Monday, July 6, 2015

Connecting to Build Literacy

More from ISTE 2015! With our district focus on literacy, I was excited to find a number of online opportunities in the poster sessions for our students to connect and be a part of global community of learners. I plan to offer this information at the Elementary Literacy Conference in August as well.

100 Word Challenge
Creative Writing for Children under 16
Created by Julia Skinner, retired Head Teacher

Each week, a writing prompt is posted. It may be a picture or a series of words. Students can use up to 100 words to write a creative piece. **The piece is posted to a class or student blog and then linked to the 100 Word Challenge blog. Each challenge is typically posted on Sunday and stays open until the following Saturday.

Currently you do need a class or student blog, but it appears that this requirement is changing in September. Waiting for more information from Julia, but I think it would be best to have your own.
The 100 Word Challenge has a "team" of adults from across the world who have volunteered to comment each week on a given set of entries. To ensure capacity, each school participating must provide at least one commentator.

**Beginning September, you will no long need your own class or student blogs but will be posting (copy/paste from your own if you want both) to NightZookeeper site.

5 Sentence Challenge
Creative Writing for Younger Writers (and Struggling Writers)

Aimed at assisting younger students or those who might struggle with 100 words, the prompts are thematic and the link is up for 2 weeks giving students more time for posting and discussion. the 5 sentences can be a list or a piece of prose.

Blogging Is Writing
Susan Davis @suludavis

Susan and her teammates have jumped into student blogging. Each ones has tweaked the format/process. All their resources can be found on their blog. Susan's goal was to have students see writing and blogging as one and the same. She alternates traditional assignments with free posts. Assignments included an :About Me" post, a persuasive piece, an infographic/book trailer, and a review (selections for "Bloggy Awards").

Shannon Wentworth

I didn't get a change to actually meet Shannon, but I picked up her card at a poster session. Looking
at her resources, she uses her Twitter account to post challenges. Students can reply to the post and/or there are hashtags. Cool idea, but still working through how to manage in your classroom of little ones... maybe a classroom account?

Interactive E-Literature: via Digital annotation and Multimedia Storytelling
Alli Gubanich @alligub
Ali uploads plain text versions of novels they are reading (when available) in class to a Google Docs shared folder. Each night, students complete mandatory annotation activities within the appropriate folders. She feels these activities help her students make connections between the text they are reading and the outside world, collaborate with one another, and develop their communication skills. Visit her website to see examples and video tutorials.

Need help developing or "tweaking" any of these ideas to implement in your classroom? Contact me and comment below! Would love to hear your ideas!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Experience the World in your Classroom with Google!

I had the great fortune to visit the Google for Education booth at ISTE 2015 on Tuesday in time to experience Rich Kiker's presentation. In case you don't know, he is a Google Master! While he didn't share everything here, his website complete with Symbaloo is full of Google related resources.

Inspired by the tools he shared, I have created this Symbaloo that spotlights the tools he did share but not all (so you don't get lost).

Beginning in the upper left are links related to location and mapping:

  • Google Maps - a no-brainer but just in case....
  • Google Maps for EDU - Click on the resources tab to find a collection of video tutorials for Google Maps and Google Earth
  • Street View - Stunning photography will transport you and your students to places far and wide! Explore world landmarks and discover natural wonders through 360-degree images! Street View is going away in August. Here's the info on where it's going!
  • Tour Builder - You can create your own story using Tour Builder! Think about... a personal narrative, plotting movement in a novel or historical event! This could be a really great project for your students as well as for you. It allows you to create Google Earth type projects using your web browser. Here's a YouTube tutorial. Only bummer - You must use a different browser than Chrome as Chrome no longer supports the Google Earth plug-in. Hopefully, that will change in the future!
  • Google Maps - Smarty Pins - This fun and interactive game tests players' trivia AND geography knowledge! Could be a fun and easy starter or end of class activity! 
  • GeoGuesser - Click Single Player mode and you're off! You'll be in street View somewhere in the world. Look around. Use any information available and figure out where you are. Click on the map and place the marker where you think you are. Click the Make a Guess button!
In the middle:
  • TREKS - Join the Google team as they trek the wonders of the world! Each trek is unique with videos, 360 degree panoramas and more! Meet chimpanzees in Gombe National Park. Hike the Grand Canyon. How might you set your students loose here?
  • Connected Classrooms - Bringing field trips into classrooms via Google+. You need to join the Connected Classrooms Community on Google+ to learn about the opportunities.
  • Expeditions - Google's latest EDU project. Click the Learn More button to request an expedition for your classroom. Scroll down and learn about Google Cardboard, More to come!
  • Google Cultural Institute - Discover exhibits and collections from museums around the world. You can even create your own collections and share them. Think of how you might use this to share specific pieces/works with your students! Below are links to the specific categories of works:
    • Art Project - Explore works of art and exhibitions. Virtual tours available as well.
    • Historic Moments - View exhibitions of the stories behind historic moments in our history.
    • World Wonders - Experience the wonders of the modern and ancient world.

