Posts tagged ‘Curriculum’

Why Student-Led Conferences Should Happen Without Parents too!

“Yes, there are two paths you can go by BUT in the long run There’s still time to change the road you’re on.” Led Zeppelin

Teaching students to be reflective about their learning provides them with real world skills and why I believe we need more student-led conferences (SLC). In my eyes, SLC’s should happen routinely in the classroom, not just limited to parent/teacher conference time once or twice a year. I also believe SLC’s should also happen in all subjects areas, not just reading like some teachers believe. With personalized learning and student centered classrooms, SLC’s should be a core component of the classroom.

Why Have Student Led-Conferences:

1. Deepen their understanding of themselves as learners because the students are self-evaluate, self-regulate, and self-motivate

2. Student are empowered and develop ownership of personal goals and achievements.

3. It holds students accountable for their learning and work.

4. Students are practicing real world skills such as communication, critical thinking, reflection, organization and leadership.

5. It focuses more on growth of learning verse just grades and test scores; especially if students have a portfolio of work and use a range of diagnostic, formative, and summative tasks to monitor student progress.

6. It fosters positive teacher/student relationships.

What Should a Student-Led Conference Look Like?

Start the conference with a question to put the student in the lead for example: Tell me what you are working on as a _____ (fill in with what subject you are working with: reader, scientist, mathematician etc). This should lead you to decide what comes next, if the student is on track, ask how can I help you attain your goal or do a small teach point if they need support. Make sure after each conference the student leaves the conference with a goal/action step that they will be working on. Here is a possible dialogue of a SLC in reading (T = teacher and S = Student)

T: “Tell me what you are working on as a reader.”

S: “I am working on the strategy monitoring my comprehension. I am noticing based on my ‘tracks of my thinking’ I am having a hard time with vocabulary.”

T: “Let me show you a way to figure out hard words.” This is where the small teach point comes in. (The teach point is only a few minutes)

S: “I will add that to my goals for reading and practice it this week and record it in my readers notebook.”

or in math

T: “Tell me what you are working on as a mathematician.”

S: “I have mastered addition and I have moved to subtraction but I am struggling.”

T: “Which subtraction strategy did you try using? Let me see your work.”

S: “I have tried using compensation but I don’t think that strategies works best for me because I round one of the numbers to make it easier but forget to compensate for it.”

T: “Let’s try a different strategy such as decomposing the numbers to make the easier for you to subtract.” This is where the small teach point of reviewing decomposing comes in.

S: “I will practice decomposing when I subtract as I feel confident with place value.”

FAQ’s:

1. What happens if the student doesn’t know what to do? If you are consistently having student-led conferencing in your classroom, the students will be used to the routine and process. If you are not doing this consistently then you should make sure to add it into your class period. Having clear expectations also helps. Use tools such as goal setting sheets, data trackers and refer to mini-lessons as well.

2. Am I as a teacher involved in the conferencing? Yes, you will facilitate the discussion if needed and ask probing questions.

3. Some teachers are reluctant, how can they be brought on board? Understand change is hard, start with the willing teachers that want to try to let others ‘see’ teachers do them so they feel more comfortable. Start off in one subject, master that and then move on to conferencing in other subjects.

I do think SLC should have with parents too and an FAQ I always get is when parents are involved is:

1. What if the parent has a question for just the teacher? At the end of the student-led conference you can have a few minutes without the student or you can set up follow-up appointment. If you are consistently communicating, this rarely happens. Many are so impressed with how much their student knows it doesn’t happen as much as you think.

 

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Using Google Draw to Create Manipulatives and Tasks

“Manipulative’s are a tool for instruction, yet teachers tend to not use them due to lack of education and confidence of their effectiveness to increase learning.” (Green, Flowers, & Piel, 2008).

With more and more Chromebook’s coming into school districts it is important to make sure our students are using them for creation verse consumption of knowledge. A great way for students to show creation is in Google Drawing App. Teachers and/or students can create manipulatives, task or games based on the skills they are learning. Below are a few examples along with how to create these in Google Draw.

1. Let’s Go Shopping: This is an example for our a second grade money task. The students must show how much money would represent what they are buying. They can do a screencast* to share their thinking as they are creating.

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 9.22.01 AM

2. Water Cycle: This is an example a student created based on the water cycle. The student created the water cycle images, label the correct terms and then did a screencast* explaining their thinking. For younger grades they can do a screen shot.

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 9.21.36 AM

 

3. Base Ten: Here I created a virtual base ten task. The students have to create the number by using the base ten virtual manipulatives and explain their thinking through a screencast*.

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 9.22.46 AM

Here is my folder of Google Draw templates I have created or I have found, click here to add them to your Google Drive.  They will only look like an image until add them to your drive, then you can edit and see more of the details.

*Screencast: We use the Google Extension Snag-it. (If you are in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, this extensions is put on all Chromebooks. All the students need to do to create the screencast is click the blue S to the right of the url window.)

