Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tuesday Teaching Strategy - Frayer Model

Frayer Model

The Frayer Model is a strategy for learning a new concept, such as vocabulary, by helping to establish relationships.  The model is used in a graphic organizer format for students to easily see those relationships.  Below are two ways to incorporate the Frayer Model Graphic Organizer
-          Students write the term in the center, and then in the surrounding boxes they write the definition, characteristics, examples, and non-examples.
-          Students can also write the term/concept in the center and list essential characteristics, non-characteristics, examples, and non-examples.
-          You can make each box a heading that fits the needs of the concept you are trying to teach.

The purpose of listing examples and non-examples and essential and nonessential characteristics is to help students build well-founded knowledge about the concept they are learning. In order for students to precisely understand completely what a concept is, a student must also know what it isn't.  The Frayer model can be especially useful when guiding direct, in-class vocabulary instruction.  If students have sufficient background in content, the Frayer model can be used for taking notes and monitoring their own learning and progress about the concepts that have been covered in class.

-        Instead of assigning the vocabulary in a book, have students each complete a Frayer Model for a single vocabulary term and then present it to the class and then students can take notes on each term.
-        Science teachers can use this same format for taking notes about reactions from a science experiment.
-        Social Studies teachers can take a time period, historical event, world leaders, or a government/economic concept and use this to help format understanding.
-        Math teachers could use this same format when students are completing a word problem.  Each box could represent a different aspect of the problem to solve it or each box could be a step in solving the problem.
-        Health teachers could use this to discuss the various effects of drugs or chemicals in the body.
-        English teachers could use this to check for students understanding in a short story or to identify various parts of a piece of writing.

Remember, the Frayer model DOES NOT have to be just for vocabulary words.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tuesday Teaching Strategy - Index Card Assessment

A couple days late...been out of the office....

Index Card Assessment

An index card assessment takes advantage of the small size of index cards to quickly construct a portrait of students' understanding.  On one side of a card, students write something positive in response to the day's learning, such as a summary of the class, an interesting fact learned, or a concept that finally makes sense.  On the opposite side, students identify what they do not understand by describing their confusion or asking a question.

With an index card assessment, identifying the person who does not understand a concept is less important than discovering what is not understood. Therefore, consider reinforcing anonymity by creating a drop box in which students can place their index cards as they exit the classroom. Upon collecting the cards, list students' comments and questions and use the list to identify patterns in students' understanding.

Index Card Assessment provides a valuable tool in progress monitoring, formative assessment, and re-teaching.  The information from the activity can be used to determine what needs to be retaught the following class to ensure understanding.  This teaching method allows you to tally which parts were misunderstood the most. 

Potential Implementation
-          Use this strategy as an exit slip from the classroom.
-          Integrate this strategy as a break during lecture or following a class discussion.
-          Need to fill time at the end of a quiz or test, ask students to explain what they found easy and what they found difficult
-          Watching videos is not a bad thing, watching videos without stopping for understanding is.  Use this strategy to check for understanding during a video.
-          This would be a helpful strategy in understanding primary documents or readings in the classroom as well.
-          Math problems often require multiple steps and some students struggle with certain steps.  This could be a way to find out which part they don’t understand.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Some Great Information from Edudemic

I am not sure how many of you all are familiar with the site Edudemic, but the other day looking through my Twitter feed I came across several valuable posts related to technology and education.  The goal of Edudemic is to mainstream the learning process; to bring the great stuff related to education in one central location.

As we move forward with more instructional technology, it will be important that students have a good understanding of what it means to be a good Digital Citizen.  A valuable resource will be The Teacher's Guide to Digital Citizenship which offers insights and resources into understanding safe Internet use by students. 

Wikipedia CAN be a valuable resource for student and teacher use.  Wikipedia itself has tons of other resources which I have written about before.  One of the struggles with Wikipedia is the accuracy of the information that is available on their sites.  A valuable resource that teachers should be interested in reading is The Teacher's Guide to Wikipedia.  Very important to have a good understanding of how to use Wikipedia and this is a valuable starting point. 

