While it may only be 41 degrees Fahrenheit outside today, the end of winter is definitely within sight; I can see more grass than snow on my JV Baseball field, and we are in full-fledged mud mode around campus. After a long, long winter, it is time to recharge the batteries and forge ahead with a sense optimism that only the spring term can evoke. In this week’s Friday 4, I have a couple of articles, a couple of resources for new lesson plans or ideas, 12 Google search tricks and a final thought provoking piece that should generate some discussion around the water cooler. I have not posted a Friday 4 in a few weeks so I took the liberty of going beyond four items.
- The all-school read for the Loomis Chaffee community next year is actually a listen to the “Serial” podcast. There just happened to be a nice piece on the Mind/Shift website earlier this month about how teachers are incorporating the podcast into their lessons. Perfect timing if you ask me! What Teens are Learning From ‘Serial’ and Other Podcasts
- Why Kids Need to Move, Touch and Experience to Learn appeared on the Mind/Shift website this week and includes some good reminders about the connection between the body and the brain in learning.
- Looking for some short but pithy audio clips to spice up your classes? “Listen Current makes it easy to bring authentic voices and compelling non-fiction stories to the classroom. We curate the best of public radio to keep teaching connected to the real world and build student listening skills at the same time.” Signing up for a free account will also give you access to additional resources for using the clips in your classroom. Worth a look and listen!
- Looking for a new way to introduce or teach a topic that is getting a little stale? Check out Activate Instruction, a free website that contains a wide range of resources from all of the core disciplines.
- 12 Google Search Tricks You Probably Didn’t Know is a recent post from the Google Guru website. You will certainly impress your peers and your students if you add a few of these arrows to your search quiver.
- The thought provoking piece is from the recent Atlantic Magazine and is titled The Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher. The questions raised in the article are ones that all serious schools and teachers should be discussing if we are to remain relevant in today’s educational landscape.
Looking to add some new tools to your teaching toolbox? This week’s Friday 4 will highlight a few relatively new technology related tools that are fairly easy to learn and use that have the potential to significantly change the teaching and learning that is going on in and out of your classroom. I encourage you to take the plunge and try using one or more of these tools in your classroom in the next couple of weeks.
- Socrative is a web-based student response system that is similar to “clickers” in functionality that can be used on a computer, a tablet or a smart-phone. “Through the use of real time questioning, instant result aggregation and visualization, teachers can gauge the whole class’ current level of understanding.” A Complete Guide for Teachers on How to Use Socrative is a great place to start if you have never seen or used Socrative.
- If you are a user of Google forms in class, there was some big news recently having to do with the release of new add-ons for Google forms that add some really neat functionality to forms. If you are a user of Google forms, check out this post from the Educational Technology and Mobile Learning website that describes a few of the add-ons that educators will find useful.
- Ever wish you could easily create an interactive multimedia collage for a topic you are teaching, or better yet, have your students demonstrate their understanding by creating a dynamic presentation? Well, now you can! Check out this post from the Free Technology for Teachers website that is run by Richard Byrne @rmbyrne.
- My personal favorite new tool that I have added to my teaching toolbox has to be Edpuzzle (@EDpuzzle). With Edpuzzle, you can take any video (your own or one from YouTube or several other sites) and make it your lesson by trimming it, annotating it or embedding questions that the student have to answer right into the video. As a flipped classroom teacher, it has been awesome to be able to add questions that allow the students to check for their own understanding right into the videos at the exact moment that I want. Here is a wonderful blog post by a fellow teacher that explain how to get started. Even if you do not use a flipped classroom, this tool could turn some of the videos you like to show into richer lessons.
February may be the shortest month of the year as far as calendar days are concerned, but this year, with respect to the weather in New England, February has been one of the longest on record. As one frigidly cold blustery day blends into yet another sub-zero polar vortex of a night, I anxiously await spring and the first baseball practice outside when I do not have to wear my thermal socks. What better way to spend yet another day cooped up indoors than to consume one last Friday 4 missive. With no further ado, here you go…
- Several colleagues mentioned in a recent survey on the Kravis Center that they would like some help effectively incorporating technology into their classrooms. Google forms is a powerful tool that can be used in a whole host of ways. There happens to be a Classroom 2.0 live show on Google forms on Saturday, March 1 at noon EST. You can join in here live or listen to the presentation at a later time.
- Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne) recently wrote a piece on his Free Technology for Teachers blog about How to Add Voice Comments to Your Google Documents that can take your feedback on student writing to the next level.
- 7 Things Smart Learners Do Differently is a nice little piece that might be nice to share with your students and serves as a good reminder as we develop lesson plans.
- Peter Gow (@pgow) recently wrote a piece on his blog titled “Why Twitter Beats February” that describes how he uses his Twitter PLN to make the days of February bearable. Seemed appropriate as I watch the weather forecast predicting yet another snow “event” in the coming days.
- Examining Your Multiple-Choice Questions is a piece I ran across on the Faculty Focus website that begins an exploration of how to craft better multiple choice questions.
- My final nugget is completely unrelated to teaching and learning, but given that the Loomis Chaffee mascot is a pelican, I could not resist! Get an up-close, face-to-face view of a rescued pelican learning to fly.
Friday Four – Feb 22
Of all the “issues” that teachers have to deal with, effective and appropriate use of technology in the classroom is probably the one that elicits the most fear and anxiety. Part of the anxiety comes from the fact that technology changes so rapidly and it is impossible to be the master of all of it. This anxiety or fear cannot prevent us from actively seeking out and learning how to use new technologies in our classrooms.
- This week’s first piece is actually a series of three posts written by Chris Lehmann (@chrislehmann), the founding principal of the Science Leadership Academy. Chris is well known for his belief that “Technology must be ubiquitous, necessary and invisible.” He addresses each of his claims in the series of posts that can be found here
- Now for a few of the “hows.” Chris Betcher (@betchaboy) is an IT teacher from Australia that I follow on Twitter who recently wrote a blog post “Office vs Drive: Some thoughts” that makes a good case for switching from “old school” to “new school” when it comes to word processing, spreadsheets or presentations.
- If you are already a Google Drive user or are intrigued after reading the previous piece, this post from Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne) will walk you through how to use Drive on your iPad.
- If you are really ambitious and want to seriously add to your technology toolbox, check out this page 100+ Google Tricks for Teachers.
I hope you enjoy these finds from the week and that you add a few new arrows to your teaching quiver. As always, comments and suggestions are welcome.
Friday Four – Jan 27
The end of the week snuck up on me, as it sometimes does, and prevented me from posting my weekly Friday 4 on Friday. I guess I will have to ask for an extension and hope for some leniency! I am pretty sure that the your life went on just fine in the absence of the Friday 4, but I did not want to completely let you down, so here is my somewhat belated Friday 4 for the week that will in all likelihood end before I finish typing this post.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I am a big fan and user of Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) in the classroom and with my students. I ran across 2 great resources this past week having to do with Google Drive that I wanted to pass along.
- The first is a post from Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne), who writes the FreeTech4Teachers blog, titled “Five Essential Google Drive Skills For Teachers.” If you are a new user of Google Drive, this is the post for you. If you are already a user of Drive, you may still be able to pick up a tip or two from this post.
- The second Drive-related item is a short video explaining how you can use a neat Chrome plugin called WeVideo with your Google Drive to create, edit and share videos all for FREE.
The last two items for the week are more reflective in nature.
- Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby) wrote a post recently “Building a professional learning network on Twitter” that explains how educators can harness the power of Twitter for their own ongoing professional development. If you are new to Twitter and have not yet “found” Tom, I would strongly recommend that you add him to your “follow” list.
- Marc Seigel (@DaretoChem) is another person I follow on Twitter who is a fellow flipped-classroom teacher. He recently wrote a blog post that resonated with me that I hope you will find interesting.
Enjoy and have a wonderful final week of January!
Friday 4: December 14
Today is the last day of classes for us at Loomis Chaffee before we head off for the winter holiday break. YIPPEE! These past few weeks are some of the most hectic of the entire year for most educators, and the prospect of a few weeks off to recover from the frenetic pace of life in the classroom is a welcome sight. Despite my recent efforts to have a more concrete theme for my Friday 4 posts, I am going to break from that goal today and serve up a random selection of interesting items that I came across this past week. A theme did not emerge, so there is no sense in trying to force it to happen. Think of this week’s post as an opportunity to open up four random gifts that you have no idea what each contains. To extend the metaphor even further, I am not even going to give you a little preview of what each link contains. As you open your “gifts” in the privacy of your office or wherever you may be reading this, you do not even need to pretend that they are exactly what you wanted in order to be polite! I hope you enjoy the “gifts” and have a wonderful break!
