Summer is a great time to reset your personal pedagogy to an education-friendly mindset and catch up on what’s been changing in the ed world while you were teaching
eight ten hours a day. My Twitter friends gave me great suggestions, but first:
A comment on the selections: I did get more suggestions than I could possibly list so I avoided books that involved politics or hot-button subjects that teachers are divided on and focused on positive and uplifting reading. Yes, there is a lot wrong with education around the world but I wanted a selection of books that would send me — and you — back to teaching in the fall with a can-do attitude for how to accomplish miracles with your next class of students.
Having said that, here’s a granular list of teacher-approved books to keep you busy this summer:
by Eric C. Sheninger
Digital Leadership defines a strategic mindset and set of behaviors that leverage resources to create a meaningful, transparent, and engaging school culture. It takes into account recent changes such as connectivity, open-source technology, mobile devices, and personalization of learning to dramatically shift how schools have been run for over a century.
by Clayton M. Christensen
Selected as one of Business Week’s Best Books on Innovation in 2008, Disrupting Class remains a worthy read. It is filled with fascinating case studies, scientific findings, and insights into how managed innovation can unleash education. Disrupting Class will open your eyes to new possibilities and evolve your thinking. For more detail, read my review, Disrupting Class.
For more on how innovation is changing education, see also Disrupting Class, Expanded Edition: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns.
Here are the most-read posts for the month of May:
- School and Job Tips for Young Adults
- The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Education
- Tech Teacher Appreciation Week
- Teacher-Authors: What’s Happening on my Writer’s Blog
- Tech Tips to End the School Year
- Summer Reading Online
- How to Keep Learning Fresh Over the Summer
- 5 Surprising Ways Homeschoolers Use Canva for Learning and Fun
- 33 Online Research Resources
- 7–no 10–OK, 13 Skills I Teach With Blogging
Teachers have known for decades that ‘summer learning loss’ is a reality. Studies vary on how much knowledge students lose during the summer months–some say up to two months of reading and math skills–and results are heavily-dependent upon demographics, but the loss is real.
To prevent this, teachers try approaches such as summer book reports, but students complain they intrude on their summer time. When teachers make it optional, many don’t participate. The disconnect they’re seeing is that students consider these activities as ‘school’ rather than ‘life’. They haven’t bought into the reality that they are life-long learners, that learning is not something to be turned on in the schoolhouse and off on the play yard.
This summer, show students how learning is fun, worthy, and part of their world whether they’re at a friend’s house or the water park. Here are nineteen suggestions students will enjoy:
- Youngers: Take a picture of making change at the store. Share it in a teacher-provided summer activity folder (this should be quick to use, maybe through Google Drive if students have access to that). Kids will love having a valid reason to use Mom’s smartphone camera.
- Any age: Take a picture of tessellations found in nature (like a beehive or a pineapple). Kids will be amazed at how many they find and will enjoy using the camera phone. Once kids have collected several, upload them to a drawing or photo program where they can record audio notes over the picture and share with friends.
- Any age: Pit your math and technology skills against your child’s in an online math-based car race game like Grand Prix Multiplication. They’ll know more about using the program and will probably win–even if you do the math faster. You might even have siblings compete.
- Grades 2-5: Set up a summer lemonade stand. Kids learn to measure ingredients, make change, listen to potential customers, and problem-solve. If you can’t put one up on your street, use a virtual lemonade stand.
- Any age: If your child wants to go somewhere, have them find the location, the best route, participation details, and other relevant information. Use free online resources like Google Maps and learn skills that will be relevant to class field trips they’ll take next year.
In my school, 2nd grade and 5th grade have units on the human body. To satisfy their different maturities, I’ve developed two lists of websites to complement this inquiry. I put them on the class internet start page so when students have free time, they can visit (check here for updates):
2nd-3rd Grade[caption id="attachment_5364" align="alignright" width="212"] Place organs where they belong[/caption]
- Blood Flow
- Body Systems
- Build a Skeleton
- Can you place these parts in the correct place?
- Choose the systems you want to see.
- Find My Body Parts
- How the Body Works
- Human Body Games
- Human Body websites
- Human Body—by a 2nd grade class—video
- Human Body—videos on how body parts work
- Inside the Human Body: Grades 1-3
- Kids’ Health-My Body
- Matching Senses
- Muscles Game
- Nutrition Music and Games from Dole (more…)
Many Fridays, I report on a wonderful website or project my classes and parents love. This one is teaching architecture to youngers:
Three projects over six weeks and your students will learn about blueprints, room layout, dimensions, and more. Plus, they’ll understand how to think about a three-dimensional object and then spatially lay it out on paper. This is challenging, but fun for first graders.
