Thursday, May 31, 2012

Where are you on the Technology Integration Matrix?

Evaluate yourself and find a plethora of resources to boost you along your way to becoming a fully integrated classroom.
Check out the grade level index to find lessons and ideas specifically for your grade.

Watch videos to see what technology integration looks like in different classrooms.

Arizona also has a Technology Integration Matrix that can be viewed here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Teachers: Children No Longer Need to Know Facts Since They Have Smartphones

Children should no longer be expected to learn facts in the classroom because they can rely on smartphones as a “substantial” knowledge bank, it was claimed today.

Teachers said lessons should put a greater emphasis on broad skills such as independent research, interpreting evidence and critical thinking rather than learning dates, facts and figures by rote.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers warned that pupils risked being failed by a Coalition overhaul of the curriculum that will emphasis the core knowledge that pupils should acquire at each key stage.

It claimed that the move represented a throw-back to the 50s and would “kill children’s creativity”.

Jon Overton, a teacher from inner-London, said that smartphones – with full internet access – can by used by pupils to quickly search for facts.

Addressing the union’s annual conference in Manchester, he gave the example of Mozart’s birthday, saying phones took less than a second to find the answer – January 27, 1756 – and a “wealth of related content to follow”.

“We are no longer in an age where a substantial ‘fact bank’ in our heads is required,” he said.

“What we need to equip our young people with are skills; interpersonal skills, inquiry skills, the ability to innovate. That is what universities are saying is lacking, that is what employers say is lacking; transferable skills that ultimately will make a difference in the life of a young person.”

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has warned that too many children are finishing compulsory education lacking the most basic knowledge because existing syllabuses have been stripped of core content.

An expert panel has now been formed to review the curriculum, with new specifications in the core subjects to be introduced in 2014.

It is thought that pupils could be expected to learn their times tables by the age of nine instead of 11 and be introduced to quadratic equations at 13 instead of 14.

A new-style English curriculum may also lead to the introduction of distinct lessons in grammar and more rigorous reading lists covering Homer, Sophocles and Shakespeare amid fears too many pupils are “limited to a diet of John Steinbeck”.

But Mr Overton told that conference that “if we resort back to the curriculum from the golden age of Mr Gove’s rose-tinted school experience and simply teach facts we will kill children’s creativity and capacity to be free and independent learners”.

He claimed that schools needed more freedom to tailor the curriculum to meet the needs of individual pupils, adding: “Many of the needs of the children in my school in south London are different to the needs of children living in Surrey”.

Read more:

Monday, May 28, 2012

Texting With Teachers Keeps Students in Class

Texting With Teachers Keeps Students in Class (view the original article here)

By Stephen Noonoo     04/10/12

Tenth-grader Kayli Work is going to be late for English class.

Where some students might wrestle with their anxiety in silence, Work, a student at Nutana Collegiate Institute in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, takes out her cell phone, flicks a few keys, and hits send. She's just sent a text message to her teacher, who will be much more understanding about her tardiness thanks to the heads up. If she ends up missing the lesson, she will receive her assignments and their due dates from her teacher right on her phone.

"It's a lot less stressful if you can text your teacher," Work said, "instead of going in late and worrying what they're going to say."

For all the high-profile talk among educators grappling with whether or not to use cell phones in the classroom, the chatter has been far more hushed when it comes to using them to reach students outside it.

But that's exactly the tack Nutana Collegiate has taken in a new mobile initiative that uses text messaging to keep students and teachers in constant contact. The school provides school-owned cell phones to students from remote areas and low-income backgrounds who were previously forced off-grid when school ended.

Nutana functions as a transitional school, catering to a diverse--sometimes transient--student population. For some, it's a school of last resort; for others, a quick way to retake classes for higher grades thanks to a shortened quarter system.

"Absenteeism is pretty high, for all kinds of reasons," said Tyler Campbell, a former contract teacher at the school whose 10th-grade English class piloted the program last fall with more than 20 students. "We have some students who don't come to school when it's 30 below [zero] because it's five miles [to school] and they have to walk because they can't afford a bus pass. If we can engage them, we try to explore every avenue."

As the school looked for ways to keep its most vulnerable students interested, and improve its low retention rate, it began to mull new communication strategies that would meet kids where they felt most comfortable. After a survey revealed that more than half the school's student body preferred text messaging as a primary means of communication, school administrators and support staff decided to test the theory that, given the chance, students would gladly trade texts with teachers, thereby making them more accountable.

At least one hiccup was immediately apparent. "Not all of our students have a land line, and not all of them have a cell phone," said Phyllis Fowler, Nutana's community school coordinator, who helps run an extensive student support network at the school.

That's where regional telecom provider SaskTel, one of the school's longstanding community partners, came in.

Under terms of the partnership, SaskTel provided resources to the school and allowed it to purchase its choice of cell phones and data plans for students in the 10th-grade pilot, called Project Mobile. Campbell then swapped numbers with his students and began the two-month long experiment in student-teacher contact 2.0 last fall.

"Just my first quarter alone, I sent and received thousands of texts," Campbell said. "It got to be overwhelming at first, but you kind of get the hang of it."

While much of the deluge was back-and-forth banter on tardiness, homework, or grade anxiety, Campbell also began using the constant communiqués as a means to engage students in learning. He began texting a daily journal topic every morning and encouraged students to think about it before they came to class. So far, it's been largely effective, perhaps as a result of the psychology that makes cell phones so addictive for teens in the first place.

