Sunday, April 10, 2016

Quick Hit - Rewordify is a terrific site for helping students improve their vocabulary.  
When students are researching a topic and come upon information that may be difficult to understand, they can copy and paste that information into Rewordify.  Instantly, the difficult vocabulary will be reworded in more understandable terms.  Students can click each highlighted section to see the original vocabulary.  Here is a terrific 3 min. video on Rewordify!  There are a ton of potential applications of this terrific site.  What are your ideas?

Friday, April 8, 2016

Encouragement in Education

   Take a look at this graphic.
It deals with such an obvious concept, I'm guessing some may view it as a bit "small-minded".
   However you see it, sometimes it's the most obvious things that we tend to miss or overlook. Or, maybe, they just get pushed behind other important ideas. Or, most likely, maybe we just need to hear it once in a while as a reminder.
   I'm positive that I understood Zig Ziglar's idea from very early in life, and it's probably why I wanted to become a teacher.  The fact that when encouraging others "you in the process are encouraged" is so very powerful.  And, that it's "because you're making a commitment and difference in that person's life" is the reason it's so powerful.
   I've been teaching almost my entire life.  As a young teenager it was guitar, tennis and horsemanship lessons. When I needed to make a decision on a career path, it seemed completely natural that my path would be teaching.  As it turns out, I've spent my career first in the math classroom (with some volleyball and track coaching sprinkled in) and then in the computer lab.  To wind it down, I'm now spending a majority of my time teaching teachers, which really seems like a perfectly balanced way to complete the process.
   A very important thing that I've learned is that I, too, need encouragement.  And when there was no other source for that, the encouragement came from the process of encouraging others.  As I look now from a wider perspective I recognize the absolutely crucial need for encouragement in education.  And, it's not just the obvious teacher:student encouragement.  Also essential is inspiring and cultivating a classroom filled with student:student encouragement.  And, beyond that teacher:teacher, admin:teacher, and admin:admin.
   Without a doubt the height each teacher reaches professionally is impacted by the level of encouragement received.  I'm talking about sincere encouragement of things such as the great "wins" we have when our lesson hits the mark and every student is "leaning in".  We can do this for each other (thankfully, it happens quite consistently via personal learning networks, particularly Twitter, Voxer, and Google+).  And, in case there are any administrators reading this, I truly believe it is one of the most crucial tasks on every administrator's plate - to invest in your teachers through encouragement.  Based on my experience, I do not think most administrators see this as their role, but I would contend that it is possibly their most crucial role and the one that has the potential to pay the greatest dividends.
   I do not think education is any different than any other field (everyone needs encouragement no matter the job), but, perhaps it is because teachers spend so much time and effort encouraging others, that sometimes I think we forget that the teacher needs encouragement, too.  Whether you are a teacher, a parent, an administrator, or a student, how about giving that teacher near you some heartfelt encouragement once in a while?  You'll be encouraged, too!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Continuum of Engagement

Check out this very useful tool in evaluating the level of engagement in your classroom!!
Many thanks to Barbara Bray, Kathleen McClaskey and the amazing Sylvia Duckworth!!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

LNS Journal - Post 13 - Science Fair

I am currently giving an assist to one of our 8th grade students as she explores the effects of peer pressure for her Science Fair project.  In order to complete her research, she is utilizing Google Forms to survey sets of students and staff, once individually, and, a second time after having some group discussion about the questions.  She wants to compare the responses to determine if peer pressure had an affect during the second administration of the survey.  She will be heading over to Prairieview next week to complete her data collection with a group of 4th graders.  Once she has the data, she will be carefully analyzing the results.  I am going to be interested to see her conclusions in her final Science Fair project.   Check back here in a couple of months and I'll try to post some of her research results!!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

LNS Journal - Post 12 - Learning Never Stops, Fully Realized

One of our teachers recently emailed me noting that there are many benefits to the students having devices, but this one stands out.  He explained that one of our Lakeview students was recently in Abu Dhabi visiting his father for two weeks.  Every day, he was checking in on the document on which he and his partner were currently working. His teacher said "It's a pretty incredible thing that... instead of being 2 weeks behind when he returns, he is willing and able to work with his partner just as capably from halfway around the world, as he is in the classroom." 
Learning....... Never ......... Stops ...  YES, indeed!!!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

LNS Journal - Post 11 - 8 Skills Sudents Must Have

With the below skills in mind, is it even feasible at this point to adequately educate our students without a 1:1 environment?

