Tuesday, March 3, 2015

10 Tips for Increasing Student Engagement

iStock_000011537189MediumOne of our themes for March is Student Engagement. Here we’ve collected some of the best advice on increasing student engagement from Corwin authors and other experts!
  1. Study the data.

The Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations (QISA) has done extensive research in what motivates students through their Student Voice Surveys. Students are asked about the 8 conditions identified by Russ Quaglia in Student Voice: Belonging, Heroes, Sense of Accomplishment, Fun & Excitement, Curiosity & Creativity, Spirit of Adventure, Leadership & Responsibility, and Confidence to Take Action. Read the 2014 Report.
  1. Collect your own data.

If you want to take it one step farther, distribute the Student Voice Survey at your own school. You may be shocked or pleasantly surprised to find out what your students are really thinking!
  1. Put yourself in your students’ shoes.

Pernille Ripp writes about 5 Rules We Impose on Students That Would Make Adults Revolt. Don’t forget that students are kids! Are you expecting them to act better behaved than even adults? Make sure you’re giving them the same respect you would give adults, and give them the freedom to just be kids.
  1. Use games to make learning relevant.

“Games and simulations are rich in scenarios and have an amazing ability to embed information into their storylines or gameplay.” Moreover, games can help students think about how to apply information to their lives immediately. In a recent blog post, Ryan Schaaf gives five strategies for using digital games in the classroom.
  1. Appeal to students’ values.

In this great post on Edutopia, Heidi A. Olinger discusses the power of listening to your students and openly talking about things we would normally dismiss—things that are incredibly important to students: social fads, pop culture, crushes.
  1. Laugh together.

As John Spencer points out, humor is a powerful strategy for engaging learners. Laughing together creates a sense of community and makes class a more rewarding place for students to be.
  1. Let students pursue their passions.

“Schools mistake passion for an emotion, as something kids like to do in their spare time. Those are hobbies. Passion is what you must do, even if you have to suffer to do it. Passion is the genius of all geniuses.” – Angela Maiers
Read more about how to Close the Passion Gap.
  1. Remove distractions.

A class where students are engaged can be noisy and chaotic—but the quality of the noise and chaos matters. If students are too distracted, learning is impeded, not increased. Mark Barnes shares 3 Ways to De-Clutter Students’ Brains.
  1. Rethink your grades.

If students are brought into the discussion about their progress, they are more invested in the outcome. SE2R is a feedback system designed by Mark Barnes (Assessment 3.0) that gives students and teachers a common vocabulary for assessment: Summarize, Explain, Redirect, and Resubmit.
  1. Take the Classroom Cribs Challenge to redesign your classroom.

The physical environment of a classroom has a great effect on student engagement and learning. Erin Klein is a classroom teacher who studied interior design and writes on the importance of creative spaces that allow for deeper collaboration and creativity.


6 Ways Teachers Respond To Education Technology

   Everyone has a different reaction to using technology. According to Teach Thought Magazine, the Pencil Metaphor is a basic rubric to show teachers where they are on the technology conundrum. I am willing to bet you that of the six levels, you are already at a 3-4 out of six minimum. Why? If you were less, you would not visit a blog let alone entertain technology in your classroom. But where do you really stand? Look at the pencil chart below and your attitude toward technology. The article itself is fairly short at 500 words and gives you the rationale. If you want to be at a five or six, you are already working on that rubric level and if you are not but want to, take a step and I promise you it will not hurt.
To read the article: http://bit.ly/1JSvJMS

About the author

Steve Wheeler shared a post about in in January of 2012 as part of a #pencilchat discussion, and there was even an intended PD session in South Africa designed around it in April of 2012. Here’s a slideshare presentation from a university in Malaysia on the idea. But it goes further back than that–at least to 2007, to ISTE 2006 Educator of the Year Linda McKeown.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

What comes first, the technology or the curriculum

Things have come a long way since my 3rd grade teacher had to thread a film into a movie projector.
Using technology is not a cheap parlor trick where the technology is the trick and the students are amused. Almost all (good) technology measures student progress and some of it happens right in the middle of a lesson with instant feedback. In an article by Elise Ecoff, she talks about this and how technology must enhance the curriculum and not entertain your students with suggestions on how you can make technology work for students at home and in the classroom.

Image result for students using technology in the classroomIt’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time when handing a student a calculator to work through algebraic equations caused many teachers and parents great consternation. It makes you wonder what type of pushback the creators of the abacus faced! In both cases, while the tools students were using may have been more advanced than previous generations’, the goal remained the same – to enhance classroom learning.
But before moving forward with technology integration, every school must first have a great, robust and adaptable academic curriculum. Only then can you begin to find ways in which technology can help to elevate it. It’s important to never force fit technology – if it’s not supplementing what’s already happening in the classroom or a teacher’s goals for the school year, the addition will become more of a barrier to learning than a catalyst.

