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Tagged With: inquiry

How Do You Grade Tech? I Have 14 Ideas

gradesIt used to be simple to post grades. Add up test scores and see what the student earned. Very defensible. Everyone understood.

It’s not that way anymore. Now we’re looking for understanding, transfer of knowledge, scaffolding for future learning, habits of mind, depth of knowledge, and a general preparedness for college and/or career. Here are factors I consider when I’m determining grades:

  • Does s/he remember skills from prior lessons as they complete current lessons?
  • Does s/he show evidence of learning by using tech class knowledge in classroom or home?
  • Does s/he participate in class discussions?
  • Does s/he complete daily goals (a project, visit a website, watch a tutorial, etc.)?
  • Does s/he save to their digital portfolio?

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Categories: Classroom management | Tags: , | Leave a comment

How Do You Grade Tech? I Have 14 Ideas

eu-63985_640It used to be simple to post grades. Add up test scores and see what the student earned. Very defensible. Everyone understood.

It’s not that way anymore. Here are the factors I consider when I’m posting grades:

  • Does s/he remember skills from prior lessons as they complete current lessons?
  • Does s/he show evidence of learning by using tech class knowledge in classroom or home?
  • Does s/he participate in class discussions?
  • Does s/he complete daily goals (a project, visit a website, watch a tutorial, etc.)?
  • Does s/he save to their network folder?

(more…)

Categories: Classroom management | Tags: , | Leave a 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

169 Kindergarten Websites That Tie into Classroom Inquiry

kindergarten websitesThese are my 120 favorite kindergarten websites. I sprinkle them in throughout the year, adding several each week to the class internet start page, deleting others. I make sure I have 3-4 each week that integrate with classroom inquiry, 3-4 that deal with technology skills and a few that simply excite students about tech.

Here’s the list:

  1. Aesop Fables
  2. Aesop Fables—no ads
  3. Alphabet Animals
  4. Alphabet Doors
  5. Animal Games
  6. Animal Games II
  7. Animal Homes II
  8. Audio stories
  9. Barnaby and Bellinda Bear
  10. Bembo’s Zoo
  11. (more…)
Categories: Kindergarten, Websites | Tags: , | Leave a comment

11 Ways to Make an Inquiry based Classroom

eu-63985_640You became a teacher not to pontificate to trusting minds, but to teach children how to succeed as adults. That idealism infused every class in your credential program and only took a slight bump during your student teacher days. That educator, you figured, was a dinosaur. You’d never teach to the test or lecture for forty minutes of a forty-five minute class.

Then you got a job and reality struck. You had lesson plans to get through, standards to assess, and state-wide tests that students must do well on or you’d get the blame. A glance in the mirror said you were becoming that teacher you hated in school. You considered leaving the profession.

Until the inquiry-based classroom arrived where teaching’s goal was not the solution to a problem, but the path followed. It’s what you’d hoped to do long ago when you started–but how do you turn a traditional entrenched classroom into one that’s inquiry-based?

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Categories: Classroom management, Education reform | Tags: | Leave a comment

11 Ways to be an Inquiry-based Teacher

Inquiry-based_learning_at_QAISIt’s hard to run an inquiry-based classroom. Don’t go into this teaching style thinking all you do is ask questions and observe answers. You have to listen with all of your senses, pause and respond to what you heard (not what you wanted to hear), keep your eye on the Big Ideas as you facilitate learning, value everyone’s contribution, be aware of the energy of the class and step in when needed, step aside when required. You aren’t a Teacher, rather a guide. You and the class find your way from question to knowledge together.

Because everyone learns differently.

You don’t use a textbook. Sure, it’s a map, showing you how to get from here to there, but that’s the problem. It dictates how to get ‘there’. For an inquiry-based classroom, you may know where you’re going, but not quite how you’ll get there and that’s a good thing. You are no longer your mother’s teacher who stood in front of rows of students and pointed to the blackboard. You operate well outside your teaching comfort zone as you try out the flipped classroom and the gamification of education and are thrilled with the results.

