What to Consider When Assigning Homework

homeworkHomework has come under fire the last few years as data surfaced that seemed to support the conclusion that homework is a waste of time. The traditional goals — that homework reinforces school work, provides additional practice on difficult topics, and involves the family — seemed to fall away under the onslaught of naysayers and their numbers.

To many, the shortfalls mean homework should be excised from the education experience. To me, it simply means we teachers must update it — not eliminate it.

If you are committed to the value of homework, here are six suggestions for how to make it more aligned with student education goals:

Make homework relevant

Duke University Professor Harris M. Cooper, says (paraphrased in parts):

Really good homework assignments in subjects such as math and science … highlight skills children use in other areas of their life — sports, games, and everyday tasks like grocery shopping with their parents. A really good teacher is one that takes the skills that [their students] are learning … and uses homework to show them these are the skills they need to enjoy things they do even more

As a teacher, own that. Make homework tie into other parts of a student’s life. After all, isn’t that exactly what education is supposed to do — prepare students for life?

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Categories: Education reform | Tags: | Leave a comment

Tech Ed Resources for your Class–K-8 Keyboard Curriculum

I get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m going to take a few days to review them with you. Some are edited and/or written by members of the Ask a Tech Teacher crew. Others, by tech teachers who work with the same publisher I do. All of them, I’ve found well-suited to the task of scaling and differentiating tech skills for age groups, scaffolding learning year-to-year, taking into account the perspectives and norms of all stakeholders, with appropriate metrics to know learning is organic and granular.

Today: K-8 Keyboard Curriculum

Overview

K-8 Keyboard Curriculum (four options plus one)–can include a teacher handbook, student workbooks, and a special package for homeschoolers

2-Volume Ultimate Guide to Keyboardingkeyboarding

K-5 — 6 grades, 238 pages, 7 unique assessments, 5 templates, over 100 images; sold as print or digital

Middle School — 3 grades 73 pages, 7 unique assessments, 5 templates, 40 images; sold as digital only

Aligned with Student workbooks and student videos (free with licensed set of student workbooks)

Student workbooks and videos sold separately

__________________________________________________________________________

1-Volume Essential Guide to K-8 Keyboarding

120 pages, dozens of images, 6 assessments

Great value!

Delivered print or digital

Doesn’t include: Student workbooks or videos

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Categories: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th grade, 7th grade, AATT Materials, Keyboarding | Tags: , | Leave a comment

The Case for Positive Reinforcement in Classrooms

Every teacher knows that students do better with positive reinforcement. As tempting as “punishment” might sound when referring to that student who has scrambled your last nerve, to explain consequences of actions in positive terms goes much further toward student success not only in school but in the ongoing effort to build life-long learners.

“Positive reinforcement, whether it be with your family, when following laws, or with students, can best be defined as the logical consequences of doing what’s right.” –Jacqui Murray

As an education pedagogy, pursuing a classroom management system that revolves around positive reinforcement is called Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support, or PBIS. The importance of using tools that prevent disruptive behavior and support students is explained by NEA Past President Lily Eskelsen Garcia:

The most effective tool teachers have to handle problem behavior is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) programs help teachers recognize the significance of classroom management and preventive school discipline to maximize student success. PBIS strategies are critical to providing all young people with the best learning environment.

Committed teachers can accomplish this in a variety of ways including supportive words, prizes, special activities, certificates, badges, and modeling proper behavior. Here are four online options that support the goal of recognizing students in a positive way:

  1. Class Dojo
  2. Empatico
  3. Hero K12
  4. Sown to Grow

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Categories: Classroom management, Reviews | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

New Ways to Gamify Learning

The first thing most teachers think about when discussing gamified learning is the online math games kids play. Maybe Vocabulary.com and its spelling games come to mind next. But those webtools exemplify where the gamification of education started. Their approach is good but way down the SAMR pyramid to what can be done today, easily, in classrooms.

Let me step back a moment to explain the SAMR Model as it applies to the use of technology in education. It is used to discuss the implementation of technology in the classroom by organizing tech-in-education tools into four categories or types of usage:

  • Substitution: Technology is a direct replacement for something, e.g. ebooks in place of print books or online math drills in place of worksheets.
  • Augmentation: Technology not only replaces a traditional tool but adds functionality, e.g. using Google Earth to explore the setting of a story rather than a map
  • Modification: Technology allows for a significant change, e.g. using screencasts to explain a process.
  • Redefinition: Technology allows for the creation of completely new ways of learning that were previously not possible. e.g. using virtual meeting tools (like Google Hangouts) to include housebound students in a class.

