Featured Post

How to make a 2 computer classroom work for you: tech integration and

I often get asked how I managed to integrate technology into my classroom before I was a technology teacher teaching computer classes in a lab (with every child on a computer).  I must preface this post with: I am not an expert.  I taught second grade for one year and had two computers in my classroom and no computer lab for the school.  I used what I had and found a system that worked for me.  With that in mind here is how I made my 2 computer classroom work: My goal as a teacher is to individualize instruction whenever possible.  I am very aware that each of my students comes with different strengths and weaknesses, learns differently, at different rates, and with different interests.  I remember looking at the curriculum I was provided with by the school and feeling a distinct disappointment in it.  I knew as I read through the lessons each week that some of my students just weren’t going to get it.  I knew that some of them would love the subject if it was approached in a different way. I knew that some would just need it at a different pace.  With this in mind, a few weeks into my first year, I decided to structure my class around centers. My problem: space was an issue.  With 26 seven and eight year olds, supplies, and 26 desks, there was little room left for individual center areas.  Since I couldn’t have my students physically moving around from center to center, I decided that I would create a system where the centers came to them.  With 26 students and five days in a week, I split my students into five groups for each subject.  These groups were created by grouping students by similar ability levels.  Throughout the day the groupings would change (I used colors because it made sense to me).  For example: one student might be in the blue group for language arts/reading, red group for math, and green group for science.  I saw every single one of my students in their small group of 5 in what I would call my “conference” center for every subject, every week. At the beginning of every week I would introduce the whole class to the concepts we would be learning over the course of the week.  I introduced students to their “tubs” (colored plastic tubs that were full of necessary supplies for each center) and we discussed the “big ideas” of the week.  I had 4 tubs (and my conference center) so that each day my student groups were working on a different task but by the end of the week all of my students had completed the learning for the week.  My desks were grouped into 5 clumps in the room.  Because the groupings changed, a group of desks didn’t necessarily equate to all of the group member sitting at the work space.  For each subject we usually started class as a whole group, we would play a game as a class, watch a video clip, do an experiment, or learning something new together.  After the initial introduction, I had a leader from each table pick up that table’s tub for the day.  I met with the fifth group in my conference center where I could work with students in a 5 to 1 grouping.  If you aren’t doing something like this, I HIGHLY recommend it. Meeting with my students in smaller groups several times throughout the week gave me huge insights into my students and made me a better teacher. Tubs had a variety of activities and prompts in them.  All activities were designed for self-guided learning and flexibility.  I had a rule that unless someone was barfing or bleeding (the 2 b’s…if you’re in elementary you know what I am talking about) they were not allowed to disturb my conference group.  This cut down on the distractions and let students know it was okay to make mistakes in their learning.  One of my “tubs” always held instructions for a computer center.  With two computers and 5 students, this meant I could find activities that were short enough for each student to successfully complete them in the time they had, or I could find activities that they could complete together.  For skill building games and activities, students usually held a mini relay race.  The first student would complete a level or set number of problems and pass play to the next student.  This worked really well and kept students from getting too out of control because the wait time was minimal and they were “silent cheering” the other students on.  (I had “Go Team” signs that they could hold up next to each computer so they could cheer without disturbing anyone else).  For activities that needed to be completed by each individual student, I added a secondary game or activity to the tub that could be completed while students waited.  For example, if it was a skill building game or activity, I had students who weren’t at the computer play a file folder game together while they waited for their turn within their small group. For writing activities or activities where students were going to use the computer to create something, I made another tub activity that would prepare them for their computer time.  For example, if they were going to create an animation on something like The Zimmer Twins, I would use another tub for them where they would prepare by writing a script and planning the storyboard.  Because of the way the tubs rotate, it was easy to ensure that every student had done the prep activity before the computer center. My other tubs had a variety of activities in them, each one of them was flexible in the way it worked.  Students might perform an experiment and write/draw/discuss as a group, practice their spelling words in a way that made sense to them, play a math game, write, etc.  For each subject I had a standard tub where the activity didn’t really change from week to week.  For example, language arts had a spelling practice tub every single week.  Math had a fact practice tub every week.  In the standard tubs I included a Tic-Tac-Toe activity board where students could choose which activity they would complete to practice.  This let students practice basic skills in a way that was fun and made sense to them. At the end of every day, I would re-fill each tub with the necessary resources and supplies so that it was ready for the next day. On Friday afternoon I would fill all of the tubs up for the following week.  At the beginning of the year the tubs were extremely time-consuming to keep up with.  I got smart second semester and enlisted my students in helping me create the tubs for the following week on Friday afternoons.  (duh!)  By the end of the year it was part of our routine and didn’t require so much prep on my part. Because I was working with second graders, I knew that not all of my students would be able to read directions for the tub or remember the directions from the beginning of the week.  For detailed tubs, I included a tape recorder (iPod, what was that?) with recorded audio instructions for the tub.  This helped tremendously when their were multiple steps involved.  Students knew where they could help themselves to extra supplies like paper, crayons, books, scissors, dictionaries, etc. On Friday I spent some time at the end of the day to meet with each group so they could show me their mini portfolio of learning for the week.  This gave me a chance to do some formative assessment and plan any adjustments that were needed for the following week. I didn’t have the luxury of a projector that first year of teaching.  If I had a projector, it would have opened up the learning opportunities greatly! I am a big believer in playing to learn and technology lends itself so nicely to both.  When I help teachers integrate technology into their lessons I often recommend creating a game where a game wasn’t meant to be played.  For example, when we were studying paleontology and dinosaurs, my students and I went on a virtual dinosaur dig.  I found a great virtual dig that we could do as a class.  We pretended to get in our jeeps and travel to the dig site. Each student received a “special” paleontologist journal where they could record observations.  Students took turns coming to the board during the dig and helping unearth the dinosaur.  The other students sketched what they saw and took careful notes so the dinosaur could be reassembled later.  This was a grand adventure for my students that made for a fun day (digging M&M’s out of cookies didn’t hurt either.)  I look for opportunities to play with my students whenever possible.  Even older students love this (anyone want to solve a forensic case as a class?).  Play and learning are closely connected. I am always looking for ways to make learning fun and engaging whether we are limited to a class of 26 and one projector, or 26 students and 2 computers.  You can do it! Using the tub system meant that I got to spend a lot of time with my students. That conference time was so valuable. It let me meet all of my students exactly where they were at and provided the opportunity to work with them on a more individual basis.  As I said before, if you don’t have something like this in place, I highly recommend it! After I developed my Bloom’s re-imagines, I started including them in the tubs.  As part of the tub work, students could talk about the learning they were doing and what categories it fell into in Bloom’s Taxonomy.  Back then my Bloom’s wasn’t as fancy as it is today, it was hand drawn and copied   My how times have changed!  I find that students learning is even richer when they are thinking about their learning. Bloom’s Taxonomy gives students a nice framework to do this in. How about you all? What technology resources do you have available to you and how do you utilize them?

