Category Archives: Uncategorized

Writing Memoir

Virginia Woolf once said, “A memoir is not what happens, but the person to whom things happen.”

Whenever we return to a remembered place, catch a whiff of a childhood smell, feel nostalgic over a photograph the seeds of memoir are there. When we listen to stories and say, “That reminds me of when . . .” or “Once when I was little . . .” we are unlocking forgotten memories that resonate and fill us with stories. Memoir is not only about emblematic moments, it is also about the themes that run through our lives.

Memoir is a great place to start writing with students because it allows us to use our lives as a catalyst for writing and storytelling. Memoir is shaped by feelings and exploring a memory includes looking back at what happened AND also how it impacted you.

In Ralph Fletcher’s A Writer’s Notebook (2003) he writes, “Memories just may be the most important possession any writer has. As much as anything else, our memories shape what we write. Memories are like a fountain no writer can live without.”

Here are twelve writing prompts to help students get started writing:

Savor a remembered image

Collect favorite lines from memoir texts and then have students write off these lines or write similarly to the writer

Interview or research your family members

Write about a time in your life when you say, “I can’t believe that happened to me . . . ”

Write a double entry on the “you now” and the “you before”

Zoom in very close to a remembered scene from your life

Start with:

I remember . . .

When I  . . .

I always . . .

I used to . . .

Experiment with voice/perspective/structure

Use a memory box to help you write and let artifacts fuel your writing

Use a photograph to help you write and let the photograph fuel your writing

Make a family tree and let the branches become stories

Document your most sensory memories of home

Once students start writing and begin to revise their writing, here are twelve revision strategies for memoir:

Write 5 possible titles for your memoir

Write 3 different beginning paragraphs

Write 3 different endings

If you have sections or vignettes, take them out and make one long continuous flow

If you have one piece, divid into vignettes with individual titles

Choose a memoir except to mentor you

Take one section and write it in 3rd person

Take one section, write it from the other person’s point of view

Twist time around and backwards, inside and out, weaving all about. Give it a precise day, time, minute

Take one section, climb inside and write from the “inside out”

Look for words and phrases that could be more alive, more sensory based (the smell, taste, sensation of the memory)

Write about the person in your memoir as if s/he is a character. Who is she? What kind of person? What are her likes and dislikes? What does she want? What stops her from getting it?

 

 

 

 

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3 Creative Ways to Ditch that Essay

* The following was written as a guest blog post for Ditch that Textbook published on 9/3/2019. To read the post on the website click here

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Why should essay writing be the majority of student writing in school? There are lots of other options. Here are three good alternatives to consider.

What are your most memorable experiences throughout your middle school and high school career?

I know, you are thinking about all the exciting and engaging essays you wrote. That five-paragraph essay where you explained the theme of a text. Each paragraph was informative and persuasive, providing robust evidence and analysis to support your claim.

Probably not.

And what about in your classroom today, how often are students writing essays similar to your youth?

Words do not exist only on a page in a two-dimensional space any longer. Today, words are multisensory experiences that are seen, heard, and experienced through podcasting, filmmaking, storytelling, gaming, and virtual reality. Writing has evolved in genre, medium, and dimensions.

Teachers have been called upon to empower learners and to bring creativity into educational spaces to promote critical thinking, problem-solving, and design thinking while at the same time bolster communication skills. Writing is a key communication skill necessary in school and out to articulate thinking and clarify ideas. In the classroom, students write to learn and also write to showcase their learning.

Why relegate essay writing as the majority of student writing in school? We can give lots of other options.

Here are three alternatives to traditional essays

Podcasting

Podcasts are an effective medium to share knowledge and experiences, and students can easily create their own. Podcasting with students improves literacy skills and creates an authentic audience for writing. When podcasting, students are not just reading aloud their writing but purposefully and carefully choosing their words, narration, and dialogue to communicate their ideas.img_0819

After listening to Sean Carroll’s podcast “What Would Stephen Hawking Do” on Story Collider, I thought why not switch the theme to “What Would Our Founding Fathers Do?” regarding current political issues of contention. For example, a group of students research, write and podcast what Abraham Lincoln would do about gun laws, while another group addresses how Alexander Hamilton would handle the illegal immigration debate.

