Posterous: Move to WordPress.com

Screen shot 2013-02-18 at 12.36.56 PM

Pause to reflect…

Posterous will close down on April 30th. Freebies change.

What do you do with the work you have loved to share?

Move to WordPress.com.

Follow these directions (link) for how to import your Posterous blog to WordPress.com

If you have a domain name for your blog, you will need to purchase an upgrade packet for $18. Just follow the directions as you create your and import your new blog at WordPress. WordPress explains Domain Names here and explains how to map your the Domain Name you already own to WordPress here.

Play to Learn…

Nerve wrecking, I know.

Backup your Posterous. Download it. Unzip it and you will see a “wordpress” file to upload when asked during the transition process. And here are a few tips that will save you some pain:

movetipsposterous.001

 

I read and re-read; finally, I just created the new blog into which I would import my posterous blog.

When I started my new blog, I needed to change the name. Be prepared for that. As I created the new blog, I checked the box for “I have my own domain name,” and followed the directions, adding the package I needed when asked.

As indicated in the tips image above, I was able to easily add my pages and links without a problem with those strategies.

AUDIO AND VIDEO TIPS: If you have audio, the audio does not import — save those files. For video, WordPress will import, but you will need to add a Video Package for adding more.

So, it’s not difficult, thanks to the easy Import feature in Tools in WordPress.

Just remember the tips on audio, video, pages and sidebar information and links.

It works!

Connected Learners: Visions

Pause to Reflect…

Livelearningconnectedceb12

In the Connected Educator’s Book Club, for Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach’s The Connected Educator, we are discussing our personal and shared visions of connected learners. We discussed these questions:

???What are our guiding principles for how we should operate and work together?
???Why do we exist?
???What do we want to create?
???What should school look like to support the needs of today’s learners?

We created our personal visions with images and words that reflected our personalities, which you can view here. To answer those questions, I created the image above and a poem to gather elements of a connected learner together:

A Vision as a Connected Learner

Guided 

by collegial acceptance and respect 

in a transparent dialogue 

of continual learning, 

we educators discover 

with our students 

how to live, 

always learning. 

 

Always learning, 

living learning, 

we create 

personalized understandings 

and globally connected collaboratives, 

and through these, we pave the paths 

to personal, productive, and peaceful futures. 

 

Always learning,

living learning,

schools provide 

a meeting point, 

a guide, 

a way forward 

from a place we are 

to the place we dream 

in face-to-face, 

connected, 

and virtual spaces,

conversing,

creating,

communicating,

contributing,

considering,

cooperating,

collaborating,

curating,

with access by all 

to the ideas, tools, and conversations 

that are also ongoing 

in the connected points 

of the global school

to live learning.

 

Livelearningpath

 

Play to Learn…

So my goal is to continue sharing and connecting, with my PLN and students to grow and learn together, living learning as we 

 

converse with each other for ideas

create demonstrations of our ideas together and independently

communicate the ideas clearly

contribute to the ideas of others

consider others’ and our ideas to 

cooperate towards a goal or

collaborate to solve an issue or create a service or product, then

curate our efforts for others to consider.

 

These authentic choices live in learning, more than the standards, and create digital and real citizens for our future.

 

What is your vision?


Photo Credits:

Credits: Images Flickr CC by teach.eagle

Media_httpfarm9static_nucmd

 

I want to do it all… and remind me…

Pause to Reflect…

My Friend Joy Kirr, 7th grade LA teacher from Illinois, wants to do it all — learn all the time and apply that learning in the classroom to inspire and encourage her students. Read what she says here:

Our Genius Hour: I want to do it all…:

‘via Blog this’

I agree; I want my students to live learning… not just love learning, but “live learning.”  It reminds me of a quote my students chose a few years ago as their motto:

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

Learnliveforeversre

This quote was attributed to Gandhi, but he did not actually say it; others have had similar views. (see here). Whoever started it, it is a great way to live.  I want my students and my family to “live learning.”

So, I want to do it all…

I want to learn all I can to share with my students and family so that they may do the same, adding positive words and actions to our world, which is why I say, “Go boldly, and scatter seeds of kindness.”

I want my students and family to know about the people and things that have changed the world for the better, and to add to those resources so that they too may create to change the world to be better.

I want my students and family to share, to collaborate, to invite, to consider, and also to find time for the quiet reflection that helps put the world into perspective: Live and let live. I am small, but I can make a difference in the world around me.

