Monday, February 25, 2019

New Podcast Series: the Classroom Scoop!

Check out the new podcast series "The Classroom Scoop" that began in January 2019 as a way to highlight learning experiences and technology use in the Walled Lake Consolidated School District. Pam Shoemaker is the host and she partners with teachers across the Walled Lake Consolidated School District (SE Michigan). Listen to the podcasts with popular apps such as Spotify, Pocket Cast, Breaker, and Anchor. Each episode is about 10 minutes in length. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Teaching Media Literacy

Teaching Media Literacy

Yesterday, I participated in the ISTE EdTechCoaches PLN's monthly Twitter chat. The topic: Teaching Media Literacy in the Era of Fake News. It was moderated by PLN member Allison Thompson, @AllisonTEDU. It was a fantastic discussion and I'm anxious to share resources and ideas. 

Information Overload

How do you teach media literacy in the era of information overload? It takes some time, yet is very important. Students must know how to evaluate online sources and investigate sources. 

  • @grahamict teaches students the CRAAP Test (Current, Relevant, Authoritative, Accurate, and Purpose of information). 
  • @AllisonTEDU focuses on one thing, like looking at news literacy or evaluating an online source. She discusses ways to "trust but verify" with her students and how to investigate sources.
  • @TitiAlvayay uses the RADCAB method to check the reliability of websites. 

Evaluating Bias

How do you teach students to evaluate bias without appearing biased yourself?
  • I (@shoemap) suggested starting the exploration under the lens of commercialism. Ask questions such as "Does the site want to make money?" and "Is the site collecting my personal information for later use?" 
  • @TitiAlvayay recommends finding out who the author is and thinking about what his/her intention might be to help uncover bias in the information. 

Escaping the Echo Chamber

In the digital age, it's very easy to avoid information we don't like. How can we work to become "un-siloed" and escape the echo chamber?
  • @EvanOBrancovic suggests pulling facts from a variety of sourcs as a way to better understand different viewpoints (even those you disagree with) & could begin as an attempt to debate, yet result in getting the whole picture.
  • @EvanOBrancovic also recommends a site called Factitious, which is a game to give students an easy way of looking at recent articles and practicing identify if they are real or fake. There are constant updates which makes it more credible in the eyes of students. 
  • I shared an idea of students writing articles about sports events from the perspective of the winner/loser. 

Strategies and Resources

  • @MrsMHenning shared one of her favorite curated list of resources from Teachers First on the topic of Media Literacy
  • @EvanOBranovic's curated list of resources created for Media Literacy Week.
  • @MrsMHenning recommends NewseumEd resources. You need to sign up for an account and it is free. 
  • I (@shoemap) like the resources that can be found on CommonSenseMedia.
  • @mrsbogacz reminds us of using Snopes to evaluate articles and memes with various statistics, as these are things that students will see all the time on social media. 

Monday, November 19, 2018

Precious Minutes at the Start and End of Lessons

I came across an Edutopia article titled The 8 Minutes That Matter Most by Brian Sztabnik that listed several simple ideas for engaging students and establishing a positive community of learners. These eight minutes that matter most occur during the beginning and ending of lessons. 

I'll highlight a few ideas that I think are very powerful and would be suitable to incorporate into lessons according to the Walled Lake Schools Instructional Framework.

Start of a Lesson: Activate prior knowledge, generate interest and create anticipation for learning

Strategy: Start with Good News

Take two minutes at the start of each lesson for sharing and celebrating good news. This will help create a safe space for students to get to know each other and take risks, which sets up a positive learning environment.  

Strategy: Write for Five Minutes

Kelly Gallagher says that students should write four times as much as a teacher can grade. Students need to write -- a lot -- if they are to improve. One way to achieve that is to start each day with an essential question that students must spend five minutes answering. If done day after day, it becomes ritualistic and builds stamina. 
There are seven defining characteristics of an essential question:

  1. Open-ended--no single or correct answer
  2. Thought-provoking -- content to spark discussion and debate 
  3. Requires higher-order thinking such as inference, analysis, prediction
  4. Ideas transfer across topics and disciplines
  5. Raises additional questions to spark further inquiry
  6. Timeless --could be revisited again and again

End of a Lesson: Check for Understanding

Strategy: Post it Power

Consider asking students to write down one thing that the learned from a classmate on a post-it note and stick it on a wall in the classroom on the way out the door. At the start of the lesson the next day, read the notes aloud. This will solidify the community of learners and validate class participation. 

Strategy: Exit Tickets

Use exit tickets as formative assessment to guide tomorrow's instruction. See this extensive list of exit ticket ideas by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Happy Digital Citizenship Week

Using technology to support the learning process is a given in the day-to-day life of an educator. As online resources and technology are incorporated into classroom lessons and activities, teachers model digital citizenship and mold the future habits and routines of students. 