There are many different styles of podcasts. How you want students to present their podcasts is a decision that you and your students have to make. By offering students choices there will be a diversity of products, students will have agency, and their voices will be at the forefront of their finished products.

More resources:

Script Writing and Movie Making

img_5525Writing a script for a film has its own specific format and requirements. Like writing any good story, when creating a movie, students need a beginning, middle, and end. Most importantly the story needs conflict to drive it. Students have to create authentic characters that viewers will empathize with.

Have students write their own fictional stories then storyboard their ideas to convey the plot, conflict, and characterization before going into movie-making mode. When students are creating films, writing their own scripts, and making choices about lighting, sound, and editing, they are demonstrating critical analysis, creative collaboration, and multimedia communication skills.

Documentary films are another format. Check out the Op-Docs series on The New York Times. This series highlights short documentary films about aspects of life that are often hidden or unspoken like incarceration, living with a disability, and facing obstacles. These documentaries highlight real people and true events. Creating documentaries allows students to research and investigate topics relevant to their own lives, make insightful arguments, and illuminate different perspectives.

More resources:

Multigenre Writing

Why just box students into writing one genre per unit? If teachers allow students to show their understanding and knowledge of a topic with a variety of types of writing, there is an opportunity for choice and creativity. This goes beyond just allowing students to choose one genre or format. What if students could blend genres across one writing assignment to produce a multigenre piece that includes poetry, narrative, images, and songs to reveal information about their topic? In a multigenre project, each piece might work independently to make a point, but together they create a symphony of perspectives and depth on a subject. Check out this student example!

The writing your students create for their multigenre project can be powerful and inspiring. With the help of digital tools like Adobe Spark or Book Creator students can amplify their projects for digital storytelling.

More resources:

Writing is a vehicle for communication. Today our students are bloggers, filmmakers, gamers, authors, innovators, and influencers. How amazing would it be to sharpen their strengths and abilities in our classrooms to create something that surpasses the traditional school essay?

 

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Words Matter

“Don’t compromise who you are or what you have come here to achieve.” – Cody Rigby

“Be better today than you were yesterday.” – Jennifer Jacobs

In June of this year I joined the Peloton community. Getting on the spin bike and taking a class energizes me daily.  I have my favorite instructors who not only push me but inspire me with their words. Many of the things instructors like Cody Rigby and Christine D’Ercole say throughout the workouts promote positivity and can translate in our classrooms. For example, during a ride with Christine D’Ercole she states, “What are the numbers that really count? The numbers don’t know how strong you are. The numbers don’t know how bad you want it. There is not metric for will power, determination, or heart. #IAMICANIWILLIDO”

After hearing Christine talk about numbers I thought about my students and the numbers and letters that drive their thinking and often, their identity. Whether it is a grade or a test score, our students are taught to believe these numbers count. But they don’t in the long run. We need to remind students that they are more than a letter or number grade. We need to use our words for good and remind our students that they matter.

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While reading Joy Kirr’s newest book, Word Shift (2019),  I realize I need to pay attention to the words that I use because the message that transpires is based on my choice of words. “The language we’ve been exposed to and the words we use when we talk about others (and ourselves) all have an impact on the way we view the world and the people in it. More importantly, as educators, what we say shapes the way our learners think about themselves and their place in the world.

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If you want less negativity and more positivity in your life, classroom, and school, start by changing the words you use each day. Make your language match what you really want to believe and what you really want to happen.”

