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Part Two: Excellence Through Equity… 37 Ideas At The Corner of PBL and Edtech: ASCD16

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Welcome to the second post in a series that allows me to share with you my journey to the ASCD 2016 Conference in Atlanta.  I hope your enjoyed my tweets throughout the conference, and even my pre-conference post, that brought you the latest in educational theory with a technology twist.  For those that did not to ASCD, I have some great ideas and resources. If you did attend, I have some reminders and next steps of action for after the conference.  First, to ensure you do not miss a valuable post or other resources covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, Web 2.0, STEM, 21st century learning, and technology integration, please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. As always, I invite you to follow me on twitter (@mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on. Have a great week – Michael Gorman (21centuryedtech)

Quick Notes – Opportunities you may want to be aware of.

Saturday, April 30 at 12 noon EDT  – Join me for my webinar at Classroom 2.0 entitled: STEM, PBL, and Technology Integration… STEMtastic Ideas for Everyone. Please feel free to join me. I promise you a goldmine of resources. (More Information)

Friday, May 6 at 11:00 AM EDT –  The Alliance for Excellent Education and Consortium for School Networking will conduct a webinar which aligns nicely to this blog post: District Strategies for Achieving Digital Equity (More Information)

Anytime -Please take a moment to check out my Booking Information (More Information)

Part Two: Excellence Through Equity… 37 Ideas At The Corner of PBL and Edtech: ASCD16

It seems that the past century of education has wrestled with the idea of equity in education. While this important issue may not be solved in an hour keynote, the awareness and energy from this informative session could go a long way. Attendees at ASCD16 had the opportunity to reflect on this issue as they listened and were engaged with two well versed experts.

Pedro Nogurera is the Distinguished Professor of Education at the Graduate School of Education and Informational Studies at UCLA. His research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions and demographic trends in local, regional, and global contexts.  He is also a regular educational commentator on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and other national news outlets. He was joined by award winning and educational leader Alan Blankstein. Alan served for 25 years as president of the HOPE Foundation and is author of bestselling the book, “Failure is not an Option” Alan himself is a former “high risk youth” and began his career as a music educator.

It is not entirely possible for this post to capture all the meaning and reflection provided by these two amazing educators. What I do hope to provide is some important take away(s) for those that attended to assist with further reflection and action, and for those not at the conference, to provide a glimpse of a topic that demands the attention of all educators. Please note that these are not direct quotes, but are instead important points I heard from both speakers. It is my belief that educators at any school will benefit by reading, posting, sharing, and most of all… taking action.  Please enjoy these powerful points to ponder as we all work toward real equity that has the capability to promote success and authentic learning for all in education.

  1. Successful schools should not be stigmatizing students because of the difficult challenges. Instead they must be working with the challenges and turn them into a positive for their student population. This really is a new paradigm.
  2. We have to ask the question as to whether a problem is a crisis, or an opportunity. Is it a wall or a bridge? In order to make a difference and bring about equity to all students we must run to the problem, not away from it.
  3. It is important to know our students before one tries to teach them. This relationship building comes first, before any teaching strategies or curriculum standards.
  4. The skills of an educational institution’s staff must meet the needs of the students that are a part of that same institution.
  5. It is important that we address not just the science of teaching, but also the important art of teaching. This recognition will allow educators to really meet all students’ needs.
  6. Educators should not accept slop. They must treat every assignment as a first draft, because the learning is in the revision. Real teaching is not in the grading, it is in the feedback. Our kids are capable of so much!
  7. Teaching and learning is a process. It is not about a test. In order to lose weight, we do not look for the best scale possible. Instead, we provide the opportunity for lots of weigh ins.
  8. When kids are in control they are learning more than content. They are learning connections and important life skills
  9. Schools that allow students to be successful do not discipline kids by denying them an opportunity for learning.
  10. Equity means knowing where the kids are. The students’ needs are then addressed and they are moved forward from that point.
  11. Kids that are provided a vision and know they are heading somewhere act very different than kids that cannot see amazing possibilities and are heading nowhere. We must assist them in creating their own vision. What are their gifts?
  12. Educators must stop focusing on achievement. Instead focus on getting kids excited and achievement will happen

As I left the session I applied that same technology and PBL filter that I was determined to use throughout the conference. I couldn’t help but remain faithful to my beliefs that technology has the amazing capability to amplify the positive educational opportunities that educators provide. On the other-hand this technology must be more than a device. A technology plan can provide equity in learning if planned correctly. This plan must include an emphasis on technology that:

  1. Puts students at the center of their learning, not the device.
  2. Focuses on teachers developing powerful relationships with their students first, and then allowing the device to facilitate it even more.
  3. Employs technology to differentiate learning (Note that I did not state… instruction)
  4. Allows students to have voice and choice as to how they learn and how they demonstrate their learning.
  5. Promotes equity in access to technology, not just in a school, but across the district, state, and nation.
  6. Facilitates equal access to the internet 24 hours a day for students…. not just during the school hours.
  7. Injects meaningful PD that infuses technology into the learning experience for all teachers.
  8. Recognizes that proper pedagogy comes first, and that technology must align with the desired method.
  9. Allows and encourages avenues for authentic learning based on significant standards and life skills.
  10. Provides a conduit to connect students, parents, mentors, and educators into a learning community

As far as that PBL filter, I am certain that as you read the Gold Standards of PBL authored by the BUCK institute (BIE)… you will see the connection. Please take a look at some of the connections I see below.

  1. Allows opportunities for all students to explore their gifts and abilities.
  2. Creates real world connections providing audience, mentors, and a real purpose providing a real world student-centered experience
  3. Emphasizes both the significant content and important life skills needed for future success.
  4. Builds on a positive and caring culture that embraces the human joy found in learning.
  5. Provides students a vision and capability to plan for their future through their inquiry and exploration.

A first step might be to look at both our technology and instructional implementation plans with the filter provided in this post. If we do, I am certain there will be a next step. Imagine what we might see when we take a moment to look back in the soon to be future!

Learn More:

  1. BIE Gold Standards (Blog Post)
  2. Now is the time for project-based learning (PDK Article)
  3. Pedro Noguera: Are we failing our students?  (Video TED Talent Search)
  4. Perdro Noguera ASCD (Bio and Books)
  5. An Introduction to Alan Blankstein and The HOPE Foundation (Video Hope Foundation)
  6. Alan Blankstein ASCD (Bio and Books)
  7. COSN: Digital Equity Agenda (Toolkit and Resources)
  8. How Digital Equity Can Help Close the Homework Gap (THE Journal Article)
  9. Why we must address digital equity right now (eSchool News Article)
  10. 7 things every educator should know about digital equity (ISTE Connects Article)

Thank you for joining me and I hope you found this information something you can use in your school and useful to share with other educators.  As always, I invite you to follow me on twitter (@mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on to someone who will benefit. To ensure you do not miss a future valuable post or other resource covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, STEM, 21st century learning, and technology integration please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. Have a great week… enjoy the Websites! – Mike (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now  almost booked through August, and September through December of the 2016 calendar is  filling fast. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next January! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

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Ten Resources and Next Steps: Education and Poverty….ASCD 2016

learn

Welcome to the first post in a series that allows me to share with you my journey to the ASCD 2016 Conference in Atlanta.  I hope your enjoyed my tweets throughout the conference, and even my pre-conference post, that brought you the latest in educational theory with a technology twist.  For those that did not to ASCD, I have some great ideas and resources. If you did attend, I have some reminders and next steps of action for after the conference.  First, to ensure you do not miss a valuable post or other resources covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, Web 2.0, STEM, 21st century learning, and technology integration, please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. As always, I invite you to follow me on twitter (@mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on. Have a great week – Michael Gorman (21centuryedtech)

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now  almost booked through August, and September through December of the 2016 calendar is  filling fast. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next January! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

Ten Resources and Next Steps: Education and Poverty….ASCD 2016

The people at ASCD offered me the opportunity to join their press core for this year’s conference. I have long been impressed with the wonderful opportunities and resources ASCD provides the learning community.  I have also been a ongoing attendee at various educational technology and PBL conferences across the nation. I viewed this as an opportunity to visit one of the premier educational conferences with that edtech and PBL filter. I do hope you enjoy my journey and the ideas and resources I provide for attendees, and those that could not make it.