 

Play to Learn…

I need to remind myself to take one step at a time, and to remember this:

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely…” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am not perfect, but I can live learning…

How about you? What do you want to do? And what do you want to remind yourself?

And thanks @JoyKirr for reminding me…


Note: this post will be cross-blogged at What Else, Ask What Else,  Sheri42, and What Else 2 Learn

Digital Literacy for literacy today and onward…

SchoolnonameEaglebench

Pause to Reflect…

 

Digital Literacy: It’s now.

As soon as a child can reach, the choice is clear: the iPad has changed the world. 

Digital Literacy: It’s Today.

Joe and His Non-NetBook

Click to view the entire source video:

Joe and his non-netbook (an excerpt):

 

  • Joe

“I can’t double click on the image for more information. I can’t find the System Preferences to enlarge the small text.”

  • Expectations

Joe is frustrated because he knows a better way to access the information relevant to his learning. 

It’s not just middle school students. 

A one-year-old knows that “a magazine is an iPad that does not work.”  

See the source video:

The remix: 

 

Magazinedoesnotworkbaby

Digital Literacy: It’s now.

Look in your pocket or a person in the room. Listen in the room. Wherever you go, you see and hear it: we have  instant access to information and people. We are a connected world.

Digital Literacy: It’s Search and Connect.

How fast can you find information on Google? How valid and accurate is the information? How relevant is the information to your needs? Do you Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn? Are you connected to people around the world with similar interests? Do you collaborate with these people? If you don’t, you aren’t “literate” by today’s terms.

Source: Lucy Gray Presentation: http://www.slideshare.net/elemenous/search-at-isummit

Lucydigitaldivide1

Digital Literacy: It’s now.

If we have the tool, do we have the knowledge to be sophisticated and serious users of information? Do we  have the knowledge to be creative and critical authors of relevant and important information that helps not only ourselves, but others? Are we digital citizens?

Digital Literacy: It’s Research and Create.

Do you know how to apply a “digital alert?” Do you follow RSS feeds? Do you understand Creative Commons? Do you gather and analyze information, consider its import, collaborate with others, and remix to share to make a point, make a change, or make a difference? Do you engage as a digital citizen? If you don’t, you’re not literate.

Source: Lucy Gray Presentation: http://www.slideshare.net/elemenous/search-at-isummit

Lucydigitaldivide2

Digital Literacy: Traditional concurrent with the future.

Why not stay the same? Reading and Writing with paper and pen?

Have we ever stopped progress?

Think about It: Source:

 

Digital Literacy: Consider. Act. Connect.

Consider:

The costs of digital exclusion are rising … Offline Americans are missing out on education opportunities, health care opportunities, and, yes, job opportunities..

SOURCE: PC WORLD 2012-07-16 18:50:00

 

Connecting all Am
ericans and teaching them digital skills is critical to reducing unemployment … There is growing evidence of a skills mismatch in America..

SOURCE: PC WORLD 2012-07-16 18:50:00

 

We have a case to make, I think, for valuing the immeasurable over that which can be easily measured, and that the powerful role that schools can play now is not delivering that narrow curriculum (which is now in a million places) but in developing the skills and dispositions or the “opportunity to participate in civic and deliberative discussions” which, at the end of the day, is kinda hard to machine score.

SOURCE: Will Richardson http://willrichardson.com/post/27223512371/valuing-the-immeasurable 

 

In every great struggle, there comes a tipping point, that critical moment when an infusion of resources – people, effort and assets – is necessary to prevail … For the school district, we believe that tipping point is now..

SOURCE:: ACTION NEWS 6 ABC 2012-07-17 19:57:00

 

Play to Learn…

 

Digital Literacy for literacy today and onward… as literate, digital citizens.

5194377377_0e31f647b6_b

Source: Flickr Creative Commons by by mikefisher821

 

Eaglebench

Act:

What opportunities do we want for our students?

How will we connect their world to ours?

 

Connect:

One example: Personal Persuasive Project: science and language arts with student choice incorporating Google Apps for Education.


 


ePub: Digital Literacy 4 Us by Sheri Edwards  Download and Open in iBooks

Creative Commons 3.0

 

Note:

This post

-an ePub on iPads-

was my presentation

for the school board

on the importance of digital literacy

P2PU: A Reflection on Digital Literacy

P2puimage

Pause to reflect…

 

Peer 2 Peer University: Making Writing and Literacy Learning Connections is a reflective group I have joined to become a better teacher of digital literacies.