Choosing the right words is so important to empower students and colleagues. Our words help to create a positive environment and our words become actions. Thus, more positive word choice leads towards better outcomes. Joy not only offers a dictionary that promotes positivity in education, she includes words to reflect upon and alternatives to consider. Here are a few I will be omitting:

Speaking in Absolutes

Labels like “bad seed, behavior problem, class clown, gifted”

“Great job”  – Let’s be more specific to help students grow.

Pop Quiz, Worksheets, and Homework

Sarcasm

As for positive phrases to use, Joy offers so many good ones. Here are my top 5:

“Let’s try . . . ”

“I am glad you asked that question.”

“I want to learn from you.”

“Please share, I’d love your contributions.”

“I believe in you.”

My focus in the new school year is to inspire and energize students and colleagues with positive words. Joy Kirr’s book Word Shift brings attention to what we say and how we say it. Just as the Peloton instructors use their words to push me to be better, I will use my words and attitude to spark a positive difference in the classroom.

 

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Project Based Learning

This past week I spent three days in a project based learning (PBL) workshop with Jill Ackers-Clayton from Fielding Nair International (FNI) learning about effective 21st-century teaching and learning practices surrounding active learning spaces and project-based instruction. 

In turn, I have revamped my 7th and 8th grade media elective class to be a twenty week project based learning experience with my students. I have mapped out the project and authentic challenge based on the question: How can we develop an award winning movie short to highlight a problem in our world?

Students will have twenty weeks to direct and produce a 5 minute film (Documentary, Short Feature or Public Service Announcement (PSA)) about a real world problem that ignites them AND organize a film festival to present student created films to school wide community audience.

According to Dayna Laur and Jill Ackers in their book Developing Natural Curiosity Through Project Based Learning  there are five stages to guiding students through the process: (1) Authentic Challenge & Purpose; (2) Information and Prototyping; (3) Perspective and Point of View; (4) Actions and Consequences and; (5) Considerations and Conclusions.

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Since I want students to utilize the elements of cinematography that best illustrates this community problem and showcases your understanding of film production, the first ten minutes of class I will provide a View Now Do Now that introduces film history, vocabulary, and study of craft. I have outlined the View Nows Do Nows for the first month of school on the slide deck below.

If you do project based learning with your students I would love to know the authentic challenges and learning experiences. Please share your insight in the comments on this blog.

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Traveling Through The Twilight Zone with 3 Writing and Viewing Assignments

“You’re travelling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead – your next stop, the Twilight Zone!”

Te Twilight Zone was a television series that first aired in 1959 for five seasons and has had three revivals since then, including this year on CBS. Created by Rod Serling, the original series addressed topics of science fiction, suspense, horror, and fantasy. The original series is currently available on Netflix.

This classic series is a great text to analyze with students and use as a creative writing model. Through the science fiction, fantasy, horror, and suspense, Sterling (who wrote two thirds of episodes) was able to include his own social commentary timely themes  from the anxieties of nuclear threat to the broken promises of suburbia, warning against anti-intellectualism and condemning virulent racism and bigotry — themes that all sound uncannily familiar today. 

Two episodes to watch with students are the 1963 episode, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and the 2019 remake, “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet.”  These two episodes are worth viewing for a compare and contrast assignment. I have provided the graphic organizer I created for my students below.

Each episode of the initial Twilight Zone opened with a monologue from Serling where he would introduce the theme in his own, hypnotizing way. Sometimes abstract, sometimes, direct, each monologue served to draw the viewer into a story that might challenge long-held beliefs or put them in a world they never could’ve imagined. Each of these monologues ended with Serling inviting the viewer to enter a story that took place in “The Twilight Zone.”   

Similarly, the Twilight Zone closing monologues offered commentary and persuasion. Check out the closing monologue from “Eye of the Beholder.”

Now the questions that come to mind: where is this place and when is it, what kind of world where ugliness is the norm and beauty the deviation from that norm? You want an answer? The answer is, it doesn’t make any difference. Because the old saying happens to be true. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, in this year or a hundred years hence, on this planet or wherever there is human life, perhaps out amongst the stars. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Lesson to be learned in the Twilight Zone (1960).