The Morning Shuttle Ride – It was a Saturday morning, a day teachers usually enjoy a break from a full week of providing learning opportunities for their students. This was not the case as I jumped on a shuttle bus filled with excited educators having conversations about their anticipation of learning even more ways to engage their students on their journey of learning. On this Saturday thousands of teacher would be collaborating and communicating with each other. They would be finding ways to move their students toward real learning and success. Yes, it was a weekend and possibly even the first day of a spring break. I enjoyed that ride to the convention center as I heard voices of dedication and enthusiasm. We were all on a journey to facilitate student success!

The Opening Keynote… The Power of One… Manny Scott

I could see the excitement as I walked to a keynote session with thousands of educators. How could the crowd ever get more excited, engaged, and passionate? I was about to find out!  Manny Scott is an original Freedom Writer, whose story is told in the 2007 movie, Freedom Writers. He was about to share his amazing story on poverty and education with a room that became engagingly silent.  Scott used his unique gift of connecting and holding the attention of the audience while providing an unlimited supply of energy. The driving question of the morning was, “How do you reach people that are unreachable?” This is a question that is relevant to every classroom across the nation. It especially strikes a chord with teachers that work with students of poverty. Scott was a student of poverty himself, and reminded the educators, “Poverty is not the lack of money, it is the lack of people that can influence your life in a positive way.”  As Scott continued to tell his story and provide endless inquiry, it was evident through his reflections that it is people that make the difference in the lives of students!

As I listened to Scott’s story of human need for connection, I thought of all the initiatives districts are constantly rolling out. Yet, it isn’t a computer, a state standard, a learning target, or even an authentic project that really makes the difference in our children’s lives. It is caring and invested people that influence the life of a student. Scott reiterated that these life changing individuals are more than  dedicated teachers. Other important contributors include coaches, mentors, administrators, and those important support people. Scott  told the story of a lunch lady who stated that Scott would be great someday… because she could see it in his eyes. Here was a women that may have never read a page on formative assessment, but practiced it from a intuitive and caring heart. I have written for years about the needed pedagogy before technology implementation, and the building of culture before PBL. Scott reminded all of us that real teaching is based on forming authentic  relationships. Perhaps Scott’s best advice was, “become a student of your students.” This is something he learned from Erin Gruwell, an amazing English teacher that helped change his life and set the stage for the  Freedom Writers.

As Scott finished he pleaded with the audience to start where their students were. He emphasized, “Don’t lower standards… instead change methods to bring them up to the high standards.” He emphasized that it is an educators job to help students find their gifts. It is these precious gifts that will lead them to amazing success and happiness! Scott closed with a powerful statement that led to a standing ovation, “Even on your worst day, you might be someone who provides a child with their best hope, or even their last chance”. Wow… imagine what we can do on our average or best day!

As you reflect on this topic, I have provided some links below for you to further understand and sustain this important message involving poverty and education. If you did not attend… then take a moment to learn. If you did attend … then keep on learning. Please note that I have brought technology  and PBL into this conversation. I did not want to forget that important filter!

Ten Resource Links to Supplement Learning and Reflection on Poverty and Education

Freedom Writers Foundation -The mission of the Freedom Writers Foundation is to be an advocate for all students and teachers by providing tools that facilitate student-centered learning, improve overall academic performance, and increase teacher retention.

Freedom Writers Movie – Visit Common Sense Media to learn more about this 2007 movie based on a true story.  The focus of this film involves a young teacher who inspires her class of at-risk students to learn tolerance, apply themselves, and pursue education beyond high school.

Manuel Scott ASCD – Read more about Manny Scott from this page hosted at ASCD. You will enjoy finding out more.

Teaching with Poverty in Mind – Here you will find a  Study Guide for Teaching with Poverty in Mind: What Being Poor Does to Kids’ Brains and What Schools Can Do About It.

Leading Learning for Children From Poverty – Article from AMLE Magazine which provided an emphasis on students in the middle school.

Five Ways To Help Students Affected By Generational Poverty – Edutopia supplies some thoughts and reflection on working with students from poverty.

Nine Powerful Practices – Explore these nine strategies to help raise the achievement of students living in poverty from ASCD magazine.

Power Up: Helping Close the Digital Divide – I thought it was important to bring in technology to the conversation. Examine this ASCD article that explores closing this growing gap in education.

Why is it so Hard to Close the Digital Divide in High Poverty Schools? – Take a look at this NBC news article and video to learn more about the technology digital divide.

Can PBL Help Pave the Way to College Success? –  Examine the impacts of PBL on students in high poverty populations.

The Stage was Set – As I left the keynote I had a new sense of urgency, along with the needed energy that had been created in the room. I could see it in the other attendees as they had the glow of a wonderful mission in their eyes.  The relationships we build and the cultural climate we create are important with all students. It is only after this has been established that educators can amplify learning with technology and promote student centered classrooms with PBL. I am now ready to discover other possibilities to bring it all together. What a wonderful way to start a conference. I was one of thousands of educators in this ASCD community of learners ready to take another step. What an exciting place to be!

Thank you for joining me and I hope you found this information something you can use in your school and useful to share with other educators.  As always, I invite you to follow me on twitter (@mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on to someone who will benefit. To ensure you do not miss a future valuable post or other resource covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, STEM, 21st century learning, and technology integration please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. Have a great week… enjoy the Websites! – Mike (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now  almost booked through August, and September through December of the 2016 calendar is  filling fast. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next January! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

 

 

 

 

  

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The Curriculum Meets Educational Technology… Avoiding Tech Shine

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Welcome to a post that I feel is a must read when it comes to instructional technology in the classroom of the 21st century!  In fact, in this article I integrate curriculum, PD, and technology together in a way that makes so much sense. I bring you this as I get ready to join the ASCD Press Core at the annual ASCD Conference in Atlanta, GA. Get ready for some daily posts  and tweets throughout the conference that bring you the latest in educational theory with a technology twist. After you read this article, I am sure you will appreciate how technology and curriculum really do come together.  First, to ensure you do not miss a valuable post or other resources covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, Web 2.0, STEM, 21st century learning, and technology integration, please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. As always, I invite you to follow me on twitter (@mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on. Have a great week – Michael Gorman (21centuryedtech)

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now  almost booked through the start of August, and the second half of the 2016 calendar is beginning to fill. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next fall! Look for contact information at the Booking Site..

The Curriculum Meets Educational Technology… Avoiding Tech Shine

As I get ready for my trip to ASCD I have taken some time to reflect on a time when I first started using digital  technology in the classroom. I was in awe of the amazing Apple Classic and programs such as Claris Works and Hyper Card. In fact, I tried to find anyway I could to make this new technology fit the curriculum. Back in the day, students were so engaged with programs such as Oregon Trail and Lemonade Stand that teachers found ways to make them fit, regardless of the standards. It was 1980 something and computers had finally entered the classroom. Many times it was one computer and thirty-five students, and everyone was being mesmerized by the shine of new technology. I may have forgotten a standard or two, possible even over taught the technology at the expense of some content. It may have even been science class, but somehow we were all on the Oregon Trail… after all there must have been some wildflowers along the way!  The lure and brightness of the Apple Classic  Computer was just to captivating. I was caught in the shine of an amazing new device.

Fast forward to 2016 and one will find many schools replacing their analog tools of the past with a new digital device. Many times this takes on the focus of a “one to one” program. Visions are acquired and missions are written describing how this amazing new device will change the classroom. There is always a great deal of focus on the programs and applications that will change learning. An image is created of students learning and engaging with this new technology throughout the school day. The excitement grows and the shine becomes brighter until it is soon discovered that this amazing new tool is really only… a device. What comes next? Perhaps the most exciting stage, exploring the real possibilities that technology can bring to learning. Let’s call it the pedagogy, or process that allows classrooms to go beyond the shine.

In this post I would like to investigate how examining the curricular standards helps teachers investigate ways to integrate technology in order to facilitate student understanding of curricular content. I told you I was going to bring curriculum and technology together! It all really begins with something that has been around for quite awhile. You probably know them as the curriculum standards.