How to Create Manipulatives in Google Draw: 

1. Decide what type of manipulative you need and brainstorm what the goal of the task is for the students. (Example: For the Let’s Go Shopping task I created above. I wanted to see if they could create the correct combinations to pay for the items.)

2. Then log into your GAfE account, go to your drive and click on new (you will have to go to the arrow where it says more to find Google Draw) click on draw.

3. Right click on the blank grey and white grid/canvas to choose a background color you would like to use.

4. Now you build your manipulatives or games the way you would like. Under the insert tab are where you can put pictures, create shapes and text boxes.

Here are a few other ideas you can create manipulative/tasks for but not limited too….

Math: fraction number line, quadrilateral chart, ten frame, clock/time etc

Reading: story maps, word sorts, vocabulary, brainstorming/mind-map etc.

Science: periodic table, cell diagram, rock cycle etc

Social Studies: history timeline, infographic, graphic organizers such as for cause & effect

Other Resources for Using Manipulative’s:

Alice Keeler Website

Graphic Organizers with Google Drawings

 Google Drawings Support

I would love to know how you use Google Drawing in the Classroom, please share in the comments.

Hexagonal Thinking with Think Link

” The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” By Albert Einstein

I had one of those days recently when I went down the internet rabbit hole and got lost. I don’t know how I got to learning about Hexagonal Thinking but I love the concept. Hexagonal Thinking is a creative way to show connections within concepts, a type of  ‘thinking map’ that allows students to visualize their thinking process.  In one of my many readings on the topic I came across Kristian Still and that is where I found my new favorite web tool, Think Link by Triptico, not to be confused with Thinglink (another favorite web tool, see previous blog post).

Think Link is FREE and user-friendly. To create a board start be clicking on ‘new board’. Then click on the plus sign to add a hexagon. Type in the term/word you would like to use. Repeat until all your thoughts are on the board. (*Note: Every time you make a new hexagon, you need to drag and drop it to the location you want it on the board or they will all pile up in the same original spot). Double click on the hexagon and you can add notes such as a definition. Use the wrench to delete a hexagon or save them.

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 12.24.51 PM

When using hexagonal thinking in the classroom have students start by brainstorming a concept such as leadership or with a driving question. You can also use as a way to have students take notes or understand how vocabulary is connected. You don’t need to use the computer program to incorporate hexagonal thinking, students can use hexagonal post its or draw them on their paper/notebook themselves.

Reasons Why I like Hexagonal Thinking:

1. It allows students to utilize 21st century skills with their learning. (4 c’s= collaborate, create, communicate and critical think)

2.  When you make a list, sequence or work in boxes the thinking is linear. Hexagon thinking allows for creative thinking.  (Literally allowing students to ‘think outside the box’)

3. Hexagonal thinking allows for student voice.

4. You can use it within all content areas and for any grade level (see video below of Hexagonal thinking in K). Here are some examples using essential questions:

  • Science: What are the relationships between forces and motion?
  • Math:  How is geometry used in the real world?
  • Literacy: What does the ___________ (book title) teach us about life?
  • History: How have ancient Greeks affected our society?
  • PE: How can sports advertising affect teen’s choices?
  • Art:  How do people express themselves through art today?
  • CTE or Technology Class: How would our culture be different without computers?

Other Resources on Hexagonal Thinking:

Design Thinking: Synthesis 1: Hexagonal Thinking

SOLO Hexagons

What computers can’t do: hexagonal thinking

I would love to know how you have used Hexagonal Thinking or Think Link in your classroom. Please share in the comments.

Design Thinking and Challenges

“It’s no longer enough simply to outperform the competition; to thrive in a world of ceaseless and rapid change, business people have to out-imagine the competition as well. They must begin to think-to become-more like designers.” by Roger Martin

Design challenges uses the design thinking process to find a solution to a challenge. Design thinking takes on a problem solving mindset. Design challenges create real world opportunities for students  be innovative and creative while using their higher order thinking and 21st century learning skills. Design thinking and challenges provides a student centric learning experience to happen in the classroom. Below is the design process that Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (all rights reserved) uses:

Design Thinking Process

Design Challenge Ideas for the Classroom:

  • How might we create ways for younger students to better understand how important digital citizenship is?
  • Create an app that would help you solve a problem you encounter daily?
  • Knex: Design Challenge
  • Design a clothing product that allows for heating and cooling of materials for different sports. (Example of standards based Design Challenge – Science: 5.P.3)

Other resources on Design Thinking and Challenges:

Museum of Science, Boston Design Challenges

Design Challenge Lessons from The Tech Museum: Museum of Innovation

A Design Challenge to Students: Solve a Real-World Problem!

Design Squad – PBS (Great for 3-8th graders)

Real World Design Challenges (HS Level)

Threadless Design Challenge – Real world application

K12 Lab Wiki for Design Challenges

Design Thinking for Educators

IDEO Design Thinking

Great article by Forbes: Design Thinking: A Unified Framework for Innovation

I would love to hear design thinking and challenges ideas from your classrooms.

