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Webspiration Wednesday

Today I instituted Webspiration Wednesday at my school.  I have noticed over the years that second semester seems to be lacking motivation and morale January through March.  Maybe it is because winter is STILL dragging on, maybe it is because it feels like a long stretch before spring break, or maybe it is because the complaints of the year are really settling in.  I have noticed this phenomenon in all the schools I have been in.  During last weeks #edchat on Twitter, I learned that low morale is a common problem that most schools face.  As we talked about ways to boost morale, I thought about the ways that my amazing PLN boosts my morale every day.  They encourage me, give me new ideas, and reignite my passion with the great links they share.  I wanted to bring some of that to my school.  I wanted teachers to have a chance to laugh together, and enjoy each others company, and get away from the teachers lounge which can end up being a place to gripe about everything that has gone wrong that morning. Last night, in a moment of divine inspiration, I decided that it was high time for Webspiration Wednesday.  So, this morning I sent out invitations to the entire staff to join me for Webspiration Wednesday lunch in the library.   Teachers trickled into the library, lunches in toe, and we sat down and watched a TED Talk together.  I chose “Sir Ken Robinson Says That Schools Kill Creativity”.  It was a great Ted Talk to start Webspiration Wednesday with, not only is Sir Ken Robinson inspiring, he also has a great sense of humor.  He had us laughing together (which as it turns out is a great stress reliever) and thinking about school and our students in new ways.  After the video had ended a spontaneous and lively discussion ensued about those kids that we have in our classrooms that we are stifling.  We offered each other ideas for giving them room to be creative.  It was fantastic.  We all left are short 25 min. lunch feeling refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day.  I wonder if the students noticed a difference in teacher attitudes after lunch?  I plan to hold Webspiration Wednesday every week and have asked my PLN on Twitter to join in using the hash tag #webspirationwednesday if they come across inspiring articles, videos, lessons, stories, etc. Now a disclaimer, I did not ask permission to start Webspiration Wednesday.  I just did it.   Sometimes I think it is better to ask forgiveness (if need be) than to ask permission.  In our #edchat discussion, we talked about who should have the responsibility to boost morale in a school.  My answer was everyone has that responsibility.  I decided to take my own challenge and be the one who tried something new, something different.  Will you be that person at your school?  What boosts your morale? What have you seen work well in the school setting? Below is the TED Talk that we watched together, I believe you will find it inspiring. I have said it before, and I will say it again, my PLN (Personal Learning Network) on Twitter has been a great source of joy, encouragement, and friendship.  I have never met 98% of my PLN in person, and yet they are always there for me, cheering me on and offering suggestions when  I fail.  If you haven’t made the leap into the world of Twitter, I highly recommend it.  If you are looking for a top notch group of educators to follow, may I suggest the Edublogger Alliance group?  Once you are on Twitter, be sure to join in on #edchat.  There are two #edchat conversations that take place every Tuesday.  I can feel myself getting smarter as I learn from the BEST educators in the world every Tuesday.  Just follow the hash tag #edchat and be sure to add it to the end of your Twitter messages to participate.  I can promise that you won’t be disappointed. If I am speaking Greek to you, take a look at @shellterrell’s posts about #edchat and PLN’s.  She will have you joining in the conversation and fun in no time!

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NBC Learn: Science behind the news

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 08-05-2013

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What it is:
NBC Learn has some fantastic free resources for teachers and students.  One of these freebies is called Science Behind the News.  In partnership with the National Science Foundation, NBC explores the science, technology and engineering found in current events.  Here, you will find a collection of videos that introduce students to the science found in the world around them and current events.  Students can learn about everything from quantum computing, to predictive policing, to crowdsourcing and weather phenomenon.  Each video is around 5 minutes long and are well produced.

How to integrate NBC Learn into the classroom:  I am a HUGE fan of embedded learning.  Learning that is in context just makes sense.  The learning is richer because students are able to make real connections to the foundational understandings that they already have.  In addition, this type of learning gives them an idea of how the learning that happens in the classroom is connected to life.  With Science Behind the News, students are able to see connections to the world right now.  These clips encourage students to be curious about the world around them, and to dig into the bigger “why” of how things work.  I like the thinking that is encouraged here.  It is really modelling curiosity beyond just passively listening to a news story.

These clips are a wonderful way to kick off a new science unit, as a resource during inquiry, or for students and classes just to explore.  Students can use these clips as a starting point for further research, a “spark” for more learning.  Each student could choose a different video to watch and then conduct some research to learn more.  Where else is the science used?  How has our thinking about a topic changed over time as we have learned more about it?  What math is involved?  Help your students to see that subjects don’t happen in isolation in real life.  Science is connected with social studies, math, literacy, history, sports, art, economics, discovery, etc.  Can they find the overlaps in learning?

Tips:  NBC Learn has other outstanding resources including: science in golf, science in hockey, science in football, chemistry now, fishing the dream, sinking the titanic, science of the winter Olympics, science of the summer Olympics, writers speak to kids and science in innovation.  Check them all out!

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Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  NBC Learn in your classroom.

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