Two posts from amazing educators stood out for me this past week. One was about Daniel Pink's new book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing; and the other was from Jessica Twomey and Christine Pinto's #Innovative Play- 2 great resources- Connected Play Centers and MLK Character Traits Study .
I actually saw images with Pink's "controversial" statements about the research on timing of math in school, not realizing that this was part of Pink's book, until Matt Miller tweeted about Pink's keynote at FETC. So, I haven't read the book yet. I ordered a hard copy (so I could lend it out after I read it), which should be arriving today. But I was intrigued by the research cited and have questions about it.
Here's Matt's sketchnote:
Images from Keynote attendees' posts
So, what subject comes first in the school day? Is the data only related to math or all subjects? What does later in the day mean... how subjective is this? And last but not least- breaks... How do you time all of this? How much control do teachers have/should teachers have over scheduling?
How ? The #Innovative Play Way
I have always found that early childhood and elementary teachers come up with the best ways to learn. The connection to play is so important. This week I saw two great resources, one on Connected Play Centers- embedding character traits, which connected so nicely with their presentation on MLK - Character Trait Study, using stories to make this important connection. I love the way these teachers think and their creative ideas. They also take so much of the work out of a project by including the links, the videos, but spark ideas that let you incorporate your own materials.
Check out the Connected Play Center's updated play board here:
Check out MLK Character Traits here:
Ideas to Share
I often get asked about using Google Read and Write for Chrome. It is a pretty amazing tool set, which is often underutilized. Texthelp continues to add more and more features. This, although helpful, can put folks off. I remember the first time I saw the Kurtzweil dashboard- pretty much made me walk away. Student and teacher time is precious. Things need to work with no fuss, and no one really has a lot of time for a steep learning curve. So- Check out the training Texthelp offers online. You can spend less than an hour and get a lot of the basic skills, or just watch a 3 minute video to help you figure out one tool. Remember- use the Chrome browser- log into your school account. Teachers get all the features free, students get a free trial, or if you get lucky, your district can get a great deal and include everyone. Here's the basic training link . Here's the Resources link. Scroll down and check this one out. There's a whole series of resource material for ELL students, including this handy PDF. Need a quick video to learn a tool? Check out their YouTube channel.
Edutopia has a nice article called, " Preparing Social Studies Students to Think Critically in the Modern World", which can give you ideas about using primary sources.
Check, Please! is geared for older students, but I think high school students or any teacher could pick up a few pointers. Here's their info: "In this course, we show you how to fact and source-check in five easy lessons, taking about 30 minutes apiece. The entire online curriculum is two and a half to three hours and is suitable homework for the first week of a college-level module on disinformation or online information literacy, or the first few weeks of a course if assigned with other discipline-focused homework."
To Share with Parents
The UK has a great organization called National Online Safety, which puts out a weekly post/pdf around various topics that parents, and teachers, should stay informed about. A recent one was on TikTok, but check out all of their free, downloadable resources here.
Digital Passport is Back!
Digital Passport, the award winning suite of 6 interactive games from Commonsense Media, has been a staple in our school's digital citizenship work, so I was dismayed when it wasn't ready to go at the end of the summer. But, it's back! What's new? The biggest change is that students no longer log in the same way; no student information is collected. This is both positive and negative. The students create their own username. Their work is saved, when a unit is completed- on that computer, on that browser. If they switch computers or use a new browser- out of luck. They can download or print certificates, take screenshots, etc. But, you just know that someone will forget to do this.
One other new feature- you can now choose to play the games in English or in Spanish.
I also kind of wish there was an easier tie in with Google Classroom, but that would of course attach student data. After taking a quick glance at the new Educator Guide- clean, simple and easy to use. I'm looking forward to trying this out soon with our 3rd graders!
Looking for UDL ideas?
When Wikispaces made the difficult decision to close, so many of my favorite websites also went by the wayside or had to find a new home. So happy that my good friend, teacher, and mentor, Karen Janowski spent the time to move her incredible UDL ToolKit to a new space. If you are looking for ideas on how to accomodate students on IEPS, 504 plans, or just about any student you teach- look no further than THE UDL TOOLKIT.
To quote Karen: " My passion is to remove the obstacles to learning for all students and these free tools offer opportunities for struggling learners that promote academic success. When material is digital or electronic, it is flexible and accessible. It is our responsibility as educators to provide materials that promote success. Please encourage all educators to consider using these free tools."
Bookshare Special Collections
I just learned about an amazing tool on Bookshare from @karenjan last week. I never knew they had Special Collections. If you have students on Bookshare- check it out! You can take some of these amazing collated collections and add them as reading lists for your students. For example-
I just wanted to share this info from Shelly Terrell with excellent directions on creating and sending parent newsletters. I embedded her tweet below. Her original post can be found here. Check it out as Shelly shares her templates too!
Join the UMass #30 Day Access Challenge
I know there are whole websites out there, full of videos to inspire teachers and students. This video was shared today on Terri Eicholoz' blog and it worked for me. I'd like to think that as teachers we can all break out of our simple cogs in a wheel dynamic and make a difference as well as helping our students to do the same.
I know, I know, let's finish up this year, before we talk about next year, but my reality has always been that if I did not plan, get PD or just get my ideas in order over the summer, that when September rolls around, I am plumb out of time and need to be ready to go. I cannot take the time for reflection and planning once the school year starts. So, here goes...
One of the things I have heard from teachers is that "this year" they are going to start a blog, or begin to use student portfolios, or find better ways to communicate with parents. There are many ways to do this, but you can't change your mind midstream and expect parents to follow along. Most parents have access to the internet, either via phone, laptop, or computer. If you can "train" them to check your website, not the bottom of the backpack for the newsletter, you may find that they begin to look to your blog, or site for information and may even interact online. But, if you give them the paper newsletter, they may or may not read it and they will certainly not look in yet another place online for the same information. No one has the time or energy to check your blog or site if the information comes home in what may be a more familiar format. So, what are some options to explore?
New Google Sites
Interested in Global Projects?