Teaching Out Loud

Putting something out there, and hoping to get something in return

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Welcome to my site! Right now I am in the midst of Sharing A Resource A Day In October (ARADIO). I have been remiss in giving back to my PLN and I am trying to make amends! Please feel free to sift through what I have been sharing (you can find it all on the ARADIO Category Page). Please leave a comment if you have another resource to share, because I am always game for something new.

Duncan says thanks!


ARADIO – Day 23 – Up Among the Stars

I try to keep most of my resources hardware and software independent, but sometimes, somethings are too good to pass up.

100 000 stars is basically google street view for the universe. Students can travel in 360 degrees as the explore the universe around them. It is a great tool for examining real distance between objects and the stars in our ‘neighbourhood’.

Needs: Chrome browser – relatively recent build.

Bonus Resource:

I love this little site – the Musical Solar System. They give every planet (including put upon Pluto) a tone, and each tone plays as they complete one orbit, keeping the speed ratios intact. Students can speed up or slow down the solar system as they see fit.

When Did Tools Become Something Bad?

One of the new apps that exploded on the internet yesterday was “Photomath (G+)”. The app allows anyone to take a picture of an algebraic equation and it will spit back both the answer, and the intermediary steps to take to solve the problem. The implications are quite staggering, and show the power of marrying the optical capabilities of our smartphones with wildly differing applications.

SiliconRepublic came out with the salacious headline “New algebra solving app could make teachers’ lives hell“. While the article is basically a write up on the app, and not a conversation about the educational implications, I do take quite the exception with the article title.

My biggest problem with the headline is the implication of terrible pedagogy. The only real way that this app becomes disruptive to a teacher is if that teacher is marking homework. Which is, pedagogically speaking, unsound. We are never sure who has done/helped/eaten the homework that comes in the next day. I don’t ask for homework to come back anymore, because it is only an extension of what is done in class, and not an important artifact of student learning. Otherwise, I can see many benefits of the app. First and foremost, it would be a great way to check work. I can see students pulling out a device after attempting a question to determine the accuracy of their answer, and if incorrect, being able to see where they went wrong. I know that I would have benefitted from that, especially when the teacher was with someone else, so that I could have built the capacity within myself. Anything that can help build capacity, and show the student that their device isn’t just mass media consumption, should be celebrated from the rooftop.

The disconnect between the media image of teaching, and the reality, leads to inflammatory headlines like the one at SiliconRepublic. The result here is that we no only have to battle preconceptions within our classroom, but also wage a PR battle with those looking in. It is true what they say, you gotta love what you do.

ARADIO – Day 22 – Front Pages From Around the World

While newspapers are fast becoming a niche market, it is still important for students to think critically about what they read and write. I find that when big news stories hit (like today’s), having students look at a range of responses helps them process the information, and gives them an idea about how the media can calm/incite panic by word/font/picture choices.

Enter the Newseum – Today’s Front Pages from around the world. Today’s total was 884 different papers from around the world. Please heed these words of caution before you let students dig in. Different areas of the world choosing more shocking/NSFS (not safe for school) images. I would preview anything first before you have them explore the front pages.

ARADIO – Day 21 – Becoming a Book Wizard

During guided reading/reading assessments, it is important to find good levelled texts to get the scaffold set up properly. The problem with the sets that we have is that there are only a few different copies. Finding the level of books in your classroom would really be helpful. Enter the Scholastic Book Wizard! Search for a book, and you can get all sorts of info – Take one of my favourites:
Tale of Despereaux
While there are only about 50 000 titles so far, it really helps me move students to books that are high interest and at a good challenging reading level.

ARADIO – Day 20 – Are you a Search Ninja

This Google Search Ninja presentation was shared a couple of years ago (by Derrick Waddell) at a workshop at our board office. While the language is a little to high, and the content a little to dry for the younger grades, the information is important to pass on.

