Thursday, January 29, 2015

Zoo Atlanta has free training for early education educators

FREE Teacher Workshops at the Zoo!
The Pittulloch Foundation has awarded Zoo Atlanta with a grant that will sponsor 117 educators to attend one of our Early Childhood Education Teacher Workshops, at no cost!
All of our Teacher Workshops include:
  • Tours
  • Hands-on activities
  • Up-close animal encounters
  • Curriculum to bring back to your classroom
These scholarships will be awarded individually on a first-come, first-served basis. Early Childhood Educators must apply online.
2015 Early Childhood Education Teacher Workshops:
February 28, 2015 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
April 18, 2015 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
July 9, 2015 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
September 19, 2015 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
November 7, 2015 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For more detailed information about the individual workshops, click here.
Apply now to reserve your space!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Why Your Students Forgot Everything On Your PowerPoint Slides

      Power points were so 1990's. For many teachers, they still encompass a large part of their teaching. You can archive and edit them and upload them to the internet. In the article below Mary Jo Madda said there is a right way and a wrong way to use them with your students and the wrong way can actually hurt the learning process. Madda explains below in writing and with a video.

Mary Jo Madda

Don’t fret, we’ve all been there: You’re up late the night before Thursday and you have to teach a lesson at 8 AM the next day. So, what do you do? Throw some text on a PowerPoint and get ready to talk through your points. Couldn’t hurt, right? You might not always read straight off of the slides--they’ll just help keep your lecture on track, and if you lose your place, the text is right there for you.
Unfortunately, whether you’re discussing Columbus with 4th graders or quantum physics with college freshmen, you may be hurting your students’ learning more than helping them.
Let’s explore what instructional design doesn’t typically work with students, or anyone’s learning for that matter, when you teach with PowerPoint--as well as how you can avoid it. It all begins with a little concept called “cognitive load.”

Too Much for the Student to Process

Imagine your student’s brain as a container. When you start tossing rocks into the container, it gets heavier and heavier--and more difficult for the student to carry or sort through. Essentially, that’s cognitive load. Cognitive load describes the capacity of our brain’s working memory (or WM) to hold and process new pieces of information. We’ve all got a limited amount of working memory, so when we have to handle information in more than one way, our load gets heavier, and progressively more challenging to manage.
In a classroom, a student’s cognitive load is greatly affected by the “extraneous” nature of information--in other words, the manner by which information is presented to them (Sweller, 2010). Every teacher instinctively knows there are better--and worse--ways to present information. The reason for these, research shows, is that when you lighten the load, it’s easier for students’ brains to take information in and transform it into memory.
Teaching with text-based PowerPoint slides while also reading them aloud, unfortunately, amounts to throwing too many rocks into the student container--and causing students to regress.

The Redundancy Effect

Simultaneous auditory (spoken) and visual presentation of text, such as via PowerPoint slides is an all-too common occurrence in classrooms nowadays. Think about it: how many times have you walked into a classroom or lecture hall and heard a teacher reading out the text on slides displayed on the front board?
A study in Australia in the late 1990s (the 1999 Kalyuga study) compared the learning achievement of a group of college students who watched an educator’s presentation involving a visual text element and an audio text element (meaning there were words on a screen while the teacher also talked) with those who only listened to a lecture, minus the pesky PowerPoint slides. The researchers concluded that utilizing visual stimuli involving words while a separate auditory presentation is delivered increases the cognitive, load rather than lessening it.
Here’s why: it’s called the the redundancy effect. Verbal redundancy “arises from the concurrent presentation of text and verbatim speech,” increasing the risk of overloading working memory capacity--and so may have a negative effect on learning.
Consider, for instance, a science lesson on food chains. A teacher may start by lecturing on the difference between herbivores and carnivores. Up comes a slide with definitions of each term. The teacher starts reading directly from the slide. The duplicated pieces of information--spoken and written--don’t positively reinforce one another; instead, the two effectively flood students’ abilities to handle the information.
Researchers including John Sweller and Kimberly Leslie contend that it would be easier for students to learn the differences between herbivores and carnivores by closing their eyes and only listening to the teacher. But students who close their eyes during a lecture are likely to to called out for “failing to paying attention.”