A portion or foundation of a curriculum is the standards. Standards make up the general knowledge of what educators want students to know. Standards are a great starting point and through careful examination, exact content and skills can be aligned with technology integration. Simply stated, examining or unpacking a standard allows a teacher to see what a child will know and be able to do. It can also help educators determine what digital resources may work best to help support learning. Now, the phrase “unpacking the standards’ may not bring out the smile you want from teachers. For this reason I will refer to it as finding the technology in the standard. Let’s take a look!

Finding the Technology in the Standard

I have actually broken it down into five tasks or steps. You may even wish to practice by applying each step below  using a standard from your curriculum.  As you go through the process it is important to keep focused on the task of “finding the technology and examining” … there will be ample opportunity later to think about specific lessons, activities, and resources.

Five Tasks (steps)… 

  1. Identify the standard (sometimes referred to as a Power Standard which would be broken down to specific grade level)
  2. Reflect on the standard… if possible collaborate with others (What does the standards mean, why are we teaching this, what should students know, what should students be able to do, how does it apply to students at my grade level, where might it stand on a Depth of Knowledge Chart or Bloom’s Taxonomy)
  3. Determine the content by reviewing the standard and circling the appropriate nouns.(This will help you determine content and allow you to determine what is appropriate for your level of students. Later we will examine digital resources that will align with these nouns or content.)
  4. Investigate the skills by reviewing the standard and circling the appropriate verbs. (This will allow you to determine the appropriate skills  to be practiced by students. This can be aligned to Depth of Knowledge, Blooms, and/or 21st century 4 C’s. Later we will be able to explore interactive technology that will help students learn and also demonstrate knowledge as seen in these verbs.)
  5. Create Learning Targets demonstrating what students will be able to do. (This is done through reflection and listing of verbs and nouns. The nouns allow us to state what students will know, and the verbs allow us to see what students will be able to perform or do. Digital applications and resources will blend together wonderful classroom opportunities that use these nouns and verbs to reveal the standards. I have another powerful must do that allows a Learning Target to be powerful… and will include in a future article. (Sign Up Now!)

Let me provide an example below…. note the standards

  • Students will be able to research and record key facts involving the planets of the solar system.
  • Students will explain orbit, gravity, and gravitational pull.
  • Students will be able to collaborate on a presentation that provides what they have learned in their own words

Relevant Nouns –  research,  planets, solar system. orbit, gravity, and gravitational pull

Relevant Verbs – explain , collaborate , presentation

Learning Targets for students:

  • I can research and explain my findings on planets and their relationship to the solar system
  • I can collaborate with others to create a presentation
  • I can present with others to demonstrate our our learning and understanding

At this stage it is important to look at the nouns, verbs, and learning targets in order to determine where the technology aligns. The nouns could point to numerous OER (Open Educational Resource) sites available on the internet. The verbs may point to numerous Web 2.0 tools and apps. Looking at the standards and applying this “find the tech” filter allows technology to integrate with the expected learning, rather than possibly just shine right through the learning. In some upcoming articles, after ASCD,  I will focus on the wonderful internet content resource sites that you should to get to know as you identify and apply the nouns. I will also  point out collections of apps and Web 2.0 tools that help support the verbs. You will also discover great lesson plan collections that can be used to accomplish some of those learning targets. I do hope this provides you a reason to return and be part of the 21centuryedtech Learning Community.  Please remember that the best way to avoid the technology shine is to focus on standards while you put students, not devices, at the center of learning. As you emphasize standards and students you will find there are so many amazing opportunities for learning….  beyond the Oregon Trail!

Please join me on the ASCD trail in the coming week. I will be talking with vendors, interviewing authors and keynoters, along with attending some amazing sessions. Don’t miss these valuable reports!  Sign up for this blog and follow me on Twitter (@mjgormans). I will be working hard at bringing technology, curriculum, and PD together just for you!

Thank you for joining me and I hope you found this information something you can use in your school and useful to share with other educators.  As always, I invite you to follow me on twitter (@mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on to someone who will benefit. To ensure you do not miss a future valuable post or other resource covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, STEM, 21st century learning, and technology integration please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. Have a great week… enjoy the Websites! – Mike (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/

Booking Info – Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference?  I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have done 100’s of workshops and presentations.  Check out my Booking Page… Dates are going fast, with the time up to, and including the start of August just about filled.   It’s not too early to begin thing about next spring, summer and fall! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

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200 Ways to Use Word Clouds in the Classroom

wc200

Welcome to a post that grows each time I write it. I am  now up to 200 ways that educators can use word clouds in the classroom. I am able to add to my number each year by  further reflection and learning from amazing educators as I travel the country.  I also think employing word clouds is a great way to begin technology integration with teachers, and also a wonderful way to travel around the SAMR pool. Before reading,  please take a moment to subscribe by email or RSS and also give me a follow on Twitter  at mjgormans.  I promise you will find some great information coming your way in the posts that follow…So sign up now and please pass this on with a retweet.    – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now  almost booked through the end of July, and the second half of the 2016 calendar is beginning to fill. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next fall! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

Opportunities – PBL this spring and summer -Join me at the following venues to learn more about PBL

BIE Nashville Academy – I will once again join BIE (BUCK Institute) in conducting a PBL 101 workshop this April . This time it is at the at the Gaylord Center in Nashville, TN. Past academies have been awesome in Atlanta and Napa Valley. This is another amazing learning opportunity with great workshops and speakers.

BLC 16 …. I will once again join Alan November at the BLC conference in Boston in July. I have my own pre-conference master class. It will be an informative and action packed  PBL Splash for Teachers and Leaders. Check out both the conference and my pre-conference.  I also have some wonderful concurrent sessions to share at the conference.

Making Learning Happen…New York  PBL  – Join me in Syracuse, New York in August for some exciting PBL workshops. I plan on providing sessions that integrate PBL with STEM, Makers, Differentiated Instruction, Inquiry, Deeper Learning, and Technology Integration. This conference will be filled with amazing speakers and workshops. Hope to see you there!

200 Ways to Use Word Clouds in the Classroom – by Michael Gorman at (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Once again, I am amazed every time I talk to groups and find out so many educators have not used word clouds to their fullest extent with their students. Word clouds also provide an easy way for teachers who are just getting started using web technology in the classroom. I have tried to include a multitude of subject areas. These ideas include practices shared with me, various readings, and a lot of my own brainstorming. I know this will be an article you wish to share with others. In order to better understand some of the advanced uses I suggest you may wish to read my past post entitled, 12 Valuable Wordle Tips You Must Read.  One example of an advanced feature includes putting multiple words  together in a word cloud. If using Wordle, just put a tilde (~) between them. (Example (ice~cream~cone). While I call it advanced, it is also necessary to know in order to get the most out of word clouds in the classroom..Also, keep in mind that Tagxedo and Tagul are great alternatives to Wordle. Keep in mind that word clouds are a Web 2.0 tool. Make sure your students practice proper digital citizenship and privacy. You should also check your district AUP (Acceptable Use Policy). By the way… do you have an idea I have not listed? Then just take a moment and leave a comment or email me at mjgormans@gmail.com . I thank you in advance. Now, let’s explore those word clouds!

