Math & Reading
I got an email over the summer from a veteran teacher asking me about eSpark. I had never used it and after checking around a bit, advised the teacher to go ahead and do the free pilot for the year. Today, another veteran teacher decided to try it as well, since the first teacher (5th and 6th grade) has reported that she is getting useful data and the kids are engaged. So, what is this eSpark? It is differentiated reading and math instruction for K-5. It has some good reviews on both edsurge and commonsense media. Does it stand out from the crowd? I don't know. Is it expensive? Probably. Is it worth checking out? Sure. Here are a couple of videos to hlearn a bit more about it.
I was looking around for something to do with cards for young students and came across this site with 16 Math Card Games posted by Jill Staake for We Are Teachers. They look like a lot of fun. And, of course while I was clicking through them, I found this treasure trove of math resources from Mrs. Weigand! Wow! so many choices! Check it out when you have a chance.
If you haven't been by Jo Boaler's YouCubed site recently, take a peek at her work on Data Literacy and listen to her interview on the Freakonomics podcast entitled, America’s Math Curriculum Doesn’t Add Up (Ep. 391)
This article from The Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller, hit home for me. She talks about kids becoming Readers, In Spite of School. I just had a conversation with a teacher at school today who was having her students use Epic- just to free read for 15 minutes. She was successful in engaging her students, at least in part, because she wasn't telling them what to read, or what not to read, or regulating the reading level or whether it was a graphic novel or an audio book or testing them on their reading fluency or comprehension. The kids simply choose what to read and they read it.
I have to admit, I don't like graphic novels. Never liked comic books as a kid. Would rather read a 300 page novel than a 32 page graphic novel. So, I went out and bought George Takei's memoir, They Called Us Enemy. I haven't really gotten into it yet- but I will- just because I need to look at graphic novels through a different lens. You can borrow it when I'm done. Do I have to love graphic novels? No, but I have to respect that some people do- and that they are reading, obtaining information and maybe even learning to love reading. Check out Donalyn's article, she is far more articulate than I.
I saw a tweet from Lucy Gray referencing Glide Apps the other day, so I decided to take a quick look at it. Similar to some other app creators, you can very quickly and easily make an app. Check out their video. Take one of your spreadsheets- try it out! There is also a nice little tutorial on Online Tech Tips.
Ideas to Share
I was excited to see a hyperdoc by @nadineglikison to help kids learn to more effectively use Read and Write for Google Chrome. We have this for our district, but not everyone knows how to use it or how to help students use it. However, when I opened the hyperdoc and found that topic was all about poop and farts- not so excited. Honestly, I can't justify this in a classroom. The how to part is fine, but seriously... Oh well. Perhaps the version for younger kids will be created with a topic that I can use. Here's the link if you want to check it out. Nadine has shared it, CC: By: NC: SA.
The Feedback Fallacy is an article from the Harvard Business Review that I found interesting on two levels, both as an adult working with other adults, and as an adult working with children. The immediate message is, of course, we're doing it wrong. Our standard beliefs are not based in reality. So, what then? According to the article:
So, how does this translate to education? I liked the very last sentence:
"We excel only when people who know us and care about us tell us what they experience and what they feel, and in particular when they see something within us that really works."
Making Learning Visible
Once again- FlipGrid is front and center. I watched another webinar on using FlipGrid in the classroom- across all ages and disciplines to make learning visible, to share learning. This came after spending part of my afternoon with 4th graders who were introducing themselves, via FlipGrid to students around the world, as they prepare to work on projects with students in Mexico, Canada and Australia.
Here's the recording of tonight's webinar. If you haven't made time to check out this tool- it is easy to use and a great way for your students to make their learning visible.
#Global Maker Day 2017
Interested in makerspaces? Today was #globalmakerday. I was too busy all day, but plan to catch up with some of the challenges and videos later in the week. Lots of info from various vendors as well as the challenges are on the landing page.
Before I forget- again- Rushton Hurley ran a cool little project this past week- a 5 day challenge to become a better teacher. Along with ideas you can use to present or discuss materials in the classroom, he also has ideas about feedback. You can still learn more about it here and grab a couple of colleagues and give it a shot.
A couple of tools that I have been playing around with lately that you may want to check out include CheckMark and Talk and Comment
Talk and Comment is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to put voice notes and comments anywhere. "This free extension lets you record and send voice notes on all sites (Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Github, Gmail, Google+, Wordpress, ...), in a easy way. Voice notes can be played even if you don't have the extension installed." Here's the quick overview:
CheckMark is a new feedback extension for Google Docs, put out by EdTechTeam. You can find in the chrome web store. Like others of its ilk, it allows you to insert pre-set comments quickly and easily. The user interface is clean and easy to use. And I think, like other users, that the ability to customize the pre-set comments would be a welcome addition. Here's a couple quick videos for you to check it out yourself.
Loom- add videos anywhere
Another way to give feedback is to pop a quick video onto an email or a Google Doc. Loom gives you a super quick and easy way to do that. And.. it's integrated with Gmail and Google Docs as well as lots of other applications and platforms. Here's a quick overview. Try it- you may like it.