How to Lighten the Load

So, then, what do you do? How do you ensure that your kids learn from your lectures rather than wind up with brains that feel like oversoaked sponges? (And keep in mind, entrepreneurs--this could apply to your pitches, as well.)
Richard Mayer, a brain scientist at UC Santa Barbara and author of the book “Multimedia Learning” offers the following prescription: Eliminate textual elements from presentations and instead talk through points, sharing images or graphs with students. This video illustrates exactly what he means:

This approach, he suggests, is particularly appropriate for those subjects where geometric graphs and visual imagery are crucial for understanding key concepts, like food chains, the water cycle or calculating surface area.
Other studies, such as a separate Australian investigation by Leslie et al. (2012), suggest that mixing visual cues with auditory explanations (in math and science classrooms, in particular) are essential and effective. In the Leslie study, a group of 4th grade students who knew nothing about magnetism and light learned significantly more when presented with both images and a teacher’s explanation than a separate group which received only auditory explanation.
Are you a science teacher? Throw up a picture of a lion’s tooth and a zebra’s tooth onto the screen while explaining the differences between carnivores and herbivores. Teach social studies? Surround the number “1776” with painted images of the founding fathers signing the Declaration of Independence, rather than including straight facts on your presentation.
And if you find it difficult to eliminate words entirely from your PowerPoint presentations, especially when you want students to get those key vocabulary words down, here are some additional hints:
  • Limit yourself to one word per slide. If you’re defining words, try putting up the vocabulary word and an associated set of images--then challenge students to deduce the definition.
  • Honor the “personalization principle,” which essentially says that engaging learners by delivering content in a conversational tone will increase learning. For example, Richard Mayer suggests using lots of “I’s” and “you’s” in your text, as students typically relate better to more informal language.
Have a favorite theory-backed practice that works for your students? Leave your comments below--I’m all ears. And eyes.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Start Something: 13 Teacher Strategies For Digital Collaboration

     But the more important  issue is are you doing it to doing it or is it transforming your practice? Is it helping students connect with relevant content and taking them to places that engage them and make them think? In the article below, there are 13 ideas on doing just  that. How many are you doing? Which ones will you start and work with in a community of learners?
Start Something: 13 Teacher Strategies For Digital Collaboration
by TeachThought Staff
Teacher collaboration is among the cornerstones of school improvement. When teachers connect–for the right reasons–good things happen.
The ability to connect is increased exponentially through technology. Digital collaboration by teachers has an infinite numbers out possible outcomes, from formal teacher improvement, to informal connecting for people that get you. A global teacher’s lounge, if you will.
Social media-based professional development is another possible outcome when teachers connect. In contrast to sit-and-get, impersonal training, self-selected and self-directed PD has the potential for just in time, just enough, just for me qualities. The following infographic Mia MacMeekin takes these kinds of ideas and itemizes them, coming up with thirteen strategies for digital collaboration by teachers. She has a few ideas on the graphic, and we’ve added our own below.
Let us know in the comments what strategies you find useful for digital collaboration.
Start Something: 13 Teacher Strategies For Digital Collaboration
1. Co-author a book, blog post, essay, or conference session.
2. Join an edcamp, twitter chat, or blog community (ahem).
3. Follow mentors, colleagues, and inspiring thought leaders on social media.
4. Email someone and ask for help, or thank them for what they do.
5. Comment on an idea that forces you to consider a new perspective.
6. Start something useful and/or fun, local or global, digital or physical.
7. Step out of your comfort zone.
8. Discuss both critical and practical issues around your classroom.
9. Co-create something you’ve long hoped someone else would–an app, a community, a curriculum. Even a PowerPoint or Prezi that clarifies some often misunderstood academic topic.
10. Ask for help, details, resources, or ideas.
11. Join Me–or us. Meet people, connect groups, create potential in education.
12. Enter into new terms with your local school leadership to push for innovation, resources, and better training.
13. Organize your curriculum, your professional learning network, your RSS feed, or even a local event of your own, even if it’s only 4 or 5 colleagues for a book club at Starbucks.
Start Something: 13 Teacher Strategies For Digital Collaboration

To learn more from the teachthought resource or this article, click below. There are many awesome resources. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Measure Me by the Unwritten Curriculum, Not My Test Scores

     There are many teachers and school personnel that tell  you that not all schools and students are numbers crunched by data and are treated like cookies coming from the oven. Teachers in the same building have gifted, special needs and certainly diverse learners in their room. One teacher may specialize in problem students and another may excel with a different type of student. The story below shows one teachers story with the test score process and gives a few thoughts to consider.  

