Blog: In the Classroom

Empower Students with Choice

With digital tools, giving students a choice has never been easier.

When I was a kid, my mom would tell me to do the dishes, and I would argue after every meal. However, when I was presented with the power of choice -- “Ok, Amber, you will be cleaning a room today but you can choose between the bathroom or the kitchen” -- it somehow made all the difference. All of a sudden, I felt like I had a voice and was ready to clean because I made the choice, even though I was either going to be scrubbing toilets or those dang dishes. Teaching practices of the near past included detailing exactly what a student should do to demonstrate their learning. Students knew the exact number of paragraphs and sources needed or what sections they had to include on the tri-fold poster. I have been guilty of as....read more


Digital Citizenship Lesson Flow: Helping Kids Communicate with Teachers

Devices in the Classroom, Part 4

If we want to prepare students to be college and career ready, we have a lot of bases to cover. This includes giving students the tools and experience they need in order to be successful in the real world. Teaching students how to communicate effectively and appropriately with a variety of audiences is an essential skill.  Recently, the popular communication tool Remind added a feature that lets teachers accept messages from students and their parents (previously, Remind only offered one-way messaging, from teachers to students/parents). Remind Chat has security and safety features, so teachers and stakeholders feel comfortable while opening the door to increased communication throughout the school day. One reason I'm so exci....read more


5 Ways Evernote Transformed Running Records in My Classroom

How tech made this commonly used reading assessment faster and easier.

I've never enjoyed the thought of giving up a week of instruction to complete reading running records. A running record, if you don't know, is an assessment tool for a student's reading progress and skills. For me, the thought of listening to the same passage over and over and trying to remember the precise symbol to mark used to send me into a panic. Would I hear them correctly? And what would the rest of the class be engaged in so I could actually listen and concentrate on what the student in front of me was reading? Then, a presenter at a technology workshop introduced a general idea for using Evernote. The presenter suggested using Evernote to record students reading instead of listening to them read d....read more


Math Success for All

Use technology to customize learning in math centers.

At any one time, we, as educators, have many demands placed on our plates. Some we solve easily, and some we just can’t fix. We torture ourselves each day trying to make something work that isn’t working. Math can be a challenge to teach to a whole group. You can never meet the needs of all with one lesson. Here’s a solution to your math struggles: math centers. Now wait, before you stop reading -- consider the benefits of using math centers: All your students are engaged All your students feel success All your students are working at their skill level The steps to starting math centers are simple, but they require thoughtful planning. Assessment: Assess ....read more


Tips and Tricks for Managing Devices in the Classroom

Devices in the Classroom, Part 3

From seating charts to taking turns to supply bins, classroom management encompasses the rules, routines, and procedures that encourage a positive classroom culture. And now devices -- fancy, expensive devices -- are being added to the mix. With New York City's lift of its school cell phone ban, there's a renewed buzz about device management, not only at the district level, but also within individual schools and classrooms. As teachers know, setting and communicating clear expectations is half the battle! A successful approach is for schools to fold technology use into their existing missions and codes of conduct. While this landscape and the devices might be new, the behaviors around safe, responsible, and respectful use are ....read more


Peek Inside a Flipped Math Classroom

Hopes, fears, and trying new things

I’ve been toying with the idea of flipping my math class for a while now, and this summer, I took the plunge, planning out how to make it work. I had high hopes it would, as well as some fears, but I’m so glad I was willing to try new things. I want to share with you what I’ve done and what I’ve learned. My research and planning revolved around three questions. Here are my results. 1. Where would I get the resources to use for the video? If I'm going to have my students watch videos for homework, I need to make sure the videos are high quality and cover the specific concepts I need. I was pleasantly surprised with our district’s new math curriculum, envisionMath, which includes a short video fo....read more


Webinar Spotlight: Designing Agile Learning Spaces

What is the relationship between physical space, technology, and learning? What kinds of spaces can leverage technology and support the kinds of learning we want to happen? In February, Bill Selak and Ilsa Dohmen from Hillbrook School presented the webinar "Designing Agile Learning Spaces" in our Digital Classroom edWeb community. Bill and Ilsa described four themes for the way they redesign learning spaces: choice, movement, ownership, and inclusion; these four factor into how to create dynamic learning spaces where teachers and students can collaborate, learn together, and work together. Bill and Ilsa gave examples from Hillbrook’s iLab, a computer lab designed with student input into a custom....read more


Organize Texts for Test Prep with LiveBinders

This easy-to-use tool is a great platform for helping students analyze multiple texts.

Those of us who teach in states that have adopted the Common Core State Standards know that one aspect of the anchor standards for reading addresses the “integration of knowledge and ideas.” These standards ask that students know how to look at information from varied sources, explore arguments and claims, and analyze multiple texts with similar themes. As online testing becomes a reality for many schools and districts this spring, teachers who want students to feel comfortable with this cognitive task need to provide opportunities for students to interact with multiple information sources, synthesize the information, and respond to a prompt. There are many tools that can assist teachers in presenting multiple sources in an....read more


5 Classroom Strategies That Help Introverts and Extroverts Do Their Best Work

Thanks in no small part to Susan Cain's bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, people have never been more aware of extroverted and introverted personality types -- that is, people who gain energy from social interaction and people who gain energy from alone time. Cain argues that contemporary Western culture, fueled by corporate structures and values, has overemphasized extroverted traits and norms: quick decision-making, outspokenness, and social confidence among others. Given education's close connection with the corporate world, schools are no exception. Often it's the students who eagerly raise their hands, dominate small groups, and think on their feet that draw ....read more


Tech Integration Works in the Arts

Practical ways arts teachers use 1-to-1

My job as a technology integration specialist for a PreK-12 public school district became a whole lot more interesting this year as the schools I support implemented a 1-to-1 iPad program in grades K-12. It’s been especially exciting to see the creative things the teachers and students are doing in the arts. Vocal Music Arts teachers Vicki Angell and Elysia McGill have their vocal students record themselves singing. The immediate feedback kids get by listening to themselves leads to greater improvement. Angell, who teaches at Sabetha Middle and High Schools, has her students record close to their own mouths while singing parts in a group since she feels that is a true measure of what they do in a choral group. The ....read more


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