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Showing posts from February, 2014

Solve the Groupwork Puzzle: Beyong the Jigsaw

Learning in a social context, as argued by theorists Vygotsky and Bandura, is essential for our students, but how do we foster that in our classrooms when positively and constructively contributing to a group's progress is not necessarily an innate skill?

To avoid the common group dynamic pitfalls, consider explicit instruction and deliberate instructional choices to model and enhance these essential skills.

The Key to Collaborative Learning:  This article offers a common-sense approach to empowering your students to be collaborative listeners, learners, and co-creators. Along with why collaboration matters and how to nurture collaboration in your classroom, the classroom strategies below will help you to guide students as they learn to be constructive co-thinkers and co-creators. The ones with the asterisks are easily digitized via GoogleDocs!

Strategies to Develop Collaborative Skills (without sacrificing rigorous content):
Assign Specific Roles*: Give a job description to each memb…

Rediscovering Curiosity

Makerspace, tinkering, and PBL are terms currently in educational fashion. Beyond the jargon, the movement to reintroduce skills necessary to define an issue, brainstorm, prototype rapidly, and refine a custom solution is BACK, baby! In the video above, you can see Caine using all of these skills as he continuously improves his home-grown arcade.

Looking to recreate these kinds of project-based opportunities for your learners? Check out these resources:

Get a free MakerSpace PDF guidebook by signing up here. Tons of great info on how to set a makerspace up in your classroom.See what other teachers are doing: In California, in Atlanta, and right HERE in the STL!PBS's Design Squad offers design-process based lessons on how to LAUNCH marshmallows, propel rubber-band cars, etc!Want to encourage curiosity, but have NO MORE CLASS TIME? Offer a Curiosity Project to your students!An educator's 10-step path to Project-based learning
The Deep Dive: This is a great model to help define pr…

Argumentation Strategies for ALL ages...

The new Missouri Learning Standards are rife with references to the ability to write arguments, support claims, evaluate others' analyses of topics, and use valid reasoning in a range of conversations and collaborations. Below, find classroom activities to support student growth in the area of reasoned argumentation, along with a few digital tools to enhance the use of evidence to substantiate claims.

Classroom Argumentation Protocols:
SPARring Practice: Spontaneous argumentation format where students have to frame an argument in one minute and then react quickly to their opponents’ ideas.  This strategy helps students practice using evidence and examples to defend a position.

Stand and Decide (Variation on Four Corners): While the examples given in the link are intended for  secondary students, age-appropriate controversial questions are the driving force behind this activity. Great distributed practice for evidence-based claims that heighten student engagement (without major loss …

Are we asking the WRONG questions?

"What people think of as the moment of discovery is really the discovery of the question." - Jonas Salk
As inquiry-based learning continues to gain traction, we revisit what makes a "good" question. Sharing the role of 'QUESTION ASKER' with our students can transform learning in your classroom. Below, the TED talk and resources from the Right Question Institute show the power of learners' discovery through questioning. Learn more about the theory here and see how an elementary math classroom is transformed.

Here is a list of the questions the students asked during the activity:
Is a trapezium a 3D figure?How many faces, edges, and vertices are in a trapezoid?Who made up a parallelogram?Does a parallelogram and a trapezoid have the same amount of sides?What do the arrows mean?What are the attributes for a trapezoid?Why do trapezium and trapezoid have the same first 6 letters?Does the pronunciation of the words effect the relationship?What does a parallelog…

Why don't they just make a tool for that? Check out these Teachers who decided to DIY!

Teacherpreneurs meet Shark Tank in a Pitchfest Sponsored by 4.0 Schools. 

In a proposal competition, teachers created their ultimate time-saving digital tools to provide powerful instruction using modern solutions. Evaluated by a panel of educators, the winner would be selected based on criteria such as how easily a product could be incorporated into their classrooms, how much instruction they would need, whether it would help them work smarter or harder and what they would be willing to pay for it. Several of these are already funded and up and running!!

Consider following 4.0 Schools' blog- That's where I found another amazing tool not featured on CNN-- "Because" (video below). The tool you've just been WAITING for might already be there!

The ideas featured on CNN this AM include:

Fantasy Geopolitics- A fantasy-football style competitive learning program to foster high engagement in modern political issues.

Borne Digital- An e-reader that adapts to each student&…

Don't let a few (thousand) miles keep you from the fieldtrip of a lifetime!

The evolution of digital tools allows us the freedom to "be" in two places at once. Explore the world and its cultural treasures through some impressive virtual resources. I've added a few, but please share yours, too!

Five Great iPad Apps for Virtual Field Trips
20 Online Museums for In-Class Field Trips
Ten of the Best Virtual Field Trips
Google's Cultural Institute Art, Architectural Wonders and Archives
Google Lit Trips

Explore the great cities of the world, from above with AirPano... AMAZING views of some of the most beautiful places on earth.
 Thanks to +Danielle Demarest for sharing!

Be sure to explore the comments sections on these resources as well... fellow educators often supplement the lists provided with their own faves. That's where I discovered the virtual visit to the caves at Lascaux... Ne parlez pas fran├žais? No worries, you won't need it to enjoy the virtual tour!


Going Digital in the Social Studies Classroom with Evidence-based Argumentation

Using Digital Technology to Foster Historical Argumentation under the CCSS by Julie B. Wise and Alexandra Panos
A great guide to avoiding a common trap of integration, where the technology "use does not assure deep understanding"... The authors argue that the curricular goals and the ability to identify perspective, make an authentic claim, support it with evidence, and close the argument successfully  take a primary role to the multimodal tool students choose. A multimodal tool could be PPT, GoogleSlides, or MovieMaker. Regardless of the tool, multimodal argumentation should take the same basic format. The authors also integrate primary document analysis and the argumentation process. Wonderful primer for historical argumentation!

Visualizing Text: The New Literacy of Infographics by Mark Davis and David Quinn
In yet another shameless plug for the power of infographics creation, another method to represent historical argumentation is the sleek, efficient infographic. In supp…

Is there any way I could actually use a Google Form in my classroom or building?

I saw this post linked on twitter today.  There are so many ways to use forms that it can be a little overwhelming at times.  Sometimes I don't even know where to start because there are simply too many options.  This one tiny post helped me really focus in on what forms could do for me.
Take a look.  What do you think about this?
Not sure what a Google Form is?  Watch this.