What does Ron Sterling state in his closing statement? What is he trying to persuade his audience to think about? Examining the openings and closings requires students to study  craft and structure. Viewing and studying openings and closings are opportunities for students to flex their own writing muscles and voice to provide their audience with synthesis, analysis, and substance. Once students look at various models and mentors, they can write their own concise social commentaries or monologues about fear, identity, or stereotypes.

Ultimately, having students create their own compelling Twilight Zone episode or updating a classic Twilight Zone episode allows students to be creative and innovative communicators. Storyboards and graphic organizers are scaffolding tools to help students create and execute an engaging episode.

Twilight Zone Proposal

Twilight Zone Project Reflection

Twilight Zone Planning Sheet

Want more about the Twilight Zone formula and storytelling techniques, check out this video essay deconstructing the cinematic techniques and formula for Twilight Zone episodes.

 

 

 

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Facilitating Collaborative Learning

“The world increasingly relies on people being able to work together to collaboratively solve problems.” — Dan St. Louis, Principal of University Park Campus School

Group work is an integral part of school and world culture. Through group work, students learn that there’s a diversity of valid perspectives, build comfort around using their own voices, and understand the value of accepting and building on the contributions of others. When facilitating group work in the classroom, teachers need to be actively involved and continuously help with team maintenance.

Once my students are put into groups, I have the create a team charter  in less than ten minutes that addresses the following:

Participation: We agree to….

Communication: We agree to…

Meetings: We agree to….

Conduct: We agree to…

Conflict: We agree to…

Deadlines: We agree to…

We cannot expect that all our students will get along and everyone will do their assigned job. So, I give my students access to a few resources that address collaborative group work and resolving conflict.

Here are a few resources I provide for my students:

Tom WuJec’s TED Talk “Build a Tower, Build a Team”

Coping with Hitchhikers and Couch Potatoes on Teams Adapted from Barbara Oakley

Implementing Group Work in the Classroom Centre for Teaching Excellence

Group work: Using cooperative learning groups effectively Vanderbilt Center for Teaching

Amy Edmondson “How to turn a group of strangers into a team”

 

After giving my students opportunity to explore these resources I then assign them a choice in how to explain and share their learning/understanding:

Choice A – Create a How-To document to provide your students direct instruction how to work through conflict. This How-To sheet is for students to follow, reread and refer to. Be sure to Provide specifics and 3 or more links to additional resources how to resolve conflict

Choice B – Create a Google Presentation with ten or more teamwork problems and possible solutions, particularly regarding conflict. In addition, provide 3-4 links to videos and articles how to resolve conflict

Before we give students a team project or assign group work, discussing and examining the complexities of group work can give students the tools and techniques to work better together as a team.  Having students share their products provokes discussion about inviting people to work together to solve big problems. This gives students vision and vocabulary to work collaboratively.

When students are working on a group project, I also have them design the group work rubric for students to grade themselves on how they worked in their group and how their group worked as a whole. Students identify the categories and criteria to develop these rubrics and then we all come to an agreement which one to use as the grading rubric for the final project.

Lastly, students complete a group work processing questionnaire created on Google Forms for students to answer reflection questions.

Group Work Processing Questionnaire

How do we make sure that teaming goes well? Discussing the elements of group work, collaboration, and continuous team maintenance helps provide students with models of teaming that works. Then, the results for collaborative group work can be awesome.

 

 

 

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Learning with Innovative Technology 2019 Conference

In beautiful, upstate New York, SUNY Empire State College and Saratoga Springs City School District hosted the 3rd annual Learning with Innovative Technology (LIT) Conference. The goal of the conference was, “to bring teachers, scholars and practitioners together to share knowledge about the effective use of educational technologies that will provide more enriching learning experiences.” With more than 40 workshops and hands on learning experiences throughout the day, there were many opportunities for collaborative learning and enriching educational experiences.  Sessions included gamification, project based learning, digital citizenship, robotics, virtual reality, makerspace, and STEM.