And then there’s the issue of assessment. What your students have accomplished can’t neatly be summed up by a multiple choice test. When you review what you thought would assess learning (back when you designed the unit), none measure the organic conversations the class had about deep subjects, the risk-taking they engaged in to arrive at answers, the authentic knowledge transfer that popped up independently of your class time. You realize you must open your mind to learning that occurred that you never taught–never saw coming in the weeks you stood amongst your students guiding their education.

Let me digress. I visited the Soviet Union (back when it was one nation) and dropped in on a classroom where students were inculcated with how things must be done. It was a polite, respectful, ordered experience, but without cerebral energy, replete of enthusiasm for the joy of learning, and lacking the wow factor of students independently figuring out how to do something. Seeing the end of that powerful nation, I arrived at different conclusions than the politicians and the economists. I saw a nation starved to death for creativity. Without that ethereal trait, learning didn’t transfer. Without transfer, life required increasingly more scaffolding and prompting until it collapsed in on itself like a hollowed out orange.

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Categories: Classroom management, Education reform, Teacher resources | Tags: | 6 Comments

How to Make a Student-centered Video

dairy‘Student-generated’ now has a face–a lively and creative group from Loreto Secondary School in County Meath Ireland. They combined their talents and came up with a fun, engaging PSA to promote dairy.

I fell in love with the video and asked Mr. Tom Kendall (Head of ICT as well as a math and ICT teacher) to summarize the adventure so I can share it here. By the time you’re done reading the next few paragraphs, you’ll be amazed at the inquiry-driven work, the risk-taking employed at ever so many levels, their problem-solving and critical thinking that went into the creation of this four-minute video. If you’re an inquiry-based class or an IB school with an eye to your end-of-year Exhibition, this is a wonderful example. Enjoy:

Aiming for Viral: We Take Dairy and This is Crazy!

A behind the scenes look at the making of a student-created video.

We want to make a Video!

This school year, six Transition Year students in my Digital Publishing class approached me for advice on creating a video for a business competition. In Ireland, Transition Year students fall into the 15 to 16 age bracket.

The competition challenged students to form their own mini-advertising company with the goal of designing and implementing a campaign to promote the importance of dairy to their peers.

What type of Video?

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Categories: 6th grade, 8th grade, Videos | Tags: | Leave a comment

14 Factors to Consider for Tech Report Cards

eu-63985_640It used to be simple to post grades. Add up test scores and see what the student earned. Very defensible. Everyone understood.

It’s not that way anymore. Here are the factors I consider when I’m posting grades:

  • Does s/he remember skills from prior lessons as they complete current lessons?
  • Does s/he show evidence of learning by using tech class knowledge in classroom or home?
  • Does s/he participate in class discussions?
  • Does s/he complete daily goals (a project, visit a website, watch a tutorial, etc.)?
  • Does s/he save to their network folder?

(more…)

Categories: Classroom management, Teacher resources | Tags: | 1 Comment

Now Available: 35 Extra Lessons for the SL K-6 Technology Curriculum

Available now:

How Technology Can Jump-Start the Inquiry-based Classroom:

35 Projects That Align with National Standards

What is in this book?

The question we get often from teachers—both new and seasoned—is: How do you teach technology skills while integrating it into classroom units AND keeping student interest? With the right resources, that’s easy. We’ve put thirty-five of them together in this book for you.

Each of the K-6 lessons in this book, How Technology Can Jumpstart the Inquiry-based Class: 35 Projects That Align with National Standards, includes practical strategies for integrating technology authentically into core classroom lessons. They are easily adapted to any number of subjects be they science, literature, history, math, reading, writing, critical thinking, or another. The focus is on easy-to-use online tools (with some exceptions) that are quick to teach, inquiry-driven, intuitive, and free. You introduce the tool, demonstrate the project, answer clarifying questions, and let students’ curiosity loose.

And each lesson is aligned with the Structured Learning K-6 technology curriculum. Now, you have options. Cool, isn’t it?

Who should buy this book?

  • Any teacher who currently uses the SL K-6 technology curriculum.
  • Any teacher looking for 5 lessons per grade level that work for a wide variety of core classroom units

What’s included in each lesson?

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Categories: Lesson plans, Reviews | Tags: , , | Leave a comment