As a lifelong educator, I’d like to believe that all teachers and administrators understand that we can’t use standardized test scores to measure teacher effectiveness. So, I was shocked the other day when an educator, one I think highly of, used test scores to compare two teachers’ effectiveness.
All of teacher A’s students passed the standardized test. Teacher B’s students didn’t fair as well, but teacher B’s classes were filled with special education students, rule breakers and fence-riders (those students who are easily swayed by their peers).
As a teacher, I loved teaching the most challenging students, so I was taken aback by this educator’s dubious claim. If he were to look at my standardized test scores, would he think any less of me as a teacher?
When you teach challenging students, the state-mandated curriculum must not be ignored, but often it should take a back seat to the unwritten curriculum. Comparatively, the standard curriculum is easy to teach. If test scores were my primary concern, when a student misbehaved, I could have simply stated, “John, do the work or get a referral.” I then could return to teaching the mandated curriculum. In that scenario, my students’ test scores may have been higher.
In addition to curriculum, though, we need to teach life skills, to build trusting relationships with all students and to help students learn from their errors (both academic and behavioral).
Teaching the unwritten curriculum includes no absolutes. Every decision is complex and impacts heavily on all learners. Instead of focusing solely on test scores, educators must also teach with empathy and work diligently to never leave a student behind.
Test scores cannot measure these attributes. Teacher effectiveness can only be marginally reflected in the scores of our students.
So, when evaluating my worthiness as a teacher, please, measure me by the unwritten curriculum, not my test scores.

Reed Gillespie

Reed is a longtime educator and coach, who is passionate about progressive learning and 21st-century assessment practices. Read more of his work here. "I'm a co-moderator of #VAchat, a Twitter conversation for Virginia (and non-Virginian) educators that meets Monday's at 8 ET. Most importantly, I'm a husband and father of four wonderful children and a grandchild. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, reading, sports and, of course, spending time with family."

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Other Data: 20 Signs You’re Actually Making A Difference As A Teacher

    Some ways teachers and administrators make a difference as a teacher are very evident and an educator receives instant gratification. A student tells you you are their favorite teacher and you see their growth and sparkle in their eye make you very happy. But some of the following ideas are notions that are intrinsic that you notice about yourself without the compliments of anyone and others happen when your colleagues or students start to practice and seek you out for a list that is twenty great items but there could always be more added. See how many of the twenty you have noticed about yourself in the last school year. I bet you notice that you are making a difference and should put a bounce in your step.

Other Data: 20 Signs You’re Actually Making A Difference As A Teacher
by Saga
You plan. You assess. You network. You collaborate.
You tweet, differentiate, administer literacy probes, scour 504s and IEPs, use technology, and inspire thinking.
And for all of this, you’re given bar graphs on tests to show if what you’re doing is actually making a difference. But there are other data points you should consider as well.
20 Signs You’re Actually Making A Difference As A Teacher
1. Your students are asking questions, not just giving answers.
Critical thinking does not mean thinking harder before giving an answer. It means being critical of all possible answers. If your students are asking more questions, and feel comfortable doing so, you can rest assured they will continue the habit outside your class.
2. You have used your authoritative role for inspiration, not intimidation. 
Monkey see, monkey do. I once had a writing professor who, as a best-selling novelist, was not too proud to bring his own raw material to class for the students to workshop. This was a great lesson in humility that I’ll never forget.
3. You have listened as often as you have lectured. Another lesson in authority.
Your students have respected your thoughts and ideas by attending your class; the least you can do is respect theirs. Lending an ear is the ultimate form of empowerment.
4. Your shy students start participating more often without being prompted.
Cold-calling may keep students on their toes, but it never creates an atmosphere of collaboration and respect. When the quiet ones feel comfortable enough to participate on their own, you know you’ve made an impact.
5. A student you’ve encouraged creates something new with her talents.
The simple act of creating is so personal, memorable, and gratifying that you can rest assured your student will want to make it a habit.
6. You’ve been told by a student that, because of something you showed them, they enjoy learning outside of class.
Even if it becomes a short-lived interest, your student will realize that learning outside of class doesn’t have to mean doing homework.

To read the rest, please click on the link below for these and other great stories

Friday, January 23, 2015


The season of giving never ends for smartphone users. We’re giving out names, addresses, contacts, sensitive photos, our shopping habits and even our location to apps we’ve downloaded and websites we’ve visited. Gary Miliefsky, founder of Snoopwall, a “counterveillance” (a merger of counter and surveillance) software company in Nashua, N.H., says consumers should get their heads out of the cloud and start thinking about protecting their privacy on mobile devices and laptops.

TBL: Do people realize how much information they’re giving away when they download an app?

A: Let me ask you a question: How many apps do you have on your smartphone? (About 40.) There you go. We all have about 40 or 50 apps. I don’t know why people have given away their privacy, their security and their safety for free apps and convenience.

But nobody checks the app vendor’s website, nobody sends an email to their support team to say, “Are you real? Where are you located? How come I can’t find your phone number?”

