Mar 28

Twitter Favorites (weekly)

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Mar 25

Chad’s Choices

It’s the middle of March and a time to share a few more articles and blog posts I’ve come across that made me think, wonder, and learn. If you haven’t seen these, I’ve included a snippet from the article to pique your interest.

Homework. Should it exist? How much is too much? My two kids attend different schools – a public school and a private school. One is a middle schooler and one in high school. The amount of homework differs drastically. I have many thoughts about homework – from a parent perspective and a teacher perspective, but agree that in many cases, that homework should probably look different for most kids. Below is another interesting article about homework.

Our culture essentially holds kids hostage from early morning until late afternoon, to a great extent neglecting their need for true socialization, physical activity, play, quality time with parents, and for daydreaming and other creative pursuits. And these days, because academic achievement is held in such high esteem, our culture is intruding further and further onto the little time children once had for that “other stuff.” Because, heaven forbid, children should have no time when they’re not “learning,” kids (in some cases, even those in preschool) are being assigned more homework than ever – expected to continue their academic pursuits even after the school day has ended.

Read the entire article here.

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Reading ability is one of the biggest factors in student achievement. The better readers often get the better grades. I’m sure not I agree with the assessment section, which is listed as of the anchors in this article about using technology to teach reading, but much of the information is pretty solid.

…the teaching profession is one of innovation, and teachers are ceaselessly experimenting with ways to use innovative practice to help kids learn how to read. Recently, I’ve learned that some teachers are even using games to teach reading, arguing that these interactive video games provide the same skills that students need to be able to read.

Read the entire article here.

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Finland isn’t going to teach subjects anymore. Say what? This country is often seen as having one of the best educational systems in the world and they are making a big change. I love this idea because it’s so easy to bring in a variety of subjects into a lesson, something many elementary teachers do on a regular basis. For high school teachers, this is a much bigger change. It’s one I think secondary teachers in the United States would have a very difficult time dealing with.

Subject-specific lessons – an hour of history in the morning, an hour of geography in the afternoon – are already being phased out for 16-year-olds in the city’s upper schools. They are being replaced by what the Finns call “phenomenon” teaching – or teaching by topic. For instance, a teenager studying a vocational course might take “cafeteria services” lessons, which would include elements of maths, languages (to help serve foreign customers), writing skills and communication skills.

Read the entire article here.

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Digital Learning Day was a couple of weeks ago and one of the ideas behind this is to highlight examples of how great teaching, combined with effective technology, are positively impacting America’s schools.happening in schools. I’d argue this should be occurring every day of the year, not just on Digital Learning Day. A blog post by Steve Anderson shared that being digital isn’t just about the technology. He shares several great thoughts.

But I believe being Digital or using Digital Tools is more than just giving devices to kids or even providing professional development for teachers. For me it’s really less about technology and more about relationships and attitudes.

Read the entire article here.

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Mar 21

Twitter Favorites (weekly)

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Mar 14

Twitter Favorites (weekly)

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Mar 12

Using a Green Screen

Here’s a recap of some of the stuff that we’ve done at school using a green screen. It’s really been a lot of fun and I hope students and teachers think of this as ONE way students can share their learning with the world. Using a green screen can be as simple as using the Green Screen by DoInk iOS app or more complicated using iMovie or WeVideo. I think the possibilities are endless and it provides students a fun opportunity to show their creativity.

 

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Mar 07

Twitter Favorites (weekly)

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Mar 05

Google Drive Integration

Pics4LearningMy students have been using Google apps when they’ve come to my class in the computer lab. I love the ease of use, the fact that work is saved automatically, and that all of the student work is in one place. The idea that students can access it from whatever device they want, from wherever they want, is icing on the cake.

I discovered something this week that I don’t recall seeing and really loved.

My second graders are making an animal alphabet book using Google Slides. They are researching their facts using Pebble Go and adding their info to their slide. In addition, the kids need to add at least one photo as well. I decided to have the kids use Pics4Learning as the first option when searching for an animal image. The site has copyright free images and is very easy to use. I haven’t used the site in a while, but noticed something pretty awesome – the option to save the pictures to Google Drive – see photo on top right.  Rather than saving the image to their computer and uploading it to the slide, the kids could simply save the image straight to their Drive and then insert the image. I loved this and it was so easy for the kids.  No more downloading to the computer, remembering where it was saved, and uploading it to the document.

Unnamed image (3)Saving the images directly to Drive is such an advantage. Knowing where the images are located and having access to them from anywhere is such a plus. I’d love to see more sites offer Google Drive integration and have a Save to Drive button like Pics4Learning, but in the meantime, there is an alternative. If you add the Save to Google Drive Extension to your Chrome browser, you can right click on an image and save it directly to Google Drive. While this isn’t quite as easy as clicking on a button, especially for younger students, it will do the trick.

The more I use Google Apps with students the more I realize how awesome they are. It makes me wonder why more teachers are not using these tools with their students.

 

 

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Feb 28

Twitter Favorites (weekly)

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Feb 26

Fun with a Green Screen

I’ve used a green screen a little myself in the past, but overall, I don’t have a ton of experience with it, especially with students. The bright green cloth that was sitting around my house needed a new home. I brought it to school, figuring I could use it with the students to create something fun, share their learning, and give students a new way to express themselves. I have all sorts of ideas for ways to use the green screen, but the first step was to  get it set up. I had to figure out where to put it – a place where the lighting would be good and there wouldn’t be shadows. I found a wall in my school library and stapled it to the wall. We were all set.

Thanks to Conni Mulligan and others, my knowledge of using a green screen has grown quite a bit over the years. I figured I’d use the Green Screen by Do Ink iOS app because it’s simple and the kids could probably create things by themselves. My kindergarten students were reading The Pigeon books and I thought it would be a great idea to make our own little video using the green screen. I showed the students a video of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and told them we’d be making our own video. They were excited, but weren’t really sure what that meant. I grabbed my iPad and lined the kids up near the green screen. Student after student, they stood in front of the bright green material and repeated lines from the book. Knowing the app is more or less a one take video type app, I knew I’d have to put everything together using iMovie. I took pictures of the pages of the book and began editing everything together. I’m really pleased with the final result, shown below. I did the same thing with another class and am in the process of editing that video. I’ll be sure to share it when it’s ready.

 

B-s1Zp2WoAAeJqZThe students have seen the green screen in the library and have been asking about it. Most have an idea what it is, but have never done anything with it themselves. That’s going to change. In fact, the 4th graders are just wrapping up their unit on immigration and one student wanted to use the green screen for part of his project. He wrote a rap song about his topic and recorded it. He wanted to use an image of Ellis Island in the background so we found one we had permission to use, and loaded it into the app. I let the kids take over from there and surprisingly, the students pulled it off in just one take. They thought it was really cool and I can’t wait for kids to think about other ways they can use it.

There are already plans in place with other grades to use the green screen. First graders are current writing book reviews and are going to record themselves telling others about their books. We’ll add the book cover as the background image and record the students in front using the green screen. Third graders are studying countries and there have been discussions on how we can use the green screen to share their learning as well.

My next  goal, is to improve our green screen studio and see if we can paint a big section of a wall to serve as our backdrop. This will work out much better than our small cloth backdrop and will allow groups of students to work together and create some amazing stuff. Is the green screen the be all, end all? No, but what’s it’s doing right now is giving students a new way to express themselves, share their learning and expertise in ways they haven’t before, and have fun in the process. And those are all good reasons to jump in!

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Feb 21

Twitter Favorites (weekly)

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