 

P2PU | Making Writing and Literacy Learning Connections | July 12: Writing in the “Real” World

 

 

This group of educators has been discussing Digital Literacy in terms of a transition of the teaching and learning of reading and writing in today’s classrooms.

 

I highlighted in Diigo the words from our second task and considered why they resonate as powerful possibilities.

 

1. Goals

 

“collaboration, shared writing, community building, and relevant and clear communication”
 
These ideas we have discussed as important to digital literacies, and are goals on which we can continually improve both our process and product. When we embark into digital literacies, we have the opportunity to build a better world, a world where diverse voices are heard and recognized, where they can come together in an online space and build a community of learners and citizens to solve problems anywhere. We could.

 

These fourth grade students grew into a community that provided lessons within their school and without:

 

Fourth Grade Service Learning Project:  http://digitalis.nwp.org/resource/366


2. Purpose

“help students to understand the ways in which the choices they make regarding when, how, and why they use writing to communicate to particular audiences can have a profound social impact”

 

When we communicate and collaborate, when we work together, we build a community. What we think, say, and write impacts ourselves, our communities. Our purpose is to help students find a voice, join voices, and act with those voices to impact their world — choosing the most effective words and presentation to convey that voice, their purpose. Using audio, sound, text, images, video, diagrams, interactives, and more, students constantly consider TAP: topic, audience, and purpose. We’ve just expanded the repertoire of choices in “how” we share; critical thinking and planning in creative ways will be the norm, if we help students understand their choices in “digital writing” (multi-media) and in reading those choices by others. We guide them to see the impacts of media on their lives and how their media can impact the lives of others.  Now more than ever, we help students “touch the future” and build that better world.

 

These students show how that power of choice through critical and creative revisions of their vision do just that.

 

Literacy in our Lives:  http://digitalis.nwp.org/resource/2783

 

3. Impacts

“student choice, online responsibility and ethics, social justice, and real world change through communication”

 

By expanding the choices in how students read and write, we encourage more engagement, and therefore more learning. The internet is filled with questionable content as well as the enormous wealth of helpful information. Through our classrooms with more choice and engagement, we promote the online responsibility and ethics of good citizens and encourage students to work for social justice. These are real world issues students can now become the powerful voice of change.

 

The example below transformed a traditional unit on Shakespeare into a message of understanding and clarification of identity that transcended their own classroom and reached out to build that understanding for others.

 

Redefining Romeo and Juliet: Reclaiming the “Ghetto”:  http://digitalis.nwp.org/resource/2248

 


Play to Learn…

 

4. Implications

“teaching and learning practices and writing in the real world”

“use Digital Is to help focus, enrich, and complicate our interest in authentic writing/writing in the real world”

 

Do you see how projects such build a local and global community with reciprocation of sharing? Do you see how  students and teachers applied these skills: creative and critical thinking with reading, writing, and producing strategies?

 

Do you see the need to find the ways to build the foundation in pedagogy, curriculum, and infrastructure to implement projects?

 

How do we start?

 

A good example that also started with the traditional history curriculum, but built a community of help and history is:

 

Students Doing History with Voicethread Technology:  http://digitalis.nwp.org/resource/415

 

Now more than ever, digital literacy bridges the schools and the “real world.”

 

What projects have you considered or implemented that also demonstrate the need for more projects like this?

 

How about joining the discussion at P2PU  and Digital Is ?

 

Digitalispic

 

 

Education: Shadows of Society

Oilshadows

Pause to reflect…

I wonder if you sense this, that perhaps education ripples as a shadow of society, and now is a target of false criticisms because of faulty expectations that prevent its possibilities and opportunities.

First of all, in this age of “accountabalism” (Phil Schlechty), EL by ASCD), I’m amazed teachers still strive to ponder the possibilities of our teaching profession. This constant testing forces teaching to tests and limits learning. But, teachers of today, who came to the profession because they care about each student rather than each score, do consider their impact and their improvement. They look to the future and frame their own learning to better the the learning of their students. 

So, Paula White wrote one of the best posts pondering 21st Century education in an effort to clarify needed changes: Education: the Past, The Present, and the Future. She had read  Rob Mancabelli‘s post Three New Pillars of 21st Century Learningin which Rob wrote:

The textbook, the lecturer and the classroom are three pillars of modern-day schooling that date back hundreds of years. Each was invented to solve a problem. The textbook was invented because information was scarce, the lecturer because teachers were few and the classroom because learning was local. These enduring icons persist into the Internet age, shaping our view of learning and driving the popularity of their digital grandchildren, things like iPad “textbooks” and the Kahn Academy “lectures.”