Friday 4 – November 9
A recent request that came my way was a desire to see a Friday 4 focused on more practical items that could be immediately employed by teachers or their students in the classroom. I do not think that I have focused an entire Friday 4 on “in the trenches” items before so…here you go!
- The single best source for me for practical technology-based tools/ideas/resources has to be the blog Freetech4teachers written by Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne). I have included items from Richard before in the Friday 4 and would encourage any and all teachers to add his blog to their google reader. He averages over 100 posts a month covering anything and everything tech related….all for FREE!
- One of the coolest site I have come across recently (thanks to Richard Byrne!) is the Google Cultural Institute. “The Google Cultural Institute helps preserve and promote culture online. With a team of dedicated engineers, Google is building tools that make it simple to tell the stories of our diverse cultural heritage and make them accessible worldwide.” The site includes video, images and audio files about just about any cultural event since 1850 that you can imagine, from the 1913 Land Act to D-Day to the 1972 GOP convention in Chicago to the Human Genome Project. Whether you are a classroom teachers looking for a way to spark interest in a topic or just want to learn something new, this site is worth checking out.
- Another fabulous resource for tools and lesson plans is the edtechteacher website. They have a great page at the site dedicated to Technology Tools For Teaching & Learning that will point you to resources to do all sorts of things with your students. A couple of examples from the site include:
- If you are a frequent reader of the Friday 4, you know that I am a big fan and user of many Google products including Google reader, Drive and G+. What you may not know is that Google has a massive library of free lesson plans for teachers. There was a recent article on the Edudemic website that describes and links to the Google in education site. The site is searchable by discipline, product type and age range.
I hope that this week’s items lead to a new idea, tool or project for your classroom. There is a wealth of information out there to be certain. If you run across a particularly good item, please share your findings in the comments section or send me an e-mail. I want to hear from you!
A Fall Cornucopia
This week’s Friday 4 is an eclectic collection of items from a busy week here at Loomis Chaffee. While there is no single theme that connects the items, I am hopeful that at least one of the threads will be of interest to you.
- Given the fact that it is midterm time here, I have had many discussions with colleagues about grades and how we assess and evaluate students and their work. Ever since I heard Rick Wormeli (@RickWormeli) speak at an ASCD meeting a few years ago and read his book “Fair Isn’t Always Equal”, I have thought quite differently about my grading philosophy and policies. Fortunately, you can read several pieces from Rick and see several videos from him at the the Stenhouse publishing site dedicated to Free Assessment and Grading Resources from Rick Wormeli. (You will have to register for a free account in order to access some of the info.)
- I referenced Daniel Willingham’s (@DTWillingham) blog and latest book in a recent post and was pleased to see the Fall edition of the American Educator magazine feature an excerpt from his book. You can download the piece here in which Willingham explains how to analyze and dissect educational research.
- Followers of the Friday 4 will know that I am a regular reader of Tom Whitby’s (@tomwhitby) blog “My Island View.” Tom recently wrote about his thoughts on the current state of professional development in education and the need to change the model and make PD “evolving and continuous.”
- Jut over a month ago in the Sept 14 Friday 4, I encouraged people to join me in the Power Searching with Google MOOC. Well, I can report today that I was able to successfully finish the course and received my certificate of completion via e-mail yesterday. While there was a great deal in the course that I was already familiar with, I did learn a whole bunch of neat tricks and tips for searching with Google that will make me a more efficient and powerful searcher. The course is officially over now, but you will be able to access the videos and course materials beginning Monday, Oct 15 at this link. The ability to locate quality, reliable information on the internet is a critical skill these days that we need to know how to do both for ourselves and so that we can help our students navigate the increasingly information dense world we live in.
Enjoy and as always, please do not hesitate to leave comments or suggestions for future Friday 4 editions.