One of the biggest challenges that many teachers face is trying to get students to participate, and it’s a problem that seems to grow as students get older and become more concerned about the judgment of their peers. Of course, there will always be a select few students that raise their hands for every question and delight in answering correctly. But the goal within any classroom setting is to ensure that all of the kids are engaged and that each one is receiving a solid education. This is no easy feat these days, especially with limited resources and growing class sizes. But when teachers can find ways to make lessons interactive, then students have no choice but to play their role, enhancing the educational experience not only for themselves, but for the entire class. So here are just a few ideas that should help to get every student involved in the learning process.
- Cut back on lectures. Whenever you lecture a class full of students and allow them to sit by passively, taking notes, you are doing them a disservice. Although there are certainly occasions where you have to deliver a passel of data, consider how much of what you’re telling them may be garnered from reading or online research that you could give as homework. This should help you to temper your rote data dumps in the classroom setting and instead focus on interactive lessons designed to see if the kids are actually doing their reading assignments. Only by talking with them, instead of at them, can you figure out what they’re actually taking in.
- Test understanding rather than memorization. Nearly every child can memorize and regurgitate facts on command. This is the basic tenet of standardized testing. But as an involved educator you want to make sure that the kids in your classroom are learning not only how to absorb information, but how to put it to good use. In other words, you’re training them to think for themselves. So when you quiz your students in class, try to come up with questions that force them to think about what they have learned, approach it from different angles, and come up with a unique response. The brain is a muscle and we have to use it in order to make it strong.
- Put students in groups. If you question students one at a time you’re forcing the rest of the class to remain idle in the meantime. By creating small groups you can pose questions or problems for the entire class and allow the groups to discuss and answer them as a unit. This not only allows each student to interact with every question, but it also lets the students learn from and teach each other, potentially helping to solidify their own understanding of the materials covered.
- Electronic response system. Technology has allowed for a slew of new ways to make the classroom interactive, and one method that many teachers favor is the electronic response system. It’s a quick way to take a “vote” from the class and see how students are stacking up. For example, you can ask a question, offer three possible responses, and immediately see the percentage of students who got it right, helping you to determine where you should focus your teaching efforts. You might also use this gadget as a way to engineer lively debates on topics covered in class by taking polls of student opinions on a subject.
- Unorthodox seating. The way a classroom is laid out can definitely have an impact on the level of interactivity. For example, in a class that requires a lot of discussion, you might consider forming the desks into a large circle so that all of the students can see whoever is speaking. This face-to-face configuration encourages interaction and turns a discussion between teacher and students into an interactive experience that includes the entire class. Of course, there are certain settings where this strategy won’t work, like in a lecture hall with immovable seating or a program for a master of science in accounting online. But the creative teacher can find ways to make any setting more interactive.
Yesterday I learned about Google Lesson Plans from @KaelynBullock from the #engsschat discussion. Students’ need to be taught research skills and how to deal with the world’s content using the “Google a Day” challenge. Google A Day challenges help your students’ put their search skills to the test, and to get your classroom engaged using technology, to discover the world around them, and to become critical thinkers and learners.
Students’ need to be taught how to effectively use web-search tools and critically evaluate sources. Google has created lesson plans to help teachers educate their students about critical source evaluation.The literacy lessons help teachers meet the new Common Core State Standards and are broken down based on level of expertise in search: Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced.
My very first teaching position was at a challenging district. Some of my kids in my first period/homeroom class were looking to graduate and some were hoping to get out of high school alive. It was a very interesting year and I learned so much from my first class. The very last day of school I had them write a letter to themselves in the future. These letters are collecting dust in a storage bin at the bottom of my bed in my parents house. I will mail them in the next month or so. I hope they achieved their goals and I hope the letters give them a chance to reflect on their childhood dreams.
I discovered an interesting website called Future Me from the Kevin Hodgeson’s Blog Instructify. You provide the email address, add a subject line, write a note to your future self, and then choose when it should get delivered. You may designate your emails private or public, and there is a gallery of interesting public emails.