I’ve had arguments with people where they’ve literally had cognitive dissonance and they will argue till they’re blue in the face that there’s no way a free flashlight app is spying on them, especially for another government. We’ve defiled the source code and we do packet-traces to China. It’s just crazy.

TBL: It’s the third-party flashlight apps that are a problem.

A: The built-in iPhone flashlight is a widget, part of the operating system in a way. So, yes, the built-in flashlight app is safe, I would assume. It’s the third-party flashlight apps. There are 500 in the iTunes store.

I was on Wall Street with a guy who said, “There’s no way my iPhone isn’t safe.” I said, ‘Do you have any third-party flashlight apps?’”

Guess which one he has? Surpax, No. 1: The worst piece of malware in the world.

TBL: What will happen if he leaves it on his phone?

A: On an iPhone, you’re not being eavesdropped on until you run the app. On an Android, if you download the second-most popular flashlight app, Brightest Flashlight from GoldenShores Technologies, it turns your light on without your permission, loads their privacy policy over the Internet

— which means it’s taking an Internet connection without your permission — and it brings up 25 pages of crap saying, “I’m eavesdropping on you, I’m geolocating you, I’m spying on you,” so that they’ve complied with the FTC ruling (a 2013 settlement over privacy violations).

And if you hit ‘accept,’ you’re in trouble. If you don’t hit accept and just cancel and close, it’s still running in the background! What am I missing?

TBL: Most apps do this. Why is it allowed?

A: Are you ready for the industry’s dirty little secret? Google, Apple, Microsoft Phone, Blackberry — all these devices have tool kits for developers to make apps that make money. The tool kits include the ability to turn on all the ports — hardware input/output ports, GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, microphone — you’ve literally created a spyware developer’s kit to monetize advertising networks. That’s the dirty little secret.

TBL: So you’re recommending people go from 40 apps down to the essential eight, nine or 10?

A: Yes.

TBL: How should people approach passwords?

A: Would you ever use an exclamation or a dollar sign? Or a zero instead of an O? Or a three instead of an E? If you just do that — you take the same password you’re using today and you add some different characters, the chances it will be exploited from a brute-force attack go down dramatically. TBL: You recommend people change their passwords often. That doesn’t happen.

A: Look at the Sony Pictures (hack), how many passwords (revealed) were simple passwords. It’s crazy.

TBL: You seem to think the Sony hack is a “Revenge of the Nerd” thing by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un because of the studio’s film, “The Interview.” Still believe that?

A: Yes. Call me a geek with a personality, but the guys I know at Norse (the cybersecurity firm) track all the packets but they don’t have a personality. They say, “I’ve traced the packet and it’s a former Sony employee. He did it!” Just because there are some packets hitting Sony from this guy’s house doesn’t mean that he did it. In fact, if you want to misdirect people, you’re going to do things to throw some cookie crumbs out there. The North Korean cyberarmy is very smart. I have a lot of data that tells me this is a North Korean act, even if it gets tracked from coming down through Japan or a server in South Korea.

TBL: What about Facebook?

A: Business people should be thinking about Facebook as a social media tool. But for consumers, I would call Facebook creepware. Messenger is creepware. You give up privacy for convenience: Hey, I want to tell my 2,000 friends that I’ve never met that I just had a cheeseburger.

TBL: Uber?

A: I trust Uber. I do know Uber is spying on me in a way. My only fear, of course, is they’ve got my credit card, they’ve got a lot of info. Their back-end cloud database is going to be hacked by criminals in China or India or Brazil or Russia or some other country at some point soon.

TBL: It seems as if every site you visit is tracking what you do.

A: Yes. I would call AdChoices (a program ostensibly designed to protect users’ privacy) malware, but they would tell you they’re a smart monetizing business model. Let’s say you’re visiting your relatives for Thanksgiving and they don’t even know you have a dog and you’re at their house and you log in and check your Gmail.

Then you type in Google search, “organic dog food.” Then you go on your Android smartphone and the next ad you see is going to be Blue dog food on sale at Petco. You’re going to say, “Wow, I didn’t even know they could predict I was thinking of going to Petco right now. Why is this on my smartphone — I’m not even on my relative’s computer.” That’s how bad it is.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Yes, one bullied student can transform a school out of simple consistent act of kindness

     In what I would call one of the most inspiring stories about a bullied student using one simple consistent act of kindness on a daily basis shows what one person can do to change the culture of their school. You will be totally inspired by this young man who went from invisible and ignored to a person that transformed his entire school in a way that rippled across the school community. Josh is a student who had no expectations of his act but to those who have come in contact with him, they feel like also can make a difference. This short video will blow you away.