If you haven't seen Rita Pierson talk about being a champion for kids, watch this eight minute video. If you have seen it, share it with someone that hasn't. Have a great day being a champion!
Teachers constantly nurture the relationship between motivation and engagement. Knowing how to design learning experiences using strategies that build learner self-direction and ownership of learning sets great teachers and great lessons apart. There are many tools that can support the facilitation of authentic engagement where students are not just compliant, but can see a connection between the assigned task and the results. The following three are just a few of them:
Padlet - www.padlet.com
Padlet empowers collaboration across distances without much set up. Think of Padlet as an electronic Post-it note wall. The difference is, the Post-it notes can be text, images, and videos. Check out an example of how two teachers in two different classrooms use Padlet to facilitate student-to-student interactions.
Socrative - www.socrative.com
Socrative enables students to use any internet-connected device with a web browser to become a student response system. Socrative empowers the teacher to receive real-time data about what students are thinking and understanding. See a classroom example here.
PowToon - www.powtoon.com
PowToon is an engaging, easy to use publishing tool. It allows students to tell animated stories quickly and easily without a lot of knowledge about video production. See a classroom example here.
When considering creating authentic learning experiences for students, think about the following five levels of authenticity:
- Level One: Student produced a product that is not relevant to objective.
- Level Two: Student produced a product is relevant to objective only.
- Level Three: Student produced a product that has value inside the classroom.
- Level Four: Student produced a product that has hypothetical value outside the classroom.
- Level Five: Student produced a product that has value outside the classroom.
The higher the level, the more authentic the work.
Every savvy educator is deeply aware of how important it is to partner with parents. Indeed, most schools include the goal of strengthening the home-school connection in their school improvement plans.
Yet, as always, time is a precious commodity for teachers – and parents – and the best intentions to connect - are often tepidly met.
What if you could have your students’ parents “follow” on a social media platform similar to Twitter? Such apps exist! One of the more promising ones is BonFyre. Read all about BonFyre and other apps to enhance the home-school connection at the following link:
Every conscientious teacher works towards differentiating instruction in myriad ways, ranging from honoring students’ current reading levels to integrating high-interest, cross-curricular texts while providing an element of choice of topics.
Since this noble endeavor is also quite time-consuming, we are fortunate to have websites such as NewsELA just a browser search away! Similar to CommonLit.org, NewsELA offers “text sets” of thematically linked readings and supporting materials. NewsELA, however, focuses on current events.
Check out this month’s offerings related to Women’s History Month. The link below will take you to an article featuring the women from the Oscar nominated film, Hidden Figures. It’s a nice piece of cross-curricular reading, too!
Unfortunately, civics studies has a reputation among certain circles of students as being BORING!
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we are sharing a website that aims to deliver Cupid’s arrow to naysayers’ hearts! Developed by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, iCivics provides a plethora of high-interest, interactive resources with the intent of developing students into well-informed citizens.
We especially loved the interactive games. They are better than a box of chocolates and a dozen roses, in our opinion!
Did you know babies have 100 more bones than adults? Did you know that a teaspoon of neutron star would weigh 6 billion tons?
The details behind these questions and other scintillating science facts make great brainteasers or can serve as the jumping off information for in-depth research.
Visit “How It Works” for the full “Fifteen Amazing Science Facts that Will Blow Your Mind” at https://www.howitworksdaily.com/15-amazing-science-facts-that-will-blow-your-mind/.
We are now 31 days into 2017. It is a perfect time to think about what we have accomplished along side our students in the past 31 days!
On that note, enjoy the following quote to put accomplishment into perspective:
“The word accomplished is a relative term. We’re accomplished when the students and teacher both learn something. As teachers, we can never achieve perfection, only strive to do our best and enjoy the journey. An accomplished educator is someone who learns to eat their lunch in six minutes.”
- Melinda, Abitz, Fifth Grade Teacher, Topeka, Kansas from The Best Advice Ever for Teachers (McGuire, C. & Abitz, D., 2001).
Today’s Goal: Find Dazzling Differentiated Texts Easily!
We all know the value of utilizing high-interest, authentic texts that are differentiated by students’ Lexile levels. Unfortunately, time is a teacher’s worst enemy, and our best intentions often are sacrificed to competing interests.
Today’s resource is a ready-made resource for the time vs. differentiated authentic text conundrum.
The above link takes you to Common Lit’s home page. In addition to its thoughtful thematic organization with paired texts, teachers can search by both grade level and Lexile ranges. Moreover, Common Lit recently added a “Guided Reading Mode” feature; the introductory video is well worth a few minutes of viewing.
Users are asked to register, which carries the benefit of regular updates featuring new material.
Happy lit hunting!
1. Create a playlist titled “Best Day Ever.” Consider including the following songs: One Shot by Robin Thicke, No Roots by Alice Martin, and Shine by Asta. Play it loudly on the way to work. (But not so loud that you drown out talk radio in the cars beside you in traffic. That’s un-awesome.)
2. Reduce the number of “selfies” you take by 50 percent. Increase the number of “besties” (photos you take with your friends) by 100 percent!
3. Make the following cookie recipe and share them in the lounge/breakroom with a note that says, “So grateful to work with people like you.” Don’t sign it. http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a49242/oreo-chip-cookies-recipe/
With Martin Luther King, Jr. Day fast upon us, we figured teachers of all grade levels would appreciate the following ready-to-go lesson plans for multiple grade bands.
