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Research

#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: DTP, Freebies/Discounts, History, Lesson plans, 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 | 4 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

Dear Otto: How do I teach Inquiry and Research in Middle School

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Ms. F:

Question: I teach 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Instructional Technology. I struggle with the district standard for Inquiry & Research. I can’t seem to find just the right type of assignment/topic because searching this, that, or the other thing is just random, out of context, an exercise in learning key word searching, finding reliable sites,synthesizing info. If I make it too simple they can find all the answers on one site and then just plug in the facts. I had 6th do a What-Happened-In-Your-Birth-Year project where they identified different categories and then searched for an event in that category: Movies (and then find the Oscar winner for that year), Sports, Science, etc. Right now the 7th grade assignment is comparing e-Readers (price, memory, size, features) using a spreadsheet, then drawing conclusions.

Any great ideas that would interest middle school students are welcome!!

THANKS!

Here are some ideas:

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Categories: 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade, Dear Otto, Digital Citizenship, Research, Web Tools | Tags: | 1 Comment

New Literacies Enable Smarter Researching

In my last post, we talked about “digital citizens”, the modern student who lives in two worlds. One he can touch with his hands, the other only with his mind. It’s this latter one that has revolutionized education, provided opportunities for students to talk to experts on astronomy, walk through the ancient ruins of Stonehenge, and dissect a frog without touching a scalpel. This world is scintillating, but challenging, demanding students be risk-takers and inquirers.

Inquiry and education

That last—inquiry—has changed the K-12 classroom from what many experienced just a decade ago, for students cannot be inquirers without being risk-takers. They take responsibility for their own learning by following practical strategies for uncovering information despite the billions (literally) of places to look. Consider this: If you Google ‘space’, you get over 4 billion hits. That much information is worthless. Digital citizens develop practical strategies for refining this list to a specific need.

Digital citizens also differentiate instruction so it works for themselves, not change their learning style to fit what the teacher delivers. They hear the big ideas, grasp the essential questions, and then develop a plan that delivers it in their own unique and personal way.

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Categories: Classroom management, Education reform, Research | Tags: | 1 Comment

Weekend Websites #99: How to Research

Drop by every Friday to discover what wonderful website (or app) my classes and parents loved this week. I think you’ll find they’ll be a favorite of yours as they are of mine.

[caption id="attachment_7885" align="aligncenter" width="614"]how to research Follow the decision matrix; learn to research[/caption]

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Categories: Research, Reviews, Websites | Tags: | Leave a comment

Wikipedia vs Britannica–the Results May Surprise You

This infographic from Open Site–Free Internet Encyclopedia came as a huge surprise to me. I, like many teachers I know, warn students against relying on Wikipedia as a primary source for research. Imagine my surprise when I read the information below, on the heals of Britannica ending publication of their renowned and historic encyclopedia.

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Categories: Research, Websites | Tags: | Leave a comment