Paula noted the dichotomy existing in the education continuum:

“Past: research and recite

Present: research and present

Future: research and do”

These she translated into teacher roles:

“Past: Sage on the Stage

Present: Guide on the Side 

Future: More Experienced Learning Peer Who is Near?”

What a thoughtful explanation.

Next, Paula wrote another post, Education: the Past, The Present, and the Future 2, again quoting Rob Mancabelli on the pillars that support education:

“Pillar #1: “I’m only one of my students’ teachers, but I’m the most important because I teach them to connect to all the others.” Implication area: Instruction

Pillar #2: “My students should learn from me how to learn without me.” Implication area: Curriculum

Pillar #3: “My students’ knowledge lies not only in their minds but in their networks.” Implication area: Assessment”

Paula thinks those pillars (above) are actually the assumptions, and proceeds to suggest these pillars to support instruction, curriculum, and assessment:

Pillar 1–Instruction

The Pillar is actually Learning how to learn; teachers have got to move from thinking of teaching to helping students learn. 

in Pillar 2–Curriculum

I think the Pillar is actually Connecting-relationships, both online and off; connections between what you know, what you need to know and what you want to know.

and in Pillar 3, Assessment, the Pillar is actually Doing–using what you know and what you can learn from the Internet, your network and local and global resources to mix, remix, create content and do something that adds value to our world.”

Paula’s and Rob’s ideas present a timeline of sorts that matches education trends that meet the needs of students and society. The focus of their discussion is mostly on learning, which is the goal of education, to lead to learning. 

Our current emphasis on assessment changes that focus from learning to teaching, while claiming to test learning. Teachers are focused on requirements to be taught rather than on the needs of students in their local community. We are losing our goal of education, to lead to learning. We have moved from the reality of human interaction and relationships into a closed system, stamping individuals (students or teachers) as certified or not, relative of course, to outside requirements. 

And yet educators like Paula and Rob continue to remind us of the reality of society – of the learning realities of the communities around our schools. They have suggested the pillars that support that learning. Assessment is included, but that assessment is more than a test, it is to “do something that adds value to our world.” And that brings the focus back to learning. The student’s project demonstrates learning.

Play to Learn…

Paula and Rob are two of thousands of educators struggling to regain the power of education to transform the lives of our people, especially our children. I am in awe of the work of the people in my personal learning network, and in this instance, attempt to wrap my mind around the ideas and play with them for my own understanding.

It’s the focus on a timeline of learning that inspires me:

In a simple dichotomy, these learning strategies persist through the needs of society:

Past: Research and Recite — an agrarian and factory society

Present: Research and Remix— an information rich society

Future: Research and Refresh— a global, diverse, connected society

 

The pillars that support this societal timeline include:

 

Past— to research and recite needs support through the textbook, lecturer, and classroom.

 

So the curriculum, instruction, and assessment refer to:

Curriculum – Textbook

Instruction – Lecture

Assessment – Recite

 

Present— to research and remix needs the sup
port through internet connection, search and analysis coach, and a connection platform (online or actual space).

 

So the curriculum, instruction, and assessment refer to:

Curriculum – Internet — primary and secondary resources; connections to experts and peers

Instruction – Coach — how to learn

Assessment – Remix — new representation, a transformation of understanding

 

Future: to research and refresh needs support through internet collaboration, debate facilitation, and an action organization.

 

Curriculum – Discussion and collaboration on the internet with global experts, peers, primary and secondary resources of issues and problems

Instruction – Facilitate resources and collaboration of debates for solutions

Assessment – Refresh: Fresh solutions presented and decided in an organizational platform populated with the voice of students

We are transitioning among past, present, and future. Students, if not in school, then on their own, remix their ideas into YouTube videos and Facebook chats. A TEDx Youth Day shared many ideas by young people. Students, facilitated by teachers, have started to move to future pillars and actions by participating in Kiva solutions , Youth Voices ideas, and service learning ( Media Saves Beaches- video below).

Indeed, platforms are beginning to spring up like this Platform for Good

But will educators and educational institutions be allowed the freedom to guide students to learning within the needs of their local community, and learn through those needs?

So, what do you think? Are your schools struggling with accountabalism? What has worked in your school to engage students in learning that matters? What should we, as educators and community members, do to encourage engaged and relevant learning? How do we overcome the negativity towards education in current vogue? How do we move out of the shadows and cause ripples of change in education and in the learning we and students really want and need in today’s society?

