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Research

Use Unconventional Research Sites to Inspire Students

26551959 Couple Of Students With Laptop In Library

I read recently that 70% of millennials get their news from Facebook. Really? Isn’t Facebook a place to share personal information, stay in touch with friends and families, post pictures of weddings and birthdays? So why do students turn to it for news? And then, not two days later, I heard Twitter has reclassified their app as a news  purveyor rather than a social media device. Once again: Who gets news from Twitter? Apparently a lot of adults. No surprise news shows are littered with references to listener’s tweets and presidential candidates break stories via their Twitter stream.

One more stat — which may explain the whole social-media-as-news-trend — and then I’ll connect these dots: 60% of people don’t trust traditional news sources. That’s newspapers, evening news, and anything considered ‘mainstream media’. They prefer blogs, Twitter, and Facebook.

So when it comes to research, are you still directing kids toward your grandmother’s resources — encyclopedias, reference books, and museums? No doubt, these are excellent sources, but if students aren’t motivated by them, they won’t get a lot out of them. I have a list of eight research sites that walk the line between stodgy (textbooks) and out-there (Twitter and Facebook), designed by their developers with an eye toward enticing students in and then keeping their interest. It’s notable that most are free, but include advertising. The exception is BrainPOP — there are no ads, but it requires a hefty annual fee:

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Categories: Research, Reviews | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Dear Otto: Evaluating Faculty Websites

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please contact me at askatechteacher at gmail dot com and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Melissa:

I have heard repeatedly from many of my high school social studies students that they rarely use teacher websites. Most who say they do do so only to obtain homework assignments (many prefer to text other students for assignments rather than go online). In general they report that they do not explore the websites any further than they must.
I do find that AP students use teacher created websites frequently, Honors students less so. 
I am looking for research on measured student use of teacher websites. Commercial sites collect extensive data on visitor behavior (dwell time, click through, and etc.).  Are you aware of any research along those lines?
 ..
I’m not familiar with such research so I’m putting it out to my readers. If you have a teacher website that measures visitors, or if you know of this sort of research, please add a comment and a link.
 ..
I know when I had a teacher website several years ago, it was rarely visited by students, even though I tried to add relevant, authentic information. That wasn’t just mine, either; it was all teachers at the school. My Principal tasked me with evaluating faculty websites to see if it was a content issue rather than user disinterest. I adapted a rubric offered in the public domain by the University of Wisconsin-Stout (I’ve attached it for reference). I found that most teachers (in excess of 75%) 1) didn’t keep them up to date, 2) had the wrong information,  or 3) didn’t even have one. It was the rare individual that had a solid, well-thought out website. That–I shared with the committee–was why students weren’t visiting.

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Categories: Dear Otto, Research | Tags: | Leave a comment

30 Great Research Websites for Kids

5880711 process cycle diagramHere are quick, safe spots to send students for research:

  1. BrainPop
  2. Citation Machine
  3. CoolKidFacts–kid-friendly videos, pictures, info, and quizzes–all 100% suitable for children
  4. CyberSleuth Kids
  5. Dictionary
  6. Digital Vaults–research a topic, curate resources
  7. Encyclopedia Interactica–visual encyclopedias
  8. Fact Monster
  9. Fun Brain
  10. How Stuff Works
  11. I Know That!
  12. Info Please
  13. Insta-Grok
  14. Internet Library
  15. Internet Public Library (IPL)
  16. Kid Rex
  17. KidsConnect–Kids research
  18. Let me Google that for you–all those questions people ask, they could have answered themselves? Here’s a site. They even have stickers
  19. Library Spot
  20. National Geographic for Kids
  21. Nova video programs
  22. SchoolsWorld.TV--educational videos
  23. Smithsonian Quest–sign up your class; student research/explore with the Smithsonian
  24. SqoolTube Videos
  25. TagGalaxy–search using a cloud
  26. Thesaurus.net
  27. Websites by kids and teens
  28. World Almanac for Kids
  29. World Book
  30. Zanran–statistics and data research

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Categories: 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, Research, Reviews, Teacher resources, Websites | Tags: | Leave a comment

#53: Colonization Trifold Brochure in Publisher

Create a trifold brochure in Publisher to go along with colonization or another unit of inquiry in the classroom. This project focuses on research and is more involved than #51 History Trifold. Students add lots of detail and lots of research on different colonization topics. Besides Publisher, students learn to research on the internet and copy-paste pictures from the internet

Lesson Plan

Use each panel in the trifold (there are six) to cover a different topic you’re discussing in class.

Click on each page of lesson plan.

You can also use a template in Google Docs, Google Presentations, or MS Word if you don’t have Publisher:

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Categories: Freebies/Discounts, History, Publisher/ DTP, Research, Teacher resources | Leave a comment

#52: Indigenous Cultures Magazine in Publisher

Create a magazine on any topic you’re covering in class using text, pictures, diagrams, charts. Add a cover and a table of contents.

Click on each page of lesson plan.

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Categories: Freebies/Discounts, History, Lesson plans, Publisher/ DTP, Research | Tags: | Leave a comment

Playful Learning–What a Great Idea

playPlayful Learning (Parents’ Choice Gold Medal website) is a well-done, professional-looking website that  offers advice, projects, and visual images touting the benefits of education through play. The reader is drawn into the child-centered imagery and strong basic colors, wanting everything on offer so their child’s play areas can look and work as described.

