Monday, February 17, 2014

You want me to do what?!

I've really been taking a step back lately and looking at the way that I run my classroom. I've been thinking about how the type of assignments I give. I was coming up with a research assignment where I would give the students a graphic organizer for them to complete, filled with questions that I came up with. Once they finished, I would have my students create some type of product that I decided, whether it be a Glog or a Voki or some other type of multimedia. Yes, I was using technology. Yes, I was using research. Yes, I was using 21st Century web tools. But I wasn't giving my kids any real freedom. I was in control of every step of the assignment. Then one day I read a very interesting quote...

"When we ask all students to do the same learning task in the same way, we have no idea what individual children are capable of." ~Dr. Bertie Kingore

This hit me like a slap in the face! I had been asking all of my students to do the same thing! I decided it was time for me to let go of control. That same day I revamped the way I ran my entire classroom. My students are now in control of the learning. I give them an assignment, but they are the ones inquiring, researching, and creating a final product that best suits their information. I am trying to align my lessons to the Bloom's Revised Taxonomy and giving my students a variety of tools to use for each step in the process. I have to say that, though I have just started, I am amazed at the way my students are taking control of the wheel. It was a little scary, at first, for me more so than for them, just because I had to transition from being the teacher to the facilitator and sometimes even the student!

Have you had any moments like this in your teaching? I'd love to hear how you individualize your instruction in your classroom!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Celebrating MLK Jr. with Discovery Education & Tagxedo

  
Because it is Black History Month, I have been trying to incorporate famous African Americans in
my technology lessons. Today's lesson with my first graders was one of my favorites! First we used Discovery Education to find the video of Martin's Big Words. During the eight minute video we paused and wrote words that were important, positive, and reflected Martin's influence on the world. Once we got our words written, I had the kids navigate to Tagxedo.com, a great website for creating word clouds in any shape you could imagine! The students could choose at least 5 words to include in their cloud. They could then put the words in the shape of a speech bubble and work with their colors, layout, etc. They looked amazing! To display their awesome work, we took headshots and glued their speech bubble to each child's picture. Our version of "Martin's Big Words-2014" are now adorning my hallway!

I created this lesson using two of my favorite tools. Discovery Education is a free website but you do have to have a subscription through your school to create your account. It is filled with tons of videos, articles, images, sound bites, teacher resources, etc. Tagxedo is also free and there is no account needed to create your word clouds. Once created, you can print or save your work and even have it turned into t-shirts, mugs, all kinds of stuff! I love mixing various tools like I did in this lesson! What are some ways that you could mix tech tools in your classroom?

Friday, January 31, 2014

Little Bird...BIG INSPIRATION!

First off, let me say, "hello stranger!" I've been in a little blogging funk here lately...well actually just a funk in general. It seems like, this school year, I just cannot get ahead. I am constantly trying to catch up and certain things, like my blog, and even my lessons have been struggling. I have been in major need of something to get me pumped...something to throw me back on the technology horse. So, where did I turn?? Twitter of course!
Now, I don't know if you have been turned onto that little blue bird or not, but once you get started, you are thrown into a new world of amazing educators sharing ideas, lessons, resources, you name it! The best thing about it...it never sleeps! You can always pull it up and there are new tweets right at your fingertips! It didn't take long before reading through some of my favorite tech idols before I felt much better. I feel like my lessons are improving! I'm more pumped about getting into my computer lab everyday to  work with my kiddos!
Twitter is an amazing tool! It is a way to connect with people in all areas of education and learn and collaborate with them! One of my favorite things to do is "lurk" through the hashtags...especially when there is a conference going on that I couldn't attend. (Yes, I am a hashtag lurker.) When I visit my Twitter feed, I am empowered. I am inspired. It makes me a better educator. Are you a "tweeter" as one of my 3rd graders called it? How does it help you? What other tools do you use to inspire you?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

ALREADY??? & My first Digital Paper Pack!

I cannot believe that it is already October! Time for pumpkin, or as we say in the south "punkin" EVERYTHING, cool mornings, colorful leaves....ahhh I love it! It also means it's time for a little linky linky with Farley! Check out my Currently below!
Also be sure to check out my new digital paper pack that I created! It's on sale through the end of the week for $3 on TPT! Leave me some comments and let me know what you think about it!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Columbus on Instagram???

I have recently become addicted very fond of Instagram! I love to use it to keep up with what other teachers and techie people are doing with their students! Well you know I had to find a way to incorporate this super fun tool into my computer classes!
My 5th graders are studying explorers, so I got to thinking...what would explorers like Columbus and others post if they had Instagram in their day? I posed this question to my students and they jumped on it like white on rice! They immediately started researching the explorer of their choice and coming up with ideas on what they would post. I told them to be creative and think outside the box by coming up with picture posts that were more than oceans and boats. Boy did I get what I asked for! Once my students were finished researching and saving 2 pictures (1 for the profile and 1 for the post) I let them open a template that I created in PowerPoint. The students then had to come up with a username for the explorer (Pdawg = Ponce de Leon was one of my favs!) as well as a post time and comment describing their picture. They could also add a comment from someone else, such as Sacajawea on Lewis and Clarks or Queen Isabella on Columbus'. We also had fun coming up with some cool hashtags that might have been trending during that time! I've got more ideas churning using this with book characters, etc. How would you use it?

Click on the image below to download the template for FREE!