 

 

 


More Resources:

A film by Nic Askew. More at Soul Biographies.

Video from KarmaTube

The Flipped Classroom and Tinkering: Authentic, Relevant, Applied learning and resources.

Photo: Sheri Edwards, recreated as oil painting with BeFunky.com

Thanks to my PLN friend, Tracy Watanabe, whose post on service learning popped up in my search, leading to the Media Saves Beach video. 🙂

Let them read, please…

Readplease

Pause to Reflect…

What does the reading classroom in your school look like? Are bookcases filled with books? Are baskets of books set around the room? Are book talks occuring? Do kids talk about books? Do kids share their books?

In my classroom on Friday, a first occurred. One student turned to another and said, “You should get this book and read it with me. It’s really good.”

Imagine that. An impromptu bookclub starting right in the reading classroom. How did that happen?

Students in my classroom read. They read their own texts — texts they have chosen: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels, magazines (hunting, motorcycles), etc. Everyday they have at least ten minutes of time to read, and it’s the “I’m done” activity for the school. They take their books to every class, just in class they say, “I’m done.”

It was a struggle at first. They would come each week with a different book with barely even starting the last one. They’d pretend to read. So, at first, I asked them to write to prompts like “What happened in your story today?” “How is the character like someone you know?” “What part do you like in your book today?” 

So, most of the year, students have had twenty minutes of choice reading three days of the week, with at least 10 minutes on the other two days.  They maintain a daily reading log of title/pages read and a booklog for finished books. On some days, they respond to prompts based on our reading lessons. Some days, but not all. 

I wanted kids to read, to read to learn the joy of reading, to read to find connections to themselves in the choices they make.

Probably half of my students had never read a book on their own. Now, all of them have read at least one, many have read five or more. And they’re recommending books to each other. Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a favorite. Hunger Games tops the list for the older students. Some now have genre preferences: realistic fiction, nonfiction history, nonfiction science, sports stories, graphic novels. That has never happened before either.

And some students now read science books in preparation for their choice in science investigations– without a suggestion, and well in advance of the project.

Kids choosing books.Kids recommending books to other kids. Kids starting their own bookclubs.

Play to Learn…

So what about those pacing calendars, objective-based lessons, pull-out interventions, and endless tests?

Something more important is happening in my classroom. Students choose to read. They ask to read. And now, some are choosing to read and share together, and they are choosing to read for class before a project starts.

Isn’t it time,

we added time,

to just let them read.

Please.

 

It’s Easy…

Pause to Reflect…

Nespelemmeadowtues

It’s easy to follow the usual road with the time you have in the day speeding by. Sometimes the road is not clear. I read a wonderful post by Chris Wejr, It’s Easy, which I found in my Twitter feed this morning. 

37022323-tweetcwejr copy

It’s amazing how the path of a twitter feed leads to solutions. Have you ever felt as if what you do is for naught? –You’re given a task of leading others, and resistance abounds? Or perhaps it just seems that way because you receive little feedback?

The easy path is to give up, but then then this tweet appeared:

Tweetstevejobs

to this post: Steve Jobs: Thoughts on Life   [updated link: Improve it.]

“Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

“You can change it.” “Improve it.” “Make your mark upon it.”

It’s easy to step back and give up.

It’s hard to keep going to help “change it.”

After re-reading Chris’s post, I could now reply:

It’s easy to read this post and agree.
It’s hard to ignore the ignorers and focus on the movers.

It’s easy to forget that time and lack of tech are issues with teachers who wear so many hats in these changing and budget-strapped times.

It’s hard to search for support and solutions that encourage such choices.

Conversely,
It’s hard to do it all.
It’s easy to take one small step.

What small step?

Two other posts guided the path today:

1) a comment from a colleague, Tracy Watanabe, on a previous post, which included this suggestion:

WOW and a Wonder (something that is a specific praise and a question meant to guide them to think about one way they can improve)

2) a post on Facebook by my granddaughter:

37023410-facebookalappreciated copy

Relationships are key. Appreciation is key. Build relationships and appreciate what has been done. Teachers are overwhelmed and under-appreciated. We all wear so many hats to help schools function and students learn, and the technology needed is not always at hand. During my teacher prep time (I teach full time), I take Tech walks (my other hat) to see what staff need. I need to preface the visit with a specific appreciation. And in staff meetings, I need to Wow before I Wonder.