A Few Questions to Consider

Image result for students using technology in the classroom
  • Regardless of the technology, what’s the most important lesson for students to learn?
  • Why do I need to use technology in my daily curriculum?
  • How are these tech tools enhancing what we’re doing?
  • What will the students do with these tools – during and after class?

Think Curriculum Enhancements, Not Technology Implementations

Even if you feel ready to utilize tech in your classroom, you need to be confident that the implementation will enhance your curriculum, not hinder it.  Here are five ways to ensure you’re putting the curriculum before the technology:

Image result for students using technology in the classroom1) Learn How Students Are Using Technology at Home

It’s important to understand what kind of technology students are already familiar with outside of the classroom.  Ask them what they’re currently using, what they’re interested in learning more about, and how much screen time they’re allowed at home. These conversations will help you determine the opportunities and challenges you’ll face when implementing tech into the classroom. It can also spark inspiration for your in-school tech solutions.  For example, if all your students are familiar with tablets and how they work, you can tweak your lessons plans to more heavily rely on tablet utilization.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

26 Teacher Tools To Create Online Assessments

26 Teacher Tools To Create Online Assessments

     It is incredible how much educators have on their plates today. While we could all tell war stories about all of the initiatives given out by districts, they all give you less quality time to plan and help your students and your planning time is rarely your own. Has anyone had you find out in the middle of the school year that your school has volunteered to be a part of a pilot program for something you did not know about and you are already overwhelmed? Well you get the idea. I like using assessments that not only give me data that I can use to assess and share with students that is meaningful. In teachthought, they have listed resources that do varying degrees of this. I use Kahoot and our district has purchased Study Island (not quite operational) and Nearpod which we are getting up to speed on. I think we can all agree that sitting down with a calculator burning the midnight oil is not what anyone wants when we can basically work smart and help our students without being burned out.

You teach, which means you need to know what students do and don’t understand.
Which means you need to assess.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

10 Educational Games That Teach Kids About Social Issues

     The following list is really incredible. there are so many great implications from issues in the US to international ones. This would be a great way to differentiate instruction in your classroom using a jigsaw, different levels and students can create their own enduring understandings.  A credit to Matt  Farmer who compiled this list. He is a teacher at Valleyview Middle School, in Denville, New Jersey.
10 Educational Games That Teach Kids About Social Issues

Incorporating games into the classroom is a great way to engage students and increase motivation.

But how can social studies and history teachers use games to help students better understand social issues? Our guest contributor and expert on gamification, Matthew Farber, shares his favorite tools:
Social impact games are a genre that seek to effect positive changes in society through play. Often, players are put in roles (known as “player agency”) and must make decisions that have impactful consequences. These games are not necessarily designed for teaching; rather, the goal is to enable players to have empathy about a social issues.
As a social studies teacher, I have found that they are effective in putting students in authentic situations in which difficult problems get engaged.
Here are some of my favorite social impact games that I use with students (listed alphabetically; not ranked). Be sure to assess learning by asking your students about the decisions they made, as well as the reasons behind it!


Ayiti: The Cost of Life (free; PC/Mac)
A human rights game in which the player is a young, poverty-stricken child in Haiti.

Darfur Is Dying (free; PC/Mac)
One of the first social impact titles, its message still resonates today. Missions task players with foraging for water while outrunning the militia, as well as experiences daily life in a refugee camp.

Gone Home (paid, inquire via email about educational bundles; PC/Mac)
An award-winning first-person exploration game set in the 1990s. The narrative is pieced together as players find objects in the empty house in which family problems unfold.

The Migrant Trail (free; PC/Mac)
Tied to a documentary about undocumented immigrants, players assume two roles: a migrant and a patrol agent. It teaches themes of empathy through simple role-play.

Mission US games (free; PC/Mac)
There are currently four missions to play: For Crown or Country, set in the pre-Revolutionary Boston; Flight to Freedom, told from the point-of-view of an slave; the award-winning A Cheyenne Odyssey, about the plight of the Cheyenne people; and the newly released City of Immigrants, about life in the tenements of New York City.

Never Alone (paid; PC, Xbox, PlayStation)
Never Alone is from E-Line Media and Upper One Games. It is the first game adapted from an Iñupiat folk story.

Papers, Please (paid; iPad and PC/Mac)
Papers, Please won multiple awards in 2014. It is an ethical decision-making game set in a fictional communist country during the Cold War. The objective is to checks immigrant papers. The penalty is delayed, such as a reduction in income that can affect the health of your family. (It is recommended for older students; Preview first. suggestive content can be toggled off in “Settings”).

Nightmare: Malaria (free; iPad/Android)
Nightmare: Malaria is a social awareness game about malaria. The narrator is voiced by actress Susan Sarandon. The game features facts about malaria and how simple solutions, like nets, can save lives.

Third World Farmer (free; PC/Mac)
Third World Farmer is a simulation game about the difficulties of farming in a developing country. Familyeconomicsare among the issues to resolve.

