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Critical thinking

How the Frayer Model Helps Thousands Learn Vocabulary

Frayer Model flowchartIn a perfect world, vocabulary is learned in context: The phrases and sentences around the unknown word define the meaning. If that isn’t sufficient, students use affixes — prefixes, suffixes, and roots — to decode meaning. But because the world isn’t always that pristine,  Dorothy Frayer and her colleagues at the University of West Virginia came up with a vocabulary teaching tool that has come to be known as “the Frayer Model”. Now used by thousands of educators, this approach to word study relies on analyzing words rather than memorizing definitions. Somewhat like Concept Circles, the Frayer Model uses a graphical organizer that asks students to describe words by much more than a memorized definition. They must:

  • define the term
  • describe essential characteristics
  • provide examples
  • provide non-examples

Because the Frayer Model digs deeply into understanding the word, it promotes critical thinking and a granular familiarity with unfamiliar vocabulary. It draws on a student’s prior knowledge to build connections among new concepts and creates a visual reference by which students learn to compare attributes and examples.

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Categories: Critical thinking, Teaching Strategies, Word study/Vocabulary | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

10 Projects to Kickstart Hour of Code

Coding–that geeky subject that confounds students and frightens teachers. Yet, kids who can code are better at logical thinking and problem solving, more independent and self-assured, and more likely to find a job when they graduate. In fact, according to Computer Science Educationby 2020, there will be 1.4 million coding jobs and only 400,000 applicants.

December 7-13, Computer Science Education will host the Hour Of Code–a one-hour introduction to coding, programming, and why students should love it. It’s designed to show that anyone can learn the basics to be a maker, a creator, and an innovator.

Here are ten projects (each, about one hour in length) you can use in your classroom to participate in this wildly popular event:

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Categories: Critical thinking | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Hour of Code Website and App Suggestions for K-8

Here are ideas of apps and websites that teachers in my PLN used successfully in the past during Hour of Code:

hour of codeKindergarten

Start kindergartners with problem solving. If they love Legos, they’ll love coding

  1. BotLogic–great for Kindergarten and youngers
  2. Code–learn to code, for students
  3. How to train your robot–a lesson plan from Dr. Techniko
  4. Kodable--great for youngers–learn to code before you can read
  5. hour of codePrimo–a wooden game, for ages 4-7
  6. Program a human robot (unplugged)
  7. Scratch Jr.

1st Grade

  1. Code–learn to code, for students
  2. Espresso Coding–for youngers
  3. Foos–app or desktop; K-1
  4. Hopscotch–programming on the iPad
  5. Primo–a wooden game, for ages 4-7
  6. Scratch Jr.
  7. Tynker

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Categories: Critical thinking, Problem solving | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Hour of Code–What is it?

Coding–that mystical geeky subject that confounds students and teachers alike. Confess, when you think of coding, you see:

coding

 

…when you should see

coding

December 5-11, Computer Science Education will host the Hour Of Code–a one-hour introduction to coding, programming, and why students should love it. It’s designed to demystify “code” and show that anyone can learn the basics to be a maker, a creator, and an innovator.

(more…)

Categories: Critical thinking, Problem solving | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Hour of Code–Is it the right choice?

I took a Classroom 2.0 Live webinar last year on rolling out the Hour of Code in the classroom. There were so many great things about that webinar, but one I’ll share today is why teachers DON’T participate in Hour of Code. Here are what the webinar participants said:

hour of codeHow about you? Why are you NOT doing Hour of Code?

Stay tuned for these Hour of Code articles on how to present coding in your classroom:

  1. Hour of Code: What is it? (November 15th)
  2. Hour of Code Suggestions by Grade Level (November 16th)
  3. 10 Projects to Kickstart Hour of Code (November 17th)

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Categories: Critical thinking, Problem solving | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

7 Innovative Writing Methods for Students

assessment

Knowledge is meant to be shared. That’s what writing is about–taking what you know and putting it out there for all to see. When students hear the word “writing”, most think paper-and-pencil, maybe word processing, but that’s the vehicle, not the goal. According to state and national standards (even international), writing is expected to “provide evidence in support of opinions”, “examine complex ideas and information clearly and accurately”, and/or “communicate in a way that is appropriate to task, audience, and purpose”. Nowhere do standards dictate a specific tool be used to accomplish the goals.

In fact, the tool students select to share knowledge will depend upon their specific learning style. Imagine if you–the artist who never got beyond stick figures–had to draw a picture that explained the nobility inherent in the Civil War. Would you feel stifled? Would you give up? Now put yourself in the shoes of the student who is dyslexic or challenged by prose as they try to share their knowledge.

When you first bring this up in your class, don’t be surprised if kids have no idea what you’re talking about. Many students think learning  starts with the teacher talking and ends with a quiz. Have them take the following surveys:

Both are based on the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Howard Gardner’s iconic model for mapping out learning modalities such as linguistic, hands-on, kinesthetic, math, verbal, and art. Understanding how they learn explains why they remember more when they write something down or read their notes rather than listening to a lecture. If they learn logically (math), a spreadsheet is a good idea. If they are spatial (art) learners, a drawing program is a better choice.