Spend two weeks on each projects. Incorporate a discussion of spaces, neighborhoods, communities one week. Practice the drawing, then do the final project which students can save and print. Kids will love this unit.
- First, draw a picture in your drawing program of the child’s home. If you don’t already have a class favorite, check this list. Many have architecture tools so show students how to find them. Have kids think about their house, walk through it. They’ll have to think in three dimensions and will soon realize they can’t draw a two-story house. In that case, allow them to pick which rooms they wish to include and concentrate on what’s in the room.
I have to reblog this wonderful post by my efriend, Lisa. How many of these fit you? Can you add to this list?
You Know You’re a Techy Teacher When…
- You can’t remember the last time you printed a classroom document.
- Plurking, tweeting, and playing with your wiki in public are acceptable behaviors.
- Your Notebook isn’t spiral bound – it plugs into the wall.
- Forget the garden…you spend more time on the weekend weeding out your Inbox.
- You can recite your school’s Acceptable Use Policy by heart.
- On parent/teacher night, instead of exchanging business cards, you Bump.
- You express yourself with emoticons.
- You no longer consider it graffiti to write on someone’s wall.
- Your significant other gets jealous of your PLN.
- It’s not creepy to have lots of followers.
- Your students call you the “cool” teacher.
- The other teachers are jealous of your Instagram.
- YouTube is blocked in your school, and you know how to get around it.
- The Tech Department is sick of your constant requests to unblock Twitter.
- You’ve Googled your principal.
- You know that TweetDeck is not a patio with a lot of birds.
- You correct your friends’ grammar when they text you.
- “Casual Fridays” means logging into the EdTech UNconference in your bunny slippers.
- You wear your “I Heart EdTech” button everywhere you go.
- You read this blog post then tweet it, like it, and pass it on to a friend (more…)
This is one of the most popular lessons I teach to Excel beginners. It is relevant, instantly usable and makes sense from the beginning. Click the images below to enlarge them for viewing.[gallery columns="2" ids="45219,45218"]
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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 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, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.
Learning computers starts in kindergarten with understanding hardware. This lesson plan (#103 in the lesson plan book noted below) includes three pages. Introduce less with K, more each year until by sixth grade, students are good hardware problem solvers because they understand the basics.
Page 2 is an assessment you can either print out and have students fill in or push out to students to be completed online.
This project (#70 in the collection of #110) hides a spreadsheet’s power behind a template you create and students fill out at home. If they’re older and more familiar with spreadsheets, involve them in creating the template. If the lesson plans are blurry, click on them for a full size alternative.
Note: The example uses Excel, but it works just as well with Google Spreadsheets.
The first time I read about Unschooling, I ignored it. Surely, it was a fad that would go away.
When I read about it a thousand more times, I dug into it.
Inspired by the teachings of John Holt (1923–1985), this free range branch of homeschooling promotes learning through nonstructured, child-led exploration. There’s no set curriculum or schedule; students learn what interests them with guidance from involved adults. There are no worksheets, tests, or structure to provide evidence of learning or templates for teaching. The children pick what to learn, when, at what pace. The result — according to unschoolers, is a love of learning, tenacity to a task, and independent thought that prepares them for college and career better than traditional methods. In fact, if you look at the list of traits valued in popular education programs such as Habits of Mind and Depth of Knowledge, the reasons why parents unschool their children mirror the traits included in these lists.
According to Dr. Peter Gray of Freedom to Learn:
“Unschooling parents do not … do at home the kinds of things that are done at school. More specifically, they do not establish a curriculum for their children, do not require their children to do particular assignments for the purpose of education, and do not test their children to measure progress. Instead, they allow their children freedom to pursue their own interests and to learn, in their own ways, what they need to know to follow those interests. They may, in various ways, provide an environmental context and environmental support for the child’s learning. In general, unschoolers see life and learning as one.”
If you use Genius Hour in your classroom, you have a sense of how inspiring, motivating, and addicting learning for the love of learning can be. Another popular example of unschooling is Sugata Mitra’s 1999 Hole in the Wall experiment where a computer was placed in a kiosk in an Indian slum. Children were allowed to use it freely. The experiment successfully proved that children could learn to use computers without any formal training. This was extended to be a method called Minimally Invasive Education (MIE) where students were encouraged to learn what interests them without adult direction — much as what is expected from unschooling.