All Subjects

  1. Put your lesson plan into a word cloud to create a word cloud of what you will be learning about. This could also be part of your entire course outline used at the beginning of a course.
  2. Paste a reading from your text into a word cloud. You may wish to turn off common words.
  3. Copy and paste a reading from the web into a word cloud. You may wish to turn off common words.
  4. Put vocabulary words into a word cloud.
  5. Use a word cloud to create a discussion either in class or posted on the web for a discussion forum. Try to create it so that a question of inquiry can be used.
  6. Create a group word cloud of the entire class or sub groups in the class. This could be in reaction to a discussion, an idea, a reading, or video. Students work in groups to come up with 20-30 descriptive words and then make a word cloud. Using advanced tools, they could rank them or color code them.
  7. Each student creates a word cloud in reflection from a discussion, an idea, a reading, or video. Individual comes up with 20-30 descriptive words and then makes a word cloud. Using advanced tools, they could rank them or color code them.
  8. Entire class creates a word cloud in reaction to a topic. In order to capture student words, have them digitally input them using the Web 2.0 tools Write with Me or Google Forms.
  9. Have students create word clouds that generate understanding of a concept, standards or vocabulary word.
  10. Illustrate classroom thoughts or views using a word cloud to survey students. Favorite university, pro team, singer, etc.
  11. Create a class word cloud that highlights class expectation. This can be done by students. Have students use phases to enter needs to know for upcoming learning, or reflections on what they have learned. These can be collected using Google Forms or Write with Me.
  12. Have students come up with a set of student norms for class or project. Put this in a word cloud.
  13. Post students first names to create a class or group word cloud.
  14. Have students discover ways they could use a word cloud to convey a concept or idea they learned in class.
  15. Post a word cloud from an online class discussion response and discuss what it reveals in class.
  16. Encourage students to create a word cloud to brainstorm and ideas by putting articles of interest in to word cloud and capturing ideas and words from it. Great for research!
  17. Have students look at a picture in a group and have them list words they can see that relate with a topic studied. Have them rank importance of word and put them in a word cloud to show the importance.
  18. Show a video and ask students working in teams of four or five to come up with words they think are important in relationship to their studies. Have them enter as a team their words showing frequency in the word cloud. Have students discuss differences between groups.
  19. Have students write a reflection paper on their learning, and have them attach a word cloud to it.
  20. Provide students a chance to come up with their own idea to use a word cloud.

Science

  1. When classifying objects… make a word cloud for each classification. Remember you can make the classification heading bigger.
  2. Make word molecules and compounds by putting in the elements by relative numbers of atoms in each compound into a word cloud. Use advanced number feature.
  3. Create word clouds for animals in a biome. Remember you can make the classification heading bigger.
  4. Create a simple food chain showing representing each population of animal by word size. In fact, create a whole food web of an area or biome. Use advanced number feature.
  5. Create word clouds to illustrate the elements and all of the uses for each specific element. Each element could be its own word cloud.
  6. Have students compare sizes of different planetary objects and make a word cloud that can scaled for each.  Make each planet a different color.
  7. Show different climates of different cities showing the scale of city size using average temperature, or rainfall, or snowfall, or your idea.
  8. Create a word cloud of different geographical/climate occurrences showing size relationship. Example: Famous Earthquake Magnitudes or places of occurrences.
  9. Put both the word and short definitions into a word cloud. Have students find a way to connect the words and definitions. This could be redoing the word cloud with a tilde between words so the go together. It could be color coding the words using the advanced edit feature. Perhaps they just draw lines between them. Could be used to classify items (example: type of rock under its classification) or used as labels to words (Such as label for an element and element).
  10. Students create a word cloud of famous scientists.
  11. Have students make predictions and form a hypothesis. They then shorten them to a phrase and are put into a class word cloud. This allows for a class discussion and students then write their own hypothesis with reasoning and create their own individual word cloud.
  12. Have students read a science nonfiction article. Have them create a paragraph or short story using these terms and words in science fiction.  With their story they should then create two word clouds. One of the articles that was science fact and the other science fiction. Can members of the class tell the difference?
  13. Make a word cloud of different scientific ideas using descriptors for concepts.
  14. Make word clouds of a food chain/web allowing the font size of animals/plants to be determined by where they are in pyramid.
  15. Make a word cloud to represent different eras in scientific history
  16. Create separate word clouds for each decade of inventions throughout history and put them on a timeline
  17. Make a word cloud for the chapter of a book that allows pre-discussion
  18. Have students create word clouds of a lab report and compare results. Are there differences… Why?
  19. Post a word cloud of a scientific idea… or two on your website and have students comment with a reflection
  20. Have students make word clouds or different categories of items such as body organs, simple machines, planets, systems, etc.
  21. Give students a reading of nonfiction content so they can jigsaw and explain to the class. Have them use a word cloud with their explanation as a prop.
  22. Create a word cloud of famous engineering examples with all but the name. Have students research using key words to determine what each structure is.
  23. Have students create a word cloud to illustrate a progressive change over time, example: pollution, global warming, resource depletion, etc. How can word size help?
  24. Put students’ hypothesis all into a word cloud and see what the crowd might say. How might it be different from their own.
  25. Create an online, not google-able, question that asks for a solution. Take all of the answers and create a word cloud. Ask students to use it in collaborative groups to find a new solution.
  26. Make a word cloud of different compounds
  27. Create a word cloud that describes certain laws of physics and write a paragraph summary describing them.
  28. Have students create word clouds that describe the biomes and post with real pictures.
  29. Make a word cloud to describe certain scientific events in science history.
  30. Provide students a picture of a scientific image and have students create descriptors that are then put it in a word cloud.

Language Arts

  1. When classifying parts of speech… make a word cloud for each classification. Remember you can make the classification heading bigger.
  2. Make a word cloud to illustrate a student writing. Remember to not put personal information that can identify students into word cloud generator.
  3. Have students analyze their frequency of word usage in a writing
  4. Compare and contrast persuasive writing using word clouds. This could include student writings or those found in editorials and papers.
  5. Create descriptive word clouds to cover the different characters in the themes found in a reading or novel.
  6. Create descriptive word clouds to cover the setting of a novel, story.
  7. Have students create a separate word cloud for each part of a plot in a novel or story.
  8. Create a word cloud and have students create a story from what they see in the cloud. They can then make a word cloud of their own story.
  9. Have students write different poetry such as haiku, free verse, ballads, etc. Have them then create a word cloud for that poem. This could be neat to incorporate shapes using Tagul or Tagxedo.
  10. Provide a famous or published poem and have students put in word cloud. Have students describe what the word clouds says about poem.
  11. Have students write a book review and put it into a word cloud. Find write ups of books and create word clouds to promote a book.
  12. Copy and paste various authors’ and writers’ styles to see what can be learned. Identify parts of speech to see amount of adverbs, adjectives, etc. How do author and writer styles differ?
  13. Have students predict what might happen in a portion of text that is coming next. This can also be used to have students pick out possible important words and meaning of something they just read.
  14. Put words in a word cloud that will be part of spelling tests and vocabulary investigations.
  15. Have students analyze a selection from various online encyclopedias on a given subject.
  16. Have students create a word cloud of a current event from different countries or publication sources and describe differences.
  17. Have students create word clouds for characters in a reading and then discuss, compare, and contrast.
  18. Compare/ contrast word clouds made from fiction and nonfiction. Have students identify word clouds without fiction or non being labeled on the word cloud.
  19. Using topics that students may have to search for… have them list search terms and put in a word cloud. Make terms that might be more reliable for a search in a larger font.
  20. Put a search term in a search engine. Copy and paste results and make a word cloud. Analyze the results. Come up with some analysis as to why certain words are larger in the word cloud. Were there any unexpected outcomes in the word cloud?
  21. Have students put words in a word cloud from a reading in order to determine pre-search words before researching.
  22. Have students compare different themes of novels with a word cloud.
  23. Have students compare different authors writings using a word cloud. Do some authors use different kinds of words more than others?
  24. How might a word cloud differ between a fiction and non-fiction reading. How about comparing a newspaper, novel, or a magazine.
  25. How might a Wikipedia article that is translated into a word cloud assist in research?
  26. Have students work in collaborative groups to create an easy to hard list of spelling words. Once they have this list have them make a word cloud to show easiest to hardest that they can then study from. Let them use their imagination.
  27. Have students write a story from a word cloud you give them. Have them make a word cloud from their own story and post it next to the original.
  28. Have students answer a word cloud image that contains a question with it.
  29. Compare and contrast two research based articles that have been put in word cloud.
  30. Examine different writing genres (narrative, persuasive, etc) using a word cloud.