Lower left corner:

  • Constitute - Explore the world's constitutions to read, search and compare. Talk about primary sources!
  • Google New Archive - Search for web news content until the year 2003. 
  • Google Lit Trips - Tracing the movement of characters from literature, Google Lit Trips are designed to encourage higher level thinking skills and  make real-world connections. They work with Google Earth. Be sure to look at the information on the right sidebar.
  • Google Books - Search here for free books and books for purchase.
  • Music Timeline - See how artists and genres have gained and dropped in popularity over the decades and more!

Super Bonus! Build with Chrome - As a mom who loved Legos as a kid and invested in lots with my own children (and looking forward to my granddaughter and I building together in the future), here's a digital platform! what's not to like!. Click Start Building and go! Or, select Build Academy to be challenged! Enter the World of Build to see what others have built. You can too!

How might these tools be used for learning in K-12? Share your thinking! Please comment and share! Together we can grow and learn!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Summer reading for inspiration!

Wait! Summer is already half over! I can't believe I haven't already shared some books I'm really diggin' these days. If you're looking for some inspiration to motivate you and prompt you try some new strategies in your schools/classrooms, then give one or all of these a shot!

My most favorite read of the Spring (probably of the past few years) was #EdJourney by Grant Lichtman. (I need help enunciating his last name as I was corrected by a friend of his at ISTE, but anyone who knows me knows it was unintentional.) I'm REALLY into his work and so inspired by the book!

Grant drove across/around the country visiting schools and interviewed more than 600 teachers, admins, students and parents asking them questions like:

  • What does innovation mean to you?
  • How has your school changed to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world?
  • What do we really need to teach and learn in schools, and how are you doing that?
He unfolds their responses and his learnings into three parts: Roadblocks, Blazing the Trail and the Road Ahead. Each chapter begins with a journal entry, his ponderings and experiences on the road which were fun to read. I thought here, wow, he is a great storyteller. I really enjoyed his voice.

The story of our challenges (and I say "our" because even though he didn't visit SBISD, we are along on the same journey) provide you a lens into how others are making paths around and through challenges. For me, Grant's stories confirmed the importance of being a community of learners and the key role of leadership (at the campus level), You'll read about many different approaches schools are taking which might give you some jumping off points to get started.

In the last few chapters, Grant challenges us to think differently through a variety of models and strategies for the future of learning and how we need to think forward (probably not actually grasping everything through those words).

When I started thinking about the "What ifs" in my world, what if we approached technology at the district level in a way that provides a level of resources yet allows for each school to create their own plan (for learning). Still trying to figure out how we can support innovative practices in meaningful ways.

This is definitely a book that I will reread and return to often over the coming year. It challenges my thinking!

The book I'm currently reading (about halfway through my first read) is Creating cultures of thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools by Ron Ritchhart.

To me, this book will give you the tools to effectively innovate and create a community of learners! We're actually blogging about the book here.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

ISTE 2015 - Reflecting and actions!

As I flew home from ISTE 2015, I began to wonder how I could possibly share everything I had heard and experienced over the three days I was there.

  • I saw many exciting examples of ways teachers are developing literacy skills, personalizing learning, encouraging coding and robotics, and more in their classrooms.
  • I saw new and "re-experienced" several Google tools that can really help you take your kids places and experience them as never before.
  • I heard some strategies for helping us question and challenge our practices to help push our students' thinking.
  • I listened as really thoughtful educators shared their thinking and findings on schooling and factors they have found that impact implementation and ultimately student learning.

The list could go on and on.... I started thinking my head would explode as it filled with ideas of ways to share everything with you... bubbling up like the clouds as we zeroed in on Houston.

So, stay tuned for posts... coming soon!