Monday, March 28, 2011

Student Made Tutorials Using Paper Slides

What do you do when workbooks, handouts, and class problem sets are not connecting with your students? What do you do for those students who have a solid understanding of a topic before you begin the lesson? How are you differentiating for them? Can you address the needs of your advanced students as well as your struggling students with one activity?

Student made tutorials should be a welcome addition to any classroom. Students may be assigned to work independently or in small groups. Their task is to develop a video tutorial that explains a topic, problem or concept discussed in class. The completed video will be published online for all students in the class to reference as a study guide. By providing such an activity you are allowing your more advanced students the opportunity to apply their knowledge of the topic and better grasp the material by developing a lesson to teach the topic. Your struggling students will then have access to this tutorial online. They can pause, stop, rewind and replay the videos at home while working on homework or studying for an assessment.

There are a number of  options for creating tutorials. Paper Slide  Tutorials is a simple, cost effective method. It is no intrusive in the classroom and can be easily integrated in all subjects. The process is simple. Students plan a storyboard for the lesson. They prepare paper slides that will be used to present the topic. Once they are organized they will begin recording their tutorial. A Flip Video Camera or any Web Cam can be used to record the tutorial. Once completed the video can be published on the teachers website, Blog, School Tube, YouTube or any other video sharing site.

Here is a video made by a teacher for his students, introducing the process of Paper Slide Videos:

Here is a a sample project made by a student:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Add a Back Channel to Your Classroom

journalism students using macs apple

There is a new phenomenon occurring in classrooms, workshops and meetings. It is called back channeling. This refers to participants in a event communicating and collaborating with technology to take notes, ask questions and reflect in real-time.

A great tool to accomplish this is the website Today’s Meet. In order to get started you visit the site, create a room and send the link to the room to the other participants. The link to the meeting room can be posted on the board, linked to a teacher website or emailed to a group. The participants can immediately start a live chat. The results of the chat stay online  for the period of time specified. They can also be copied to a Google Doc and shared with the rest of the class.

This technology could be very useful as a way for a class to take collaborative notes and pose questions  while viewing a media clip, a speaker or a class lecture. Instead of having students sit and watch a media clip or longer video they can be engaged and interact with it. The teacher may post a couple of thought provoking questions for the students. While watching the video the students may use Today's Meet or a Google Doc to document their answers to the questions. By adding Q1 or Q2 to the start of the response, the teacher and students will be able to identify what they are responding to. Students may also comment on what they are viewing and add questions and reaction that they have.

Typically it is difficult to get students to take notes. When using this technology and asking them to multitask the students actually respond. As a result, the online documentation of the collaborative conversation allows the teacher to see what the students understand, what they do not understand and what topics require further discussion.

Today's meet could  also be used during video conferencing sessions with other schools or subject area experts. Students from both classes may take detailed notes regarding the event. These notes are then viewable online for everyone to review.  They may also post questions that the speaker may access and address during the presentation.

Many schools have utilized student owned electronic devices to maximize student access to back channeling. In some classrooms , that have only a couple computers, a few students are assigned the role of "class scribe" for the day. They are responsible for collaborative note-taking. These notes are then available online for the class to share and discuss.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Are you ready to FLIP the classroom?

There is a new paradigm shift occurring in classrooms.  Many of the most innovative teachers are turning the traditional K-12 classrooms upside down in an effort to individualize the learning experience for students. They are "Flipping" the classroom in order to make classroom instructional time more valuable to students.

"Flipping" the classroom refers to a new approach to teaching in which the students view videos, podcasts or vodcasts of classroom lectures at home for homework. In the classroom, students apply what is learned by completing what is typically identified as "homework" in the classroom. 

This innovative approach to instruction offers many instructional advantages. By viewing video lectures in Math and Science, students may pause, stop, rewind at their own will. They may also engage in the lesson at a time that is right for them in their own environment.  In the classroom students are provided the opportunity to apply what was learned in the lesson. Students work through the problems during class time. The teacher acts as a facilitator by circulating the room and providing assistance where necessary. Students also work with peers  or in small groups to collaborate on problems. This model allows the teacher to be available when the students need him or her most. It creates a student centered personalized learning environment.

In a typical classroom students would sit through a lecture in order to learn the content. They would then be assigned homework for that evening. Many students who did not grasp the lecture would struggle with the homework. When this happens they would just quit or not do it.  They would return to class the next day having to learn something new. By flipping the classroom, teachers can see who is struggling and provide immediate help for those students. The application of this new teaching style has presented fantastic results in student achievement and engagement.

Where do you start?

There are a number of free video screencasts available for math and science online. One example is The Khan Academy. This site, created by Salman Khan houses thousands or screencast lectures from basic math to advanced calculus. It also includes interactive practice sessions for students to apply what they have learned.   In the video below, Salman Khan explains how he created Khan Academy and how it is being used by educators.

In our district we have access to MOODLE. MOODLE is an online course management software. Teachers can post links to videos and other online tutorials that students may access from any computer with internet access.  We also use Google Sites or Wordpress Blogs. Each of these allow teachers to embed or link to videos that students may access over the web. There are also a number of free tools that allow  teachers to record screencasts of their lectures. and the Smart Notebook Software all offers these features.

My recommendation is to start small. One or two a month is a great way to get students exposed to the process and to measure its impact.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pyramid of Intervention

I have recently been involved in a initiative in Jefferson Township Schools to design and develop an interactive Pyramid of Intervention. The pyramid is used to supplement our district work on PLC's. The goal of the pyramid is to provide an interactive resource that teachers can access to uncover instructional strategies and specific interventions for students. It was designed by Eileen Daggett, Supervisor of Special Education K-12 and myself.

The pyramid has three tiers. Each tier has an acoompanying form that teachers will use to document their progress with individual students.  The requirement is that all teachers must utilize the resources in the pyramid and document the results of strategies and interventions. A student may not be referred to our I&RS committee without this documentation.

I utilized Google Sites to design the pyramid. You will notice that all of the content in the pyramid is interactive. The information is organized in an intuitive design. Teachers may located the information that they need with just a click. Tier one of the pyramid contains instructional strategies that should be used for all students and documented in lesson plans. Mrs. Daggett organized these strategies in a number of ways. Most notably you will see a Lesson Framework that has links to strategies for each component of  a lesson.  Tier 2 is designed for students who are not finding success in the classroom even with the strategies that are implemented. In Tier 2 you will find specific interventions that may be utilized for each student.

The pyramid of intervention is a very powerful tool for teachers. The availability of various publishing resources on the web as well as the access to the web that is ubiquitous makes such an initiative possible. We are very proud of this project. It is still a work in progress. We will be adding content frequently.
If you have any comments about this project or would like to share some resources please leave us a comment.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Facebook in the Classroom

Have you been to the Google Docs template gallery lately. If you have, you will notice that the available templates are continuing to grow. I recently searched for a template that could be  used to create a fictitious Facebook Profile. The first returned result ended up being exactly what I was looking for.

 Take a look at this Google Presentation template below.

Creating a Facebook profile is a great project idea for all grades and subjects. Students may create a profile for a historical figure, a scientist, philosopher, mathematician, or any other person of interest. You can start creating a Facebook profile using this template by accessing the Google Docs template gallery or by clicking here.