One recent activity that was introduced to me was called lego serious play. Lego serious play is full of educational activities and tools for education. Many of the actual concepts involved align with the 21st century skills. I have linked a short film on Lego Serious Play. If I get a chance I may start incorporating this in my classroom.
I have been trying to incorporate a lot of technology in my classroom recently. Like I said in my last post, I constructed the interactive whiteboard that Johnny Lee geniously created. It works. That being said I do believe the software he recommends on his website is really the only software that works ‘well’ with this contraption. Another thing that is important to remember is that the placement of the wiimote is vital – and if it shifts than the whole touch-display is off-put. I have not done the interactive whiteboard with my students yet because I want to make it a little more fool-proof.
I recently acquired an ipad2 from my district to see its functions in the classroom. I have been using Doceri – which enables the ipad2 to link to your laptop and then you don’t have to stand up at the front to control your laptop – it also allows for you to write or draw on the ipad2. It’s actually a very handy program. I have not had the freedom to use other apps yet – but I’m hoping the district loads some on the ipad2 soon – as its very limited with its capabilities, or I just can’t figure out all its uses.
That being said, the students have never been more engaged with the lesson? or with the ipad2? than when I pull out that device. They love it. It just has a pretty steep learning curve.
There you have it. I will keep you posted on the interactive whiteboard and try to get some pictures of it in use.
Interactive Whiteboards have become ‘new technology’ in classrooms today. Some of you may be saying – “we’ve had interactive whiteboards for years.” Do you believe that you are maximizing your use of those whiteboards? Others may be asking, “What’s an interactive whiteboard?”
Interactive Whiteboards are just what they’re titled. They’re ‘often’ special whiteboards (smart boards), or devices that are placed on standard whiteboards (mimios…) that allow for users to touch the whiteboard to operate the computer.
- Students can come to the board and not have to worry about ink
- Raises level of student engagement through it’s interactivity
- Increases student motivation
- Promotes enthusiasm
- Supports learning styles
- Learning Curve
- Can become time-consuming
- New applications can be confusing
- Technology hazards
So what if you can’t afford to have an interactive whiteboard in your classroom? Johnny Lee, a graduate of Carnegie Mellon, has created a new way of creating your own interactive whiteboard. Watch the following film to see how easy it is to set up your own system.
You can easily purchase the wii infrared pen on Amazon.com as well as a bluetooth adapter (if your computer doesn’t already have it) = all of that is less than 30 bucks. The software for your computer is free on Johnny Lee’s website.
I am currently installing this at school and hope to present pictures and reviews of this being used in the classroom.
There are so many good movie clips available to teachers on youtube. On this website I have mentioned a number of them (flocabulary, schoolhouse rock, khan academy). So what can you, as a teacher, do to show youtube videos without all the ads on the side? or what if you want to show a portion of a clip without showing the entire youtube clip?
Well, as always, here’s a free resource for you.
It’s called: SPLICD.
Splicd is a very easy-to-use. All you have to do is copy your youtube url and decide the seconds you wish to play. Then you can easily share your video with others or on your class website.
One popular fad today is owning kindles and nooks. I walked to our neighborhood library and noticed that ebooks can now be checked out. Immediately I thought, is this for real? or is this just another fad? It doesn’t quite feel the same reading from these devices than it does from reading a book. But you can have 100s of books in one device! Incredible.
So how can I translate ebooks to the classroom? I was on a 21st Century Field Trip through my district when I learned that there is a website that creates ebooks for free! So of course – here it is:
- It’s free – although you will need to sign up.
- So easy to use! Allows for a lot of creativity.
- Insert pictures easily.
- You can download your ebooks onto the e-devices.
I recently held Back-to-School night with my 5th grade parents. While preparing for it I asked myself, ‘what are you excited about for this year?’ Oh sure – I’m going to have to cover reading and math curriculums, homework expectations, behavior, routine and schedules, and IB traits… but what is unique about this year?
