Sharon Plante @iplante cofounder of the popular #edtechchat shares practical tips on how she's using ipads as assistive technology. Her blog is a great follow for Special Ed #spedchat teachers. Teachthought @teachthought has a great set of 35 digital tools to create quizzes and collect feedback. (Just remember to use those devices to create, if you're just testing, then you're missing the point of technology.)
Literature lovers will adore the 16 of the best opening lines of children's literature with Book covers. (“There was a hand in the darkness and it held a knife.” Wow, I want to read The Graveyard Book for just that line.) What if you had students craft an amazing opening line for a book as a creativity activity and then had them vote on the book you'd most like to read based on that line? Very cool.
The 12 Cyberscams of Christmas from BBC News are a great article to read and share with students (and post on Facebook for your family and friends to read.) The greatest software invented for online safety is the human brain. Educate one and stop a thief.
Rebecca Alber from @edutopia has a thought provoking article asking us to define 21st-century literacy. Then, we have some students from the Burlington High School help desk reflect on their favorite tutorials for Hour of Code, another list of great apps for teaching coding to kids on the ipad, and an important pondering that quick tutorials aren't enough: we need teachers who know how to code. Edutopia has also released some excellent material for studying over break: Project Based Learning Tutorial and another on Technology Integration that will make some deep reading and thinking time over break.
It is that time of year and many students are missing school. Some for sickness but others for what I call school-itis. If you miss for unimportant reasons (like that sale on ugg boots at the mall) then, when you have an important reason, you'll find that patience has already run thin and a child who needs help and patience won't find it. The Kinvolved blog has a post on this topic.
A vent on PISA and the testing fanaticism that spreads
Finally, PISA gets more press as Finland ponders its “drop” in scores and if it should really change what they are doing at all and the impact on the “edutourism” that will now head to Asia. (Not sure how much that is.) I am skeptical of the fanaticism around these scores. I'd like to see the tests. Again, testing kids on things they haven't been taught is pushing countries to move to some international norm of what is taught based upon what an organization thinks they should be taught. It doesn't measure creativity, self confidence, teamwork, technical skills: all important parts of 21st century success. I think we should stop looking at numbers and start focusing on each individual child and helping that child find their strengths, do their best, and find their purpose. Then, we'd have education we can be proud of. Treating kids like numbers is dehumanizing and beneath the fine profession we all inhabit.
12 hours of code
I've finished three days with my ninth and tenth grade students teaching every child grades K5-5th grade an hour of code. The kids are excited and many have gone home to make games in Scratch at home. I'm exhausted physically and mentally but very happy knowing that it was a good thing. We won't stop there, of course, and are looking to have an other experience or two this year. Great teachers should never be afraid of hard work — that is where we get the best results, very often.
I hope that all of you keep focusing on teaching each and every day. It is tempting to go into movie mode but with two weeks or more out for vacation in the states – kids will have more of that. Find ways you can use technology and teach each and every day. Never settle. Teach until “Yippee” tears through your school like a battle cry for the weary child ready for a break. You can do this. It is your calling to teach. Great teachers move ahead while lesser teachers take a break. If you're in the classsroom it is time to teach. Never settle.
Warmest wishes to all my friends out there… may you rest during your break. May you give what no one can pay you for (your heart) to those students. They need adults like you in their lives who love them and help them love learning.
EDTECH TOOLS AND TIPS
- iPad as #dyslexiatech | The road to learningSome very practical tips from Sharon Plante on using ipads as assistive technology. I love the links and how she uses things. Great work.
- 35 Digital Tools To Create Simple Quizzes And Collect Feedback From StudentsSome great tools for simple quizzes but remember this — if they only thing you use technology for is to give a quiz – you are totally missing the point. Totally.
GREAT CHILDREN's LITERATURE: Your librarian will love this list
DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP AND SAFETY: Staying safe and defining literacy
- BBC News – The 12 cyber-scams of ChristmasIf you discuss cyber safety and digital citizenship, this is an article tor read and share.
- Deeper Learning: Defining Twenty-First Century Literacy | Edutopia
What is 21st century literacy and how do we help students become better communicators?
Rebecca Alber says:
“In today's world, being literate requires much, much more than the traditional literacy of yesterday. According to the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English), twenty-first century readers and writers need to:
Gain proficiency with tools of technology
Develop relationships with others and confront and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes
Manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multimedia texts
Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments”
TEACH CODING: Past the Hour of Code – Let's keep it going
- The Hour of Code: A BHS Help Desk Update | Burlington High School Help DeskStudents at Burlington High School are reviewing hour of code tutorials and their thoughts. For high school students, this is a great way to learn and share and also helps teachers identify best practices and best tutorials. Great job, Jenn Scheffer.
- My BIG List of iPad Coding Apps for Kids! | Jonathan Wylie: Instructional Technology ConsultantA great list of apps (both free and not free) for promoting the hour of code. Share this with your parents who want to encourage this at home.
- What are you doing for CSEd Week / Hour of Code? | EdutopiaGreat conversations happening over at Edutopia about the Hour of Code and what people are doing. I love it when educators talk and share.
- OPINION: We Need Coding in Schools, but Where are the Teachers? | EdSurge News
This is very true. Online tutorials can only get us so far. This is why I'm learning Scratch and brushing up on Java. I may even have to learn Python before I'm done. We need Computer Science but who will teach it? If we only rely on videos, it would be like asking kids to teach themselves math using Khan Academy without a teacher who knew how to work the problems.
“The vast majority of my students do very well on their first hour or two of coding using structured lessons, but when they start to write code for a new problem, or hit the first set of bugs, they get frustrated and need help. Sometimes, all they need is a hint, a pointer to a similar problem, or my assurance that they can solve it. In some cases, they need someone to just re-explain it a little differently.”
LEARN ABOUT TEACHING: Free Guides and Learning you can use
- Technology Integration Professional Development Guide | Edutopia
Technology Integration Professional Development Guide | Edutopia – Great free guide to use and read that addresses the NETS standards from ISTE.
- Project-Based Learning Professional Development Guide | Edutopia
A learning guide for Project Based Learning that you can download and review. A great PD tool for the break.
ACHIEVEMENT: They can't learn if they aren't there
Absenteeism is a topic we need to discuss!
“While research shows that attendance is one of three key predictors of high-school graduation as early as sixth grade, 7.5 million students nationwide miss an entire month of school annually. In New York City, the nation’s largest school district, 20 percent of students miss a month each year. Until as recently as five years ago, attendance was not even accurately recorded in cities as large as Washington, D.C.”
IN THE NEWS: PISA Test Scores and Finland
- Are Finland’s vaunted schools slipping?
PISA Scores help and hurt… of course, the world won't be happy until every country and every child and every system is at the 100th percentile – something that won't happen.
From Valerie Strauss about what Finland should do as the result of their “slipping” scores. In the Washington Post.
“Finland should also continue to let national education and youth policies — and not PISA — drive what is happening in schools. Reading, science, and mathematics are important in Finnish education system but so are social studies, arts, music, physical education, and various practical skills. Play and joy of learning characterize Finland’s pre-schools and elementary classrooms. ”
Tips for minimizing teacher stress
- Discover 10 stress-busting secrets for healthy teachers. What simple routines will help you handle the stress?
- Simple advice for coping with stress at work.
- Learn tips to help you deal with difficult colleagues and students (even those who "hate" you -- yes it is possible!)