I presented a session titled, “Operation Game Design: Building Quests for Personalized Learning In Your Classroom.” This session provided teachers with an introduction to gamification versus game based learning and a step by step approach to building a quest for classroom learning. Participants learned how to organize an overarching mission in which assignments are like a sequence of game levels students need to successfully complete in order to “rank up” and complete all the required learning targets. To view the presentation slides, see below. For your own copy of the game design template, click here.

After presenting, I was excited to attend other sessions and continue to learn from other experts leading workshops at the conference. I attended a session in the afternoon on “Making Google Forms Engaging Using Branching Form (Assessments and Scavenger Hunts)” led by Carolyn Strauch where I learned how to extend the standard Google Form by making it interactive with the ability to guide students and lead them through prompts based on their answers. I love this as a way to scaffold student writing based on their responses to questions and answers. Here is a video for more clarity.

 

I am a proponent of Socratic Seminars and after building out a short response assignment for my students with scaffolded prompts in Google Forms, I moved on to a session titled, “Socratic Seminar, Meet Social Media” presented by Sarah Fiess. In a Socratic circle, participants seek deeper understanding of complex ideas in the text through thoughtful dialogue, rather than by memorizing bits of information. A Socratic Circle is not debate. The goal of this activity is to have participants work together to construct meaning and arrive at an answer, not for one student or one group to “win the argument.” Not only did we participate in a socratic circle, we examined this teaching practice as a way to engage ALL students in the conversation utilizing back channels and reflections created in Google Forms.

The last session I attended was “Beyond Hating Group Work” presented by Theresa Gilliard-Cook. We all assign group work in our classrooms but how do we make group work more effective and engaging, rather than hated and dysfunctional. Teachers need to be intentional about group projects and scaffold collaborative work for it to be successful. Creating a list of teamwork projects and possible solutions, particularly regarding conflict is useful. Additionally, providing videos and articles how to resolve conflict, creating a list how to work through conflict, and providing specifics how you, the teacher will get involved when conflict arises. Tech tools like Google, Slack, and Padlet are three student collaboration tools.

 

 

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Word Wizards, Word Nerds, & the Importance of Vocabulary in the Content Areas

What are the essential vocabulary words necessary for students to succeed in your classroom? This can be discipline specific vocabulary or academic vocabulary. For example, you could not possibly comprehend a social studies chapter on the geography of Africa if you do not know the meanings of the words “desert,” “savannah,” and “rainforest.”

Vocabulary is at the heart of the content areas we teach.  Each content has its own vocabulary unique to the understanding of the content material taught.  Most researchers would agree that you improve an individual’s vocabulary knowledge and comprehension through students immersed in a wide variety of reading and writing activities. 

There is no one method for teaching vocabulary. Rather teachers need to use a variety of methods for the best results, including intentional, explicit instruction of specific vocabulary words. Teachers can also encourage creative approaches to spark enthusiasm. 

As a content area teacher, vocabulary is intertwined with reading and understanding a text. As a teacher, your task is to devise a way of teaching vocabulary in a way that does not interfere with students’ enjoyment and interest of a text. Each of our content areas has specific content area vocabulary that is necessary in building understanding of our disciplines. In the TEDx Sonoma County talk from Dr. Kelly Corrigan, “Reading Matters, Vocabulary Matters” she addresses how “word learning is a way to understand concepts more deeply, connect to topics and information intentionally, approach challenging words with strategies good readers use to make sense of complicated texts, and to transfer this understanding into consumption and creation” (Shaelynn Farnsworth).

