Chris Bosh on Computer Coding

Computer CodingIt’s been a crazy two months of school.  I am feeling it, how about you? No matter how organized we try to be, things get out of hand and we are forever trying to catch up.  I must apologize to you all; we’ve been absent far too long from our blog.  We are sorry.

Today, I want to get right back into the swing of things.  I recently read an article on Chris Bosh (NBA player for the Miami Heat) writing about why coding is an important skill students need to learn.  I had written about this back in March of this year, Coding: An Essential Skill.  In that post, I included a great video and a link on how to incorporate coding into the elementary classroom.  Chris Bosh is in that video too, but he now has written an essay for WIRED magazine.  This is a wonderful way to peak the interest of our students.  A popular NBA player known by many, leading the way to make students understand the world around them!  Take a look and let us know what you think.

Follow the link for the article.

Here’s Why You Should Learn to Code by Chris Bosh via WIRED

52 Science Journals…Now in a PowerPoint Version!

Have you seen our 52 Science Journals Prompts? They’re an excellent and engaging way to incorporate English Language Arts in your Science classes!

Now, we’ve created a PowerPoint presentation for our science journals! Still the same great content, but in an easy to display presentation.  Depending on your preference, you may either want to print out our original science journal prompts to create booklets for your students or you may want to display the PowerPoint presentation and have students write their journals in their notebooks or type them out.  Either way it’s a great way to get your students writing, reflecting, researching, and communicating during your science classes!

Get the original 52 Science Journal Prompts as an easy to print PDF!

Get the 52 Science Journal Prompts as an easy to display PowerPoint Presentation!

Guest Post: Producing Engaging Lesson Plans via Social Media Trends by Albert Roberts

Hello readers! We have a special guest post by Albert Roberts that we thought you might like! Our students are always on social media, so why not use social media in the classroom for educational purposes?  Read on to find out how!

What are some of the ways in which we can make use of social media in the classroom? When used properly, social media can allow us to engage students with topical discussions, while getting a perspective on issues like bias and how to use different sources. One way in which we might try to use social media in productive ways for lesson planning is to look at social media trending tools that allow you to put together a lot of different responses to a subject.

Perhaps the main challenge for using social media with Middle Schoolers and other age ranges is that they’re usually already familiar with social networks, but don’t always know how to use them as part of their assignments; there’s often just too much content to sift through. Which makes social trending sites like socialmention.com so useful, as they provide a search engine where you can bring together all the times that keywords are mentioned on different social networks.

For example, run a search on World War II, and you get Twitter messages linking to recent news stories about memorials and veterans; you can also find Pinterest links to World War II books, and Twitter and other social network links to photographs. You can take a similar approach to searches on Barack Obama, or on controversial debates (although you may want to be careful not to end up with offensive material). What you have, then, is a lot of content that can be filtered and turned into examples that can be shown to students.

Bringing all the content you can find on social media together into something tangible and relevant can engage students. Social network trend searches can make older subjects more relevant, or can put current debates into a real-world context; this kind of access to debates can then be combined with other uses of social media for students, from carrying out Twitter polls to writing blogs and posting class photos.

If you’re putting together lesson plans, selecting sources from a social media trend search can lead to a series of questions and projects for students. Some areas that you might focus on include:

Debating Bias – show students examples of how a topic they’re looking at in class is being debated – what are the key arguments that are coming out, and do they reinforce or contradict what they might already know?

Relevance – discuss with your students why some social media sources are more useful than others: why is a well-researched blog better than someone making their case on Twitter? Similarly, question how far we can trust commentators’ reliability, and what sources they use to back up their arguments.

At the same time, social media trend searches can be discussed more directly with students as a way for them to carry out work in their own time. Look at what results they would receive if they searched on keywords when in class, and why what they find could be seen as useful or not for assignments.

Social media trends can be an excellent way to identify relevant and topical debates beyond your usual sources, and can make students more aware of how they can improve their knowledge online. However, a big part of using these resources should be about instructing students on bias, and how far they can trust different sources.

Author Bio:  Albert Roberts is a teacher in the UK and loves thinking of ways to improve student engagement via social media and technology.  He would love to see more inspirational teachers signing up for English teacher jobs in London and improve engagement with this vital subject. He’s an advocate of sharing information amongst teacher communities.

 

 

Computer Coding: An Essential Skill

We all wonder what our students and children will face in the future.  How will they be successful, what kind of work will there be for them, what skills are necessary to be able to be successful?  These questions are at the heart of everything we do!  We know that students need to be creative, able to problem solve and think critically.  Also, we know that our curriculum and our classrooms should be inclusive of technology.  But what about understanding where it all stems from?  What are we doing about that?  We need to realize that computer software coding is an essential skill that will be necessary for success. We need to be able to address this in our classrooms.

Here is a link to a wonderful video, where world class athletes, musicians and great business people, discuss the importance to this very skill.

Well, what does that mean for us? Visit the website www.code.org and find out how students can learn to code in elementary schools, how they can develop their critical thinking skills and problem solving skills. Share with us what you think and what you have tried.  It is never too late for anyone to learn to code!

