Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spying 21st Century Skills: March A Edition

Here at the beginning of March, teachers have had kids spending a lot of time on making judgments and decisions based on content knowledge.  The skill of evaluating, or making judgements based on criteria and standards through checking and critiquing, is the second highest category in Bloom's Revised Taxonomy.  Our teachers here are making GREAT strides to give kids a safe environment to practice this skill.

1.  Ellen Farmer (Gr. 5 - ELA) has posted an LMS Discussion Board where she has students evaluate the movie trailers for popular books.  She asks kids to answer the following questions: What do YOU think movie makers are thinking when they transform a book into a movie? What are their motives?.
(Make Judgements and Decisions: Interpret information and draw conclusions based on the best analysis)

2.  Jeannie Palen (Gr. 5 - Soc. Studies) has posted an LMS Discussion Board where she has students read a passage about Adolf Hitler and explain what they think "Anti-Semitism" means.  As part of the process, Mrs. Palen is responding to each child's post validating their answers and asking further questions for clarification.
(Reason Effectively:  Deductive Reasoning; Make Judgments and Decisions: Interpret information and draw conclusions based on the best analysis; Communicate Clearly: Articulate thoughts and ideas effectively using written communication & to communicate for a range of purposes )

3. Shawn Lunsford (Speech) is having students record themselves as they speak using the program Audacity. Students use these recordings to assess their own progress on speech skills, and Mrs. Lunsford is using these recordings as evidence for progress monitoring.

(Make Judgments & Decisions: Reflect critically on learning experiences and processes)

Teachers have also spent time having kids reflect on their own learning and progress!

4.  Jeannie Palen (Gr. 5 - ELA) has asked students to create their own LMS Quiz Show and Crossword Puzzle games based on major themes they have studied in language arts.  This has included games about figurative language, point of view, etc.  Students crafted their own questions and answers and with the help of the teacher created the game on the teacher's LMS page.
(Collaborate with Others; Be Self-Directed Learners: Go beyond basic mastery of skills to explore and expand one's own learning and opportunities to gain expertise)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A 5th grade social studies teacher here at school used a debate format to assess student knowledge about the social welfare programs of Depression Era United States. This was a great example of making kids think, evaluate, and support their findings! It was amazing to see kids support with evidence why a certain program from the '30s was the best social welfare program from that time. The teacher structured the debate as follows:

- 2 minute Introduction to the program - multiple students could speak from that group
- Two 1 minute rebuttals from other groups

Logistically, the teacher thought through student movement and preparation. They all wore these "debate signs" where they wrote the position on the front and the evidence on the back. The students used the notes on the back as guides for the Introduction and during the rebuttals. The teacher also allowed students to change positions as they listened to the introductions and the rebuttals. However, if the student moved, they had to explain why they changed their minds. This was a great example of kids completing higher order thinking inside of Social Studies. The best part about the process is that the kids were excited and passionate about their points of view. Because the teacher built in the rebuttals, the debate became a true summative assessment of this standard.

Civic Literacy: Understanding the local and global implications of civic decisions

Reason Effectively: Use various types of reasoning (inductive, deductive, etc.) as appropriate to the situation

Make Judgements and Decision: Effectively analyze and evaluate evidence, arguments, claims and beliefs; Analyze and evaluate major alternative points of view; Synthesize and make connections between information and arguments; Interpret information and draw conclusions based on the best analysis

Communicate Clearly: Articulate thoughts and ideas effectively using oral, written and nonverbal communication skills in a variety of forms and contexts; Listen effectively to decipher meaning, including knowledge, values, attitudes and intentions; Use communication for a range of purposes (e.g. to inform, instruct, motivate and persuade)

For some ideas on how to grade this kind of activity, check the links below:




Spying 21st Century Skills - Progressive Storytelling

Here at PHES, we have registered for a progressive storytelling opportunity with students and teachers from around the world.  I saw this great idea on the ASCD Brief last Friday, and I just knew that our upper grades would want to try it out.  The neat thing about this option is the interactive and collaborative nature of the storytelling process.  Our students will post various story starters once the Spring session opens. When this happens, others from around the country and in oversees schools will add paragraphs to the stories as the time passes.  In the end, the students' story starter has led to a version of the story the student has never thought about!  To learn more about this opportunity, check out the wikispace below.  The last day for Spring registration is March 11th!

21st Century Skills
- Collaborate with Others: Assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and value the individual contributions made by each team member

- Communicate Clearly: Articulate thoughts and ideas effectively using written communication skills in a variety of forms and contexts

- Work Creatively with Others: Develop, implement and communicate new ideas to other effectively; Incorporate group input; Demonstrate orginality and inventiveness in work

- Think Creatively: Create new and worthwhile ideas

http://writeyourstory.wikispaces.com/ (wikispace for project)

http://www.northjersey.com/news/business/town_business/116795763_Theirs_is_more_than_a__progressive__writing_exercise__It_s_advanced.html (Article from the ACSD Brief)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Spying 21st Century Skills - February B Edition

1. Guidance & Computer Lab teachers are having kids take an interest survey on the My Next Step website in order to narrow down career interests. Students are now using the data from the survey to research more about the careers which best fit their personalities and interests! (Make Judgements & Decisions: Interpret information and draw conclusions based on the best analysis)