Social Studies

  1. Use a word cloud to compare, contrast, discuss, and analyze two presidential speeches. Remember that you can use a word count to analyze and even graph use of popular words.
  2. Use a word cloud to compare, contrast, discuss, and analyze two state or country constitutions. Remember that you can use a word count to analyze and even graph use of popular words.
  3. Use a word cloud to compare, contrast, discuss, and analyze persuasive speeches in history. Remember that you can use a word count to analyze and even graph use of popular words.
  4. Using statistical information from a place such as CIA World Fact Book, create word clouds that illustrate country statistics such as resources, ethnic groups, religions, languages, etc.  You may wish to use advanced number feature to illustrate prominence of each.
  5. Create a word cloud to illustrate how countries of the world (or states in a country) rank with related themes such as oil production, GDP, industries, languages, etc.  The heading would be the resource and countries would be in the word cloud showing their rank by size.  There could be other variations. Use advanced number feature.
  6. Have students create a word cloud that represents geographic ideas such as: oceans of the world or continents of the world.
  7. Show a word cloud of different geographic features in their size relationship. Example: “Famous Volcanoes”.
  8. Create a word cloud of famous documents and treaties in history. Have students analyze and discuss.
  9. Have students create a word cloud of biographies of famous people in history.
  10. Remember that you can use a word count to analyze and even graph use of popular words.
  11. Create word clouds to illustrate a period or era of time.
  12. Make word clouds of a newspaper or magazine article for a current event. A transcript from a radio, television, internet interview, podcast, etc, could also be useful for a class discussion or individual analysis.
  13. Make a word cloud for different sections of a document such as the Constitution or Bill of Rights. Can students identify the segment from a given word cloud?
  14. Make a word cloud of two famous contrasting speeches or writings. Compare/contract the two. Next, put both into one-word cloud. Does the combined new word cloud give a new message?
  15. Find readings from two different countries on the same subject. Example: “American Revolution” … UK/US, “space race” … RU? US? … “stature of liberty FR/US. Make a word cloud of each and compare/contrast.
  16. Have students create word clouds of two contrasting political parties or campaigns showing importance by size of words.
  17. Post a word cloud that has to do with history online in a forum and have students discuss.
  18. Have each student make a word cloud of a current event issue and then have them write about what each one might be.
  19. Have students plan how they could create a word cloud of an article to assist in further research
  20. Have students compare and contrast an article on the same current event from different news sources.
  21. Have students find editorials on certain historical or social ideas. If possible, try to find opposing views. How might word clouds be used?
  22. Create a timeline of a historical event either by brainstorming words or finding articles… or sections of an article. Put the different word clouds on a timeline.
  23. Have students make a word cloud of different cities in states or countries. They can even try to base the word cloud by size of city or use other ideas.
  24. Have students create word clouds to demonstrate the different concepts that make up a culture. Apply it to a particular culture or country.
  25. Have students create a word of objects they can find on a given map or section of a map.

Math

  1. Make a word cloud of a math story problem
  2. Have student write an answer to how they answered a story problem and put it in a word cloud. Compare with other students what they can see in common.
  3. Have students compare the story problem (put in a word cloud) and the way they answered (put in a word cloud). What ideas can they see in common?
  4. Have students show ratios, proportion, and scale using a word cloud. Use advanced number feature.
  5. Have students work out ways to illustrate statistics in a word cloud. Have them work with both advanced numbers and colors.
  6. Create word clouds using geometric shapes with vocabulary words to fit in those shapes. Since Wordle cannot do this you will need to use Tagul or Tagxedo.
  7. Show units of measurement in a word cloud. Try to scale it by proportion… to some extent where possible. Put each type of measurement such as volume, linear, mass in its own color. Be creative and use both the advanced number and color tool.
  8. Create a word cloud that shows a pattern and have students discuss via classroom, groups, or online forum.
  9. Have students either spell out or use number values to show relative size of numbers along a number line or place value within the metric system.
  10. Create word clouds that display fractions. Example: A word cloud with three different insects, two mammals, four fish, and five birds. Ask for fractions of each animal type.
  11. Have students find mathematical papers written by famous mathematicians and create a word cloud of some of their writing. See what words have high occurrence and see what they might mean.
  12. Have students make a word cloud of a famous mathematician’s biography.
  13. Have students analyze a writing and give statistical information using percentages, proportions, and numbers of used words. Remember that you can use a word count to analyze and even popular words. What kinds of graphs might be able to be used to illustrate better?
  14. Create a word cloud of standards to be used in the course.
  15. Have students come up an original way to use a word cloud to tell a mathematical story.
  16. Have students create a word cloud of word fractions showing size of fraction from biggest to smallest
  17. Create word clouds on mathematical themes
  18. Have students take a concept (example… quadratics) and create a word clouds with as many examples as how it is found in the real world.
  19. Have students examine a picture and create a word cloud of different real life math relationships they can see.
  20. Have student write a real life story on math and a relationship to read world. Have them display the story, supply and image, and create a word cloud of their story.

Health and PE and Family and Consumer Sciences

  1. Have students keep food journal of what they eat for a week. If they eat French fires three times they record that. They then enter their entire journal entry being sure to give a number value in the advanced more or pasting the word the correct number of times. They should end up with a word cloud of their diet
  2. Same as above only now assign each food a color to represent a food group. Use the advanced color mode to color code each food group.
  3. Students create a word cloud from a recipe.
  4. Students create a word cloud of the ingredients found in a product. Students may even be able to show scale of amount of product or color code nutritional information.
  5. Students create a word cloud of items found in different rooms of a house.
  6. Students study a family budget and create a word cloud making budget items in proportion to the cost applicable to each item.
  7. Students create a word cloud of different occupations to a related field.
  8. Students create a word cloud relating to a specific sport.
  9. Students make a word cloud of the different human body systems. In groups students work individually on a specific system word cloud and then combine with partners for the total of all the systems. Each system should be in its own color. Use advanced tool for colors.
  10. Students make word clouds to represent different diseases, drugs, and medicines.
  11. Students create a word cloud to illustrate their favorite athletic personalities and do not include the name. They then present word cloud to class and students try to guess. Finish by including their word cloud as part of a poster with a picture of athlete, name of athlete, and paragraph about him/her.
  12. Have students come up with a unique way to display a word cloud in regards to fitness and/or diet.
  13. Have students compare and contrast different menu offerings from different restaurants
  14. Have student make a word cloud that compares and contrasts two different lifestyle habits.
  15. Have students create a word cloud of the biography of a famous athlete

Art and Music

  1. Make a word cloud of the lyrics of a song.
  2. Make a word cloud of a famous composer, musician, or artist’s biography.
  3. Gather class, individual, or group input to come up with descriptive words to describe a painting, sculpture, work of art or song. Have a word cloud made of these descriptive words.
  4. Make a word cloud that comes under a certain category. This could include artist, time period, instrument, or genre. Have students create a word cloud of one type of classification.
  5. Have students experiment with word clouds to make their own work of art. They may wish to use Tagul and Tagxedo to make it even more powerful.
  6. Create word clouds for different art projects. They can be CD, DVD covers. Use internet sites to create all sorts of items such as calendars, jigsaw puzzles, etc. at http://bighugelabs.com/. Or think about a t-shirt, mugs, and bags at a place like http://www.zazzle.com/.
  7. Put original lyrics for songs or words for poetry into a word cloud. Superimpose that word cloud over an original picture.
  8. Animate a word cloud using stop motion capability.
  9. Superimpose a word cloud using green screen capability. This could include a bringing in a person that points and talks about some of the words or objects that appear as the words are described.
  10. If a picture paints a thousand words… then why not paint a picture looking at words you have input into a word cloud?
  11. Have students create a word cloud gift. It could be a poster or card for a special holiday for friends and family.
  12. Students create a word cloud to illustrate their favorite artist or musician and do not include the name. They then present word cloud to class and students try to guess. Finish by including their word cloud as part of a poster with a picture of artist/musician, name of artist/musician, and paragraph about him/her.
  13. Have students create a word cloud from a favorite passage and then illustrate it without words. Hang them up and see if students can match them together from a class.
  14. Have students research and create a word cloud from different music genres. Be sure they emphasize certain words over other and are ready to defend reasoning.
  15. Have students look up different terms of the arts in Wikipedia and then make a word cloud. Why do some words stand out more than others?