 

The Tuesday 12: 12 New Year’s Resolutions for Teachers!

Happy New Year!  This is our second day of school in 2013 and my students are refreshed, ready to work, and have new goals for the year (at least I hope)!  My students are making resolutions for 2013, so that had me thinking about 12 resolutions teachers should make (and keep!) for 2013! Of course, these are only my suggestions, so feel free to add in your suggestions in the comments section!

12 teacher resolutions

1. I will get out of my comfort zone and try something new!

It’s very easy to use the same activities, lessons, and units from year to year if you’re teaching the same grades.  I guess a lot of things in life are like that—we feel comfortable with things that are familiar to us.  But I am going to challenge myself—and you too!—to get out of my comfort zone and try new things.  Do you normally run the art club? Why don’t you try coaching a sport? Have you tried to incorporate new concepts in your teaching? I’ve challenged myself to leap into 21st century learning this year…there’s so much to learn, but I will try a little bit more each day.

2. Prioritize!

Teaching is a 24 hour job.  Even if teachers work 24 hours a day, there still is not enough time to get everything that we want accomplished.  With teaching, marking, planning, decorating classrooms, extracurriculars, professional development, and preparing for daily lessons and activities, it seems like my “to do” list gets longer and longer.  I am going to focus on what is important and prioritize my tasks! Not everything is mission critical!

3. Take time for yourself!

A refreshed, relaxed, and energized teacher is an effective teacher! Take care of yourself, eat nutritious meals and snacks, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, spend time with family and friends, and, most importantly, have fun!

4. Don’t let things pile up!

At the end of the day, it’s so easy to look at that small pile of assignments on your desk and convince yourself to let them go just one day…but then that pile starts to grow out of control!  Little things can quickly turn into big problems if you aren’t careful! I’m going to be on task this year! No more slacking Smile

5. 21st century learning!

As I mentioned in my first resolution, I really want to try new things.  21st century learning seems like such a phenomenal and revolutionary change to teaching and learning! It seems a bit overwhelming and scary, but it is also motivating and exhilarating! This year, I’ve began to use Edmodo and Engrade in my classroom.  I want to incorporate technology, digital resources, and educational apps into my daily teaching more and more.

6. Make a 1 year, 3 year, and 5 year plan!

Did you reach all your goals in 2012? Did you even set any goals for yourself in 2012?  Are you where you expected to be in 2013?  Did you even imagine where you would be in 2013?

It’s very easy to just live in the moment, but it is essential to plan ahead and set goals for yourself.  I plan to make 1 year, 3 year, and 5 year goals for myself to keep me focused and on track!

7. Ask for student input!

I really want my students to be more actively engaged and involved in their learning…not just in lessons and activities, but I want their input in the types of concepts we cover, how we cover them, and how they’d like to learn.  Of course, we need to cover curriculum expectations, but there are so many ways for students to learn the curriculum, explore their learning needs, and become active contributors in your classroom learning community.

8. Simplify!

Sometimes I get a little too wrapped up in the little things when I should be focusing on the big picture.  Here’s an easy way to simplify your life a bit: get rid of your mark books and use an electronic mark book!  There are many free, online mark books or you can simply use an Excel spreadsheet…there is no excuse for wasting time calculating and tabulating final grades.  I use engrade.ca and I think it is phenomenal! Scared you’ll lose your work? I simply export or print my marks on a weekly basis and I’m worry free!

9. Form a professional learning community!

Do you meet with colleagues simply to plan lessons?  Or do you use this as an opportunity to learn from another and grow as a teacher?  If you don’t have a formal professional learning community, then make one yourself! Look to teacher blogs, teacher forums, Twitter, or Facebook to discuss education, teaching strategies, lesson plans, and student learning with teachers all over the world! How’s that for a global learning community!

10. Connect with every student!

Build a relationship with every single student in your class.  This may be difficult but it is so important! There are some kids that are shy, quiet, do their work, and don’t really stand out…it is easy for them to get lost in the crowd.  Don’t let this happen!  Help students join the classroom community and grow as individuals.

11. It’s okay to veer off your lesson plans!

I’ve said this before and I will say it again—it is okay to veer off your lesson plans! They are not written in stone! Some of the best class discussions I’ve had in my class occurred when we were off on some tangent.  It’s okay and there is time to go back and catch up.  True learning is spontaneous and cannot be scheduled into a thirty minute pre-determine block of time.  Be flexible!

12. Don’t forget that learning should be fun!

Learning should be fun…both for you and your students!  Try to use different tactics and tools to engage the students in your class.  If you are having a fun time, then your love of learning will be infectious and your students will be motivated and inspired to learn!

Good luck with your resolutions! I’ll report back on how I’m doing! If you have any suggestions or additions, please add them in to the comments.  See you next week for another edition of The Tuesday 12!

21st Century Learning: A Time of Change for Teachers and Students

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists” (Eric Hoffer) Today, all the teachers in our board participated in professional development centred around 21st … Continue reading →