Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Research Project on Animals.

When I was a kid, and dinosaurs roamed the earth, the project was: “500 words on your saber tooth tiger.” We had a set of encyclopedias at home; most of those reports were copied directly from there. Honestly, I always wondered why I didn't get caught for plagiarism. 

When I was teaching I discovered the hamburger writing guide and variants. My students and I learned a bit about writing together.

Today with technology the possibilities have expanded even more.

All of these choices still stem from the original idea, and meet concepts, or Standards in different ways.

Today the teachers choose, what is a good first step, into easing the students into 21st century work. A nice familiar paper outline, supplemented with the option to research online.  The biggest and most exciting, difference I saw was the teachers embedding a quick lesson on digital literacy, reminding students to use quality sources during their research. “Remember, don’t just Google your animal. Start with a library Destiny search.”
Students using a variety of tools to research animals

Friday, April 11, 2014

Poetry and Math

I love going to visit elementary schools, they do so many cool things and the kids are just so much fun. They aren't shy that is for sure, I had several kids volunteer to show me what they learned today.

The teacher here has her children working on half a dozen different exercises at the same time. As the students finish their pencil and paper work they can read a book, order numbers, create math sentences, or use a variety of iPad apps.

In the old days, when I was a kid, if we finished our work we either read a book quietly or did the "extra" worksheet. Differentiation on skills was just not that personal.

I think we all know that apps are great at adding the sounds and visual elements that make learning more exciting for the students.

The can read words with the teacher

Read a story independently

She can quickly change levels for the student

The self check with computers is also one of the big bonuses. 

Tech tools are great, but students still need to touch and make contact with objects. Apps are great for bringing leveled content to students. This allows them to practice a skill at the appropriate level. But sometimes we just need open ended play to learn and explore. It also helps when two students of different levels work together, they can teach and learn from each other.

The students in this class have the option to use technology after they had finished some writing (one student actually was writing his poem in Word) This allowed students to transition from one activity to another at different times without disrupting the entire class. I like how the teacher didn't have students put away their electronic tools, they just closed the covers and left them on their desks because they would be going back to work on them soon enough. It isn't just a wasting time activity until the real teaching begins, it's a powerful learning tool that for a moment does not need to be used.

The activity may not seem like it included technology, but now that it is recorded and on youtube students can see how well they did and reflect or comment.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Presentation tools

Examples of presentation tools



LIke an online bulletin board only more versatile. glogster allows you to add pictures, voice, video, and text over a background of your choosing. A great way to ease students and teachers from traditional to virtual.


Great for classroom discussions and presentation. Start with a visual prompt and ask students to respond or give students and topic and ask them to present using their own pictures.

Haiku Deck

This is basically powerpoint and just works on the iPad and the web, but it solves the two most common problems in student presentations - too many bullet points, and stolen or uncited pictures. Each slide limits you to a title and one line or text, it them suggests pictures based on the text. all the pictures supplied by HaikuDeck have the citation already embedded.


Create flyers for any occasion and share them easily. Printing is also an option.


Tell a story with your pictures. You can record a voice comment on each picture.


The original non-linear power point replacement. The movement around the screen can give your presentation a deeper meaning or it can make everyone seasick.


Slide speech reads your speaker notes for each slide giving your presentation a voice of its own. It also helps keep presentations short and to the point.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Whats happening in school

Just some of the fun happening in the local schools.

In Kindergarten students are learning to add and subtract to ten by having a snowball fight.

Some of the 5th graders are having math discussions.

Eighth graders are deconstructing their first Science Splash program and making changes before the next presentation. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Some teachers have SMART Response or clickers in their classroom. They are technically mobile tools so I guess you can borrow them as needed. But if you are curious about gathering student responses to multiple choice questions you can also try Plickers.

Basically, with Plickers you print out 4 papers for each student. Each paper is different for each student so no mixing them up. Ask a question, each student holds up a card with their answer A,B,C,D. You take a picture with the iPad or phone and the answers are tabulated and sent directly to the computer. 

Will it work perfectly every time? Nope. Will it be a fun way to practice for tests? I think so. Pre-testing, super idea. Student polls? Absolutely.