So I pondered this and I realized that the resources I have available to me right now I was either ignorant of or they hadn’t been created before.
So I decided to create and title this blog post the Practical Post. This blog is full of exciting new resources – but will I use all of them this year? Nope. These tools can quickly become overwhelming. So what is at the forefront? What are the tools that I will absolutely introduce on Back-to-School night?
Here’s the list:
1. Class Website: This website will be the hub for the parents to find tools used throughout the school year. Oh – don’t get me wrong, I also use it to communicate through, but the primary purpose is to create a place where parents can go to to find links to useful resources to aid their students.
2. Khan Academy: Many of my parents ask what their children can be doing at home to further their education. Here’s an excellent website. Last year I requested from my district that all students’ district e-mails work on this website. This year they all work! This means that my students have pre-assigned logins and I just simply have to add myself as a coach for each student. Students work through a knowledge map and achieve energy points along the way. Eventually this will earn them badges and awards. This site is also full of ‘tutorial’ videos which are clever and easy to follow – and they explain everything from basic addition to university mathematics and sciences. If students ever get stuck they can watch a quick video to aid them in understanding the concepts and content. In addition – I, as the coach, get to see each students’ statistics.
3. Spellingcity: This website is a must have and use for elementary classrooms. I have my spelling lists pre-loaded for the students so they can just find my name and get going. The website offers games to go along with the words and pre-tests (which I give an additional 10% extra credit if they print off a pre-test they completed at home). This website is such a help for students who just can’t figure out spelling.
4. Games: I have a link to Games that I have added on to my symbaloo page. These games are all educational. The first few weeks of school I let the students discover some of them (otherwise – I’m not sure they would ever be discovered). As a result – the students fall completely in love with them. Let me highlight a few of them: Oiligarchy, Electrocity, and Energyville are all games related to our unit on Energy. The students learn a lot about expenses and energy types as they work through the games. Kerpoof is a website that allows for teachers to set up their own class list and student logins. Then the students can access the website and create videos, drawings, and storybooks. The students absolutely love it. Icivics is a fantastic website for finding games related to history and civics.
5. Tools: The last link I share with my parents is the tool page. This page is full of web-based presentation tools, media tools, and search tools that the students will be using – especially in their Exhibition (the culminating event in the IB process).
I wanted to give you a quick synopsis of what I actually use in the classroom. That being said, every year I do discover new resources to use and I try to adapt my classroom. Even now I am trying to figure out a way that I will use KidsBlog inside and outside of the classroom. I hope this Practical Post gives you a better idea of what web-resources I prioritize at the beginning of the school year. Feel free to link to my games page if you have a class website (or let me know of any other excellent educational games you have discovered).
Vocabulary is a part of every classroom. Students need to learn the terms and definitions in order to discuss the subject matter better. So what sites are available for vocabulary building online?
1. Wordslike: Wordslike is an easy-to-use website that allows for students to input a word and a list of like-words (synonyms) pop up. Many thesaurus’ are fairly limited- this website provides a wealth of synonyms.
2. Wordstash: Wordstash allows for teachers to create flashcards for their vocabulary. There already exists a large bank of words and flashcards on the website so it is easy to create your own flashcard, vocabulary lists. Teachers can also make their own class list so that students can find the flashcards they need to study. It’s free!
3. Clockwords: Clockwords is a game that requires you to be quick on your feet. Your job is to produce words in order to destroy robotic spiders. There are a number of stages that get more and more difficult as you play. It’s a game of speedy-words.
There are many more vocabulary websites that could assist you as supplemental tools for your classroom. Another one I have blogged about in the past is Spellingcity. The vocabulary form of that website does cost money, but it seems to be an excellent product.
21st Century Skills
I am currently finishing up my master’s program at the University of Colorado. I have been researching 21st century skills and trying to discover how education will change in the near future. For those of you who haven’t looked into 21st century skills the major components include: creativity, communication, collaboration, critical-thinking, media literacy, and global awareness.