 

I want my graduate students to understand the importance of teaching vocabulary in the content areas and be able to design and create word enriched lessons for their classrooms. I designed a vocabulary Hyperdoc and Choice Board to help them meet these objectives. This choice board is designed with three (3) rows and three (3) columns. Students choose one activity per row (Learn, Dig Deep, Apply) and track your understanding on the KUD Sheet. Vocabulary Choice Board

The KUD note catcher allows students to show what they Know, Understand, and can Do.

K: What Students Should KNOW

This includes information that can be acquired through memorization, such as facts or categories of facts, dates, names of people or places, names and details of important events, definitions of terms or concepts, academic vocabulary, steps in a process, or rules.

U: What Students Should UNDERSTAND

An understand goal is an insight, truth, or “a-ha” that students should gain as a result of acquiringcontent and skills. An understand goal represents an idea that will last beyond a single lesson or unit—it has staying power. An understand goal often makes a statement about or connects concepts. A concept is a broad abstract idea, typically one to two words, under which various topics and facts can fit (Erickson, 2002). They can be general or discipline-specific.

D: What Students Should DO

A do goal articulates skills that students should master. These can be thinking skills, organizational skills, habits of mind, procedural skills, or skills associated with a discipline (e.g., science, cartography, mathematics).

Have engaging vocabulary activités in your content area, share them in the comments section below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 Chrome Extensions to Boost & Empower Writers

What is the intention for writing: to learn, deepen our understanding, emphasize skills and strategies, to deepen thinking, look for clarity of ideas, and a tool box for our thinking. Writing is utilized to focus our investigations of what I think I know, what I want to know, to state a hypothesis, accumulate evidence, and help us prepare for conversations and discussions. Writing connects new understanding to larger issues in the world and reflect on how it changes our understanding.

All teachers are responsible for being teachers of reading and writing. Here are five Google Chrome extensions that support and transform writing to increase student engagement and communication skills.

Form Publisher – When my colleague, Jules Csillag (@julesteaches) showed me how she uses Form Publisher to scaffold writing for her special ed students I immediately began adding it to my Google Forms. Some students may need scaffolds during the writing process to support their thinking. These scaffolds may include graphic organizers, revising and editing checklists, sentence starters, lists of transition words and phrases, and vocabulary lists. With Form Publisher you can convert a graphic organizer into a Google Form scaffolding the elements of the writing task. Then, the Form Publisher lets you generate files to present your data in a more suitable way i.e. a paragraph or constructed response. Using this add on breaks down the writing process for struggling writers into a manageable and less daunting task.

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Citthisforme – Writing a research paper or including testimony and evidence from other sources, this citation generator is easy to use and offers APA and MLA citations for a footnote or bibliography. Whenever you are on a page you wish to use as a source, simply click the Cite This For Me extension button to generate a citation for it. It’s quick, easy, and free.

Grammarly and NoRedInk– When it come to grammar, these Chrome extensions use artificial intelligence to help students compose bold, clear, mistake-free writing. NoRedInk helps students improve their grammar and writing by adapting to their abilities with instant feedback and actionable performance data. Students can edit their work before they submit it for evaluation. Think of these extensions as a virtual peer editor.

Speakit  and Announcify– I always tell my students to read aloud their writing before submitting it for evaluation. When we read aloud our writing we are able to hear our mistakes. Both these extensions will read back your writing and help students catch any errors during the editing and revision process.  Announcify will read aloud any webpage in your browser with a single click.

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WriQ – A new product from Texthelp, WriQ boasts, “WriQ is an extension for Google Docs that automatically grades papers digitally. It’s faster, more accurate and consistent then traditional manual and subjective grading.” Now, for any ELA teacher with a mountain of essays to grade, this sounds like a dream. Actually, the teacher is not off the hook to completely leave grading to a computer algorithm. What WriQ actually does is help students meet learning targets and offer guidance where they can improve with their writing before a final submission. WriQ will assess for students their vocabulary, spelling, sentence length, grammar and punctuation correctness. Students can see when they overuse a word or if their word choice is below grade level. Students have the option of revising their writing for a stronger outcome. WriQ provides rubrics alongside of the student writing to help students improve their writing in real time. These rubrics are based on the student’s grade level and the genre of writing, measuring everything from plot, narrative techniques, language and more. In turn, this extension can accelerate writing proficiency and provide a consistent benchmark for fair grading.