K-2nd Grade – “Dr. King’s Dream” - https://edsitement.neh.gov/lesson-plan/dr-kings-dream#sect-questions
3rd-5th Grades – “Let Freedom Ring: The Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.
6th-8th Grades – “Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Power of Nonviolence”
You might want to bookmark this website, too, as it is an amazing resource for humanities-based lesson plans.
As teachers, we are accustomed to two “happy new years:” the academic new year and the calendar one.
Although the calendar new year marks the mid-point of the academic year, it is still a golden opportunity to take stock of our progress and to either re-commit or establish new goals. Why not have our students do the same?
The following link takes you to a blog post, “Tch Tips: Four Ways to Practice Goal Setting With Students.”
The article is chock full of useful tips and handy hyperlinks to additional resources, including videos. Don’t worry if you don’t have time to go down the resource rabbit hole right now. We will feature a few of them in the next few weeks!
Happy New Year!
In keeping with our menu theme, today’s video is called “Edible Cells: Science is Yummy!” Although the video is not specifically an example of a learning menu for science, it is a great strategy for reinforcing plant cell parts. We also provide some ideas of how to adapt the lesson to be centered or learning menu-based below.
As you enjoy this video, you might consider:
· How might using an “edible” product be used to reinforce other scientific concepts?
· You might also consider adapting the lesson to become a learning menu in the following ways:
o Set-up the lesson as an inquiry, center-based lesson as opposed to direct instruction, as was featured in the video.
o Provide a few “appetizer” activities related to previewing the nonfiction pieces at the beginning of the lesson.
o Require students to choose and complete a “main course” activity, such as completing a graphic organizer detailing cell parts.
o Provide students with different “dessert” options, with the “edible cells” being one choice. Or, the “edible cells” could be the only dessert option as sufficient reward for completing the rest of the work!
Furthermore, reading materials may be differentiated by reading levels and interests as well scaffolded graphic organizers.
Scrumptious science in action!
“Joyful Writing.” Hmmm. Seems like a contradiction in terms for most students. What if you could offer sweet writing experiences that will leave students motivated to finish their appetizers and entrées in order to get their dessert?
Our strategy today comes from Poetry Patterns: The how-to-write-a-poem program by Jesse Hise (1982, 1995). Although the patterns are designed to encourage poetry writing, they can be easily adapted to align to literature or informational text topics, therefore, making them ideal “dessert” menu items.
“Anyone Can Write a Poem” Poem
This is a nonsense poem that follows a simple formula: C + C + WD + E =P
Translated: comparison plus comparison plus wild dream plus emotion equals poetry.
Students brainstorm using the above formula. Encourage them to allow their imagination free reign.
Instruct students to rearrange their brainstormed phrases to create a nonsense poem.
Provide an example for students follow; stress that their poem does not need to make sense and should not rhyme.
An example from Jesse Hise:
The Grand Canyon cut in the freeway
While the king’s blueberries
Became a garbage pit of fireworks
Marshmallow lions sank
In the moonlight
While I raged at the mirrors
In the sunset
This time, write the name of a person at the top (a good friend, a family member, a famous person).
Use the same formula: C+C+WD+E=P, but this time applied to the person selected.
Brainstorm comparisons, a wild dream, and emotion first.
Rearrange brainstormed phrases into any form to make a poem, but again, don’t worry about rhyming.
Jesse Hise’s book is chock full of poetry patterns that have been used by teachers for over 30 years as they are simple to use, are easily adaptable to all grade levels, and are a risk-free method for encouraging literacy. You can find a sample of his book at http://www.teachinteract.com/pdf/INT372sample_PoetryPatterns.pdf.
Hise, J. (1982, 1995). Poetry patterns: the how-to-write-a-poem program. Culver City, CA: Interact.
“Whenever you have people who can focus on the same thing at the same time, then amazing things happen between people. And that is what education is all about.” - Jana Dean, Teacher.
Thus far in our professional collaboration series, we have primarily thought of the concept in terms of onsite collaboration. But what if a teacher does not have a grade level or content area peer in his or her school?
The beauty of the Internet is we now have the potential to collaborate with professionals across the country. The following link takes you to the “Tchers’ Voice” blog, which is rich in professional dialogue. This post, in particular, discusses the Illustrative Mathematics program and the potential to virtually work with teachers all over the country. For those of you who teach math, this is an incredible opportunity to view and provide feedback to lesson plans and to otherwise find collegial support in implementing the Mathematical Standards.
You might want to take a look at the various links on this post as it contains an array of resources. We will look at professional collaboration and the ELA standards later this week.
As promised, today we pivot from math learning menus to social studies with a healthy helping of English language arts integration.
Similar to the math learning menu introduction, today’s video features learning menu strategies organized around a three-course meal analogy. In the featured 7th grade social studies class, the teacher offers the following “courses:”
Appetizers – A choice of activities requiring students to demonstrate comprehension of key details.
Entrées – A choice of activities wherein students demonstrate an ability to trace the development of central ideas and draw deeper inferences from the text.
Dessert – A choice of activities to challenge students to analyze and synthesize information from the text.
In addition to the video, you will notice a link to a Word document of the learning menu options showcased in the video. The link is directly below the reflection questions to the right of the video player.
Thursday’s content du jour is science strategies! We hope you find today’s dish delectable!