I subscribe to lots of technology-in-education forums (here’s a list of my trusted education advisors) and attend as many webinars as I can. In this way, I push outside of my bubble, away from my comfort zone, and along the way, discover some pretty amazing tools that I can’t wait to use in my classes.
Here are three that I found just since school opened. I’d love to know your thoughts on these:
- Scholastic W.O.R.D.
- Mission US
Scholastic’s W.O.R.D. (Words Open Reading Doors) is an independent K-5 learning resource that is committed to the principle that all kids should understand the words they use, how to use them to express themselves, and that doing so powers their lives. With this web-based program, kids learn to understand the high-utility word families that make up 90% of all texts. Since the number of words in the English language is far more for anyone except a bibliophile would be interested in, W.O.R.D. gathers them into manageable learning groups. Using a game-based format, students receive repeated exposure to high-utility words in multiple contexts and authentic ways that seem natural and age-appropriate. Learning objectives include homonyms, synonyms, expressions and phrases, picturable words, tenses, affixes, compound words, analogies, idioms, derivatives, and more — all broken down by grade level. They are introduced via themes to spark interest and keep students engaged. These include All About Me, What is a Hero, Blast from the Past, and more.
In W.O.R.D. (which by the way, is fee-based), students start with a placement test to determine their comprehension level and be sure they are challenged by assignments without being frustrated. They are introduced to words in their “zone of proximal development”. Teachers can monitor progress on the teacher dashboard, broken down by class and student. Robust reports are available to identify opportunities for enrichment, deeper dives, or additional support while providing feedback on which word skills students have begun and completed.
W.O.R.D. is pushed out to students in flexible twenty-minute sessions at a recommended pace of two-three per week. Lessons fit into most existing literacy programs. This is perfect for either a focused lesson plan or for students to play independently as part of a literacy center.
Presidents’ Day is an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February–this year, February 19, 2018. Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, it is still unofficially called “Washington’s Birthday” by many. The holiday became known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers. Several states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and other figures.
Here are fifteen ways to celebrate in your classroom including websites, games, activities, printables, quizzes, audios, songs, interactive maps, crafts, flashcards, videos, webquests, books, posters, trading cards, lesson plans, word searches, puzzles, speeches, articles, animations, biographies, and more:
From Apples 4 the Teacher, a well-known resource site for teachers and homeschoolers, this site provides links to President-themed coloring pages, stories, biographies, word searches, word jumbles, puzzles, and book reviews that can be used to reinforce learning about all of America’s presidents.
Until January 18th:
Free Martin Luther King Day Lesson Plans
- brief summary of the project
- Essential Question
- Big Idea
- Common Core and ISTE alignment
- materials required
- teacher prep required
- step-by-step instructions
- extensions to dig deeper into the subject
- assessment strategies
- sample grading rubric
- sample project
America, we love you.
Teaching technology is a difficult profession because people learn in different ways and at different rates. However, one thing that can make it easier for students to learn is for teachers to include instructions on basic academic skills like vocabulary, keyboarding, digital citizenship, and research.
The better a student’s vocabulary, the easier it is for them to improve their comprehension and express themselves in oral and written form. The better a student learns how to use a keyboard, the faster and more accurately, they can work with a computer. The better a student’s digital citizenship, the more safely they can navigate the Internet websites, staying away from scammy links. Finally, the better a student’s research skills, the easier it will be for them to sort out the true from the false.
Technology has made it easier than ever before to do research. Besides an abundance of sources, the Internet provides ways to sift and sort through massive amounts of information through the use of search engines and advanced filters. Compare this to the old school way of doing research: spending hours in a large library and slowly filling out flash cards. Now research is as efficient as doing a Google search to find relevant websites and then bookmarking the site for later reference.
However, besides these online tools, tech teachers can also benefit by borrowing research tools used by historians.
Through my Teachers Pay Teachers store, I have two lesson plans help you plan Martin Luther King Day on January 15, 2018.
Students interpret the words of Dr. Martin Luther King in their own words in a visual organizer. Great project that gets students thinking about the impact of words on history. Common Core aligned. 7-page booklet includes a sample, step-by-step projects, a rubric for assessment, and additional resources to enrich teaching.
Students research events leading up to Dr. Martin Luther King’s impact on American history and share them with an Event Chain organized visually, including pictures and thought bubbles. Aligned with Common Core. 7-page booklet includes a sample, step-by-step projects, a rubric for assessment, and additional resources to enrich teaching.
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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 18 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning. She is also the author of the tech-thriller series, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days.
If you’re a history teacher, here’s a great tie-in between history and Hour of Code:
During WWI, the Choctaw language had been used to transmit U.S. military messages. With this thought in mind, Philip Johnston, the son of a missionary grew up on a Navajo reservation and spoke the Diné tongue fluently, brought the suggestion of a similar code to General Clayton Vogel early in 1942. The Diné language has no alphabet, uses no symbols and one sound may hold an entire concept. The idea was tested and proved to be faster and more reliable than the mechanized methods. The language has more verbs than nouns, that helps to move the sentences along and makes it far more difficult for outsiders to learn – making it the most ingenious and successful code in military history.
The original class, the 382d Platoon, Navajo Communication Specialists, USMC, developed their code at Camp Pendleton. Once a unit of code talkers were trained, they were put on Marine rosters around the Pacific Theater. Even under severe combat conditions, they remained the living codes, since nothing was ever written down. During the first 48 hours of Iwo Jima, 800 transmissions were coded. These few men became warriors in their own right during some of the worst battles of the war.
Some examples of the English word/ Navajo sound/ literal translation:
Alaska………. Beh-hga……….. with winter
America……….Ne-he-mah……… our mother
Britain……….Toh-ta………… between waters
The existence of the code talkers and their accomplishments would remain top secret according to the U.S. government and use their expertise in the Korean War. Unfortunately, this resulted in many of the men not receiving the recognition they deserved. I was very lucky to have grown up knowing their story thanks to Smitty, my father.
President Ronald Reagan designated 14 August as National Code Talkers Day in 1982.
America, we love you.