Read More

Archive Pinterest Boards with Evernote Web Clipper

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, collaboration, Download, Grade Level, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, web tools, Web2.0 | Posted on 17-08-2014

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

0

At Anastasis Academy, we don’t have boxed curriculum. This can be both incredibly freeing, and terrifying. If you don’t have curriculum that tells you what to do, what do you DO?! We engage students in inquiry. Inquiry gives students parameters of learning, but allows them to discover and explore within those parameters. Teaching students to properly manage their freedom.

Each 5 weeks, our students engage a new line of inquiry. We follow the PYP inquiry questions (Who we are, Where we are in place and time, How we organize ourselves, How the world works, Sharing the planet). These questions give us good parameters to work within. Each 5 weeks, I send our teachers resources for the inquiry block. Within these big inquiry questions, I provide our primary, intermediate, and Jr. High with different key concept lines of inquiry to explore. These are aligned to the social studies, science, language, and math standards for that age group. Every year I change-up the key concept lines of inquiry just a bit (keeps things interesting and fresh for all of us!).

I create Pinterest boards for our teachers that have a variety of resources for each inquiry block. These resources include ideas, videos, lessons, books, apps, etc. that are related to the inquiry block. They are not prescriptive, but rather offer a launching point for teachers. Then, I create QR code posters that look like this:

Inquiry poster QR code

These get posted all over the school so that teachers and students always have access to the resources (note: we are a 1:1 iPad school).

This has worked REALLY well for sharing resources, as I notice students connect with a line of questioning/inquiry, I can add resources during the inquiry block that the students can use. This creates a whole community that is discovering and learning together. The curriculum is fluid, it is constantly growing and adapting. Teachers often send me links and ideas through Pinterest (I don’t add teachers as collaborators for the boards-even though I could- because I don’t want them to feel obligated to spend their free time the way that I do). Students have begun to send ideas through Pinterest as well…way cool!!

Here is the problem, each year I create 18 inquiry boards. I use the same Pinterest account for personal use as I do for education (you never know when a non-education idea will spark the perfect education idea). As I was getting ready to create boards for this school year, I realized how MANY boards I was going to have to sort through to find this years boards. It is starting to get ridiculous! I needed a good way to archive boards. Enter Evernote. We already use Evernote as a school for ePortfolios, archiving boards using Evernote is the perfect solution!

I used the Firefox web browser to do this, I’m sure this plugin exists for all major web browsers. First, go to “Tools” in your Firefox menu bar and choose “Add Ons.” In the search bar, type “Evernote web clipper” and download the Evernote Web Clipper add-on. After you restart Firefox, this will put the Evernote Web Clipper button in your Firefox tools.

Evernote web clipper

Navigate to the Pinterest board that you want to save. Select all by going to “Edit” in the menu bar, and choose “Select All.” You could also just navigate to the board you want to archive and hold down the command key and letter “a.” Then click on the Evernote Web Clipper button in your address bar. Add any tags that you want to be associated with the board and a note to yourself about the board.

Pinterest board

 

Evernote web clipper Inquiry

That is it! The board is saved to Evernote with all of the images, and the web link is live as well! Verify that the board saved to Evernote correctly and then delete the board. Now you have room for a new year’s worth of boards.

This is a seriously great way to archive any boards that you need to save but don’t need in your Pinterest list right now. I’ve just archived all of last year’s inquiry boards and am ready to pin another year! This is also a great way to create a back-up of your boards or to save and send entire boards to colleagues.

If you just need to save the images from a pinterest board, use that-boy-I-love, (@jtenkely)‘s awesome creation, Pinswiper. This tool will save just the images from a Pinterest board as jpgs on your desktop. Great if you need images that you saved for classroom presentations, writing prompts, etc.

Write a comment

*