Twitter can be an excellent resources for educators.  The biggest problem for new users to Twitter is discovering people to follow.  There are several list out there of people to follow.  You can go through my blog and my posts that I have tagged with Twitter to find some I followed when I first got started.  Edudemic has also put together a 50 Education Leaders Worth Following on Twitter to help you get started as well. 

We all probably use Google, or Bing, and even some people probably use Yahoo!  There are tons of other search engines available, which I have written about before as well.  Edudemic has put together 50 Search Engines You Probably Don't Use Yet and this would be a great starting point for trying to search for resources.  Many of these search engines will be specific for a certain resource.  That can make things a lot easier.

If you are stuck and looking for some information related to education, technology, online learning, mobile learning, and other resources related to education, Edudemic is a good starting point.  You can also follow Edudemic on Twitter.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tips for Using Pandora Internet Radio in the Classroom

In the past few years I have found myself addicted to listening to Pandora Internet Radio while working at the computer, driving in the car, or doing chores, like mowing the lawn.  Why anyone would buy music, especially CD's, is beyond me.  I understand you don't want ads, but a minimal $4.00 a month, hooked to your iTunes account, and there are no ads to worry about.  This use of Pandora by myself got me thinking about how it can be used in the classroom.

1.) Background music can help keeps student from talking because music can keep people focused and attentive.  Our Art teacher is always playing music in his classrooms.  I am well aware that not every teacher would do this, but some might be interested in sharing the music that they like with their students.  At least it would introduce them to music not created by former Disney actors!

2.) We don't need to lose the Arts in the school system.  Music Appreciation is an important part of that.  Students could use Pandora to make their own stations and improve their musical tastes by discovering the music that is suggested for them.  Students will surprisingly discover music they like if they are just introduced to it.  Students could then do a project where the discuss their findings.

3.) Music has been proven to help students improve their study habits and attention, as well as organizing information.  I would often have a classical or instrumental music station playing while students are working on study guides or taking a test.  I surveyed my students before hand to make sure this was okay.  Remember, it is the TYPE of music that helps.  Most music with lyrics would have an adverse effect.

4.) Use Pandora Internet Radio as a reward.  Let students choose a genre of music to play during a classroom activity based on completion of a project or class average on a test scores.  Music is becoming a daily aspect of kids lives because it is so much more accessible (and I understand radio has always existed, but that has ads and much more talking...not just music).

5.) Social Studies could have students use Pandora to research music from different time periods.  Pandora allows users to easily search for music based on decades.  Recently I wanted to relive the glory days of the 80's music, and a simple search found me a station.  As teachers teach those decades in history, they could have a daily or weekly music check and play songs from that time period.   Another option, that I used in my class before, was to using Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" to teach about History

6.) Pandora Internet Radio provides bios about the artist as well.  Musicians are influential people in society.  Having students research backgrounds of artist would be a good way for students to understand why they sing the songs they sing.

7.) Another feature of Pandora is that several of the songs come with the ability to see the lyrics.  English teachers could use this feature to teach about the meanings behind the music and the poetic substance of the music.  They could also collaborate with History teachers to discuss how music played a role in society.

8.) Elementary teachers can use Pandora Internet Radio as well because several of the Kidz Bop and music for elementary ages students is available on Pandora as well. 

9.) Business and Marketing Teachers would benefit from reading the Pandora Blog to learn how their business works and how they are able to play this music for free and/or for a small fee.  It is a pretty fascinating business model.

10.) Government teachers might be interested in discussing the Internet Radio Fairness Act which was recently introduced into Congress.  This would be a great opportunity for a real world and relevant lesson for students.  Students could write to their Congressman or Congresswoman encouraging their support for or against this Bill.

One thing about music; Ask a student...or even think of yourself, the minute you hear a song on the radio you probably can start singing right a long; sometimes no matter how old it is.  Music and memorization go hand in hand.  Shouldn't we be doing the same with our students?  Helping them learn in the best way possible, which sometimes includes listening to music.  I have been in several classrooms over the past few years and the most attentive students to an activity or an assignment were listening to music.  Some students cannot learn in silence.

Below is a video explaining Pandora on a Mobile Phone, and the process is fairly similar to the web version.