Let’s back up a moment. Play as the vehicle of education is not a revolutionary idea. Pedagogy has long recommended ‘play’ as a superior teacher for youngers–

Play is the great synthesizing, integrating, and developing force in childhood and adolescence. –PsycINFO Database Record 2012 APA,

The play of children is not recreation; it means earnest work. Play is the purest intellectual production of the human being, in this stage … for the whole man is visible in them, in his finest capacities, in his innermost being.~ Friedrich Froebel

In general, research shows strong links between creative play and language, physical, cognitive, and social development. Play is a healthy, essential part of childhood. —Department of Education, Newfoundland Labrador

Young children learn the most important things not by being told but by constructing knowledge for themselves in interaction with the physical world and with other children – and the way they do this is by playing.” –Jones, E., & Reynolds, G.  “The play’s the thing: Teachers’ roles in children’s play”

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Categories: Education reform, Homeschool, Parents, Research, Reviews, Websites, Writing | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Dear Otto: How do I prepare students for PARCC Tests?

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Terry:

Any help for identifying and re-enforcing tech skills needed to take the online PARCC tests (coming in 2014-15)? Even a list of computer terms would help; copy, cut, paste, highlight, select; use of keys like tab, delete, insert; alt, ctrl and shift. There does not seem to be any guidelines as to prepping students on the “how to’s” of taking an online test and reading and understanding the directions. It would be great to take advantage of the time we have before the PARCC’s become a reality. Thanks!

Between March 24 and June 6, more than 4 million students in 36 states and the District of Columbia will take near-final versions of the PARCC and Smarter Balanced efforts to test Common Core State Standards learning in the areas of mathematics and English/language arts. Tests will be administered via digital devices (though there are options for paper-and-pencil). Though the tests won’t produce detailed, scaled scores of student performance (that starts next year), this field-testing is crucial to finding out what works and doesn’t in this comprehensive assessment tool, including the human factors like techphobia and sweaty palms (from both students and teachers).

After I got Terry’s email, I polled my PLN to find specific tech areas they felt their students needed help with in preparing for the Assessments. I got answers like these:

“They had to drag and drop, to highlight, and they had to compare and contrast. They had to write a letter. They had to watch a video, which meant putting on headphones. They had to fill in boxes on a table. There were a lot of different mouse-manipulation tasks.”

“Students are asked to retype a paragraph to revise. My students can’t type fast enough!”

“…questions [are] a mix of multiple-choice, problem solving, short-answer responses, and other tasks. Students had to drag and drop answers into different boxes.”

It boils down to five tech areas. Pay attention to these and your students will be much more prepared for Common Core assessments, be it PARCC or Smarter Balanced:

Keyboarding

Students need to have enough familiarity with the keyboard that they know where keys are, where the number pad is, where the F row is, how keys are laid out. They don’t need to be touch typists or even faciley use all fingers. Just have them comfortable enough they have a good understanding of where all the pieces are. Starting next school year, have them type fifteen minutes a week in a class setting and 45 minutes a week using keyboarding for class activities (homework, projects–that sort). That’ll do it.

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Categories: Dear Otto, Education reform, Research | Tags: , | 2 Comments

4 Subjects Every Teacher Must Teach and How

tech teacherTeaching technology is not sharing a new subject, like Spanish or math. It’s exploring an education tool, knowing how to use computers, IPads, the internet, and other digital devices to serve learning goals. Sure, there are classes that teach MS Word and C++, but for most schools, technology is employed strategically and capably to achieve all colors of education.

Which gets me to the four subjects every teacher must teach, whether s/he’s a math teacher, science, literacy, or technology. In today’s education world, all of us teach–

  • vocabulary
  • keyboarding
  • digital citizenship
  • research

They used to be taught in isolation–Fridays at 8:20, we learn vocabulary–but not anymore. Now they must be blended into all subjects like ingredients in a cake, the result–college or career for the 21st-century student. Four subjects that must be taught–and thanks to technology, CAN be with ease. Let me explain.

Vocabulary

 Common Core requires that:

Students constantly build the transferable vocabulary they need to access grade level complex texts. This can be done effectively by spiraling like content in increasingly complex texts.

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Categories: Classroom management, Digital Citizenship, Education reform, Keyboarding, Research, Word study/Vocabulary | 2 Comments

5 Reasons Class Size Does NOT Matter and 3 Why Large is a Good Thing

problem solvingAre you drowning in students, sure that the flood of bodies that enter your classroom daily will destroy your effectiveness? Does it depress you, make you second-guess your decision to effect change in the world as a teacher? Do you wonder how you’ll explain to parents–and get them to believe you–that you truly CAN teach thirty students and meet their needs (because you must convince them–of all education characteristics, parents equate class size to success)?

Take heart while I play Devil’s Advocate and offer evidence contrary to what seems by most to be intuitive common sense. I mean, how could splitting your finite amount of time among LESS students be anything but advantageous? Sure, there are many studies (US-based primarily) that support a direct correlation between class size and teacher ability to meet education goals, but consider how you–personally–learn. Sure, it occurs through teachers, but just as often by trial and error, peers, inquiry, student-centered activities, play, experiencing events, differentiated ways unlike others. Educators like John Holt believe “children [and by extension, you] learn most effectively by their own motivation and on their own terms”.

Is it possible the root of the education problem is other than class size? Getting Beneath the Veil of Effective Schools: Evidence from New York City (National Bureau of Economic Research) indicates that traditional success measures–including class size–do not correlate to school effectiveness. According to this study, what doesn’t matter is:

  1. class size
  2. per pupil expenditure
  3. fraction of teachers with no certification
  4. fraction of teachers with an advanced degree

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Categories: Classroom management, Education reform, International, News, Research | 3 Comments

21 Websites with Data on Tech Ed

tech ed researchI’ve added a new page where I’m collecting data on technology in education. It’s new right now, but drop by for a visit. I have links to source material on:

  • Class size
  • Cursive
  • Handwriting
  • Keyboarding
  • Overall Educational Achievement
  • Teacher Pay

Do you have some favorite research? Add it as a comment to the bottom of the page.

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Categories: Research, Websites | Tags: | 1 Comment