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Showing posts from January, 2014

#UDL as a Way of Rethinking #Engagement: Heighten the Salience

Brain research has shown that our brains are not only designed for information processing, but contains an affective network, which is comprised of many different parts, which work together to involve the emotional and motivational part of learning. The affective network influences how we perceive the outside world and impacts how we engage in learning. We often see the signs of a lack of engagement as behavior problems, off task behavior, a lack of motivation, an indifference to learning. Without engagement, learning often does not take place. A lack of engagement is often caused by a disconnect in significance. When students have options for sustaining effort and persistence, they are able to take more ownership of their learning and connect with the goal of the lesson. This involves heightening the salience of both goals and objectives, varying the demands and resources to optimize challenge, and fostering collaboration. How would you describe your learning goals and objectives? Ar

Engaging Students Differently: Google Voice to Develop Language Skills

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If you haven't noticed, I haven't been posting as frequently as I would like. This is partially due to the fact that I have been working on some really cool projects (more on that later), teaching, and going back to school online at the University of Akron. I hope to earn a second Masters Degree in Instructional Design. In my current class at Akron, I met a foreign language teacher, who uses Google Voice to assess the pronunciation and language development skills of her students. She created her own Google Voice number, which students call and respond to her weekly prompts. Students were given parameters like the number of responses, the minimum amount of time to respond, etc. What a cool way for students to practice their grammar and pronunciation! Especially during the awkward time that high school presents. These experiences allow students a low-pre ssure way of practicing, while developing their confidence in real-life face to face conversations. She reports that s

The Web and Students: ePortfolios (Part 2)

Continuing with the theme this week, I want to give you some ideas on how to use the web to create dynamic learning experiences for your students. One great way of having students demonstrate their learning is through e-Portfolios. How can we do it?  1. LiveBinders Students can use LiveBinders to create a portfolio of documents, pictures, and URL's to demonstrate what they have learned. This is a perfect way to organize materials in an electronic type of binder, which can be easily shared through email, social media, or just copying and pasting a URL. Students can very easily add tabs and subtabs to organize their artifacts; however, be careful of the space limit on the free version! 2. WikiSpaces Server space can be an issue on LiveBinders. A few years ago, I was doing research on how to use Wikis in education. I found an example of a music teacher in New Jersey, who  created a class Wiki page for his students to create music portfolio. Each student was assig

The Web and Students: Give Students the Keys and they Will Drive Instruction (Part 1)

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I recently heard a quote that resonated with me. The author had mentioned, "if  a 50 year-old seventh grade teacher takes a web design course and develops a class website about the Civil War and an actual seventh grader designs a website with the same content, which site would seventh graders actually use?" Seventh graders would probably gravitate towards their peer because they would most likely fill it with elements that would capture their attention and engage them in a different way. Sometimes we forget the fact that a teenager knows how to design a website for teenagers. We often fail to let our kids use the web as a tool to demonstrate their creativity. Is this why our students often feel like they have to "power down" in class? Recently, I created a video about this very topic. Check out some of these interesting statistics: How can we foster creativity? Here are some suggestions: 1. Give Students the Keys and They Will Drive Instruction - why n

Creative Way to Use PowerPoint: New Trick with an Old Technology

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When you hear the word PowerPoint, what do you immediately think of? Be honest! Do you think of paragraphs of information sandwiched onto a single slide? Are you about to have an anxiety attack if you hear one more student "read" their presentation word for word? We as educators are guilty of killing PowerPoint! :) Perhaps you may find some humor in Don McMillan's Death By PowerPoint PowerPoint as a Timeline?  Today I tried something different. I created a presentation containing a timeline of important historical events. I then created a separate PowerPoint for my students, which students were able to access from my website. I removed the dates and rearranged the slides, so that my students would have to drag and drop slides into an order that made sense. How it Benefits All Students! After the time was up, we began to go over the historical events. I had never seen my students so engaged about history before! As we progressed through the answers, students

Supporting ALL Students in the Brainstorming Process

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The writing process is a necessary skill that all students should be able to master; however, many of our students struggle with getting their ideas to paper. In order to help all of our students, perhaps we need to rethink the way we have our students organize their thoughts. Here are a few creative ways to help your students succeed and master the art of brainstorming: Low-Tech Idea: Post It Notes Have students brainstorm ideas about their particular topic on post-it notes of any size. Then have them arrange and organize their thoughts by moving and sticking them in different locations on their desk or paper. This is a great way to get your hands-on learners moving and thinking at the same time. High-Tech Idea: Story Me App Visual learners live by the quote, “a picture speaks a thousand words.” There is much truth to this. This type of learner often can think through visuals and not necessarily words on a paper. Perhaps you could use the free App called Story-Me to cr

QR Codes to Increase Literacy in the Kindergarten Classroom

I would like to begin the New Year with a guest blog post from one of my former graduate students. She recently completed my graduate course called Universal Design for Learning through  Regional Training Center .  Jessica Lewars has been a teacher within the Wilson School District for the past seven years. She has taught ESL, first grade, and is currently teaching kindergarten. QR Codes to Increase Literacy in the Kindergarten Classroom By: Jessica Lewars In my kindergarten classroom, I have students who are able to write complete stories with a beginning, middle, and an end and others who can barely write a complete thought on paper. These students are able to verbally say an entire story; however, when it comes to writing it on paper, they have difficulty formulating the sentence, stretching out words and writing down the letter sound correspondence. I wanted to plan a lesson in which would boost the confidence of my less experienced writers and have them be able to s

Using QR Codes in Today's Kindergarten Classroom

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I would like to begin the New Year with a guest blog post from one of my former graduate students. She recently completed my graduate course called Universal Design for Learning through  Regional Training Center . Corinne Schappell is currently in her seventh year of teaching Kindergarten at Green Valley Elementary in the Wilson School District.  Using QR Codes in Today's Kindergarten Classroom By: Corinne Schappell The Kindergarten classroom of today is not the same as it was even ten years ago. The need to be constantly stimulated by visual and hands on activities has maybe not increased but changed in its focus. We have become curriculum driven and are teaching things that were previous taught in first or even second grade. As a teacher, the need to be creative and innovative in order to truly reach and teach a classroom of learners has become a necessity. Created by Julie Shope I recently learned that there is an entire cart of iPads that are being underutilized