We want students to recognize that every move they make online is part of their digital footprint and that they have a choice as to whether their digital footprint will be a positive one or a negative one. 

Educators can help students develop good digital citizenship habits by introducing a variety of positive ways to connect with others online. For example, teachers should demonstrate how to write and share social media posts that are interesting, concise and respectful of others. These types of efforts show students how they can be proactive and empowered digital citizens and maintain a positive digital footprint. 

Common Sense Media has many other ideas and resources about digital citizenship that are categorized by grade level. Check out this handout: "4 Ways to Get Started Teaching Digital Citizenship." 

Happy Digital Citizenship Week!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Conference Kicks Off the School Year

Walled Lake Consolidated Schools hosted its annual Spice it Up! Conference on Thursday, August 23, 2018 at Sarah Banks Middle School. It followed a new format; a shortened conference to allow teachers time to set up their classrooms due to an earlier start-of-school date. The conference took place from 8am-noon. 

Over 200 educators attended this voluntary professional development event. 45 sessions were held on a variety of topics. Attendees were especially enthusiastic about exploring new tools, discussing instructional strategies, and learning about important cultural issues. I coordinate the event and it is one of the highlights of my year!

The conference would not be possible without the Walled Lake presenters, who volunteered their time to plan and share their experiences with colleagues.  Thank you Andrea Abraham (ESC), Beverly Banks (Wixom & Meadowbrook), Danielle Bigi (Hickory Woods), Lori Burke (ESC), Christine Connell (Northern), Jennifer Curtis (ESC), Lara Dryden (Glengary), Judy Evola (ESC), Jamie Gluski (Creek), John Gregg (ESC), Amanda Groeneveld (Creek), Krista Harmsworth (Keith), Kara Helgemo (Pleasant Lake), John Hester (Glengary & Keith), Kelly Holubeck-Gotts (ESC), Kallee Iverson (ESC), Carolyn Kevelin (Pleasant Lake), Jessica Leslie (Walled Lake), Miguel Davis (Macro Connect), Amy Mitchell (ESC), Chelsea O’Brien-Pniewski (Banks), Laura Pace (Oakley Park), Becky Reed (Dublin), Cheryl Roden (high schools), Pam Shoemaker (ESC), Amy Stasak (middle schools), Kelly Tillman (Geisler), Christine Titus (Hickory Woods)

The administrators at Sarah Banks Middle School, Michelle Kalhorn & David Stanton, were so helpful and accommodating in the days leading up to and on the day of the conference, and the IT Department was there in full force to assist attendees as needed.  It was an outstanding effort by many, and is truly an event that positively impacts the learning that occurs in classrooms across the district.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Another Year Down; Time to Reflect

Today was the last day of school for the students in my district. As I think back on the year, I feel fortunate to work with such amazing people who pour their hearts and souls into the work of educating children, the most important job in the world. 

I am proud of many things that I've been involved in over the past year:

  • Partnering with teachers in my district to lead evening webinars on a variety of instructional topics.
  • Participating in the work of the iCouncil to collaboratively create in instructional framework. Our next step is to build a website with resources, testimonials, classroom videos and more; resources and ideas for educators to learn more about good instructional strategies.
  • Redesigning the instructional technology web site. There is a new "digital toolkit" that includes a sampling of tools organized by task.  
  • Teaming with special services staff to plan for a new and improved assistive technology consideration process.
  • Planning for a new building-based Technology Teacher Leadership program that will begin in the Fall.   
  • Modifying the format and organizing our annual Spice it Up Conference.
  • Being a part of the ISTE Ed Tech Coaches PLN Leadership team. Highlights include:
    • Planning and organizing a slow chat book study on the book Learning First, Technology Second by Liz Kolb; educators from all over the world participated.
    • Chairing a speaker selection committee for the annual conference.
    • ... and I'm looking forward to being the President of the PLN next year!  
  • Being surprised at the MACUL Conference with a Making it Happen Award! Thank you MACUL
What will next year bring? Can't wait!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Add Voice Narration to Google Slides Presentations with Screencastify!

A feature that is greatly missed by teachers since we have moved to online tools and resources instead of installed software is the ability for students to create video for projects; to blend images and sounds to convey a message. One solution that can fit the bill is to combine the features of Google Slides with Screencastify, a Chrome extension used for recording anything that you see on the screen of a laptop or Chromebook. 

Simply put, students begin by planning their project, and then collaboratively build their presentation with Google Slides. Next, they write a script (what they plan to say when each slide is being shown). After practicing their delivery, paying close attention to their speech (rate, volume, enunciation, expression), they use the Screencastify extension to record themselves narrating as they click through their presentation in full screen/presentation view. 

It seems complicated at first, but it is easy to do. Here are step-by-step instructions for downloading and installing the Screencastify extension, changing a few settings, and using keyboard shortcuts to start and stop the screen recording process. Have fun!