Some of the techniques aren’t that helpful for the younger grades, like the ellipsis search, but my students have found a wonderful power in the hyphen or subtraction searches. I used to use the example of searching for ‘Bieber’, and then showing what the results are for ‘Bieber -Justin’. Unfortunately his latest exploits haven’t been classroom friendly, so I have started to use sports teams. I talk about researching tigers, and then show a search for tigers. The first few results usually end up being for the Detroit Tigers. Then I ask the students to try “tigers -detroit“, and ask what the difference is. It is a great way to enter into the world of advanced searching.

I also have a poster that I put up in class after these lessons.

Here is the presentation:

ARADIO – Day 19 – Adding a Little Drama to Your Day

I had the good fortune to attend a presentation by Jeffrey Wilhelm. He’s been a proponent of inquiry learning and, my personal favourite, getting drama into the other aspects of language. I have bookmarked, dog-eared and almost wrecked my copy of “Deepening Comprehension With Action Strategies”*, and now I want to share it with you.

My personal favourite strategy is the ‘Hot Seat’, where you get the students to adopt a persona of a character of the book, and they must answer questions, in character, that are asked by the rest of the class. Not only do you get at voice and point of view for the student in the hot seat, the rest of class demonstrates their ability to come up with good, deep questions. The talk show atmosphere really piques student interest, and our conversations often take strange and exciting tangents.

*Technically I have “Action Strategies for Deepening Comprehension” from 2002, but that link is to the updated version – it has a CD!

ARADIO – Day 18 – Real Life Online

3 years ago, I decided that I would never take a class back to our local safety village for their presentation on Internet Safety. The presentation came from a place of fear, and the message, while never explicitly stated, was that the Internet was a bad place that students should avoid. I watched as, one-by-one, my students started to tune out. They already were using the internet, and the information was either laughable, or advice that they couldn’t abide by. I believe that the information the police presented came from an honest place, but ended up being a lecture instead of understanding what the students were doing.

That was a really long-winded way of saying that I needed a new resource for applying the concept of citizenship online. I was lucky enough to attend the launch of OPHEA‘s program called ConnectED – Real Life Online. While not perfect, it is a good launching point for realistic discussions of life online. While targeted at the Grade 4-6 demographic, it is can be applied as low as grade three. I know my students have appreciated the little touches, like how the students age from the grade 3 module to the grade 6 module. Each module comes with lesson plans, assignments and assessment tools.

ARADIO – Day 17 – When is a Classroom not in a Classroom?

I’ve started to use Google Classroom, and while not fully featured yet, the integration with our Student’s GAFE account makes this the winner for blending my learning. Setting up the students was a breeze, adding assignments/links/videos are a cinch, and getting the student access is easy, and the students are enjoying the new environment. Giving the students templates to work with is easy when you share documents that are view only. It also creates folders in my own Google Drive so that assignments that are handed in are automatically filed.

What does it need? The stream could be streamlined, and possibly taken out of the middle, or split between my posts, and student posts. That way I could sticky the important information to the top. I would also like the students to have the option to “create” a form, and have the link be the part submitted to me. This would make my data management life much easier! I’m sure there are other features that I haven’t even thought of, but this product is in its infancy, and I am willing to give it time.

ARADIO – Day 16 – GAFE Help

Quick disclaimer – this link has many WRDSB (Waterloo Region District School Board) specific links, but I think there is enough general information to help any GAFE user.

If you need a quick reference to many of the intricacies of the GAFE environment (especially the WRDSB implementation) – head over to the GAFE Help Site set up by @susan_watt. You can get help with most of the basics, and some of the more advanced features for Google Apps for Education Accounts.

ARADIO – Day 15 – THINK about it!

From the People who brought you “Say Hi” day, comes a month of contests and resources. Last year we were introduced to the concept of THINK when interacting online:

This year, the Waterloo Crime Prevention Council is looking for WRDSB and WCDSB students and classes to put forward their best ideas about what THINK means. There are a wealth of resources for bringing accountability to our online presence.

Here is the sneak peak for the 30 Days of THINK:

Fill THINK Poster

THINK Contest

Check out all the THINK details, and look for further contest information coming soon!