Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

100 Word Challenge

“Words are a lens to focus one’s mind.” By Ayn Rand

I first heard about the 100 Word Challenge on Twitter and thought it was an awesome idea. The 100 Word Challenge is a free weekly creative writing challenge for children under 16 created by Julia Skinner.  Each week a prompt is given, which can be a picture or a series of individual words and students can use up to 100 words to write a creative piece. You can learn more about the 100 Word Challenge here.

I have helped teachers implement this concept in their classrooms different way; so I thought I would share a few ways as one of the ideas might fit your classroom.

  1. Have a picture up on the board for morning work each day or during transitions if you are in secondary. If you don’t want to do it everyday, some teachers have “Moment Mondays” where they participate in this concept. It is a great way to also bring in global relevance and/or current events.
  2. Use an image to open a new unit (such as the one below, I have used to open up the  water cycle unit) and or close out a unit.
  3. When you finish a lesson early, have a few pictures ready to use. Or have a folder of pictures for students to chose from when students finish their work early so they can be working on it.
  4. Use as a fun homework assignment. I am not a fan of homework (read previous blog post: Why I don’t give homework anymore) but some schools have policies that teachers have to give homework and this is a meaningful and purposeful homework that allows for students to be creative and critically think.
  5. I have used this as a way to start off Professional Development. I tweak it by saying 100 characters vs words.  I have them create a Tweet or caption of the photo as they are walking in. This gets the participants to start thinking about the topic through their lens.

*For younger grade such as K-1, you can have them do a 10 word challenge.

It doesn’t have to be a paragraph story but you can change it up and have the students write a 100 word song, poem or letter etc or even better let them chose! The main focus is to integrate creating writing through critical thinking (hence the 100 word rule).

Here are some picture examples and/or ones you can use to help get you stated.

clous

frog

boy

sun:moon

Giraffe-Leap-Frog

* Make sure to always use an image that has a creative commons license, which means you are free to copy it/share along one that is appropriate for the age level you teacher.

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Creating Google Slide Templates

“Design is how you make your first impression with your consumers. Make sure it is a lasting one.” By Jay Samit

Tired of using the same old templates. Why not create your own! Below I give you step by step directions so you can create your own Google Slide templates in only a few minutes. Make them for your classroom, meetings or professional developments!

  1. Start by opening a new Google presentation and choose the “Simple Light” template.
  2. Decide what image/design you want for your template. For example, I am creating a template for a Google Training I am doing; so I am going to use the colors of Google as my background!
    • Tip: I like creating my images/designs in Google Drawing as it is FREE. Once I finish my image/design then I click on File, Download As, PNG. I can then later upload the image for my background.
  3. In your Google Slide template, click on View and then “Master”.
  4. Then click on rename at the top of the slide and name it based on what fits best for you. 
  5. Next click on the master slide and background. Here you can choose your color or upload the background you created from Google Drawing.
    • Tip: If you would like to change the fonts, this is a good time to do it because you will only have to change it in the Master slide verse changing each slide.
  6. To exit, click on the X in the top right corner and you are done!!

My Master Google Slide Template

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Creating a F2F Self-Paced Professional Learning Experience

“Being a student is easy. Learning requires actual work.” by William Crawford

Screen Shot 2017-10-22 at 11.04.17 AM

Recently my team and I challenged ourselves to create a face to face, self-paced professional learning experience. Why? For two reasons, we wanted to show how we take risks, like we are asking of the educators we support and also because from what we knew it had never been done before yet it mirrors a personalized learning classroom.

We first decided on what our objectives would be for the learning experience; as this allowed for us to backwards design our content. Our objectives were:

  • Teachers would be able to gain knowledge about personalized learning environments through active learning
  • Teachers would be able to identify the differences between game-based learning, gamification and how they can also fit together through a modeled experience.

We then designed content such as the why behind game based learning and gamification. After we finished all the content pieces we went back and added the fun! Our theme was “Let the Games Begin…” and we created different missions that highlighted our different content objectives. We created a Hyperdoc to host our content into missions. Each mission allowed participants to earn points (and level up) which created the gamification portion of the learning experience. Our missions were: 

Mission 1: Entering the UnKnown – During this time they learned how the learning experience was set up and what to expect. They also completed a self assessment to see what type of gamer they were.

Mission 2: Understanding the Why: During this mission the participants learned about game based and gamification learning.

Mission 3: Mission Control Station: During this mission, participants experienced four different game based learning activities which had content about personalized learning.

Mission 4: Transformation: During this mission the participants self reflected on how they could use the things they learned and apply it to their classroom.

We transformed the room into the different mission stations with balloons and signs to guide them. We played mission control music throughout the professional learning experience as we facilitated if there was any questions.

The participants LOVED the training, as we did as well. It was a lot of front loading but during the training it was smooth sailing! We will do this again but we will make a few tweaks. One tweak would be during mission three, some of the games would also review the content from mission two verse only being personalized learning content. The second tweak would be to set up mission two away from the music because it was hard for the participants without ear-buds to hear the video content.

We look forward to making more self paced, professional learning experiences and we hope you do as well. It not only models what you want to see in the classroom but it also allows participants to critical thinking, communicate, collaborate and self-reflect.