Play to learn…

One small step to help move forward would be to WOW with a specific appreciation for what is working and improving. Appreciate the small steps by others. In staff meetings, WOW again the positive steps in tech use throughout the school. Then ask an “I wonder”– a small step that could be taken next — a step towards implementing technology by non-techy staff. Perhaps it will be an app for instruction; perhaps a way to communicate with students or parents; perhaps a tool for productivity.  At any rate, start with a WOW and add an I wonder if…

So the road may be unseen, but find the path while wandering through the blossoms of appreciation to find the next staff-needed I wonder.

It’s hard to do it all.

It’s easy to start with one small step.

37024379-meadow4 copy


Credit:

Thanks to the inspiration of   and

Wow and Wonder Strategy by Tracy Watanabe

Tracywowwonder

Occupy Your Classroom

Charactertraitdiscussion

 

Pause to Reflect…

Teachers in today’s “reformed” schools often are pressured by time, mandates, and test scores into lessons that:

Post the objective.
State the objective.
Explain the objective.
Practice the objective.
Test the objective.
Evaluate the objective.
Move on or reteach the objective.
Repeat.

Sometimes we can add art into the lesson.

For instance, after learning (see above steps) Reading Comprehension 2.2.3 Literary Elements: Characterization, students demonstrated the objective with the following process.

Note: a frame provides the foundation to focus on the object and to save time; it provides the outline into which the students creatively add their characterization responses. Students:

  • Wrote the title/author in the top frame of a character frame template.
  • Read the pages describing the character’s physical description, and drew the character within the picture frame template.
  • Added into the character’s hands the most important prop for that character relevant to that story.
  • Listed the most important personality trait for the character on the bottom frame of the poster.
  • Explained the evidence from the text for that trait in the left side frame.
  • Explained how the character’s trait affected the plot in the right side frame.

What happened:

Within this art lesson, the students who usually just make the standard even after several reteaching sessions, were shining. They created a text-based image including not just an appropriate, but pointedly relevant prop. They helped others discover the best prop for their characters. Where usually these students fail, just this twist of objectives that allowed them to “visualize” through art this story and their characters, they demonstrated a deeper level of understanding into more than Reading Comprehension 2.2.3 Literary Elements: Characterization. They discussed cause/effect, setting, plot, and character while reminding others of the story events from the particular point of view in which their little minds work.

Play to Learn…

In our mandate to teach all the standards to mastery, time is the enemy. Pressure forces lessons to cover enough objectives so students can pass The Test that determines student progress, school-wide growth, and teacher effectiveness. Differentiation seems to demand lessons that meet the needs of students who think and work differently, who need a different framework from which to understand the objective and its required response. This lesson differentiated the product so students who struggle with strictly linguistic responses could demonstrate that they did understand the character development. However, this project took time, time from other objectives because art takes time. How many students think in ways that prevent them from answering textual questions in written responses? How many are retaught and re-skilled over and over in ways that don’t meet their needs because of the lack of time to plan and implement lessons that would open their pathways to expressing comprehension and application of the objective? How much is the pressure of classroom mandates affecting the learning community?

Differentiation is not individualization; it is knowing student readiness, interests, and learning profiles. Flexible grouping and respectful tasks provide the vehicle through which students and teachers in a community of learners can successfully learn standards. Our goal is for all students to shine. Start slowly; build differentiation. Occupy your classroom for the students. Differentiation is one way. Take the time.

Resources for differentiation:

 

Edutopia

http://www.diffcentral.com/model.html

Differentiatedinstruction.net

McKinneyisd

Robert Sternberg Differentiation pdf

Six Vocabulary Visits

wordsmithbadge

Pause to reflect…

It’s summer and time to visit friends. Yet, teachers often wander back into their work to improve their strategies for the next year. I know the research on Vocabulary Instruction by Marzano— see a review and many resources here: jc.schools.net And in thinking about instruction for next year, I decided to visit six vocabulary friends, and I hope you enjoy the visit.

Play to Learn…

1. Listening Vocabulary

  Every teacher knows how valuable a working vocabulary is to learning and understanding. Many kids are exposed to conversations, books, museums, travel, sports and science camps, and other engaging family activities that enrich their understanding of how the world works today and in the past, with a rich vocabulary that accompanies those activities. A good listening vocabulary, those words you understand in conversation, guide the understanding of written words. In order to read well, then, a good oral listening vocabulary will improve the ability to understand written text.

What if students could listen to stories and hear the words?

Did you know about these free audiobook sites for children?

