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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ind. school sees a role for iPads in the elementary classroom

  • Differentiation - supported by iPads.
    Students in kindergarten to fifth grade at the Burris Laboratory School in Indiana are issued their own iPad tablet computers to use in the classroom. Students use the iPads for various activities, which are documented on a classroom blog. In addition, the devices are used for no more than 40 minutes each day, and are used to enhance rather than dominate the curriculum, first-grade teacher Stefanie Onieal says. ZDNet/iGeneration blog (12/26) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

Monday, December 26, 2011

Neuroscience and teaching: Important lessons for the classroom

FINALLY!!  A article backed by research that addresses the importance of meta-cognition and the brain.  We can no longer deny the implications for education!!

It is a teacher's role to change students' brains on a daily basis, writes Wendi Pillars, a member of the Teacher Leaders Network. To do this, teachers must make lessons relevant for students, allow students to make their own connections and experience ownership of their learning, and explore the inquiry process so they are continually developing critical-thinking skills, she writes. Education Week Teacher (premium article access compliments of

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Can boosting student vocabulary improve achievement?

Improving students' vocabulary can help close the achievement gap for students whose first language is not English, suggests education consultant Ben Johnson. While working as an administrator, his school district improved achievement among Hispanic students, in part, by teaching them to understand the context of the words verbally, visually and aurally, he writes. Johnson's blog

Words are the tools for thought.  It would be helpful if after reading this article, we considered if the same principles might apply to our English speaking students with low language. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Here is a great FREE resource - Teachers First!

The days are certainly dark in the northern hemisphere. Many of us arrive at school in the dark and leave as the sun disappears. Thank goodness for the bright lights of holidays and the flurry of projects our classes are doing before winter break. As you manage the demands of keeping the "lights" on in your classrooms, let TeachersFirst be your energy saver.

As you do your online holiday shopping, your gifts can give twice -- once to your friend/family and again to TeachersFirst-without spending an extra penny. Simply enter the Amazon site through the search box on our Suggested Reading page and finalize your Amazon purchase during that session. TeachersFirst will receive a portion of the proceeds to help support our free service to teachers. Remember that your purchase must be completed during a session that begins at the TeachersFirst entry point. Even Santa isn't clever enough to make a gift count twice!

Technology is a marvelous tool for vocabulary development, whether it is for science terminology, SAT prep, English language learning, or for those with speech/language deficits. TeachersFirst's Vocabulary Development Resources collection offers creative tools and ideas to help students take charge of vocabulary learning. Don't forget to click "more" to read all the ideas for each reviewed resource from the Thinking Teachers.

Nothing can replace the expertise of the teacher-librarian who knows every student and connects teachers with resources. If your school has lost your library/media specialist due to budget cuts, TeachersFirst has a new feature to ease the pain: Help I Lost My Library/Media Specialist! We hope to fill part of the void with readalong ideas and activities for elementary classes written by an experienced (and creative) elementary library/media specialist. New offerings appear about once a month with books and ideas to use with your class or as suggestions for parent volunteers.

TeachersFirst's Giving Tree Lesson is one of our all-time most popular gifts for classes of all ages 'round the world. Built on Shel Silverstein's book, this lesson works with elementary to high school, driving home important messages about giving of oneself. Freshly revised with new technology options, the Giving Tree lesson plan is ready for your December plan book.

Pearl Harbor day is this week. Fewer and fewer students even know anyone who can recount the events of that day. December 17 is the anniversary of the Wright Brothers' historic flight. The month of December is designated as HIV/AIDS Awareness month. These and the more obvious holiday events of December fill our days with preparations and our classrooms with opportunities for learning and giving. Find resources quickly at the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar.

Geo and Meri are chillin' in the windy city this week as they continue with Globetracker's Mission. If your class has been following in the mission, don't let the upcoming winter break worry you. The teens will be on hiatus over the holidays, keeping the same episode online for the weeks of December 18 and 25 and moving on to a new location on January 1st. Even if you miss an episode, you can always "rewind" using the <<episode link at the top of any episode.

As you scurry around this December, why not plan some "me" time for OK2Ask™ in January? Join our new session on TeachersFirst's free member timesavers, start a class wiki, or tour the Best of the Best. These live, online "snack sessions" are perfect for a chilly winter respite in your fuzzy slippers. See the full OK2Ask™ schedule.

Registrations are open now for:
Great Timesavers: Tools and tips to maximize TeachersFirst's free membership; January 12, 2012; Read the details and register

The Best of the Best: A tour of 6-10 TeachersFirst Editors' Choice resources with in-depth ideas for how to use them; January 23, 2012;Read the details and register   

Guided Wiki Walk:Step by step to create your own classroom wiki (TWO session workshop with "homework" between); Jan 30 AND Feb 6, 2012; Read the details and register 
Which teacher gift would you like to receive?
Share your thoughts by taking the poll on the TeachersFirst home page. 

XW1W question for the week of December 4: Where/when do you sing?   Across the World Once a Week (XW1W) uses microblogging or blogging tools to share responses about everyday life from any corner of the world. The XW1W FAQ page explains it all. Make today's instant communications an instant learning experience. 