Foreign Language

  1. Have students create a word cloud that highlights the country being studied.
  2. Have students create a word cloud of important words to study.
  3. Have students word cloud a foreign newspaper article. What are the common words that are used? You may wish to even use show word count. Do it by showing common words. What are the most common? Also, try it with- out common words. Can students tell what the news article may be about before reading?
  4. Post vocabulary and spelling words in a word cloud.
  5. Put both the English and foreign word into a word cloud. Have students find a way to connect the words. This could be redoing the Wordle with a tilde between words so the go together. It could be color coding the words using the advanced edit feature. Perhaps they just draw lines between them.
  6. Create a word cloud of introductory word for discussion by students in class.
  7. Have students write a one paragraph reflection on a similar topic in a foreign language. Have them create a word cloud. Combine all the student writings into a class word cloud. Have students compare their individual word clouds with the class word cloud. What discussions and further reflections can be made?
  8. Have students write a biography of a famous person from the country studies and include a word cloud of that person.
  9. Have students create a word cloud of food items from this country.
  10. Have students create a word cloud using statistical information from the country. You may want to incorporate scaling of words and identification of groups using both the advanced edit feature that allow for color and word size.
  11. Use Google Translate to translate an American news article into language studied. Make sure it is something very familiar such as movie review, sports story, celebrity, or politics. Create a word cloud and have a class or online discussion of the word cloud. In the end give them the actual article and have them reflect.
  12. Have students create a word cloud in the foreign language of an important place or historical event in the country.
  13. Ask students to create a word cloud on a certain aspect of a country custom or culture.
  14. Have students respond online to an idea the teacher posts using foreign words in a word cloud that together mean something.
  15. Have students take a famous person from their culture and create a word cloud using foreign words of them. Make sure some words are bigger than others and be ready to explain.

Applied Arts

  1. Students create a word cloud of different architectural and engineering terms.
  2. Make word cloud of technical directions and have students discuss what seems to stand out.
  3. Have students create a word cloud of a famous piece of engineering.
  4. Students find create ways to create word clouds that show units of measure including the use of the advanced edit features allowing for color and scale of words.
  5. Share word clouds of the upcoming chapter or reading and have a class discussion previewing what will be learned.
  6. Students study famous inventors and inventions and create a word clouds.
  7. Search for a patent at http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html and copy description and students make a word cloud. Students publishes a one sheet publication showing their own picture of patent item, a paragraph on what it is, and their own reflection on usefulness and success.
  8. Make a word cloud of terms used in a software program that students must learn.
  9. Using a timeline, have students create word clouds of a significant event or discovery.
  10. Ask students to come up with terms that might lead to a new product or innovation and put the terms in a word cloud in order to brainstorm a new idea.
  11. Have students name a physical or math/ scientific principal found in engineering and design.  They must then come up with words that are both possibilities and constraints related to the principle. Have them rank the possibilities and constraints and scale the words. This should all be put in a word cloud.  Also have students color code between possibility and constraint in the word cloud. Make sure the scientific principle is in the word cloud in larger letters and a different color.
  12. Have students research and make word clouds of the different occupations found in the applied arts.
  13. Have students take a math or science concept and create a word cloud of how that concepts relates with real life.
  14. Have students create word clouds that refer to important technical vocabulary words.
  15. Have students respond to online posed word clouds by teacher to begin a discussion in a subject area being taught.

Careers

  1. Create a word cloud describing a career.
  2. Create word clouds of a combination of careers. Have size of career font be determined by a relationship between careers such as; need for career, education necessary, earning power.
  3. Create word clouds of different Colleges and Universities. Hang them all up and have students guess each one.
  4. Create word clouds highlighting a career and classes need to take obtain that occupation.
  5. Make word clouds of career clusters.
  6. Have a student create a career word cloud showing their thoughts from least to most interest. Point out need for size of words.
  7. Have students take an area of learning and create a career cluster off of it.
  8. Present a word problem and have students list careers needed to solve it. Have them try to prioritize occupations by size. Ask them to think outside the obvious.
  9. Have students create a word cloud of various job descriptions. What words seem to be used over and over. Have them out some job descriptions together and see results.
  10. Have students create a word cloud comparing jobs of different eras.

Inquiry for any Subject

  1. Use a textbook chapter to put in a word cloud in order to showcase keywords for research.
  2. Use an online article or a site such as Wikipedia to create a word cloud that will help identify key words for search engine use.
  3. Have students place short “need to knows” to an inquiry based question. Use tildes (~) in between words. Put into a word cloud and display for a class.
  4. Have students brainstorm all the ways they could find answers to a question. Have them prioritize and create a word cloud illustrating that priority.
  5. Have students brainstorm and prioritize keywords for research in a group of four or five. Have them put in a word cloud showing priority. Have groups discuss and explain their word clouds and priority of word.

 

Thanks for joining me on this wonderful journey of 21st century possibilities.  Join me in future weeks as together we continue this adventure in differentiated learning through technology. Throughout the year also explore other  posts devoted to the Flipped and Blended Learning, Project Based Learning, Assessing 21st century skills, PBL, STEM, technology integration, web resources, and digital literacy.  I enjoy learning from all of you. Also remember to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email and follow me on twitter at mjgormans. I also appreciate your sharing of this post and any retweets. Keep up the amazing work, have a great week, and enjoy this wonderful new year. Welcome to the Future! – Mike Gorman

Booking Info – Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference?  I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have done 100’s of workshops and presentations.  Check out my Booking Page… Dates are going fast, with the time up to, and including July 2016 just about filled.   It’s not too early to begin thing about next spring, summer and fall! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

 

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Part 5: 12 Tech Ideas and Tools for Differentiated Learning … Online Discussions

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Welcome to the fifth post in a series designed to support the use of technology for differentiated learning… in and beyond the PBL classroom.  Before reading,  please take a moment to subscribe by email or RSS and also give me a follow on Twitter  at mjgormans.  I promise you will find some great information coming your way in the posts that follow…So sign up now and please pass this on with a retweet.    – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now  booked through the end of March, and the 2016 calendar is beginning to fill. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next fall! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

Opportunities For You

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Part 5: 12 Tech Ideas and Tools for Differentiated Learning … Online Discussions

I do really hope you enjoyed the past four posts involving Differentiated Instruction. I do hope you have found some valuable resources and ideas. In this post, I wish to take a look at  how the use of discussion forums can help differentiate the learning in the classroom. Did you know that discussion forums can put all students on a new kind of equal footing? It’s true, discussion forums allows individuals to express their ideas while also students to  write toward their area of strength. Many times that in-class discussion seems to focus on those students that are verbal and confident to speak out. I have found in an online discussion forum, the interaction dynamics can really change. Student who never participate in class suddenly have the opportunity to radiate brilliant ideas and provide wonderful thought to a discussion. The feedback they get from their peers and teacher can be powerful. The confidence gained often allows the student to transfer this online interaction to the real classroom discussion and interaction. As we begin to promote discussions in the online world we must think outside the box and provide an environment that is engaging for all students. It is important to also align these discussions to both content and process standards. I also find that a rubric for a discussions can come in handy. It is important to align the rubric to both the content and important process skills. In an online discussion students find that their ideas are valuable and enjoy seeing this alternative assessment to affirm this.

Before entering the world of online discussions it is important to talk about digital citizenship and responsibility with your students. They must understand that a online discussion is much different then talking face to face.It will also be important to decide on expected writing protocols. I have often found it important to stress that proper grammar is important in an educational forum, and it should be included on the rubric. Last, it must be decided what platforms will be used for the discussion forum. The best is always the school LMS (Learning Management System), or possibly even an area in a Google Doc. If using other web tools outside the district domain be sure to consult your school AUP (Acceptable Use Policy), along with website terms and privacy policies. Bringing online discussions to your classroom can really allow for a new type of student participation, while amplifying traditional in-class sharing. Please remember to think outside the box as you engage students in an online discussion or forum. Take a moment and try one of my twelve ideas and tools. I think as you reflect on each technique you will be able to see how they can bring different student interests and learning styles together, amplifying the DI in your classroom. If you missed a past DI article, I have those links provided below. I am certain you will enjoy the learning that becomes evident in your classroom online forums and discussion.

12 Tech Ideas and Tools for Differentiated Learning … Online Discussions

1. A formative tool – As a way to check  understanding from class that day. This might be a temperature check and drive teacher facilitation and instruction the next day. Some times students will see others not understanding and give their own explanation.  Many times we can all learn from the crowd.

2. A divergent tool – Students do not reply with answers… but new questions. The rule states that no one is allowed to answer a question… just pose new questions. What might the class do with this the next day?