A great time to use FutureMe would be at the end of the school year to write a letter to yourself when you are a senior in high school or about the graduate college. It may start some interesting discussions about the future!
I NEVER in my wildest dreams would assume my student’s would actually be able to play a “review game” on their mobile devices with a substitute. I have a dream US history class period 1, which means they are still tired. The classroom culture is such that they do their work, every one of them contribute to the class, and meaningful learning happens. It is one of my favorite classes. I am not sure I could leave a review game for some of my other periods, but with that being said you have to know your students and ideally have a good substitute!
I use Socrative for review games all the time. I also love Infuse Learning. I use both programs (free) interchangeably because they have different features. On Monday morning I had a review day scheduled before their test on Tuesday. I attended a conference in the city and needed to leave sub plans. My first reaction was “oh no, what can I have the sub do with them? I can’t lose another school day” (we’ve had 2 snow and 4 hurricane days this year, so far). I already had a Socrative review prepared for my students and I figured I would continue with my plans. Being my school is a BYOD my students could partner up or each use any device they owned to play the “game.”
- Have the students go to their Socrative app or the internet to access the website
- Give them this random code ##### to play the game
- Have them play the review game alone or with a partner
I preset the questions to have student’s see if they got the questions correct as well as a “why” if they got the question wrong. My student’s did really well and enjoyed the review game. If you want to access other teacher’s review games using the socrative share code- click this link.
After they played the digital review game I had them use white boards in pairs. I gave each pair an envelop of four vocabulary words with the definitions that were going to be on the test. They had to draw their vocabulary word. They then took turns guessing each others word. They played this game for four rounds so they reviewed over 40 vocabulary words in the period.
I graded the tests on Tuesday and my students did fabulous on the assessment! I am so happy I did not lose and day and most of all meaningful learning occurred and reviewed WITHOUT me being there. I hope you can try something like this in your class.
I have been using the app Smart Seat for almost a year now. It is one of the best applications to keep track of student attendance, randomly choose students, and change assigned seating. Smart Seat is an app that provides teachers with so many features such as: changing the classroom layout, taking attendance, choosing student’s for class participation, making notes about students, and learning students names. As a teacher you can move students randomly or you can place students in particular seats. You can also generate a print-out seating chart with photos for your substitute. You can take attendance with the tap of a button using the absent, tardy, or excused feature. Classroom management and organization will never be the same with this app!
Ever since I have started teaching I have tried to instill student ownership and accountability on every student. Every teacher grades classroom participation a little differently. I take pride in that I am sometimes the exception, my students grade their OWN classroom participation with a specific rubric I designed. They evaluate and justify “why they deserve that grade?” I always joke with them when I say I have the final veto and override power over their participation grade (I’m a history teacher so they always laugh at that joke).
I find they are more critical of themselves when ranking their participation then I would have been. Sometimes I need to increase or decrease a student’s grade on the rubric if I think their participation is different than how they graded themselves. A wonderful of colleague of mine suggested to have a meeting with any student whose grade is lower than their evaluation. That way they can see how I evaluated and encouraged improvement with their classroom participation.
Another strength of the this method of evaluation is how they justify their grade with the why section of the rubric. That way it gives them a chance to reflect on their behavior, attitude, preparedness, and accountability. 90% of the time they write how they can improve their class participation. Through this method of evaluation my students are reflecting on their behavior but more importantly suggesting ways they can improve themselves. Don’t we want our students to be reflective lifelong learners?
Hello, my name is Justin Stallings. Melissa and I met through our Professional Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter and I recently became a guest blogger on this blog. Before I go into my posts, I wanted to give a big THANK YOU to Melissa for allowing me to post on her blog.
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a big fan of Evernote. I discuss it a lot at my blog and I put together a Evernote Livebinder a few months ago that received a “Top 10 Livebinder of 2012″ nomination.