This week in our Featured Sites, you will find plenty to rate, comment on, or mark as Favorites (using the FREE features of your FREE TeachersFirst membership):
  • A powerful civil rights site
  • European history and world population interactives
  • Mapping YOUR data
  • Exploring Ocean data
  • A duo of animal sites: to create and to learn
  • Terrific ESL/ELL learning tools
  • Tools for disposable email addresses and online sign-up sheets
  • Exercise incentives and a veggie site
And more. Don't miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Program aims to engage Ariz. students in STEM study

  • engagement and meta-cognition!
  • Program aims to engage Ariz. students in STEM study
    A program developed at Arizona State University has ASU students, as well as high-school students in Advanced Placement chemistry, conducting hands-on science experiments with K-12 students to help spark interest among the younger students. The Science is Fun program, which is funded in part by the National Science Foundation, is aimed at preparing more students for careers in science, technology, engineering and math. The Arizona Republic (Phoenix) (11/19) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Wikispaces Provide a Format for Collaborative Reasoning!

Okay, I am going to challenge you today and ask you to think about writing across the curriculum in a slightly different manner.  Following you will find a link to a new site created by Wiki on project based learning.  Think about it.  Organizing, collaborating, writing, and producing an end product!!! What an awesome way to embed writing for understanding in the content areas - as well as speaking, listening, and thinking = COLLABORATIVE REASONING!  For those of you not yet familiar with the Common Core, writing to understand as well as tasks involving application of writing as a tool abound!!  Take a look and see what you think.  As always, comments are welcome.

Courtesy of Wikispaces;) 

Looking into project-based learning

With the release of our Projects feature, we're learning a lot about project-based learning. We can't wait to hear your stories about how it works in your classrooms. In the meantime, we've rounded up some of our favorite resources. Take a look.

Training camp

Trying to introduce wikis to a group who have never used them before? We created a 10–20 minute Wikispaces Training Camp for students and web neophytes. Give it a try.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Effective Use of Learning Goals! Enjoy!

Establishing Purpose for Yourself and Your Students

The Purposeful Classroom: How to Structure Lessons with Learning Goals in Mind In their new book, The Purposeful Classroom: How to Structure Lessons with Learning Goals in Mind, Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher explain the steps to ensuring that every lesson plan has high expectations and a clear purpose for learning so that students are engaged and goals are meaningful.


Lesson Planning for Engagement

International teacher educator Fiona Baker offers tips to help teachers engage students by answering crucial questions about the "what" and "why" of a lesson's content and its connection to learners.


What Drives Instruction?

To start off a lesson, a dry list of objectives may be informative but it is not as compelling as a driving question that appeals to students' interests, curiosity, and sense of adventure in learning.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Middle school engages students with challenge-based learning

  • Following is an article on engaging students at the middle school.  The article deals with empowering students - very similar to the guided inquiry format.  Enjoy;)
    A middle school in Minnesota this year is offering a new course in challenge-based learning, where students work independently on their own community-oriented projects. The course helps develop students' research, technology, presentation and teamwork skills, said teacher Rick Olson, who acts as guide, rather than a lecturer. "It's entirely student-driven. It's giving them almost total autonomy . . . they can come in and choose a topic that they're passionate about," he said. Grove Heights, Minn. (10/21) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Steve Jobs: A creative force in education technology

Jobs often listened to his inner voice and reflected on his thinking.  Here is a article on his contribution to education.

"Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice," he told them. "And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become."  

Apple's Steve Jobs, who died Wednesday, was seen as an influential and creative force in the field of education technology. As the leader of Apple, which he co-founded in 1976, Jobs' creativity is credited for the development of products, from the Apple I and II computers to modern mobile devices such as the iPad and iPhone, all of which have changed education and held relevance for students and teachers alike. Education Week/Digital Education blog

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

ASCD SmartBrief Special Report:

Promoting Respectful Schools (Part I)
Students learn best in an environment in which they feel safe and respected. This two-part ASCD SmartBrief Special Report on Promoting Respectful Schools looks at what educators can do to create such learning environments.

Part I looks at how bullying affects students and how educators can address the problem. Part II, to be published Thursday, looks at how schools can develop a culture that focuses on tolerance and respect.

We hope you find our special report on Promoting Respectful Schools helpful. If you don't receive ASCD SmartBrief daily, we urge you to sign up for our timely e-newsletter. ASCD SmartBrief delivers the stories making news in your profession directly to your inbox -- for free.

Monday, September 12, 2011

How to encourage students to ask their own questions, courtesy of ASCD, published in Harvard Education Letter

Many teachers have been looking for a way engage students in an inquiry process.  Following is an excellent article on how to do just that!!!
  • A six-step process for teaching students to formulate their own questions can encourage them to take ownership of their learning, and deepen their understanding of a subject, write Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana, authors of the book, "Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions." The Question Formulation Technique can be used to introduce new material to students, gauge their understanding during a lesson or to help students set a new learning agenda at the end of a unit, the authors write. Harvard Education Letter (September/October 2011) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Smithsonian website puts a human face on science - Courtesy of e-School News

Building connections from known to new is key for all learners.  Here is a site that has been created by the Smithsonian Institute that will help facilitate this process.

Smithsonian website puts a human face on science Smithsonian website puts a human face on science
"Scientists @ the Smithsonian" introduces students to 20 real researchers from the Smithsonian Institution in an attempt to shatter the common stereotype of scientists as nerds in lab coats ... and to make science come alive for students. [  Read More ]