2. The Computer Lab teacher is working with 5th grade students to research, paraphrase, and cite in MLA style information about topics in Social Studies (Information Literacy: Access and Evaluate Info, Use and Manage Info; Media Literacy: Analyze Media; Apply Technology Effectively)

3. A Third Grade Teacher had groups of students to use digital cameras to take pictures of geometric shapes found around the school. Students are going to take these images to create a video where they explain how they know what shape the item is. (Collaborate with Others, Communicate Clearly: Articulate thought and ideas effectively; Reason Effectively: Using Deductive Reasoning; Apply Technology Effectively)

4. A PE Teacher is using LMS Discussion Boards as a station during one of his gymnastics lessons. He is having students evaluate their performance during the lesson. (Make Judgments and Decisions: Reflect critically on learning experiences & processes)

5. A 2nd and 4th Grade Teacher had students to jointly write Destiny Book Reviews as part of the Book Buddy process. They plan to upload these reviews to the Destiny site during this nine weeks. (Work Creatively with Others: Develop and communicate new ideas to others effectively; Communicate Clearly: Articulate thoughts and ideas effectively in a variety of contexts; Collaborate with Others; Productivity and Accountability: Produce Results; Leadership and Responsibility: Guide and Lead Others)

6. 3rd Grade Teacher - Students are blogging about geometric shapes in the world around them. In the blogs students included evidence to prove how they knew the item was a certain shape. (Articulate thought and ideas effectively; Reason Effectively: Using Deductive Reasoning; Apply Technology Effectively)

Click here to learn more about the 21st Century Skills highlighted in this post.

Spying 21st Century Skills: February A Edition

3rd Grade Teacher – Using voice narration in PowerPoint so that kids can explain the figurative language they have found in their favorite poem (Collaborating others, Reasoning effectively, Communicating clearly in a variety of methods)

3rd Grade Teacher – Using Glogster to help students define figurative language and to identify figurative language in new poetry they have been reading (Collaborating with Others, Reasoning effectively, Communicating clearly in a variety of methods)

4th Grade Teacher Used an online interactive protractor to give students a different kind of experience with measuring angles. She also used questions and answers to help students “talk out” how they knew whether the angles were obtuse angles, right angles, etc. (Metacognition- Explaining how they know what they know)

PE Teacher - 5th grade students used Excel to chart their heart rate from one fitness activity to another. They created a graph from the data to help identify a pattern in their heart rates. The students also discussed with one another what they found out about their fitness level and heart rates using the LMS Discussion Board. (Reflect critically on learning experiences, Effectively analyze and evaluate, Communicating clearly in a variety of methods)
 Click here to learn more about the 21st Century Skills highlighted in this installment.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cool Tools/Curriculum Ideas: Introducing Google Squared

Google just keeps providing great tools for teachers. Recently, they have developed a new search engine which organizes your results in a table. This provides you a great way to compare and contrast various topics or items all on one page. You can tailor the table to provide the information you need or want. Watch the video below to see a little more!

Now for classroom connections:

Student Research - If students are comparing two ideas or topics, this will give them a chance to easily see the information in one place. For instance, if your students are researching Native American Tribes , you may want them to compare and contrast the food, housing, or clothing of these tribes. Students often spend copious amounts of time trying to locate the information on various websites. Why not streamline the process using Google Squared. You may say, "How do they document where they get the information?" Well, each square is hyperlinked to the orginal web page from which the information came. Also a shorted URL is provided in each box so that you can see where the page originated.

Monday, May 17, 2010

iPad n Classroom/Curriculum Idea – Art HD

picasso4602 When I was in the classroom, I taught middle school Spanish.  One of my favorite things to teach about was Hispanic art.  Through much trial and error, my mom and I perfected the classroom scavenger hunt as a great way to expose kids to various pieces of art in a controlled way in a short amount of time.  However, this entailed a lot of prep work on the part of the teacher.  I had to buy/locate art prints, hang them around the room, and create an activity guide.  The guide required students to match a description of the piece with the appropriate poster/picture.  While finding all the art prints could be daunting, this allowed me to simulate a true museum experience.  The kids loved looking at the art work once I gave them a structured reason to look at each piece.  The iPad now gives you the same experience but with many more images at your finger tips.  Two artists are represented so far: Picasso HD and Van Gogh HD.  Both Apps allow students to view the 100’s of images in HD, to magnify areas of the paintings for closer looks, and to obtain educational information about each painting.  This includes the title of the piece, the original year and location in which it was painted, the method and tools of painting, the dimensions of the painting, and the paintings current location and ownership.
Now for Classroom Connection:
Getting kids to experience art can be hard, so it is crucial that you structure their viewing experience in a way that ensures they view each picture in a meaningful way.  Consider using art prints as writing prompts in an English or history class.  For instance, when studying the rise of the Nazi Party as part of World History or European Studies, many teachers glance over the Nazi raids in Northern Spain.  However, it was in Northern Spain that the Nazis perfected their Blitzkrieg strategy.  Picasso’s Guernica gives students an alternate view of the devastation of the Blitzkrieg strategy – one that can not be duplicated by even a photo.  Using the iPad allows students to view easily the way that Picasso used the cubist style to depict human emotion in war time.
Image above from: http://thevisualpoetssociety.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/picasso4602.jpg