When I started to look at the content I had for Evernote, I realized that there wasn’t much material that was “content specific”. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to discuss ways Social Studies teachers can use Evernote, beginning a series titled “Evernote for the Social Studies Teacher”. Over the next few weeks, I would like to discuss ways in which Social Studies teachers (History, Government, Economics, etc) can utilize this great and free tool.
What is Evernote?
Before we begin to look at how Social Studies teachers can use Evernote, we need to first understand what Evernote is and what you can do with it in general.
Need better organization? Need a tool that you can create notes, clip articles, and have access to your uploaded documents from your computer, tablet, or mobile device 24/7? With Evernote, all of this is now a reality.
Of course, the first thing that you’re thinking of is “How much does it cost?” This is the best part of Evernote…it’s free! With that being said, there is a paid version as well. Here’s what you’ll get with the free version:
- 100,000 Notes; each note can be a maximum of 25 megabytes (mb) for free users and 50mb for Premium users.
- 250 Synchronized Notebooks (including Notebook Stacks). All 250 notebooks can be shared. There is no limit to the number of Local Notebooks (which aren’t synced) you can have.
- 10,000 Tags.
- 100 Saved Searches
The web clipper can be installed on internet browsers Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer. Once you find a article that you like like, you can “clip” it into your Evernote account for future reference. The cool thing about this is that it clips the article itself and not just the url of the page.
Evernote Mobile Apps
With technology becoming a integrated part of the classroom, it’s important to have a tool that goes with you, on any device you have. Evernote provides apps for your IOS devices, Android devices, and Blackberry devices. With the Evernote app, you can quickly create notes from your mobile device, access web clippings, and everything else you have in your Evernote account.
All this is just a start of what you can do with Evernote. Next week, we’ll be looking at different ways a History teacher could use Evernote in the classroom.
I recommend to browse around at evernote.com in the next few days. The Evernote Trunk provides a exhaustive list of other applications that integrates Evernote with theirs, so Evernote provides a ton more uses.
Of course, if there is anything anyone would like to share, I’m always happy to learn new things myself!
Often teachers have little time during the school year and any app that can save you time is well worth the money. Fortunatly for you, Teacher Kit is a FREE application. It is a personal organizer to help you organize classes and students. It is very simple to use and it can help you with attendance, grades, and student behavior.
After playing with it a little it seems like it would be a very useful application to use in the classroom. As a teacher you can set up your classroom, seating assignments, grades, and save student information such as their names, emails, parent contact information. Everything is stored in one place! From the app you can even email students or parents with a simple click…. You can take attendance and monitor student behavior.
Not sure if this is creepy… but you can even take a picture of the whole class and the app recognizes faces and asks you to identify them and it can help you build a roster with names and pictures for attendance purposes.
The Danger of a Single Story is an interesting first week of school activity that I plan to implement in my classroom. My students will start the lesson by writing three facts, stories, or generations OTHER people see or think about themselves on one side of the post it. We will then watch the TED Video called “Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story.” We will discuss the “single story” stereotypes and what it means in our society.
Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding. “ The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story,” Chimamanda Adichie. Lesson Conclusion: I will then have students write three facts, generations, or stories that most people don’t know about them on the post it. I am ideally encouraging them to challenge the single story in their lives. I will then shuffle the post it’s around and have students “guess who” the post it’s belong to. The end of the lesson will conclude with a discussion about stereotypes, prejudice, and the importance of understanding and learning a story before judging it.
Grading is one of my least favorite jobs as being a teacher. If done correctly it can take hours to grade, item analysis, and be reflective on the assessment. Grading this past semester was a breeze because of GradeCam. Last week I was very excited to meet one of the co-creators of GradeCam at ISTE in San Diego, CA.
GradeCam is a WONDERFUL program that saves teachers valuable time and district resources when grading tests, projects, and essays. Students take their test, quiz, essay, or homework assignment using the specially designed GradeCam format. When grading all you have to do is hold the answer sheet up to either a webcam, document camera, or scanner. The data is uploaded, automatically graded, and can easily be imported into your gradebook.