For previous 10 Tips posts, CLICK HERE

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Smore Pages

Recently I wrote a post about a new service called Tackk which provides users the ability to easily create web content on a single page.  Smore Pages is another option for doing creating a single webpage or web-flyer.  Smore Pages are easily available for viewing on Tablets and mobile phones, as well as Facebook.  Another bonus features is the analytics that it provides so that teachers and students can track the number of visitors, where they are coming from and what they did while visiting your page. 

Smore Pages is currently in Beta, and free to use.  Users will either need to log-in with Facebook or they can create an account using the general information of name, email, and password.  Smore Pages provides several options for embedding content and easily allows users to edit using drag and drop.  Each page has various styles and themes that can be utilized when creating a web-flyer.  For more information and to see it in action, see the video below.

These types of services appear to be the next thing in web-publishing and would definitely provides students with another alternative for producing content on the web.

Tuesday Teaching Strategy - Commit and Toss

Commit and Toss

Commit and Toss is a peer evaluation and writing strategy where students first respond in writing to a question or prompt.  Second, the students will wad up that paper and toss it across the room.  Each student then collects a nearby paper wad to read aloud in a GUIDED CLASSROOM DISCUSSION.  This might be a good time to rearrange your desks to better suit this activity.

The discussion led by the teacher, promotes an environment in which all students participate in evaluating and revising the student responses to the question(s).  Because Commit and Toss involves the entire class, it lends itself to brief writing exercises or sharing how to solve problems.

-         Use the activity when learning to write thesis statements.
-         Use the activity in Science classes to discuss hypotheses.
-         Use the activity to have students share understanding of a problem, article, video, or story.
-         Have students write the steps to solve a problem and then check for mastery through discussion.
-         Check understanding before reviewing test material.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thursday Thoughts on Curriculum - Rigor and Relevance

Most of us are probably familiar with the "Three R's."  In reality, you can combine the relationship into the other two categories.  Rigor can be defined as "The quality of being extremely thorough, exhaustive, or accurate." Relevance can be defined as "The relation of something to the matter at hand."

One movement gaining ground are PLC's (Professional Learning Communities).  In the beginning, a lot of teachers and schools have struggled with exactly how to use the PLC's to better their teaching.  They were often treated as department meetings or a community for sharing.  In reality, a PLC is not a just a meeting or just a community for sharing, it is an opportunity for teachers to improve their teaching.

We can't realistically expect students to improve if we as teachers don't also take the necessary steps to improve as well.  Teachers can use the concepts of Rigor and Relevance to tune and improve their assignments.  Teachers in their PLC should be discussing the strengths and areas of improvement for an assignment in an open discussion.  In my experience, we find rather quickly that our classroom activities aren't as good as we thought they were.

When you examine the relationship between technology and Rigor/Relevance, it can be easy to see how incorporating technology can increase the knowledge and application of a lesson or activity.  High relevance in a lesson requires the student to apply what they are learning to situations and analyze the information to evaluate its validity.

The use of technology allows students to be creative and innovative in their development of a final product.  Students can use technology to collaborate and communicate on an assignments, something that in the future is almost a necessity.  Most assignments utilizing technology require students to research and evaluate the information for the assignments.

There are several Web-based tools out there that allow for increased Rigor and Relevance.  Whether students are using video and audio to create podcast, or creating a Prezi, several of these tools provide students with the opportunity to apply their learning in new ways.  Rigor and Relevance existed long before the technology did, but the options for student application were often limited to Posters and brochures.

Technology allows the teacher to utilize project-based learning which is a pivotal part of having high rigor and relevance lessons  Taking these projects that students have created and presenting them makes it relevant to the students and their classmates.  The use of collaborative websites such as Twidla allows for interaction that fosters thought and learning.  Using a site like Diigo allows students to collect their research and inquiry into the content.  Blogging provides students the ability to take what they are learning and discuss it and apply it to their own lives.

The more students can create, the higher the rigor and relevance of your lessons.  Technology in its current state has allowed several avenues for students to create.  The other great aspect of technology is the various sources of information and reference we can provide our students to learn and educate themselves.

I have learned that the more relevant an assignment/lesson/topic is to the student, the more rigorous that you and the students will make it.  Technology provides just ONE avenue to make that the case. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Tackk is a simple webpage builder or presentation tool that is innovative and very use friendly.  On the main screen you have the ability to add a title, subheading, picture, headings, and paragraphs.  You can also add in various media such as YouTube videos, Instragram photos, music, and sounds.  Other features include the ability to add a button that will take you to an outside link as well.

