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Showing posts from April, 2013

Summer Technology Ideas: Social Media

listen to ‘Boohooboo’ on Audioboo

Changing America: To Be Free App

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listen to ‘Changing America: To Be Free App’ on Audioboo On January 1, 1863, The Emancipation Proclamation changed the lives of everyone in our nation. Regardless of our race, age, or gender, all of us can connect with this historic American event. Changing America: To Be Free is a free App to correspond with the Smithsonian exhibit in the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. I really like the fact that this App provides users with the ability to personalize their experience. As educators, we need to find new ways to engage our students. In the "Make a Connection" section, students can personalize their experience by making connections with historical figures who are similar in age, race, or gender. There are a variety of known and little-known historical figures available for students to explore. Each historical figure's profile contains a short bio and quote. Students can browse through all historical figures at once or filter by age and/or r

Part 5: Teaching with Poverty: Reading Strategies

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In one of my earlier posts, I had mentioned the term "Matthew Effect," a term coined by psychologist Keith Stanovich, referring to the fact that the "rich get richer and the poor get poorer." He was referring to the fact that if a student has negative experiences with reading early on in their career, they are more likely to experience difficulty and avoid reading altogether. How do we give our students opportunities to be successful in reading?  My blog post mentioned yesterday that it comes down to understanding vocabulary. If students don't understand it, then they won't read. What other strategies can we use to get our students reading?  Tip # 1: Access to Materials There was a study done outside of LA, which found that affluent and middle class students had significantly more access to reading materials than students in poverty (newspapers, books of varied reading levels, etc.). It may sound simple, but we need to provide access to a variety

Part 4: Teaching With Poverty: Teaching Vocabulary

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According to research, by the time MOST children start school, they will have been exposed to "5 million words and should know about 13,000 of them." What does this mean to educators? We may have to help our students in poverty "catch up."  Here are some tips: Tip # 1 - Strategically Teach Vocabulary  Why do many of our students refuse to read? For many students, its because they don't comprehend the vocabulary within the text.  Students typically need to know 90 -  95% of the words in a text to be able to understand it.  Beck, I.L., McKoeown, M.G., & Kucan, L. (2002) offer a 3 Tier model for teaching vocabulary. Tier 1 words are everyday vocabulary terms that we don't need to reteach. For example, you wouldn't need to teach a group of third graders what alphabet, add, or subtract means.  Tier 2 words  are general academic, meaning students should understand these terms across the curriculum. Tier 2 words should be our primary focus f

Part 3: Teaching With Poverty: Influencing Growth

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As we continue our discussion on poverty, we have discussed the definition of what poverty is and how to create a positive learning environment for our students. Today, we will focus on how to  influence growth. Tip # 1 - Encourage a Growth Mindset When we deal with "at-risk" students, we may have the  tendency  to lower expectations; however,  high expectations have been found to be a critical element in a student’s cognitive growth.   It is essential that we help develop a " growth mindset " in our students,  which not only places importance on academics, but also attitude, effort, and strategy.  These characteristics  are what will help our students become resilient and successful in life. At my school, we not only give quarterly academic grades, but we also give effort and conduct grades. We value the effort that our students show and realize that effort often leads to current and future academic success.  We also need to let our students lear

Part 2: Teaching With Poverty: Learning Environment

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With over 47 million people living in poverty, chances are that you are teaching students who are living in one of the 6 types of poverty mentioned in my last post . The fact is we cannot control the fact that many of our students live in poverty; however, we can control what happens within the four walls of our classroom. So where to we begin? Today we are going to discuss creating a positive learning environment.  Here are some strategies for overcoming poverty and increasing learning: Tip # 1 - Build Relationships James Comer was right when he said that "no significant learning occurs without a significant relationship." It doesn't mean that we have to be buddies or friends with all of our students, but it does mean that we insist on high quality work and offer support. It means meeting students where they are at and helping them get to where they need to go. In a way, we all have a responsibility for building relationships because many  of our "a t-ris

Part 1: Teaching Students in Poverty: What is Poverty?

