Tuesday, September 2, 2014

School News: Teachable Moments Can Be Awesome

There’s a phrase that gets thrown around a lot in education and in life called the Teachable Moment. 

Now this can be characterized by some sort of learning that is happening between students and teachers or between parents and children.  It can be planned out as part of an activity or it can be spontaneous.  Which is better? 

It would depend on who you ask as to the response you receive.  That in itself could be considered a teachable moment. 

Me I like, or prefer, the unplanned spontaneous kind.

That being said, I witnessed a teachable moment today while I was at a school and for me it was an eye opening experience.  While working with a school today on their first news broadcast you could say that everything that could go wrong went wrong.
  •       The sound did not work
  •       A computer did not power up
  •       The teleprompter did not work
  •       The camera kept shutting off
  •       The crew was late

Hey it happens so we drop back and punt and prepare for the next day.

In the mist of the chaos, the students took it upon themselves to figure out what the problems were, how to fix them and how to help each other to ensure a successful broadcast the next day.

I became a bystander as I watched these students diagnose and work through the problems that had happened during the morning broadcast. 

As one student determined what the problem was they would gather the rest of the news crew around and showed them how to fix the issue. 

This was something that I had not seen in some of the other schools that I have worked with in the past.  Usually students would just accept that there was a problem and then leave and go on with their day, maybe hoping that the problems would fix themselves. 

I expressed to their faculty mentor that this was something that I had not witnessed in other schools and it was incredible to see coming from middle school students.

Yes it was a teachable moment for the students to fix the issues and work with each other but I think that it may have been more of a teachable moment for me in that it was something that I had not expected and impressed me greatly.

photo credit: woodleywonderworks via photopin cc

Friday, August 29, 2014

Celebrate Dot Day!

September 15 is International Dot Day with FableVision

Register at International Dot Day, to join in on all the fun! Once you have registered your class, make sure to download the free handbook on how to celebrate Dot Day with your class. There are lots of great ideas in the handbook.

Something that I think would be a lot of fun to do in the classroom is to download the colAR App (for both iOS and Android). Then, download the Free Mix Pack that has the colAR Dot Day coloring page. Have students decorate or color that coloring page. Once they are finished, open up the colAR app that you downloaded and show on the screen. You can show it as a 3D image, or flat image that turns in a circle. Below is the one that I did.

What do you think? 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What Day is It?

I attended my first ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference last week!
And there are so many ideas, resources, and experiences bouncing around in my head!!!
I am not even sure what to write about first …
So I am going to start by writing about a resource that was not new to me …
Not new? Why start there?
I am going to share some of the pieces of that resource that are new to me!
In the past, I have shared the ReadWriteThink site as a content partner of Wonderopolis and a few things I have found on the site.  
I had the chance to attend a session at ISTE on using ReadWriteThink throughout the day in the classroom (which is an awesome way to structure a session) … and found some really neat things that I want to use and share!
One of those is the Calendar Activies that can be viewed by day, week, and even month!
What a treasure chest full of ideas!!!!
Have you ever had one of those days where you seem to be all out of ideas? Or a day where nothing seems to be going right no matter how much you planned? What if you just need an informative time filler, conversation starter, or even a journal prompt?
The ReadWriteThink Calendar Activities can help in all of those situations and more!!!!
Let’s start by looking at the listings for this week:
Just from a quick glance at the first page, do you have some ideas?
And it doesn't even matter if you don’t use it on that date!!! :)
You can use as much or as little as works for what you need!
The July 7th teaser caught my attention, so I clicked to see what I would find …
So one of the first things I noticed is that this information and activity can be adapted to meet student needs at any grade level!
I like the navigation helpers at the top of the screen (reminds me a bit of a table of contents) so you can go straight to what you need or want! What do you think the leader said in his return letter?
Here are just a few of my initial ideas:
  • The event description would make a great into or fuel for a brainstorming session … or even for a journal topic
  • Think about the questions that could stem from that … What was going on in the world at that time to prompt her to write that letter? If you could write a letter to a world leader, who would it be and what would it say?
Then you have the Classroom Activities which include links to resources and even another list of resources below (not pictured). Remember you can use as much or as little as you want …
You can use what you find as a jumping off point …
You can use it as a springboard for student learning …
You can use the information to connect to something else you are learning …
There is no telling how many ways you could use this!
And guess what?!?!?!!
At the bottom of the Calendar Activity page, you can find even more!!!