3. A reflection tool  -Students reply not giving a statement of content or material… but a reflective thought to show application & connection. Allowing for important meta-cognition can be powerful while engaging learning. Take a step up on Blooms!

4. A launch and inquiry tool – No explanation or instruction… students are posed with a question or video that will cause thinking/questions that will be used the next day.  Perhaps students just need to come with thoughts, questions, and ideas that they first express online and will relate to higher learning activities in class.

5.  A connection tool – Students watch a video or do a reading that emphasizes what happened in class and they then make connections in their reply. It is important that the students be required to show the connection. A video might be used that demonstrates the math they learned in real life. How might students show that connection?

6. A mentor tool – An online expert could be a guest forum host to answer questions for student on a topic. This is a perfect opportunity to open the classroom up to real world connections and possibilities. Any mentors should be interviewed and approved by teacher and front office while following school guidelines.

7. A simulation tool – Thoughts and ideas could be posted on line by a famous person or character in a book. Students would reply showing content  knowledge and application. Teachers will get insight on student understanding of important concepts.

8.  A role play tool – Students are given characters in a book or history and interact in a discussion using their character role. Imagine the conversations that will happen and how a teacher can assess understanding at the same time.

9. A research tool – Students are asked to find one or two research links to share with each other. They give reasoning for the link they selected.  A collection of student links or a Google Custom Search Engine for the class is built for everyone to use.

10. Student centered tool – Why not put students in charge of a forum? It might fit into their PBL project or promote content in the classroom. Having students in charge can give ownership and stress the importance of an academic forum and the scholarly ways they should be used.

11. A critique tool – Have each student post their writing, project plan, or reflective thoughts online.Have students respond using a filter provided by the teacher. This could be a filter based on grammar, content, or a possible area of a classroom rubric. Students can use statements such as I have, like, and wonder.

12. Student tutoring tool –  I have seen teachers set up a discussion area for student questions regarding classroom concepts. Many teachers set these up so they can respond to students and soon find out that students begin to own the forum, providing insight and understanding even before the teacher.

I hope you enjoyed these ideas and tools for DI and online discussion forums. Please keep in mind that your students must be  practicing proper digital citizenship and responsibility when interacting in a discussion online. Get parent permission and district authorization if needed. Enjoy the DI journey as your student engage in the discussion process!

Thanks for joining me on this wonderful journey of 21st century possibilities.  Join me in future weeks as together we continue this adventure in differentiated learning through technology. Throughout the year also explore other  posts devoted to the Flipped and Blended Learning, Project Based Learning, Assessing 21st century skills, PBL, STEM, technology integration, web resources, and digital literacy.  I enjoy learning from all of you. Also remember to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email and follow me on twitter at mjgormans. I also appreciate your sharing of this post and any retweets. Keep up the amazing work, have a great week, and enjoy this wonderful new year. Welcome to the Future! – Mike Gorman

Booking Info – Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference?  I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have done 100’s of workshops and presentations.  Check out my Booking Page… Dates are going fast, with time up to and including March 2016 now filled.   It’s not too early to begin thing about next spring, summer and fall! Look for contact information at the Booking Site

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Part 4: 20 Tech Resources and Tools for Differentiated Learning … Writing Engagement

4

 

Welcome to the fourth post in a series designed to support the use of technology for differentiated learning… in and beyond the PBL classroom.  Before reading, please take a moment to subscribe by email or RSS and also give me a follow on Twitter  at mjgormans.  I promise you will find some great information coming your way in the posts that follow…So sign up now and please pass this on with a retweet.    – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now  booked through the end of March, and the 2016 calendar is beginning to fill. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next fall! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

Opportunities

Vote and possibly win $4000 of technology from CDW – I recently supplied CDW a list of products that I thought would be great for a Podcasting/Webinar Production/Flip Classroom Studio. Visit this link for your chance to win it… along with several other prizes.

STEM Workshop – If you are at Pete and C in  Hershey, Pennsylvania check out the  STAR Educator Discovery Preconference Workshop. I will have a session on STEM to STEAM to MAKERS. If you are in the area, or at the conference, think about attending.

Part 4: Tech Resources and Tools for Differentiated Learning … Writing Engagement

I do really hope you enjoyed the past three posts involving differentiated instructional tools for reading and writing using technology. In the last post of the series I focused on DI and the writing process. In this post, I wish to extend DI and  writing in the area of student engagement. Before taking note of some of the tools and resources, lets take a moment to define what leads to student engagement in writing. While many of us would like to think that all of our students would be excited about writing the proverbial research or term paper… I ask you to think back to your own schooling. While we were learning the rules of grammar, citing sources, and turning research in to our own prose, many times we failed to both engage with and internalize the learning. I am a strong believer that it is only when we promote meta-cognition, that real learning happens. It is our students’ thoughts and ideas that must somehow make its way to the written word. I believe that scaffolding, chunking, and student engagement is an answer. I would like to emphasize student engagement in the DI process, although you will find that scaffolding and chunking are many times built right in to the resources I suggest. After-all, multiple lessons and activities are often the steps to the larger process.

We  must remember that all students come to school with the innate interest to both learn and to share. Watch students in the primary grades during a “show and tell” session. It is usually filled with energy and passion. It really is exciting to communicate with others, when we have a sense of ownership. I believe that part of differentiation in writing is allowing students to share their interest, and also find the way they wish to share it. This can be done with a multitude of tools, that sooner or later lead to a formal publication. In this student ownership and choice, a new life filled with excitement for the subject and process are possible. Add to this, an authentic audience  to publish for. Remember, “show and tell” does not happen in a void. Perhaps students determine the audience they wish to address, bringing about even deeper thought of how to deliver to that specific group. The idea of differentiated instruction actually transforms into that important student choice, honoring both interest, passion, and strength.

Before taking a look at the list of resource possibilities below, please note that the curriculum is still important. Students must still know how to cite a source, write with proper mechanics, and research for information. Through their choice of possibilities these areas become even more important. This ownership also allows for increased mental cognition… and we all know what that means. Enjoy the possibilities below, some might help with that final project, while others help you deal with different learning modalities as you scaffold the process. Discover even more DI tools for reading and writing in these past posts.

The Twenty Tools

  • Storybird – Discover this wonderful tool that allows students to see the illustrations first, and then do the writing. Best of all, they can publish for their parents, classmates, or even world. A great way to get creative writing from some beautiful illustrations for any grade.
  • ReadWriteThink – While many teachers are aware of the lessons at ReadWriteThink , there is another area to check beyond the lessons. A closer look reveals a wonderful collection of interactive that can be used to scaffold process and promote engagement in writing.
  • PicLit – Turn on the creative writing using some wonderful photographic images. This site uses words and photographs to inspire users to write, express themselves, and share their work with others. A picture can really state a thousand words while providing DI.
  • Comic Master – Kids love reading graphic novels and comics. Perhaps they can also write their own. A Comic Master may include writing their own creative story, or explaining class content instead of a report.
  • AMCI Storyboard – Are your students excited about making movies? Then they must learn that writing is part of the process. This is wonderful tool that helps students script and storyboard. They will want to write… and then make movies!
  • PowToons – We all like comics… but how about moving comics?  That is what PowToons is all about. Of course your students will need to write the script. The final production could explain curricular content, or be the end product of some creative writing.
  • Weebly – The writing and outlining that goes into creating a web page is an important language art skill. An audience that includes the classroom, or the entire web sure beats the bulletin board. What story can your kids tell? Remember that it can be either fact or fiction!
  • Classtools – Here is another site rich in resources and tools that can either scaffold learning, or be the final product. I wonder what George Washington’s Facebook Page might have looked like? And that is just one of many tools!
  • ArtisianCam – Are your students ready to make your own picture books? Perhaps young students want to get creative, or older student want to write for younger ones. How about a book to explain a concept to others? Take a look and see the possibilities!
  • Zoobursts – What about a resource that provides some unique  digital storytelling possibilities? This is a tool that brings print to 3D. Now you might just understand where the word busts comes in.
  • Story Jumper – How about an opportunity for your student to write their own books, or even publish a real book? Perhaps it is a whole class project as an adventure in PBL. This brings in a new dimension of DI.  Imagine the engagement that an authentic book might bring.
  • Primary Access – Discover this suite of free online tools that allows students and teachers to use primary source documents to complete meaningful and engaging  learning activities with digital movies, storyboards, rebus stories and other online tools. This wide choice is certain to bring DI to their learning!
  • Writing Prompts – You will be amazed, and so will your students at these highly engaging writing prompts. In fact, let them pick the prompt that pushes their possibilities to be prolific publishers.
  • Phrasr – Put in the page and then picture the possibilities. A great way to get the creativity flowing while addressing those visual learners. Where might this fit in the scaffold?
  • Kidblog – A  great way to get those younger students blogging in a teacher monitored and controlled environment. Students become better writers as they write and critique each other. A great way to turn discussion into eventual prose!
  • Edublog – The older students may enjoy the opportunity to write for even a bigger audience. Enjoy the discussions and reflections that can happen within a class, and between different classes. Watch engagement and skills increase as writing becomes real and purposeful.
  • Young Writers Program – It is a contest for aspiring writers that happens each November. Look deeper in the site by clicking on Educators and discover a curriculum to promote writing. It really is an opportunity to provide your students a novel experience.
  • Inklewriter – Your students probably enjoy one of those “choose your own outcome” books that provide an interactive reading  adventure. This website turns your students from readers to writers.  Imagine the PBL publishing possibilities!
  • Plot Generator – This  tools allows users to generate a plot after asking for some input. Great way to start that next story, novel, or video.
  • Scholastic Story Starters – This is a wonderful  interactive tool that provides students choice and ideas. It is great for those elementary age students just looking to write that story they can share in class or online.