Lit to Go by Florida’s Educational Technology Clearinghouse

Storynory

Storynory’s Catch Phrase (explains common phrases in stories)

Sync (13+) What about student research and reading online?

 

Try: Reading Words Online — turn text to speech

http://vozme.com/bookmarklet.php?lang=en (add to your browser)

http://www.ispeech.org/

http://www.readthewords.com/

http://www.odiogo.com/sign_up.php Turn your blog into a podcast

If you have access to a Mac OS X, check out these accessibility features, including text to speech, built in to the system: (text to speech directions) Literacy Learning

For Students with Disabilities: Bookshare.org  

Where do you see these fitting in?

I see students link to them from a class webpage, students listening on their own or the school’s iPads/iPods/computers. I see a class or group of students listening and enjoying together (whiteboard or computer). And I see students access these at home, either downloaded on their own devices at school or accessed directly from home. I see students choosing what and where.

 

2. High Frequency Words

To facilitate reading, students learn the high frequency words used in texts to develop automaticity in reading.

What are these high frequency words?  

Lists can be found here (free)

Sight Words

Wordbank

1200 High Frequency Words  

 

For Students and Teachers

Spelling City (freemium)

Prefixes/Suffixes

 

For Students Fun with Learning Say the words before they disappear.  

 

Where do you see these in your classroom?

I see kids reading flashcards with each other (see visit number three), or on Fun with Learning. I see kids noticing these words as they write. I see kids making up their own words using the meanings of the words they have learned. I see kids using words more precisely (“underneath” instead of “over there”). Merrium-Webster allows users to build an online dictionary. We could add our class favorite words there. I see a class wiki or google site with our own Great Words to Know. I see students choosing how and where they practice their words (in class, self, groups, at home, online) as part of their self-learning/reflection.

 

3. Academic Vocabulary:12 words

Standardized tests drive instruction today, like it or not. I’ve been reading many blogs who have mentioned Larry Bell’s suggestion that students learn twelve important academic words frequently found on standardized tests.

Here’s one blog with these words: 12 Words (trace, analyze, formulate, explain, describe, summarize, infer, compare, contrast, predict, evaluate, support) This would be a great start to helping students with school-based learning. Learn them. Use them in questions and tests. Students apply them in their work and self-created test questions.

One way to learn words is through flashcards and learner-friendly glossaries. I found two sites that help students and teachers create and use flashcards or glossaries. First, quizlet, a freemium online app allowed me to easily created a set of online flashcards of the twelve words. I also created a set to use to teach with which included examples. Students can sign up to create their own in quizlet. Teachers can create private groups for students. Second, in Wordsmyth, I quickly created a glossary of the words with audio, mostly kid-friendly definitions, part of speech, an example, and related words. I could choose a dictionary (beginner, childrens, advanced) which then suggests kid-friendly definitions accordingly. This is important in learning new words: the definitions need to be in kid-friendly terms and their own words. In this set, I added the word, “evidence” to the list. For the related words, a great strategy is to place those words on a continuum of least-strong to most-strong in its meaning. Reading Rockets provides a wonder lesson and resources about this: Semantic Gradiants

Other Flashcard Apps:

Google’s Widget in Spreadsheet How To

Studyblue — free

Studystack — Sample flashcards about Google Apps

Many of these apps are now available for the iOS platform (iPhones, iPads, iPods). gFlash is available on all devices.  

Where do you see these in your classroom?

I see kids creating their own glossaries and flashcards which will deepen their word understanding. I see kids using words more precisely (“underneath” instead of “over there”). I links to their creations on a class wiki or google site with our own Great Words to Know. I see students choosing how and where they practice their words (in class, self, groups, at home, online) as part of their self-learning/reflection.  

4. Academic Vocabulary: Content Words

As students study in textbooks and online to become experts in their area of study, they encounter words particular to each discipline. We want students to recognize and take time to learn these words so they can speak and write as historians, geographers, biologists, authors, etc. We want our classrooms filled with literate conversations.

Where can I find these academic words?

Building Academic Vocabulary

Bringing Words to Life available on Kindle

I discovered a wonderful site from Tennessee filled with resources and lists for helping teachers and students master academic vocabulary. And one from New Zealand which also includes exercises for students who are English language learners.

By choosing the words, and helping students choose the words, that are content-specific, we ensure students have the opportunity to develop better understanding of the content. Using wordsmyth or quizlet or any other site that helps students generate and practice these vocabulary words will aid in their progress.

vocabtriangleA strategy I use in my class is called word triangles. Here’s the strategy sheet. Students choose a word and list it inside a triangle. On two legs of the triangle, students write two details from the text that relate to the word on the lines next to each triangle. On the third line, students write a connection to the word. This helps students focus on the word, the text, and their understanding through a connection. It’s been a powerful addition to our learning.