Look at the wide variety of resources and audiences!
Do you have a certain day (like a birthday or a special day in your classroom) that you want to look for? Then you are in luck since the calendars for all 12 months are always available!
The RWT Calendar Activities would be great to use even if you don’t have a calendar time … when you search RWT Resources, the Calendar Activities are included in the results, so you never know what you might find!
Go see what you can find and do!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Camp Inspire 2014

Camp Inspire is less than a month away!

Created in Pic Monkey

We have been very busy working on creating some fun sessions for you. These sessions (session titles and descriptions) will be located in the Promethean Users group in Edmodo soon. 

If you haven't yet registered for Camp Inspire 2014, there is still time. Once you register, you will be sent an invite to join Edmodo (if you don't already have an account); and you will be invited to join the Promethean users group. 

A couple of things to remember:
  • Bring your charged laptop to Camp Inspire 2014 (both July 15 and July 16)
  • Make sure ActiveInspire is installed (we will be at Smith Farm ES on Monday, July 14 between 9 and 3 to install the software if it is not already on your laptop)
  • Come ready to have fun!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

SMARTCon 2014

 SMARTCon 2014 is less than a month away!

Created in PicMonkey
We have been very busy working on creating some fun sessions for you. These sessions (session titles and descriptions) will be located in the SMART Users group in Edmodo soon. 

If you haven't yet registered for SMARTCon 2014, there is still time. Once you register, you will be sent an invite to join Edmodo (if you don't already have an account); and you will be invited to join the SMART users group. 

A couple of things to remember:

  • Bring your charged laptop to SMARTCon 2014 (both July 22 and July 23)
  • Make sure SMART Notebook 10.8 is installed (we will be at Moore Magnet on Monday, July 21 between 8 and 3 to install the software if it is not already on your laptop)
  • Come ready to have fun!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Editing Your Profile in Edmodo

Brand new from Edmodo! Edit your profile. This is just awesome. You can now choose to say you are a Principal, Librarian, or Teacher on your profile. Also, you can choose age ranges you teach and specific subjects. 

Watch the screencast below for how to edit your profile.

You can also view this video from YouTube: Edmodo Profile 2014.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What should I do with my Edmodo groups at the end of the year?

Here it is close to the end of another school year. Many of you have been using Edmodo and might be wondering what you should do with the groups you created. Here is a great help topic from Edmodo on Archive or Delete Your Groups

Another thing that would might be a good idea is to create a spreadsheet of your student's user names and passwords in Edmodo. This will be especially helpful next year when the student doesn't remember their login information. You could then give it to the next grade level for their use.

At the beginning of this past school year there were so many students that did not remember how to log into Edmodo so they created a new account. Then they forgot they created a new account and logged into their old one. You can see that that would cause problems.

Students do not need to create new accounts every single year. In fact, it is better if they only create 1 account and just use it from year to year. This way they keep everything (almost like an e-portfolio) for themselves. 

Here is a link to End of Year FAQ's. Some good information on clearing up the gradebook in Edmodo for next year and how to reuse quizzes and tests.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

School News: Making A Difference

Well it is hard to believe that it is the end of the school year and I have not written my third installment of School News.  I have been working hard with a number of schools in the area to help them develop their news program from the ground up or to improve existing shows to make them more informative and interactive.   The teachers and students have expressed how much fun it has been to have a news show at their schools and that they want to keep it going each year.

When it comes to having a school news program within a school, I have heard a lot of the negatives.  From this is taking away from instructional time to why would students want to do this?  There are just as many pros as there are cons to having a news program at a school.  For those where negatives outweigh the positives I can only offer some testimonials from schools where it has made a difference, whether in the classroom or to an individual student.  

I asked some of the teachers that I have been involved with over the year to share their thoughts on the school news program and how, if any, it has effected their students, classrooms and schools.