 

Incorporating Digital Learning Strategies in the Classroom

“Curriculum tells you what to teach, but doesn’t tell you HOW you have to, make the shift to the 21st century learning environment.” by Stacy Behmer

Digital learning is when instructional practices is coupled with technology. It can work in any grade and subject as it is a way of learning, not a type of learning. Digital learning encompasses digital tools and content, along with practices such as eLearning and blended learning. Digital learning has the potential to increase opportunities to personalize the learning for the diverse needs of our classrooms.

In order to create a successful digital learning classroom environment there are a few strategies that will help you:

  1. Start with one digital learning tool, content or practice then master it before moving on. For example, using digital assessment offers students and teachers real time data allowing teachers to use data to drive instruction.
  2. Choose digital tools that allow students to be active, engaged and use higher order thinking skills such as iMovie, Toontastic or podcasts.
  3. Identify student digital leaders so students have someone to go to when they need help besides the teacher. You can create digital student leaders daily, weekly or monthly but allowing students to also be digital experts in the room builds stronger classroom culture.

 

Conducting Focus Groups in Education

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” By Bill Gates

Why Use Focus Groups?

Focus groups are a great way to gain consensus or to use for improvement from different stakeholders such as teachers, students and/or parents. Having a set protocol will help the time you are holding the focus group be intentional based on what you are trying to gather feedback on for improvement. 

For example in my classroom, I ran focus groups on obtaining different feedback from projects to  overall class structure. With teachers, I ran focus groups to improve professional development by gaining their insights. With schools from my district I ran a focus group to gather feedback on an initiative to see how I could improve it.

Protocol Notes
Before The Focus Group
  • Outline goal
  • Determine questions* and time limit
  • Define roles:
    • Facilitator
    • Note Taker/Timer
  • Decide on space:
    • comfortable and circle setting
  • Invite participants to the focus group
During The Focus Group
  • Take attendance of who is participating
    • This can be anonymous such as 6 boys and 5 girls.
  • Review guidelines and moderate the session so that everyone gets a chance to speak and no one participant dominates the discussion.**
After The Focus Group
  • Compile all focus group data (if you hold multiple sessions)
  • Review the notes as soon as possible and fill in any gaps while the session is still clear in your mind.
  • Report out findings***

*When generating questions make sure:

  • They are open-ended and not “yes/no”
  • They are short and to the point
  • Max of 10 questions, 5-8 is ideal
  • You should have an opening question and exit question

**Script for Facilitator:

Welcome everyone, our topic is…. The results will be used for…

Guidelines:

  • No right or wrong answers
  • one person speaking at a time as we are recording your answers anonymously
  • You don’t need to agree with others, but you must listen respectfully as others share their views
  • As Facilitator I will help guide the discussion

Examples to help participants expand ideas/thoughts….

  • “Please tell me (more) about that…”?
  • “Could you explain what you mean by…”?
  • “Can you tell me something else about…”?
  • “Could you give me an example of …”?

***Report out findings:

  • Populate exact statements of the participants
  • Descriptive summary
  • In order to have valid data, you need to have at least a few focus groups with the same questions being asked

Learnings from #EDCampQC 4.0

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” by Walt Disney
Yesterday I had a great day at #EDCampQC. It was awesome connecting with new and previous colleagues to learn about what others are doing/trying in their classroom. Below are just a few of the cool new tools I learned about and will be trying. I plan on trying one at a time until I master it, so I do not feel so overwhelmed!

  1. Telestory is an iPad app. It allows students to be creators of content and show mastery through different modes such as creating a music video, news report,  writing their own stories etc. 
  2. Kid-Pix: is a tool that allows students to create drawings and flip books.
  3. RoundMe is a paid web site that allows people to create virtual reality. 
  4.  My Maps: Teachers and/or students can create and share custom private maps. You can add icons to locations and insert images and text to that location.
  5. Deck.Toys is in beta and is a real-time classroom engagement platform that allows you to teach and manage students. I like how you do have the option of allowing self pacing for students and that is how I would utilize this.

 

Questioning Strategies to Build Student Voice

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” By Albert Einstein

questions
One thing in education that has not change over the years is how important questioning is in the classroom. Educational leaders from Aristotle and Socrates to Jay Mctighe and George Couros have all discussed the importance of asking questions, as it is a powerful strategy that works in all grade levels and content areas.

Using questioning strategies allows you to provide opportunities for student voice to be engaged in the classroom.  When using the right questions it…

  • create powerful academic conversations
  • sparks imagination
  • allows students to self-evaluate

It is important to allow time for students to think about the questions you or other students ask. You also want to ask open-ended questions that don’t lead to a “right” answer. I like using Blooms Revised Taxonomy as a starting guide to help with types of questions. Here are a few examples of different questioning levels that promote student voice.

Remembering: (Recall, Identification)

  • Describe…..

Understanding (Selection of facts, explaining)

  • Summarize…

Applying (Use of information)

  • Why is ____ significant?

Analysis (Separating a whole into components)

  • What evidence can you list for …

Evaluation (development of decisions, opinions, judgements etc)

  • What do you think about…

Create (generating new ideas, producing, designing)

  • How could you create or design a new…? Explain your thinking.

Other great question stems I like using:

  • What evidence can you present for/against…
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of …
  • Describe … from the perspective of ….
  • What solutions could you suggest the problem of … why…

More questioning strategy resources:

50 Questions To Help Students Think About What They Think

Asking Questions to Improve Learning

Questions Provoking Critical Thinking

 

 

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