exit Ticket is amazing.
Jason also suggested we check out Infuse Learning. This site does the same thing and a lot more, just watch the Youtube video. Both of these sites are great for keeping students engaged and assessing them at the same time.
The Tech Ladies were on the road again to gather information and resources for our teachers. This time we were off to Port Allen High School to attend the Region II LACUE Technology Slam. Thank you Dr. Tammy Seneca and the West Baton Rouge Parish schools for a very informative day. Dr. Seneca’s session on Common Core and Technology really helped us understand technology’s role in the common core classroom. We saw that for teachers to properly assess the speaking and learning components of their curriculum they will need to use technology.
We also realized that planning true common core lessons involves more time and work on the front end but the payback is less work in the classroom for the teacher and more work for the students. Fortunately teachers can find more and more lessons on-line created and aligned to Common Core. West Baton Rouge is compiling these lessons and opening access to everyone. There are only a few lessons for each grade level now but more will be added periodically. These lessons like the one pictured here include Promethean flipcharts and PowerPoint slides. Some also have links to BrainPop or Discovery Education videos. Just go to the links below for the different grade levels and enter as a Guest.