LiveBinders

My classmate Morgan and I became “experts” on the online social learning tool, LiveBinders. We created a short Google Presentation on LiveBinders for you to see what it’s all about!  I highly recommend for educators to use this awesome online organization and collaboration tool to replace traditional 3-ring binders!

Click on the link below to download the short, informational presentation:

LiveBinders

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Fearless Classroom

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I listened to a podcast from BAM! Radio Broadcast called “Creating a Fearless Classroom in Three Easy Steps.”  The podcast address the issue of how teachers are fearful of doing something creative with their class because of failure or judgment.  The podcast compares the issue to children who want to do a project or participate in something but are afraid of what their friends and peers will think of them.  This is a common concern for both teachers and children.  They want to fit in. They want to be accepted.  Educators want to encourage their students to be themselves and be creative in their own ways.  Yet, they also need to do the same.  How do create a fearless classroom?  Joli Barker is interviewed in the podcast and she gives three steps to help children become fearless.

Joli Barker says there are three core components of a “fearless classroom.”

  1. Students approach their learning fearlessly.  Students are afraid to take academic risks.  They want to get the problem or answer right.  Teachers can help combat this by asking students to approach problems from different angles.  Teachers need to allow students to work with others and bounce ideas off of each other.
  2. Teachers need to be fearless in how they approach their classrooms.  They need to give up control and take risks with students.  Teachers need to model fearlessness.  We need to model that we will make mistakes, and that we can correct it.  Model to children not worry about what others think!
  3. Teachers should never use fear tactics in their classroom management strategies.  According the podcast, research says fear releases chemicals in the brain that block the learning process.  Teachers shouldn’t say things like, “If you don’t do this, then you won’t get recess.” or, “If you don’t complete this assignment, then you won’t pass the 3rd grade.”  Teachers need to maintain a positive classroom environment.

Jolie created a “fearless” global cooperative project where her students started a story and she sent it across the globe to a friend for other students to contribute.  Students wanted a purpose behind their writing.  Her students wanted the topic to be “what breaks the hearts of their friends around the world.”  Their writing became much more meaningful.  They worked with 5 other countries.  Each country presented their problems and also gave solutions to the other problems from their cultural perspective.  The problems were common around the world including hunger, poverty, and bullying.  It was really insightful for the class to see how other cultures would handle their problems.  In the end, they have a globally created story.

Her students weren’t satisfied ending the project with just the story.  They wanted to share the story and insights with other children.  They thought that creating a game would be the best way to reach other kids.  Her students created Mine Craft games that were fun for children to play, but also taught coping strategies for some of the problems people deal with.  Jodi had no idea how to code a Mine Craft game.  But, her fear of starting that project didn’t stop her from allowing her children to try it!

The message to the listeners on this podcast is that teachers need to be fearless like Joli!  We need to tackle tough issues, try new technologies, and know that it’s okay to fail.

This podcast was only 11 minutes and so insightful! I definitely need to listen to more of these to get more teaching tips 🙂

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I would definitely consider podcasts for professional learning in the future.  In some of my undergrad courses at Virginia Tech, I had to listen to podcasts instead of going to class.  I loved it!  I could listen to the podcast at the gym, while driving, or while relaxing at home.  Podcasts add so much flexibility to learning.  I think an occasional short podcast at the elementary age would even spice up learning.  It also seems like a great thing to leave substitute teachers if you can plan ahead for days you’ll be out.  Then, you can ensure the information in the lesson is accurate and the substitute can just facilitate an activity.  I definitely think more and more educators will be using podcasts so that they can use class time for more creative and hands-on learning projects.  I’m sold on the idea!

Getting Connected

About 3 years ago, I made a personal Twitter account. I enjoy using it to keep up with my friends and stay in the know with some pop culture. A couple of weeks ago, I made my first professional Twitter. I’m using this Twitter to network and make connections with other educators. My professional Twitter has exposed me to so many useful resources that otherwise, I would have not found. One educational Twitter account called “Graphite” shares information about awesome digital learning products. Graphite’s tweets kept catching my eye so I finally went to their website, graphite.org. Graphite is a free resource from Common Sense Media. The website rates and reviews many apps, websites, consol and PC games. For each rating, they provide a description of what the game or program is like, if it’s good for learning, and how teachers can use it. They rate in three categories: engagement, pedagogy, and support. Then, teachers can also put their own rating in. Pros, cons, and a “bottom line” about the app/game are also provided. In addition, the rating also provides the exact common core standards that the app or game supports. The information they provide is so helpful in determining which apps, games, or websites to use with your students!  The video above is from the homepage of the Graphite website.

I’m so glad I was connected to Graphite through Twitter because their recommendations and reviews will be so helpful for me when I actually begin teaching! I saved the website on my Diigo so that I’ll remember to look at in the fall when I’m student teaching.

I’m so glad that my professional Twitter has already been useful.  I can’t wait to see what else I get connected with!

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Wordle

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 5.26.29 PMI played around the “Wordle” for the first time! I’ have always loved wordles, but I had never made one of my own until now. I took all of my text from my blog so far and this is what it came up with. It was so easy to use and fun! Now that I know how to use it, I’ll be making them all the time for my classroom and personal use because they look so cool. It’s such a useful and fun resource. I don’t know why I haven’t been playing with wordle sooner!

Blogging about a Blog – Fractus Learning

I just spent the last 3 ½ months working as the head teacher at a primary school in Chingola, Zambia (which is in south-central Africa for those who have never heard of it). The Fractus Learning blog would have been so beneficial to me in Zambia. I donated 3 iPads to the school and I would have liked to have known more about using them in the classroom while I was there. Fractus Learning gives so many great ideas for using iPads in the classroom, as well as many other technological tools. What I really like about this blog is the format and use of lists. I’m a list person. So here my list of 5 reasons why I like Fractus Learning:

  1. Insights from around the world – I was immediately intrigued by the Fractus Learning blog because the first blog entry I saw was titled, “Making Maths Meaningful with Scratch.” I immediately thought that the writers must be foreign because throughout my 22 years of life in the US, I have never heard anyone in the US refer to mathematics as “maths.” In Zambia however, most of the subjects are always referred to in the plural form (maths, spellings, sciences, etc.). As I read more about the blog, I learned that the Fractus Learning team is based overseas in Dublin, Ireland, but they have writers from all around the world. This explains the use of “maths.” I love that they offer ideas from all over.
  2. Lists – Like I said, I love lists. We’re all so busy and have things to do. Give me the good stuff and leave it at that. Many of the blog posts on Fractus Learning are short lists loaded with good information.
  3. Relatable – They have ideas and suggestions for teachers in pre-k all the way through college. Any teacher can benefit from looking at this blog.
  4. Simple language – Technology information can easily become confusing to the common user. These posts are simple and easily understood.
  5. More than technology – They know there is more to teaching than just the use of technology, so they post about other topics, such as motivating students, books to read, educational reform, and free resources (yes please!).

So if you need some new ideas or help using technology in the classroom, check out Fractus Learning.