Playlists in Education

“To provide children with the different support they need, a school has to be able to draw on resources that lie beyond its walls.”  Charles Leadbeater

The term ‘playlists’ is becoming more and more popular in education because it is a way that teachers can personalize students learning based on standards and interest. But when most people think of  playlists they think music but it is taking on a new meaning in education.

Playlists are tasks complied using multiple media resources such as urls, videos, articles, images, files, assessments etc. Often playlists are a unit or concept broken down into tasks for students to be able to learn at their own level, pace and time. Playlists are often used in a blended learning classroom when the teacher is facilitating a small group other students are working on their playlist that is individualized for them based on their needs.

Playlists is a very new concept and is also in beta mode in education. Educators and different web tool developers are still being ‘perfected’.  Below are a list of FREE Playlists web tools that I have been testing out. I have not found a favorite yet but OpenEd and Sophia are at the top of my list.

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OpenEd: There are three reasons I really like OpenEd. One reason that makes OpenEd different from other playlists is that it works with many other learning management systems (LMS) such as LearnZillion, You Tube and IXL. You can also choose by Common Core Standards as well. Another reason is because you can create courses which is great for teachers in the older grades or as a PD tool. The third reason is because the company is very responsive to suggestions and has teachers, like me, as Ambassadors to continue to make their product the best. I ask questions and they have responded both via email and twitter (@OpenEDio) within 24 hrs. They do have an Android App and are working on an iPad App but this site works on all devices using any browser. Adding your own resources is something that’s “in the works.”

Sophia.org: I have been using Sophia for years for the flipped classroom, recently I have started creating playlists. I like how user-friendly it is and they just added Common Core and NGSS-Aligned Content which has made a huge difference in using this web tool. I also like that Sophia provides Professional Development for teachers as well.

Other Playlists web tools:

Lesson Paths

Khan Academy

Activate Instruction

EDLE 

Blendspaces

Before playlists web tools were available I used Google docs to create playlists. I used the feature ‘Table of Contents’ (under insert) and added the resources for the students. This is something you can still do, the down fall, it takes a lot more time then having resources already curated for you. 🙂

If you use a playlists web tool in your classroom that you love, please share in the comments section so our blog readers can add it to the list.

Guest Post: Gaming in Education

“A game is an opportunity to focus our energy, with relentless optimism, at something we’re good at (or getting better at) and enjoy. In other words, gameplay is the direct emotional opposite of depression.” -Jane McGonigal, Reality is Broken

Guest Blog Post by Faye Walker

In this game-centric world, video games are playing a vital role in providing innovative ideas for student information systems and learning.  Game-based learning (GBL) is designed to balance curriculum content with gameplay. It is said GBL concepts are allowing students to challenge and motivate themselves to learn better.  The students can share their valuable insights through blogging and forums. Students are lighten new solutions to old problems.

Here is an infographic about gaming in education:

Video Games in School
Source: Video Games in School

Here are more resources on GBL:

Blogs on GBL

Game Based Learning Site

What Research Says About Game-Based Learning

Makerspace in Education

“In a general way, you can shake the world.” by Ghandi

A typical Makerspace is a community-driven workspace, where people with common interests, meet and collaborate on ‘Do it Yourself’ (DYI) projects. In schools it would be school-driven. (The concept reminds me a lot of what Camp Invention is all about, which is a summer camp, I used to teach) If we created a workspace that had materials such as computers, makey makeys, Raspberry Pi and other tools for a hands-on learning; I can only image the ideas students would come up with if they had this space available. Here are three reason why I think schools should have Makerspaces:

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Teachers using a Makey-Makey to play Mindcraft that a student built.

1. Authentic Learning: DIY projects are real world and authentic. In Makerspaces, students can solve real-world problems with innovative solutions. Some Makerspace innovative ideas that have been successful and you probably have heard of or even used are: Square, Makerbot and Pebble Watch.

2. 21st Century Skills: Makerspaces allow students to critically think, create, collaborate and communicate. The student’s are able to work together to learn new skills, share expertise while developing their thinking and discovering new solutions. It allows students to have choice and voice.

3. STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math = STEM. By adding in Art Design and you get STEAM. Makerspaces allow all subjects to seamless work together. Art Design is the visual standpoint and can range from the art of coding a website to the esthetic of a project.

I am helping some schools set up there Makerspace area and I am excited to see what happens ( I am sure I will blog again about this topic with the results). One middle school is even making it a ‘special/elective’ the students can sign up for. I think this is a revolutionary idea and will happen more often in schools.

If you want to get started or learn more about Makerspaces for your school, I highly suggestion going to Makerspaces.com and also review their Makerspace Playbook Guide.

Other Great Resources:

Mt. Elliot Makerspace (Love his Makerspace section of his site)

www.makermedia.com

http://makerfaire.com

Makezine.com

A Librarian’s Guide to Makerspaces: 16 Resources

Creating Makerspaces in Schools

Livebinder on Makerspace

Tedx: Makerspaces – The Future of Education by Marc Teusch (4:35)

If you have a Makerspace in your classroom or in your school, I would love to hear your thoughts. I am excited to see where the Maker Movement will go.

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