What is great about Tackk is that there is no sign up required.  Signing up and logging in does allow for saving the various websites you create.  Each page allows users to easily adjust colors, fonts, backgrounds, and other features, such as adding a Map or Comment section.  Users also have the ability to choose whether they want them to be shared publicly.  There are also several themes that one can choose from as well.

Creating an account does provide more features for the user, such as a custom link and the ability to save your page, because the page will expire if an account is not created.  You can see some other features as well below.  Every Tackk comes with its own generated link that can easily be shared.  You can also preview your page as well.  One negative, from an education standpoint is the ability to browse others that have been created and there is no way to censor those.

Each page you create also has stats that you can see, such as the number of visitors and last time it was edited.  As a teacher, this would be a valuable tool as well to keep up to date how often students are working no an assignment using the software.  There is also an option to Print, which would be a good option as well for turning in a final product for evidence.

You will also notice from the logo at the top that Tackk is in Beta.  I do see a lot of uses for this in education however.

Slices for Twitter

Slices for Twitter is an alternative for looking through your Twitter feed.  I recently came across this service when our Art teacher mentioned it to me and a Science teacher emailed me a link to an article via the Slices App.  Slices is available for both Android, Apple, and Amazon (weird how those all begin with an "A" mobile devices; as well as on the Web

Slices provides an easy way to explore the Twitterverse with user created groups and created list by the App itself that focus on News, Fashion, Live Events, etc.  It is like a Hashtag organizer for Twitter.  If you find yourself with a Twitter full of people you follow, this might a valuable alternative for looking through your Twitterfeed. 

For more information about Slices, which is in Beta, see the video below.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My Voice - National Student Mock Election

In collaboration with the Pearson Foundation two initiatives are being supported to involve students.  The National Student Mock Election is a website dedicated to providing teachers and students the opportunity to get involved in the election process and have a voice. 

In order to participate, teachers need to register their students.  It is completely free to do so.  You register as a school, district, or organization.  You can decide on the number of classrooms and number of students that are going to be participating.  You also choose the grade level as well.  Voting begins on October 25th and then on November 1st, it is Mock Election Day.  For more information on the Voting procedures, click here

There are also several other resources of interest.  You can visit the Hall of Fame which has handbooks, reports, and information Tool Kits and "How To" Guides.  Also available is curriculum and lesson plans for all grade levels; as well as resources that encourage deeper learning to motivate students about the election.  One more feature are polls that students and visitors to the site can participate in.  Results from previous polls are also available.  

With the Election just over a month away, it is important that we educate students on the importance of voting and providing them an opportunity to voice their opinion on a national scale. 

Tuesday Teaching Strategy - Brainwriting


Brainwriting is an alternative to brainstorming that involves having group members interact via reading and writing rather than speaking and listening.  Brainwriting typically involves the following steps:

1.)  Identify a topic or subject that students will be studying (One time that I used this strategy was completing a review for a test and final exam).

2.)  Assign students to a group of no more than four members.

3.)  On that topic, have students write/answer what they know or think they know about a topic or subject for a given period (five minutes is a good starting point)

4.)  When time is up, have students pass their writings or responses to a set of questions to another group.
a.   When I did this strategy with a review, I gave each group a master copy and then divided the questions up.  As we passed around the activity students would work at answering the questions missed by the previous group.   At the conclusion, the review should be filled out and as a teacher you know which ones no students were comfortable with.

5.)  Assign a little bit of time for students to review the previous group’s work and groups should add in what they know about the writing or questions being asked.

6.)  Repeat steps 4 and 5 until all students in a group have reviewed each other’s work.  Each group should then review all the ideas and answers generated through this process.

-     You could easily do this activity with any book work or worksheet that you are assigning to your students and divide up the problems based on the number of groups.
-     If you are having students read primary documents or short stories, the students could write their responses to questions or prompts and help other students with comprehending what the readings are about.  This activity could be done with Reading ACT test preps
-    Science teachers could use this to share hypothesis and experiment results so that they can compare any differences or similarities.