Thursday, April 30, 2015

Dear Diary....

Writing Across the Curriculum

Generally, students love to write. If you ask them to write about themselves, they may write a book. Students get better at writing by practicing to write! I am sure many of you have a daily writing activity, regardless of the class you teach. If you were to gather up writing samples throughout the year, you would be able to show the steady progress your students have made. Studies have shown that students will type more than they write/print. That has always been true when I worked with students.

I recently had a request from a classroom teacher who was trying to add a new twist to a project. Her students were going to "become" someone fighting during the war. She wanted them to be able to share their experiences and what they were learning each day from the view of a soldier. 

Have you seen the "My Diary" app? This would be a wonderful way to pull up one students work, and see their progress in writing conventions. Students can not only write with this app; they can also add pictures, tables, highlight text, add bullets and headings, and add links to external materials. It is easy to use. The option for a larger font, makes it kid friendly for younger friends. They can have more than one diary, so they could be writing for different classes.

Use the settings tab to link your files and labels so that they Export to Google Drive.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Teacher Feature: Paula Yeager

"It's Not About Me.  It's for My Kids!"

Paula Yeager is an inspiration.  Although she will tell you that she is not the most "tech savvy" person on the planet, she goes above and beyond to ensure her students are using the latest and greatest digital tools.  She is also a member of The Sandhills STEM Fellowship Cohort.  This is a program through Discovery in Charlotte.  

Mrs. Yeager, still considered a "beginning teacher," has been teaching 6th Grade Science at Southern Middle School for only three years and says that the reason she started teaching was because she just wanted to do something different.

I asked Mrs. Yeager the following questions and was captivated by her responses.

What is beneficial about implementing technology in the classroom?

It gives the students a chance to be creative. They take responsibility for their learning. It is THEIR world. They have to know how to use what they will be using the rest of their life!

Have you seen a change in your students since the Chromebooks?

I have seen a change for the better. They are more on task, they are more engaged and they seem to be enjoying learning. My students enjoy helping other students with digital tasks. They are not afraid to ask their peers questions.  Technology levels the playing field.  Students who may seem to be shy or even labeled as "behavior problems," rarely struggle in my classroom.  They thrive on the challenges of digital projects. 

Why are you so technology forward in your science classroom?

It's not about me, it's for my kids. At my age, I could care less about technology, but when I agreed to teach, I signed up to do what is in the best interest of my kids. It's not that I don't cringe sometimes whenever I learn a new technology, but I want my students to be college ready and again, it's not about me, it's about what is best for them.

           Solar System Thinglink

                                                             Photosynthesis Piktochart  

                                              STEM Principles                                                                            

These are just some examples of Mrs. Yeager's 
Digitally Infused Projects

Meghan’s Thinglink  - Planets

Temiyan’s Slide show with Movenote - Plate Tectonics

Lexi’s Movenote  - Plate Tectonics

Madison’s Google Draw - Solar and Lunar Eclipse

Copy of Padlet - Photosynthesis

Goanimate:  Light waves

Goanimate:  Sound waves

Thank you Mrs. Yeager for being a digital pioneer 
for your students!

Teacher Spotlight - Joshua Cassellius Union Pines

Today I bring you some integration ideas I learned from Joshua Cassellius, a spanish teacher at Union Pines High School. Mr. Cassellius has been doing an exceptional job, smoothly incorporating technology into his daily instruction. He was an early adopter of Google Classroom to manage workflow and now runs a largely paper free classroom. Mr. Cassellius understands well that Chromebooks are a teacher’s tool for instruction that doesn’t fit every instructional situation. Accordingly, students move their devices back and forth from desktop to backpack efficiently several times in a class period.
Mr Cassellius has been particularly good at using Chromebooks this year to 1) increase student-teacher communication and 2) increasing the rigor of student mastery assignment through creation, collaboration, and publication.
In a recent training session we discussed Today’s Meet. Mr. Cassellius volunteered to his colleagues that he uses it with great success. He make one “room” per course, sets the time limit for 1 year, and posts the entrance code on the “About” tab of the course’s Google Classroom page. Before tests and quizzes he asks students to post any questions they have to the wall. He credits the anonymity afforded by Today’s Meet for the increased increase in student requests for help and as a result better student performance on the quizzes. Similarly he solicits student responses in spanish to verbal questions and as responses are collected peers critique the grammar and word choice without the fear of judgement by peers.
Mr. Cassellius has also asked that students work in groups to create video presentations with cell phones and WeVideo to demonstrate their mastery of elementary spanish. This one activity allows Mr. Cassellius to reach all 4 of the central components of spanish skill instruction: speak, writing, listening, and presentation. The task is made challenging and relevant because these students have to collaborate with each other to produce mastery work while navigating the non-native language.  

Here are a few sample products by Mr. Cassellius’ students

Learn more about Mr. Cassellius’ tools featured above by clicking the icons below
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Friday, April 24, 2015

Simplify Text with ReWordify

   Rewordify is a site that was introduced to me by one of my amazing colleagues. This tool can simplify text from an entire website or selected portions. Words that that are deemed as challenging will be adjusted to a lower lexile level, and will be highlighted to reflect words that were changed. Rewordify is a great tool to use for research projects; it opens many doors for various site exploration, that would normally be too difficult for students to understand. 
   To use Rewordify, you can either enter in a website URL, which will give vocabulary assistance for the entire website, or you can select certain paragraphs or sentences. 

   This is also a terrific tool to use with struggling readers or ELL students to assist with vocabulary acquisition. Rewordify is a site that can be used across the curriculum and is a great addition to any classroom.

~Deanna Boesch

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Flipping Your Classroom with Video Notes

VideoNotes is a free web tool that syncs with your Google Drive and allows teachers and students to take notes on any video while they are watching it.  Notes can be shared, viewed, and edited in Drive.  This allows students to collaborate just like with any other Google Document.  
The video is loaded on the left-hand portion of the screen and notes are taken on the right.  All of the notes are time stamped and you can jump to the specific place in the video when clicking on that portion of the notes.  

This product is perfect for the teacher looking for a way to flip a classroom.  Students can watch videos for homework or independent work and type their notes or questions as they watch the video. Teachers’ lessons can then be geared to the application of the skills they are working on.