What Educators have said:

  • "Doing TV announcements was so motivational for my students. The hands-on guys took right to the technical aspect of setting up the equipment. Some of those guys were disengaged until we started videotaping."
  • "Many of my students have also become leaders among their peers and much more confident overall."
  • "The greatest benefit that I have seen from our school news is that the students are gaining a different understanding of responsibility and team work."
  • "They have taken ownership of the show and have been faced with many real-world situations and have had to come up with creative solutions to solve problems that have arose."
  • "The school news is the students' time to shine. Not only are they excited to be seen by the whole school, they really work hard to read carefully and speak clearly because they know that everyone is listening and needs the information they are presenting"
  • "I have noticed that my students have become much more confident in their speaking abilities"

One of the quotes I appreciated the most was this one from one of our High School Journalism teachers.  "Two of my students plan to take the video broadcasting course during the North Carolina Scholastic Media Institute in June."  I know that she is very happy for her students that have taken it upon themselves to continue their learning through attending this summer institute.  

I along with my colleagues attempt to strive to help teachers to spark curiosity in our students to help make their goals attainable and to motivate them to succeed.  For the schools that I have worked with this seems to have rung true.  The teachers have sparked curiosity in their students to learn the process involved in creating a news program. Also, whether or not they admit to it, I think those educators have gotten the spark to continue to strive and learn as well.

photo credit: ASU_Cronkite via photopin cc

Get Verified!

Edmodo has a new campaign that starts today. They want to make sure that all teachers are verified on Edmodo. Starting after June 30 teachers that teach 8th grade and below are going to be required to be verified.

How do you know if you are verified in Edmodo? Go to your profile in Edmodo and check for the "Get Verified" badge. The badge looks like this:

Why should you make sure you are verified? It is so that you can post in publisher and subject communities. The most important reason is to keep Edmodo safe as a community. Here is a link to the help file on Get Verified.  

There are several ways for you to be verified; one is to add teacher connections. I would love to connect with all of you, so just send me a connection request. Just search for me at the top of Edmodo and then click Add Connection. Check out Get Verified FAQ's from the link listed above for other ways for you to verify your account. 

Please make sure that you fill out your profile completely. This helps you to be verified and helps other teachers to connect with you.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Pinterest Learning Network

The second meeting of the WSFCS Pinterest Learning Network was yesterday afternoon …
And although it was very different from the first meeting, it went very well …
This time we were in the computer lab …
But we did not sit at computers …
We gathered around at the table at the back of the room with a computer and large monitor close if needed.
Some guests also had out their phones/ipads/laptops …
I had a piece of paper ….
Orange paper
And a black marker
I know that does not sound very tech savvy for a person leading a technology session, but I wanted to stay focused on what was important …

Here are some pieces of our conversation:
After introductions, where we made many connections, we started off talking about why we (or people in general … since 2 guests did not have Pinterest Accounts yet) use Pinterest.
From our discussion, we decided it was mostly to find and share things/ideas …
Thinking question:
Where do you look to find and share ideas? Online or offline …
You probably know who to ask if you need some help with determining what food to fix …
Who comes to mind when you have a need for information about an upcoming vacation?
If you have a question about your classroom, do you know who to ask?
In Pinterest, the user creates boards or groups to connect like information … so it will be easier to find later …
If I find an idea I like in a book, I may underline it, fold the corner of the page, or even draw a star in the margin so I can go back to that later ….
If you find an idea you like on Pinterest, you pin it …
Thinking Question:
How do you keep up with the ideas and resources you would like to access again?
When my husband finds an article or image in a magazine that he likes, he tears out that page …
Then he just has to keep a page and not the whole magazine.
He has decided he finds enough value on the page to tear it out.
That page or piece of information is what he wants to keep … not the whole magazine.
How does he decide what to keep and what can be thrown out?
How do Pinterest users decide what to pin or repin?
Do you pin everything you look at?
What criteria do you use to help you decide what you are going to keep and where it should go?
Thinking Question:
How often do we look at things and have to decide what to do with them? A lot! How do we make those choices? Do we analyze and evaluate … even if we don’t always realize what we are doing?
When on Pinterest, how limited would your options be if you could only see things from and share things with the people you know?
How does your knowledgebase grow from being able to see things that others find valuable … or pin-worthy?
I think about all the things I have found and learned from people I have not ever met in person …

Consider the ways people search, find, sort, and share on Pinterest …
Do you see similarities with the ways people research, discover, evaluate, and express information?

Who knows what meeting three will bring?
I know I am looking forward to it!

And it is not too late to join!
Even if you have not come before!
Or even if you have not used Pinterest before ...
It is a time of learning and sharing for all!