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I recently gave a webinar for SimpleK12 on teaching students who are living in poverty. At the Milton Hershey School, 100% of our kids come from impoverished situations. In fact, as of 2011 it is estimated that the number of Americans living in poverty is approximately 46.4 million. Over the next few blog posts, I would like to stray from my normal educational technology posts to explore strategies for dealing with students facing poverty. Today we will focus on what poverty really is. We see the effects it has on kids each day: A lack of motivation Cognitive lags Chronic tardiness Inappropriate behavior Lack of parental involvement High transience rates  Do we truly understand what it is?  Ruby Payne defines poverty as “the extent to which an individual does without resources.” Many of us attribute poverty to a lack of money, but it  is more than a lack of income.  In fact, many experts, like Ruby Payne and Eric Jensen, state that there are at least 6 different t

A Way for Historical Figures to Text Each Other? Try SMS Generator!

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So what would Abraham Lincoln text John Wilkes Booth? How about George Washington and Benedict Arnold? What would Neil Armstrong text JFK? You may be scratching your head and thinking...Matt has really gone off his rocker! :) I want to introduce you to a tool from ClassTools.net called the SMS Generator . It is a creative way of having a conversation between two historical figures or even characters from a book! When you create your own SMS conversation, you can save it using a unique URL. To make it even more secure, you can give it a password, to make sure no one makes any unwanted changes. When you are finished, you have several options to share your conversation. You can embed your conversation on a website, share the URL, generate a QR Code, or even save a web shortcut to your desktop! This is a really creative way to help your students "think outside of the box." Not only is it another way to engage students, but you are giving students a chance to express the

Put Down the Tape and Staplers and Try Smore

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When you were young, did you ever post "missing pet" on every telephone pole that you could find? Or did you ever post "Vote for Class President" on every wall that you could find? How about putting fundraiser flyers on every car in the parking lot? What if I told you that those days may be over? With advances in technology, there are plenty of sites that will allow you to create virtual or electronic flyers for your events. One that I came across recently is called Smore . Smore is a free site that you can use to design stunning electronic flyers that can been seen on a PC, Smart Phone, or Tablet. You can embed video files, Tweets, and product reviews by effortlessly editing your flyer by dragging and dropping. When you are ready to share, you can do so via email, social media, or a link. I really like the user-friendly analytics section, which keeps track of who is seeing your flyer on Facebook, Twitter, websites, or searches. Have a school event coming up o

Special Guest Post by Daniel Turner: The Gamification of Education

Author Bio: Daniel Turner currently works in community outreach for Teach.com , which serves prospective teachers, as well as current teachers looking to learn more, with a wide variety of motivational and informational resources that range from STEM Education to how to become a teacher anywhere in the U.S. Outside of work, Daniel enjoys movies, sports and all things Philly. The Gamification Of Education Video games have found their way into many classrooms, and gamification has become the new buzzword. Gamification can be defined  as applying  game design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging. In education, this can mean incorporating learning games into the curriculum, whether students are playing a teacher-created Jeopardy game to review for an exam or playing Dance Dance Revolution in physical education for exercise and improved coordination. Gaming has become hot in schools, with students finding the curriculum to be more engaging and m

Self-Directed Learning in the 21st Century

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Everywhere you turn is a new online program for adults wanting to further their education. In the 21 st century, if you are a university who is not embracing online learning, you are one of the few. I am currently looking at online PhD programs in Instructional Technology for the fall of 2013. In my research, I have found one common thread among all of the programs – an emphasis on self-directed learning.  This is not a new concept, in fact, this concept has been around for a while; however, in the digital age there is a new emphasis on self-directed learning and accountability within a distance learning environment. I believe there is an internal desire for adults to want to have control of their own learning. It’s a sign of maturity and success. Some of the most successful people I know have been self-directed learners without being in a PhD or online program. One mentor of mine, Dr. Chris Adams, really emphasized the need to become a life-long learner in the field of ed

Bloxp Tells the Story of Your Favorite Blog on Your Favorite eReader

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Very few people know the story of how I started this blog several years ago. In 2010, I found myself out of a job, due to budget cuts, and was lucky enough to find a job at The Milton Hershey School in Hershey, PA.   A few months into my job, I was asked to lead a professional development on blogging and wikis. I didn't have a lot of experience with blogs, but I figured I would give it a try. After the professional development session, I was inspired to start my own blog, which you are reading today. Initially it was set up to help teachers at Milton Hershey, but as you know, it has quickly spread! Thank you! Why am I telling you my story? I found a unique website called Bloxp , which allows you to take a blog and turn it into a downloadable file to be read on your eBook. I tried it out and it was very easy. 1. Copy and paste the URL of the blog 2. Click Start and your blog will begin to compile a list of posts. 3. You will see a listing of all blog posts. Choose which ones