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#ISTE19 Round Up

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The annual International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in Philadelphia was an amazing event. After my own presentations I had the opportunity to attend a few panels, playgrounds, and peruse the exhibition hall. Tech Education is vibrant, diverse, and this year, pedagogy at the forefront. ISTE is about utilizing technology to create inclusive spaces to transform learning and help every student and teacher succeed.

Here are some highlights from this year’s conference

“Personalized learning pathways empower students to pursue their passions while encouraging them to take more responsibility for their education.” — NESSC

Education As Choose Your Own Adventure – Choice is key helping students learn, dig deep, and apply their understanding. Offering students options by product, tech tool, and process personalizes learning and allows all students to meet the learning targets. Author and educator Matthew Oberrecker states, “when learning is truly personalized, each student has a voice in the learning process.  Within this framework lies a core vision for 21st century teaching and learning: a symbiotic relationship between pedagogy, technology, and 21st century skills.” Choice and voice are at the forefront of education whether addressing students or teacher education. Choice boards, badges, non-linear classroom experiences, flipped learning are a few ways to differentiate and personalize learning.

 

 

Get App-y – There are so many apps and Chrome Extensions that can help assist our students to be better researchers, writers, and readers. Using a grammar extension like No Red Ink or Grammarly can help our students write more fluid and correctly. Using text to speech extension like Voice Note II can help our struggling readers and writers. Using ad blockers like Mercury Reader can eliminate distractions and leave only text and images for an easy reading of any site. These extensions and apps provide opportunities to support all learners. Assistive Technology Education, Mike Marotta exclaims, “By leveraging the power of this common browser, we can make significant customization to meet the needs of [not only] struggling students [but all our students].”

AR & VR – In my book Personalized Reading I write about augmented reality and virtual reality as an entryway for building background knowledge and expanding world knowledge. Both AR and VR allows you to explore gaming and simulations or virtual environment experiences. Metaverse Augmented Reality, Quiver for Education, Nearpod, CoSpaces and Merge Cube apps like Explorer, Dig, and Mr. Body create immersive experiences. It is not just about providing these experiences, but allowing students and teachers to create and personalize interactive learning. Check out Jen and Brian Cauthers’ resources for all things mixed reality.

Robots – I am so excited for the literacy connections between robots and my ELA class this year. I am actually getting a flock of Finch Robots from Hummingbird Robotics for my classroom in the upcoming school year. There are many robotics companies in the market today but it is the applications and connections to the learning standards that are key. In order to empower our learners as creators, designed, and engineers they will need to learn to code, build, and think outside of the box. Robotics can help us meet these objectives. Robots provide exposure to STEM activities, involving computational thinking and exploring solutions to real-world problems, along with tapping creativity. Sphero, Sphero mini, Ozobot, and Coding Mice are other robots where no coding experience necessary to use these tools.

Digital Citizenship – Richard Culatta, CEO of ISTE, said it best in his passionate plea to #ISTE18 attendees at the opening keynote in Chicago! “Digital citizenship, it turns out, is not a list of ‘don’ts’ but a list of ‘dos’,” Richard Culatta says. “And never has it been more important than it is now.” He returned to this idea in this year’s #ISTE19 since digital citizenship is essential in our world today and must be seamlessly infused it into the instructional day. BrainPOP, Common Sense Education and the Digital Driver’s License provide digital citizenship curriculum to empower students to create their own digital content to show how they’ve internalized the themes and importance of digital citizenship including the opportunity to create their own movies, text- and block-based coding projects, and personalized concept maps.

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