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Categories: Critical thinking, Education reform, Web Tools, Writing | Tags: | 5 Comments

Keyboarding and the Scientific Method

scientific methodConvincing students–and teachers–of the importance of keyboarding can be daunting. Youngers find it painful (trying to find those 26 alphabet keys) and olders think their hunt-and-peck approach is just fine. Explaining why keyboarding is critical to their long-range goals is often an exercise in futility if they haven’t yet experienced it authentically so I’ve resorted to showing–let them see for themselves why they want to become fast and accurate typists. To do this, I rely on a system they already know (or will be learning): the Scientific Method.

Let me stop here and point out that there are many versions of the scientific method. Use the one popular at your school. The upcoming steps easily adapt to the pedagogy your science teacher recommends.

I start with a general discussion of this well-accepted approach to decision making and problem-solving. If students have discussed it in class, I have them share their thoughts. We will use it to address the question:

Is handwriting or keyboarding faster?

I post each step on the Smartscreen or whiteboard and show students how our experiment will work:

  • Ask a question: Is handwriting or keyboarding faster?
  • Do background research: Discuss why students think they handwrite faster/slower than they type. Curious students might even research the topic by Googling, Is keyboarding faster than handwriting?
  • Construct a hypothesis: Following the research, student states her/his informed conclusion: i.e.: Fifth graders in Mr. X’s class handwrite faster than they type.
  • Test hypothesis: Do an experiment to see if handwriting or typing is faster. Pass out a printed page from a book students are reading in class. Have them 1) handwrite it for three minutes, and then 2) type it for the same length of time. Each time, calculate the speed in words-per-minute.
  • Analyze data: Compare student personal handwriting speed to their typing speed. Which is faster? Discuss data. Why do some students type faster than they write and others slower? Or the reverse? What problems were faced in handwriting for three-five minutes:
    • pencil lead broke
    • eraser was missing
    • hand got tired
    • it got boring

Each student compares their results to classmates and to other grade levels. What was different? Or the same?

  • Draw conclusions: Each student determines what can be decided based on their personal test results. Did they type faster or slower? Did this change from last year’s results? Did some classmates type faster than they handwrote? Did most students by a certain grade level type faster than they write?
  • Communicate results: Share results with other classes and other grade levels. At what grade level do students consistently type faster than they handwrite? In my classes, fourth graders write and type at about the same speed (22-28 wpm) and fifth graders generally type faster than they write. Are students surprised by the answer?

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Categories: Critical thinking, Keyboarding, Science | Tags: | 2 Comments

10 Bits of Wisdom I Learned From a Computer

7858475 Young couple with tabletsLife is hard, but help is all around us. The trick is to take your learning where you find it. In my case, as a technology teacher, it‘s from computers. A while ago I posted four lessons I learned from computers:

  1. Know when your RAM is full
  2. You Can‘t Go Faster Than Your Processor Speed
  3. Take Shortcuts When You Can
  4. Be Patient When You‘re Hourglassing

I got a flood of advice from readers about the geeky lessons they got from computers. See which you relate to:

8033305 Girl with tablet#5: Go offline for a while

We are all getting used to–even addicted to–that online hive mind where other voices with thoughts and opinions are only a click away. Who among us hasn’t wasted hours on Facebook, Twitter, blogs–chatting with strangers or virtual friends ready to commiserate and offer advice. It’s like having a best friend who’s always available.

But while your back is turned, the real world is changing. Once in a while, disconnect from your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram–even your blogmates. Re-acquaint yourself with the joys of facial expressions, body language, and that tone of voice that makes  the comment, “Yes, I’d be happy to help” sincere or snarky. Engage your brain in a more intimate and viscerally satisfying world.

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Categories: Computer Wisdom, Critical thinking, Humor | Tags: | 4 Comments

Hour of Code Suggestions by Grade Level

Here are ideas of apps and websites that teachers in my PLN used successfully in the past during Hour of Code:

hour of codeKindergarten

Start kindergartners with problem solving. If they love Legos, they’ll love coding

  1. BotLogic–great for Kindergarten and youngers
  2. Code–learn to code, for students
  3. Daisy the Dinosaur—intro to programming via iPad
  4. How to train your robot–a lesson plan from Dr. Techniko
  5. Kodable--great for youngers–learn to code before you can read
  6. Move the Turtle–programming via iPad for middle schoolhour of code
  7. Primo–a wooden game, for ages 4-7
  8. Program a human robot (unplugged)
  9. Scratch Jr.

1st Grade

  1. Code–learn to code, for students
  2. Espresso Coding–for youngers
  3. Hopscotch–programming on the iPad
  4. Primo–a wooden game, for ages 4-7
  5. Scratch Jr.
  6. Tynker

(more…)

Categories: Critical thinking, Problem solving | Tags: , , | 18 Comments

Hour of Code–Why Not

I took a Classroom 2.0 Live webinar last year on rolling out the Hour of Code in the classroom. There were so many great things about that webinar, but one I’ll share today is why teachers DON’T participate in Hour of Code. Here are what the webinar participants said:

hour of codeHow about you? Why are you NOT doing Hour of Code?

(more…)

Categories: Critical thinking, Problem solving | Tags: , , | Leave a comment