GradeCam was developed by teachers, with the idea to minimize grading time, easily managing student performance/assessment, offering students instant feedback, and correlated to state/national standards. Students and teachers can get instant reports to monitor student progress such as item or class analysis. It is affordable, easy-to-use, and after it grades every assignment, it puts the results into your gradebook. Forms can even be copied on plain paper. GradeCam blows Scantron out of the water!
Ways you can use GradeCam in the classroom:
- The past spring I even had my students scan their own tests. They enjoyed the instant feedback during the same class period! I even had them go back and look at their incorrect answers. One of my students said, ” GradeCam makes grading much easier for the teacher and we get our results quickly.” Another student said, “I liked it because it showed you what you got right away so I know how my grade will be effected as soon as I’m done the test.”
- You can easily transfer scores from GradeCam to your electronic grade-book.
- You can even generate standards-based reports in order to monitor student progress.
- You can share assessments with other teachers/administrators and even run item analysis results by question, student, or class.
- You can even use GradeCam with essays, classroom assignments, homework, behavior analysis, etc. Just attach a GradeCam form to any assignment and then enjoy freetime without the stress of grading.
Check it out today! It will change the way you give tests and monitor student assessment.
As the end of the year is closely approaching, it is time to recognize and celebrate all the work our students have accomplished. It’s important to give students a reason and a drive to succeed; using awards and positive recognition is a great way to do just that. I was looking for a simple certificate when I stumbled upon Certificate Street. The website has a ton of FREE certificates organized into different categories.
Each certificate can be downloaded in an editable PDF format for FREE with the companies watermark on it. You can pay to have the certificate free of the watermark. Once you download the PDF you can personalize the certificate with your students name and details. It’s time to recognize your student’s accomplishments. Check it out today!
Asking your student’s to write themselves a letter is is a classic end of the year activity. Students can reflect on their year as well as their goals for the following school year or the future. But why not make it digital? There are two websites I discovered one website is called Future Me and another is called Letter 2 Future. Both websites offer users the ability to send an email in the future such as words of inspiration or goals for the future. You pick the date you want the email delivered and it is sent to your inbox! It is that simple. Getting a surprise from the past is actually kind of an amazing thing – just check out all the people on Twitter and Facebook that agree.
Application in Classroom: I usually give my students some prompts such as what is one important skill you learned this year in social studies, what is one thing you would like to improve upon next year, what advice would you give to your future self, where do you see yourself in five years or ten years.
My first year of teaching (5 years ago) I had my students write themselves a letter. I still have the letters sitting under my bed in my parents house. I plan on mailing them next year when they graduate high school. This year I plan on using the digital version of future letter writing. I have also heard of teachers mailing the letters right before the start of the following school year. What do you plan on doing for an end of the school year activity?
One of my least favorite things to do at the beginning of the school year is make seating charts. I recently learned about Smart Seat at #EdCampSS. Smart Seat is an app that provides teachers with so many features such as: changing the classroom layout, taking attendance, choosing student’s for class participation, making notes about students, and learning students names. As a teacher you can move students randomly or you can place students in particular seats. You can also generate a print-out seating chart with photos for your substitute. You can take attendance with the tap of a button using the absent, tardy, or excused feature. Classroom management and organization will never be the same with this app!
Some features include:
● Load student names using three options: from e-mail attachment, type in, or copy and paste. See our website FAQ for more info.
● Drag and drop students to change seating arrangement.
● Choose how you want your seating chart to look: show student nicknames, full names, or photos plus nickname.
● Export and print PDF seating charts.
● Record attendance by simply tapping on the student to mark Absent, Tardy, or Excused. Default state is Present.
● View, export, and print a spreadsheet of class attendance records for a range of dates that you select (up to 1 year).
● Choose students at random for class participation and class discussion.
● Use the “flashcard” feature to quickly learn student names. Toggle between photos and names by tapping on the class title at the top of the seating chart.