Quandary (free; PC/Mac)
An award-winning game about ethical dilemmas, or quandaries. In it, players must assemble a team to colonize a new planet.

Aside from this list, I recommend reviewing the games curated on the Games for Change website.
Similar to independent films, social impact gaming has a community of enthusiasts who recognize achievements with awards and recognition. The idea is that games, as “new media”—compared to “traditional media,” like books, theater, and film—can influence people in a positive direction. For example, in 2014, the Games for Change Festival joined forces with the TriBeCa Film Festival in New York City.

What are your favorite games that you use to teach specific subjects? Tell us in the comments!

Join Our Upcoming Webinars


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Reading this on a computer? Then you (probably) don't live in Africa as 1b working cell phones by 2016

Some people in Africa have skipped the computer and have moved right to their phones to transmit and receive data across the world. If you think having the laptop I prefer to type on (including right now) is cutting edge, you might want to go back to 2006 to find it being cutting edge.

Each week, Africa View explores the trends, figures and initiatives shaping Africa. From education and energy to technology and innovation, it showcases topics and influential sectors driving countries on the continent.
(CNN)If when you say internet, you think of a computer, then you probably don't live in an African country.
The continent has some of the lowest fixed-broadband subscription rates in the world, with most people's first encounter with the world wide web coming via their mobile phones.
Around 70% of mobile users browse the internet on their devices, and Africa's mobile broadband growth is increasing at a rate of more than 40% -- twice the global average.
This is largely due to the weak land-line infrastructure on the continent, which makes connecting through a desktop computer difficult. Low-cost or second-hand feature phones are also much cheaper to buy, which has made them ubiquitous across the continent, and it is estimated that by 2016 Africa will have a billion mobile phones. Feature devices also stay charged for longer -- a crucial requirement in a part of the world where the supply of power is irregular and unreliable.

"More people in Africa have a mobile phone than access to electricity," according to Toby Shapshak, editor and publisher of Stuff Magazine. "That means, for a phone to be functional, it needs decent battery life. These feature phones have anywhere up to a week."
This has created a unique environment where mobile technology have been adapted for a wide range of usages, from lowering information barriers and improving access to financial and health services to boosting commerce and bringing people together.
Mobile money transfer systems such as M-Pesa, which launched in Nairobi in 2007, allow customers to send cash to remote areas with the touch of a button. The service has nearly 17 million active customers who make more than US$1.1 billion worth of transactions per month.
Africa's mobile broadband boomAnd if you're worried that the medicines you bought might be counterfeit, you can check their authenticity through mPedigree, a mobile application which gives you a "genuine" or "fake" answer after you text the drug's serial number.
Mobile phone technology has also moved into sectors outside the traditional tech remit. Farmers can access information about the weather, real-time market prices, and new farming tips though mobile apps like Farmerline and Esoko.

Social Entrepreneurship: 7 Ways to Empower Student Changemakers

Social Entrepreneurship: 7 Ways to Empower Student Changemakers

Vickie Davis @coolcatteacher writes for Edutopia Magazine and recently wrote about how students and schools can partner to help empower them to change their local communities through Project Service Learning. (PSL) This is a great idea to have students make a difference and bridge the gap to helping understand global problems or participate in working just around the corner. Recently, I participated in a district chat with Coweta County Schools    (Sunday's at 8pm EST) where students led the very discussion mentored by administrators in the district.

Its a win-win for everyone when students can carry the knowledge of a local project and use it to inform their own learning and asking questions they and their teachers would never have thought of before. When students help senior citizens, clean up flower beds or volunteer for a variety of topics, their vested interest changes lives and the perspectives of everyone in the community.

Vickie writes:

Tired of disheartened girls thinking they didn't match up to the divas on teen beauty magazines, Grace Miner started Real Girls Matter. The group has a state-wide conference in Rhode Island next year.
When six-year-old Joshua Williams wanted to give ten dollars to a homeless man, his young eyes opened to the plight of the hungry. Joshua, now 13, runs Joshua's Heart to feed the hungry in Miami. On his website, Joshua says: "Whenever I work, I will give some of my money to help."

1. Encourage Each Student to Map Their Heartbreak

Each child has a strength and talent -- a "genius," if you will -- that he or she can add to make the world a better place. Empower social entrepreneurs by sharing stories of students taking action, and then encourage students to find their own passion. Angela Maiers, educator and founder of the burgeoning Choose2Matter movement says:
DO NOT follow your heart to find your passion and purpose. Instead follow your heartbreak . . . Finding your passion; surrendering to your heartbreak is really about finding what really moves you.
Ask students to share what upsets them and makes them angry. Draw it. Write it. Speak it. But by all means share it! Aaron Maurer‘s students created heartbreak maps.
Social Entrepreneurship Tip: Ask students to create a heartbreak map.


To see the entire article and the You Tube resources from a middle school project, click the link below.