(from "The 8 Skills Students Must Have For The Future" By Michael Sledd on April 2, 2015)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

LNS Journal - Post 10 - Presenting a "Challenges Unit" Final Project using Glogster

Our 5th grade teachers and students have been engaged in an amazing ELA unit entitled "Challenges".   For the final project of this unit, the students were charged with reading and researching a specific individual, whom they respect to determine the challenges that they faced in their life and how they overcame or dealt with those challenges.  As a way to share what they learned, each student created a "Glog" or online digital posterboard.  The interactive Glog allows students to include text, images, video and even a video or audio clip of themselves talking about some aspect related to their person's challenges.
This project was a terrific and exciting way to culminate a great learning experience.  Interestingly, including the self-recorded audio and/or video proved to be somewhat difficult and we all faced some rather challenging problem solving in order to complete our Glogs!
Kudos to the 5th grade team for doing an outstanding job with all aspects of this teaching and learning challenge!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

LNS Journal - Post 9 - Bridges Math Interactives

One of the things that thrills me the most in regards to LNS is the ready accessibility to amazing online tools.  The 3-5 Bridges math curriculum includes links to worldwide interactive resources that have the potential to completely change the level of understanding of mathematics for our students.  In order to make these resources more readily available for our 3rd, 4th and 5th grade teachers and students, we have set up a Symbaloo and 2 Google Sites.
3rd Grade Symbaloo (Scroll down the page for the Math apps.)
4th Grade Google Site
5th Grade Google Site

If you happen to be a parent reading this, feel free to access any of the resources here.  They can be used to quickly find those interactives that "match" a particular module or topic.  Some are games and others are terrific ways to "visualize" or "interact" with mathematics.  Students who become "fluent" with these tools will almost surely engage with math at a higher level, and their depth of understanding will increase incrementally at first, and potentially exponentially over time, depending on the amount of use.  I can only imagine what it would have been like to have had these learning tools available way back when in the math classroom.  It is just such an exciting time to be in education!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

LNS Journal - Post 8 - No Red Ink

Some of Lakeview's ELA teachers have been giving a go this first semester.  It is such a great way to help students improve their writing.  Take a look at the video if you'd like to learn a bit more about it!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

LNS Journal - Post 7 - WIN Time and Tween Tribune

A teacher contacted me about utilizing her WIN time with her students to access informational text and work on vocabulary and I thought I'd share what we came up with.  Using Tween Tribune, students compare the vocabulary used in an article at different Lexiles.  This allows students to generate a vocab list, which they can, then use Flippity to create online flashcards.  Another option is to have the students create Crosswords using (log in not required).
Both the Flippity flashcards and the crosswords can be posted by the students in Classroom to make them available to the other students in the class.  This is a great way to get students reading more than one version of an article, as well as expanding their vocabulary both through their own reading as well as through the vocab shared by other students!!

Friday, November 6, 2015

LNS Journal - Post 6 - Screencastify

It was very cool to see a couple of Lakeview teachers dig into the world of screen recording in the past couple of weeks.  One of the teachers was going to be at some outside learning opportunities and, therefore, not in her classroom for a couple of days, but wanted to ensure the students thoroughly understood the lesson.  By using "Screencastify", she was able to record herself presenting the material in the same way she would have while in the classroom, thus allowing learning to continue uninterrupted even without her physical presence.  Additionally, the screencast was posted in Google classroom, making the lessons available to the students at any time!

Another teacher, similarly, utilized "Screencastify" to help her students learn the ins and outs of an online app she was using called "Pixlr" (a free online version of Photoshop).  By recording the instruction, students are able to access the parts they need as they are ready to learn.  Additionally, if working at home, the instruction is available there, as well.

SUPER way to ensure that the Learning Never Stops.