● Tap on a student to access attendance history, notes, and to load a photo using your mobile device’s photo album or camera.
● Use the classroom layout screen to change the number of rows and columns by panning up/down and left/right.
● Customize classroom layouts by creating a grid pattern for your desks, and then hiding selected desks.
● Scramble option allows instant creation of new seating arrangement.
● Add new students to class roster.
● Maximum size desk layout is 10×10 for iPhone/iPod touch and 20×20 for iPad.
● Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, iOS 5.0 or later.
For more information visit the App Store
I recently discovered GoSoapBox from David Andrade who is the author of the Educational Technology Guy blog. Students and teachers can use GoSoapBox from any device their smartphones, tablets, or laptop to interact during class. It can encourage your class to participate and interact like they never have before. GoSoapBox allows teachers to quickly assess student comprehension, and address common problem areas.
With GoSoapBox you can:
1. Audience Questions: This feature allows students to ask and respond to student questions. Students even vote about questions in class, which can allow the most pressing questions to be addressed first by the teacher.
2. Discussions: This can be similar to open ended questions that teachers can ask and have their students state their opinions or answer.
3. Confusion Barometer: This can allow students to indicate if they are confused about the material or pace of instruction.
4. Polls or Quizes: Polls are multiple choice questions that can be created for the purpose of formative or daily assessment. The results are updated in real time and displayed graphically.
Citation: GoSoapBox website
- Great article written by Adam S Bellow about the 7 Golden Rules about Using Technology in Schools. The following list has been adapted from Adam’s original post.
1. Technology should not be trapped in a room such as a lab. I could not agree more that technology should be brought into the classroom and harnessed where students are learning and interacting. It should be mobile, assessable, and consistently updated. This week I was talking with one of my students. I asked her how often she uses computers in class. She replied, “once we used them in art class.” My mouth dropped. We are doing our students such a disservice by not integrate technology into our teaching.
2. Technology is worthless without professional development and administration that supports it. Money and time needs to be spent on not only teaching teachers how to use the new technology, but encouraging creatively to implement technology into an educators’ daily teaching practice. Teachers need to be encouraged to use it and given opportunities to collaborate and enhance their instruction through meaningful professional development.
3. Mobile technology is in our classrooms, why aren’t teacher’s harnessing the power of cell phones? My husband and I went out to dinner this weekend. At the Hibachi table we were surrounded by a room full of 12 year old girls. When the cake came out all the girls (including the birthday girl) took out their cell phones. Out of the 12 girls around the table 7 had smart phones and the rest had basic cell phones. I laughed at the whole experience thinking that these kids probably don’t use them in school, but they are attached to them every single moment of the day. Cell phones can replace reference books, flip cameras, calculators, cameras, instant response devices, and so much more. They can save schools money and enhance instruction if done in an appropriate way.
4. Schools Fear Change. Schools across the country fear change… such as being replaced by the virtual classroom or collaborative web tools that are blocked because of their potential. Schools need to adapt and change to the modern era. Classrooms across the county are the same set up, design, and instruction since the mid 1940′s or earlier. Kids need to be taught how to deal with 21st century social media and taught how to use it appropriately. Blocking is NOT the answer, education is!
5.Technology tools are not just a fad- Everyone is a natural lifelong learning. Technology will change, we need to teach our students the skills to adapt to the changing environment.
6. Money is not the problem. Teachers have access to thousands of free web tools, twitter, and other methods of professional development. Don’t be afriaid to try new technology!
6. INVITE EVERY STAKEHOLDER TO THE CONVERSATION. “Who’s at the table?” Bellow asked. “Mostly administrators, some ask teachers. But here’s a novel idea. Let’s have students come to the table, and parents too!” I could not agree more with this rule. Students and parents need to be included in the conversation about technology in the classroom. Let’s get ALL the stakeholders involved.
Citation: Adam S Bellow 7 Golden Rules about Using Technology in Schools.