The SAMR Model directly relates to the evolution of games in education, from simply substituting online drills for worksheets to creating new ways to learn that students love. The gamification of learning became popular at first because students exhibited great aptitude and tolerance for learning new material when gameplaying, but the reason that popularity lasted is even more simple: Applying the characteristics of gameplaying to learning works! The most well-known example is the viral popularity of Minecraft and the way it has been applied to every academic corner of learning.

Here are some general ideas of how you can gamify learning in your class, on a budget and without extensive retraining:

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Categories: Classroom management, Games/Simulations | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Print or Digital Textbooks? What’s the Low-down?

For the past decade, schools have invested millions of dollars in technology. It started with a push for desktop computers which soon expanded to iPads and the wonderful apps (like art programs) that made tablets essential tools. Quickly after iPads, schools fell in love with Chromebooks and their amazing ability to allow students to collaborate and share, not to mention their ease of maintenance. Today’s focus is to give every student a digital device, much as kids used to be provided tablets and pencils.

The next game changer, according to education experts, will be digital textbooks. This is driven in large part by the affordability and portability of digital devices like Chromebooks, tablets, and laptops. Why lug around half a dozen heavy books in a backpack that too often is left behind on a sports field or at the library? Why spend a year studying information in a print textbook that doesn’t match the thinking or values of the school and its students? It’s no wonder proponents of digital books are pushing for change.

But there’s another side to the story of print vs. digital, one that is at the core of why 2015 e-book sales dropped in the United States and the UK. Let’s take a clear-eyed look at the pluses on each side of this argument. Then, when it’s time for your school to make that call, you’ll be ready.

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Categories: Classroom management, Digital Devices, Reading | Leave a comment

We Remember… 9/11

America, we love you.

Categories: History, News | Leave a comment

High School Technology Curriculum Coming!

We’re hard at work on a high school technology curriculum. We’ve had a lot of requests for this and hope to have it available before the holidays.

If you’d like to be notified when the High School Technology Curriculum is available, click the image below and sign up:

high school tech curriculum

 

Categories: High School, Lesson plans | Tags: | 1 Comment

Tech Ed Resources for Your Classroom: Survival Kits

tech is easyI get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m going to take a few days this summer to review them with you. Some are edited and/or written by members of the Ask a Tech Teacher crew. Others, by tech teachers who work with the same publisher I do. All of them, I’ve found well-suited to the task of scaling and differentiating tech skills for age groups, scaffolding learning year-to-year, taking into account the perspectives and norms of all stakeholders, with appropriate metrics to know learning is organic and granular.

Today: Tech Survival Kits

Overview

Tech Survival Kits put everything a teacher needs to tech-ify their classroom into one package. This includes books, ebooks, articles, webinars, mentoring, and more. By purchasing as a Kit, you get a 10% discount on the included materials.

There are five Survival Kits. The specific resources depend upon your need:

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Categories: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade, AATT Materials, Reviews | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Great Back to School Activities

The first week of school is different from all others. During this week, teachers and students alike spend time getting to know each other, become comfortable in the classroom where they’ll spend countless hours for the next nine months, and take time to reach a comfort level with leaving summer behind. I’ve gathered suggestions below from some of the leading education folks, those who are all about project-based learning rather than the application of pedagogy, to share with you. I’ve also included a few general back-to-school classroom activities with a digital spin to get you back into school quickly and agilely.

Classroom Activities include:

 

Read more on TeachHUB

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Categories: Teaching | Tags: | 1 Comment

What You Might Have Missed in August

Here are the most-read posts for the month of August:

  1. Teaching Digital Rights and Responsibilities
  2. The Important Morning Meeting
  3. It’s Time to Make Your Classroom Paper-free
  4. Wikispaces has closed. What are your alternatives?
  5. 11 Back-to-school Activities for the First Month of School
  6. Great Back to School Classroom Activities
  7. 22 Websites and 4 Posters to Teach Mouse Skills
  8. Curriculum Companions Start September 10th!
  9. Plan a Memorable Back to School Night
  10. Today’s Meet is Closed. What are your Alternatives?

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Categories: Teacher resources | Tags: , | 1 Comment