I hope you enjoyed this list of possibilities.Please keep in mind that many of these resources and tools are interactive websites. It is important to check your district Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) and Terms and Privacy Policy of each website used.  Make sure your students are practicing proper digital citizenship and responsibility when interacting and publishing on the web. Get parent permission and district authorization if needed. Enjoy the DI journey as your student engage in the writing process!

Thanks for joining me on this wonderful journey of 21st century possibilities.  Join me in future weeks as together we continue this adventure in differentiated learning through technology. Throughout the year also explore other  posts devoted to the Flipped and Blended Learning, Project Based Learning, Assessing 21st century skills, PBL, STEM, technology integration, web resources, and digital literacy.  I enjoy learning from all of you. Also remember to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email and follow me on twitter at mjgormans. I also appreciate your sharing of this post and any retweets. Keep up the amazing work, have a great week, and enjoy this wonderful new year. Welcome to the Future! – Mike Gorman

Booking Info – Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference?  I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have done 100’s of workshops and presentations.  Check out my Booking Page… Dates are going fast, with time up to and including March 2016 now filled.   It’s not too early to begin thing about next spring, summer and fall! Look for contact information at the Booking Site

 

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Guest Post: But What Will We Do With Learning?

learn

Greetings and welcome to a post I am certain will allow you to reflect as you continue your professional journey. Please note that I will continue my Technology and Differentiated Instruction series in the next few weeks. While I write all of my own posts…. I have occasionally yielded my keyboard to others for what I feel is a unique and interesting idea. My guest, Tim Kubik,  has allowed me to experience amazing learning experiences as we worked together on the National Faculty at the Buck Institute (BIE). Tim is a nationally respected educational facilitator and speaker with degrees from Yale and The Johns Hopkins University. He has participated in education innovations with over 100 schools in more than a dozen states and six countries. He has also collaborated with three national networks; Asia Society/International Studies Schools Network, Buck Institute for Education, and World Leadership School–and a local but deeply effective New Mexico Center for School Leadership. In his post, he wishes to introduce several concepts to you that I feel are powerful. Perhaps you will want to get involved in this amazing educational crowd-sourcing experience. I know you will want to reflect on some of the links he has provided. Please take a moment to sent out a retweet so I can help Tim get out the word. Remember to check out my booking page, I still have a few open dates up until mid August 2016. Welcome to the future of education and enjoy! Sincerely, Mike Gorman (21centuryedtech)

But what will we do with learning? – Tim Kubik, Ph.D.

Mike’s been kind enough to allow me to participate in his blog, and for that I’m grateful. We’ve worked together at BIE over the years, and in those conversations we’ve learned three things. We both love learning. We love learning with others even more. We love doing things with our learning most of all.

In that spirit, I’d like to invite you to participate with me as I write a new book: Participation is Preparation. That may seem an odd invitation, but I’m extending the invitation because, in the end, participation is the only thing that will change our schools.

As educators, most of us were taught to think education is about giving learners a model, a plan for implementation, and a system for assessing the impact of that model. What that turned into in the 20th and early 21st century is a system I sometimes jokingly call “Teach it! Test it! Then Trash it!” We’ve initiated a lot of new models over the years, but most of us are tired of that. Now even teachers—not just our students—grow weary of having things done to them. 21st century learners like you seek the tools with which they can do something.

Success stories using personal technologies are part of that answer. Mike does a fantastic job introducing all of us to emerging technologies that help our students grow individually in unique and interesting ways, but it’s a conversation built around a shared love of learning technologies that makes his blog so powerful. If you’re familiar with Sugata Mitra’s work, you may know that he refers to such conversations as self-organized learning environments.

SOLES

The success stories exchanged on Mike’s blog tell us that young learners enjoy the empowerment they get from interacting with digital devices, but the key to a SOLE is not the device and the learner alone – not 1:1 — but the fact that the computer is a focal point for a conversation in which all students are active participants because they are interested in it.

The results of Mitra’s research urge us to embrace the fact that participation is preparation. In our classrooms–and in our hearts–we know that. As educators we love to quote Dewey’s belief that “Education is not preparation for life, but life itself.” Many of us genuinely believe this to be true, but if we’re honest our practice is rarely reflective of that belief. Instead, the “preparatory mindset” dominates our profession at all levels.

The “preparatory mindset” assumes that learners need to be prepared before they can participate and that preparation is — you guessed it — based on giving learners a model, following a plan for implementation, and then assessing the results. For teachers, that means planned and scripted PD and implementation guidelines. For learners that means lesson plans so tightly aligned to standards that our learners will have no choice but to learn.

There are alternatives. One that I find intriguing is Manifesto 15. Sure, it’s last year’s news, but it holds as a core principle that “1.0 schools cannot teach 3.0 kids.” This doesn’t mean that we all have to rush to embrace the latest apps to stay current. It does mean we have to watch, listen, and learn from the conversations our learners are having about the technologies we introduce into their learning ecosystem.  That’s point 9 in Manifesto 15, “The network is the learning.” The book I’m proposing is meant to share conversations about success stories, and create a participatory network. It’s also meant to help us pay attention to the technologies students are introducing into our learning ecosystem as much or more than the technologies we control.

Not sure what a learning ecosystem is, or how to learn from it? Check out these three links:

New Culture of Learning      Student Voice            10 Expectations for Schools

Professional educators don’t need yet another model that prepares us to transform education. We don’t need more implementation guidelines, and we don’t need more tests. Professional educators need a learning experience that focuses our conversations, and then empowers us as a learning network to pursue the results our learning communities need! That’s why I’m inviting you to participate in this book with me, and that’s why I’m urging you to start inviting your students to school by asking: “What will you do with the learning we have to offer?” Empowering learners to participate in our world should be our “end in mind.” 

I hope you’ll agree! Get a draft version of the book, get into the conversation, and get participating! Together we can re-design our “end in mind.”

Thanks for joining me and Tim on this wonderful journey of 21st century possibilities.  Join me in future weeks as together we continue this adventure in differentiated learning through technology. Throughout the year also explore other  posts devoted to the Flipped and Blended Learning, Project Based Learning, Assessing 21st century skills, PBL, STEM, technology integration, web resources, and digital literacy.  I enjoy learning from all of you. Also remember to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email and follow me on twitter at mjgormans. I also appreciate your sharing of this post and any retweets. Keep up the amazing work, have a great week, and enjoy this wonderful new year. Welcome to the Future! – Mike Gorman

Booking Info – Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference?  I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have done 100’s of workshops and presentations.  Check out my Booking Page… Dates are going fast, with a few April and May dates open and March, June, and July just about closed..   It’s not too early to begin thinking about fall! Look for contact information at the Booking Site

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