Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Friday Finds 11/25/11

I was busy getting ready for Thanksgiving last week and missed posting Friday Finds for the first time!  Here I am wishing you an early TGIF with the latest stuff I've checked out:

Chart Wizard couldn't be easier!
Are you an educator on Facebook?  Then check out this list.
Would you take photo of yourself every day
This is very cool, and even cooler on a touch screen.
Check this out if you use an iPhone to take photos.
And speaking of photos - Instagram + Blurb = Awesome!
Advice about passwords.  I'm thinking about trying LastPass to save time and be safe.
An ESL Advent Calendar full of online activities.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Teaching Like a Coach

I have two boys who have been active in youth sports since they were old enough to throw a baseball.  Add up all the soccer, baseball, and basketball practices and games over the past few years and that means I've witnessed a lot of coaching.

Here are some things that good coaches do that good teachers should do too:

1.  High-Fives for every player.  Every time, and I mean each and every time one of my boys arrives at a practice or a game the coach high-fives him and greets him.  I wrote my first blog post about talking to every student every day.  Do I give my students that moment of attention and recognition each day?

2.  Less Talking.  More Doing.  Coaches don't spend a lot of time talking about how to throw a perfect pitch, how to swing the bat correctly, or how to dribble.  They get to the point quickly and clearly, and then they show it.  If the kid doesn't get it, they don't talk about it more, they show it again and then do it with them.  Do I spend too much time telling instead of showing?

3.  Practice and Repetition.  Coaches believe in muscle memory.  Shoot the basketball over and over and over and more shots are bound to go in.  Period.  My 9 year-old son's basketball homework over the three month break of club basketball:  10,000 basketball shots.  Guess how many balls my 7-year old hits at the batting cages!  Do I give my students enough practice?

4.  Games Count.  Coaches know games are where it matters.  It doesn't matter that you hit a triple in practice if you strike out in the game.  No one really cares that you swished ten free throws in a row in practice if you airball your shots in a game.  Of course I praise effort and practice with my students, but do I need to grade every assignment?  Do I need to collect each and every piece of writing?  Or do they need to just show it in a test?

Lesson Learned:  My students don't wear uniforms or compete to win a trophy, but there are still some coaching strategies that I can apply in the classroom.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Finds 11/18/11

From peeling bananas to facts about sharing online . . . fun things I checked out this week:

A personal pep talk with kinetic typography.
9:30 am is the peak hour for sharing online.
Inspiration to try doing things a new way.
Why didn't I know about this teaching channel?
Grouptweet could work well for a class.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Friday Finds

Some interesting tools I checked out this week:

Visuwords - online graphical dictionary
GroupTweet sounds cool.
60-second recaps from WatchKnowLearn
We can get overwhelmed with tech tools.  One blogger lists just her top ten.
A sweet free summarizer.
How to search your old tweets.
In honor of our veterans: this basic lesson.
As always, go here for the best list of resources about anything, including Veteran's Day.

Don't Underestimate

I was so proud of my students completing a mini-tech project with no hands-on lab time at all.
The project - to create a Voki - was quite simple but there were a number of steps involved.

1.  Find a favorite quote from the book we were reading.  (We were reading Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas).
2.  Set up a free Voki account.
3.  Create their Voki - recording their voice or using the text-to-voice feature to say the quote and why they liked it.
4.  Copy and paste their Voki link into our class Moodle forum.
5.  Listen to and comment on at least 3 other students' Vokis.

To support the students in completing the project as homework, I:

1.  Demonstrated one time in the class with a computer projector.
2.  Provided Jing slideshows of how to do each part of the project. 
3.  Did a quick Q & A in subsequent questions to troubleshoot.

That's it!  I estimate I spent only about 20 minutes of class time total dealing with the tech-aspect of the project.  We did spend lots of time, however, while reading and book discussions talking about their favorite quotes and moments in the book.  That's what I really wanted them to focus on, but in a more interesting way.  (I was hoping to be both neat and deep - avoiding the trap of Neat, but not Deep).

Within a week every one of my students had completed the project!  Here are a couple student examples here:


 My lesson learned:  Don't underestimate what students can do on their own!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Are Cell Phones the Enemy?

Over the past few weeks it seems like nearly every other teacher I've talked to on campus has mentioned problems with students using cell phones in class.  Complaints have ranged from secret texting in class, cheating (of course!), ringing, and just general distractions.

I get this, and so do many others fed up with tech-overload.  Two recent articles highlight this:
Are Schools Getting Too Carried Away With Technology
A Silicon Valley School That Doesn't Compute

Increase of cell phone usage is no surprise, just read articles such as these in the news:
How do college students actually use cell phones?
Teachers use cell phones in the classroom.

I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority in not having a strict NO cell phone use in my class, but that doesn't mean that I don't have a usage policy.  The cell phone policy in my class in simple:  When you are not taking a test or some other assessment, only use your cell phone for educational purposes.  I don't have problems with students answering their phone and leaving the room to chat, texting under the desk, or downloading essays to copy.  I do have students that comment on our class blog, use a dictionary app, search for more info on a topic, add a deadline to their calendar, review my latest tweet, and check a score on our Moodle site.

This is what I have been reading about cell phone use in the classroom.  If you want to drink the Kool-Aid, read on:
Today's Mobile Devices are Tomorrow's Textbooks.
10 Strategies to Break the Ban and Build Opportunities for Student Learning with Cell Phones.
10 Reasons Cell Phones Should Be Allowed In Schools
Making the Case for Cell Phones in Schools
It's in Your Pocket: Teaching Spectacularly with Cellphones

Some schools embrace rather than restrict cell phones.  Here's one Elementary School Embracing Mobile Learning Technology

And for a full list of many, many more links visit Cybrary Man's Mobile Learning Page and this LiveBinder full of resources.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Finds

I missed last Friday, but I'm back this week with the following:

  •  When I was born I was the  3,751,993,634th.  Where are you in the 7 Billion?
  • If This Then That - I like this idea (especially the above recipe if Instagram, then Dropbox).  Brilliant!
  • Don't you love infographics?  Then check out this creative and cool resume!
  • Some food for thought:  About 40 percent of 2- to 4-year-olds have used a smartphone, tablet or video iPod, according to a new study by Common Sense Media. What do you think that means for educators?
For the classroom:

What Would You Hold?

 I read that only 1 out of 100 readers actually comment on a blog.  I read blogs all the time and never comment.  Still, I'm curious:  Is anyone reading this?