Where do you see these in your classroom?

I see kids developing a relationship with words, in their own lists, at home, online, and in class. If our daily routines in the classroom focus on the art of the wordsmith, student wordsmiths will emerge. I see teacher and student choices in academic vocabulary with brief daily discussions using the words we choose. I see continuing our Vocabulary Wednesdays for more focused instruction with wordlists, games, sharing.  

5. Improving Vocabulary

Yes, automaticity and academic vocabulary is important, but what is more important is lifelong learning. Becoming a wordsmith is fun. In my classroom, my wall is adorned with Donald Murray’s quote, “Writing is hard fun.” Vocabulary is “hard fun” too. But key to learning new words is putting those words into one’s own frame of reference with one’s own images, words, and connections and using the words correctly in daily use.

Students need kid-friendly definitions: The Oxford dictionary is for language learners, so the definitions are written in easily understood words and so is this learner dictionary, both specially designed for easy understandings of definitions. And, suggestions for activities to practice, learn, and use words can be found at this Learning Tasks site. Students can create their own learning center at Vocabulary.com

Using the strategies in our first four visits with learner-friendly dictionaries, and interactive activities, and maintaining an online vocabulary center will propel students to become wordsmiths.

Where do you see these in your classroom?

  I see kids challenging each other and recognizing their new word power. I see a hallway of Wordsmith Wonders, where students add their words in a graffiti -like wall that encourages wordplay, poetry, and interactivity. I see blogs with improved vocabulary and word challenges.I see our wiki or Google Site growing in power. I hear the hallway chatter with laughter of a found phrase to share on the Wordsmith Wonder or blog. I see and hear students choosing their own wonderful words.

6. Sharing Vocabulary

Choosing, learning, practicing words need social connections. Our Wordsmith Wonders will begin the interaction of sharing and applying our vocabulary. Working with partners and groups for learning on Vocabulary Wednesdays will offer more sharing time so we learn from each other. A new book of strategies I will try is Inside Words by Janet Allen (available on Kindle).

Merrium-Webster allows users to build an online dictionary; add to it.

Word Whirl

Students bring their best new vocabulary words, ready for Word Whirl. Students think about a poem or speech with their words for two minutes so that in one to two minutes they speak on a topic or recite their poem. They try their ideas out with a partner, seeking questions on content and format, and offering those to their partner. Students rethink their work for two minutes. Now the whirl: students pop up and share their work to the class. Listeners write down the interesting word(s) they hear, and one compliment. Next person pops. At the end all students either turn in their list/compliments or type them into a shared google doc. The document is discussed as a class as it is projected, or a leader shares the compliments and key words. What did you like? What did you notice? What was confusing? What word will you try?

Students add their whirl to the Wordsmith Wonders, their own blog, or a common wiki or site.

And now how about you share: share1 What word did you learn today? Share it so we learn too…. at AnswerGarden.ch.  

Where do you see these in your classroom?

I see wordsmiths recognizing each other for vocabulary choices. I see impromptu discussions where words carry weight by their succinct addition to the topic. I see restatements of content more clear and concise, a group endeavor to summarize with pizazz. I see a badge of honor anyone can earn for the learning and using of vibrant vocabulary, like our vivid verbs in writing.  

7. Listening Vocabulary

Vocabulary is required learning. While the teacher must direct the learning of specific vocabulary for their content area in each lesson, students should also consciously construct their own improved vocabulary. How students learn new vocabulary should not just be teacher directed, but also interest driven (new buzz word: passion). These activities provide opportunities to listen to our words in conversation and discussions and in written work for class or on blogs. Which brings us right back to listening: Wordsmiths listen to the way words work wonder in our minds. So if you find your classroom filled with wordsmiths, grab this badge to share with them. wordsmithbadge

Where do you see these in your classroom?

The friendly vocabulary visiting is done, except will you please share your favorite vocabulary friends here? I know I would love to meet a few more before school starts! And after you have shared, grab the badge for yourself.


Inspiration for this blog comes from Elizabeth at Apache Junction.

My Growing Vocabulary Diigo

Cross-posted at What Else

Photo Credit:

Wordsmith Badges by Sheri Edwards CC3.0

Wordsmithbadgelg