"Everyone has a compulsion to read that text message when it bleeps, bings, chimes, or vibrates. No exceptions," Campbell has written of the program. "Sooner or later you have to open that text and read it. It's like captive-audience advertising, but for the good guys in education, rather than marketing."

Friday, May 25, 2012

Why It's Time to Eliminate Class Schedules

Written by Shawn Cornally, Teacher  (view the article from its original source here)

April 4, 2012 •

I spend a lot of time in a philosophical tug-of-war with students and parents over what grades mean, why we give them, and how they should be interpreted. Parents want to know how their child is doing, students want to be left alone, and teachers just want everyone to think a bit more critically about the material. We end up with conflicting pressures, and a grading system that has overstepped its bounds with disastrous results for student psychology. Cheating, lying, extra credit for bringing in a box of Kleenex—it’s all the same disease.

As I stare out across the ocean of students I teach everyday, I wonder if their obsession with grades comes from an unexpected source: the way we schedule their classes. Perhaps clamoring for meaningless grades and inflated A’s is a side effect of the herd mentality present in schools and the schedules we use to create and maintain that mentality.

Maybe my students are worried about grades because they know their time is short. They get about an hour a day to think about a subject before they are shuttled off to yet another class with a cryptically planned lesson with equally puzzling assignments. I don’t mean that the assignments are impossible, I mean students have almost no narrative hook to hang their hats on. "Why are we learning this material now?" is a question few students even think to ask.

How can we expect them to connect Hemingway, vectors, pottery, cells, and ancient Greece every day? It’s a disjointed nightmare—to which you might say, "deal with it, that’s school." But what I see in my students is that "dealing with it" results in a lot of material crammed for a test and then forgotten.

Here’s the worst part: All of that planning teachers do to create beautifully succinct lessons is exactly where the deep thinking is happening. Students need to be a part of that. They need to see that you can't always get the right answers from the back of a book. How many times were you allowed to mess up a chemistry lab in high school? Most likely you were graded on how well you reproduced a set of instructions the first time you tried it. That’s not how anyone really learns. Students need to know that things go wrong, and they need to be comfortable—dare I say happy—with failing and retrying.

What if we removed the passive course-to-course drudgery of the school day? What if there was no schedule? What if students were left with a list of coyly worded benchmarks targeted at creating quality humans, and we just waited to see what they could do? What if teachers were seen as mentors for projects designed to help students meet those benchmarks? What if the students initiated these projects and the teachers spent their time recording TED-style talks that would serve as inspiration and help students generate benchmark-related ideas?

Instead, I will go back to my classroom tomorrow, where my students are slated for yet another period of biology. Once a day for 90 days—evidently that’s the prescription for understanding biology. How can we possibly know that’s enough for them to learn biology or any other subject?

I’ll be trying a few experiments aimed at giving my students the curriculum and the freedom to generate projects that are asynchronous but productive. If you’re a teacher, I hope you’ll join me in giving your students power they didn’t know they were missing. If you’re a parent, I hope you’ll ask why your high school student just got credit for organizing her binder in government class instead of meeting foreign language and government benchmarks by designing a website that can educate immigrants about the constitution.

If students spent their time producing authentic projects instead of driving toward test scores, it would provide tangible measurement of what they can do, and the tug-of-war over the meaning of grades would end. But as long as we keep the current way classes are scheduled, we will continue claiming that we just don’t have time for learning.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Outside Looking In, Inside Looking Out

Education Everywhere: International School Success Stories and Global Collaboration | Edutopia

It's always good to keep an eye on education both locally and globally, so we can learn from each other's success and be sure not to make the same mistakes.  This series from Edutopia offers a glimpse into school systems and education across the globe.  Take a look when you've got a minute.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Motion Math

First there was Motion Math.  Then Motion Math: Zoom.  Now the family has grown to include Motion Math: Hungry Fish and Motion Math: Wings.  Each game explores different math concepts in a way that takes great advantage of the iPod/iPad motion sensor and touch controls.  All of them are either free or offer a free lite version.  Full versions aren't that much more expensive (0.99 to 6.99).  These games are on the better end of the math game scale, as they develop conceptual understanding through the use of visual representations of concepts and go much further beyond the math drill digital worksheet that many apps are.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Twitter used to teach 'Hamlet'

Twitter used to teach 'Hamlet' | News | Tech | Toronto Sun

Think about this strategy for your next novel study...I know it's not math, but Twitter could be used in a similar way to have students converse about mathematical concepts.  Have them tweet as a polygon for a vocabulary or terminology guessing game.

Friday, May 11, 2012

We Don't Do it for the love, but it's nice to feel appreciated.

Teacher Appreciation - Tip #1: Give a Teacher a Gift | Edutopia

This tip and many more.  I would also like to take this time to express my appreciation for all the teachers and educational staff that I work with.  What you do for our students/children is amazing and I truly, truly appreciate the time I get to share with you, be it on a daily basis or on scattered occasions, in the past, present, or future.  Your gift of your time is a great reward for me.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

52 Ways to Use Wordle in the Classroom

This site isn't always math, though Wordle could certainly be used in any subject.  Check out this Google presentation on how Wordle can work for you!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

1,000 Apple Apps for Education (and growing)

Go to this website to get a link to a Google document that has a thousand apps sorted by subject and price.  The file is entirely clickable and takes you directly to each app's iTunes page where you can get more info about it.  Wasn't it nice of Texas to do this for us?