If you wish to see an animation that depicts the 4 c’s please watch the following – it was just released by Partnership for 21st century skills and Fablevision:
Many of you may be thinking… well aren’t these skills old skills? What makes them 21st century skills? The idea behind them is that modern jobs and future challenges will require students to be adept at these skills – which identifies them as 21st century skills.
So why do people make a fuss about them? There is actually quite a large movement against 21st century skills. Many people are afraid of schools emphasizing these skills and replacing common core content. Honestly, if you work in schools you know that as soon as someone identifies something new for you to focus on in the classroom – something else will need to go on the backburner. So if schools are going to have to focus on 21st century skills then content may have to go on the backburner… slightly. That being said: we live in an age where the average young person (8-18) spends 6 hours a day in front of media devices. They are digital natives… we are digital immigrants. Education is going to need to change to meet their needs and, honestly, education could become significantly better with the appropriate integration of technology.
Of course… then the question arises – how would you assess 21st century skills? Isn’t it easy to fake those skills? Don’t get me wrong, content is still foundational – how would a student analyze the Revolutionary War – if the student didn’t know the events, the causes, or the participants? Nonetheless, I don’t think we can deny that these 21st century skills are important to future workplaces and to the success of our students.
The web is an open book that not only links knowledge and information, but is now linking people and creating global communities. What may have once been impossible (for instance: being able to talk to professionals in all sorts of different workplaces about their jobs and daily work) now is accessible at a touch of a button.
I’m not denying the importance of the 3 r’s: reading, riting, and rithmetic (yeah yeah… they aren’t actually 3 r’s), I’m just suggesting that the 4 c’s, media literacy, and global awareness are crucial to enhancing our education. Of course, the best possible scenario (maybe?) would be for every student to have a laptop accessible to them so that technology could be incorporated into every part of school life… but with a budget like we have now… is that realistic in the slightest bit? Schools are going to have be creative with technology – especially now.
So what’s the answer? Should education team with business to allow for cash flow? Are grants enough? 21st century skills is a subject that is still young – I feel like I’m still just skimming the surface…
Each school year our 5th grade has exhibition. That means that the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program is coming to an end. That also means that my 28 5th graders are going to have to present an issue to peers, teachers, and the community. So how are we going to do this in a new, refreshing way? We could be creative with a play, create puppets, or discover new presentation software. Last year we played with a few forms of presentation software, which I blogged about in my first-ever blog post.
We used WIX – which is a flash, website editor – the students loved creating their own websites.
We used Prezi – which by now I’m sure all of you have heard about. Very pretty – but can cause headaches if not used properly.
We used Sliderocket – which is great, easy to use slideshow software.
- It’s free
- It is so simple! You can’t beat it’s simplicity. Transitions – add text – add images… color, background…
- Easy to upload images – you get 250 megabytes of free storage.
- You can download your presentation after you have created it – which means that you don’t need the internet to play your presentation. This is a huge bonus – which sliderocket does not offer.
Give Prezentit a try. You do have to sign up – but it’s free, and you don’t have to check your e-mail to log on…
There is a website called Shelfari which allows for people to create their own online bookshelf by adding books from an online collection. Shelfari is really cool because the database is directly linked to Amazon, which means that virtually every book is available. The books have full summaries and the website allows for you to rate the books and write your own comments. Then you can share your book collection with other people. When you add books to the shelves that you like the website suggests other books that are similar for you to read – I have found those to be so useful!
There are a number of ways that shelfari could be used in the classroom. As a teacher you could create your own shelfari for students to navigate through. Students will be able to see summaries – teacher notes on books, and ratings. Check out this example. This is one of my pages on my class website (along with my polldaddy). Students will be able to move through my bookshelves – and click on any books they are more interested in to see full summaries. It was really easy to incorporate the flash html script into my WIX website.
Students could also create their own shelfaris. The website does not require a certain age – although there does need to be an e-mail to sign in. Students could use school emails or temporary e-mails. Students then could share their bookshelves with each other and with the teacher – and create dialogue about books.