Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday Teacher Tips - May 21, 2013 - Twitter # & Invite to get started with Edmodo

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The power of #

I tweet—sort of—mostly I just flitter around on Twitter and see what other people are doing.  Admittedly, I am not very good at Twitter, but it’s something that I believe is a good tool, and I have plans this summer to work harder at using it effectively.

If you’re on Twitter—or even if you’re not but want to get started—it’s worth it to take a look at some of the incredible ways that you can use it to improve teaching and learning. 

Trust me, I started sloooowwww and with a # to help guide me in figuring out who to follow and how to use it. A hastag (#) is a way to indicate a specific topic on Twitter.  It’s a searchable tag that allows other users to find people talking about their interests.

I started with #tlchat (teacher librarian chat), and I can't adequately describe to you how the power of that one little hashtag has changed my outlook on my job and has helped to connect me with a network of people from all over the country  who are passionate about their careers.  The wealth of knowledge available and the number of ideas that are shared are almost overwhelming!

So, what are the hashtags?  Google “Twitter Education hastags” and you’ll get—no lie– over 2 million results.  Some to start with, according to Edudemic “The 2012 A-Z  List of Educational Twitter Hashtags” are:

· #edchat—educational chat from all over the US and World, lots of people use this!

· #kinderchat—related to kindergarten

· #edtech—I like this one, it relates to technology in education and you can usually get a lot of links and ideas

· #edapp—educational app suggestions for those of you with iPads

· #mathchat—math

· #scichat– science

· #engchat—English

· #spedchat—Special Ed

· #flipclass—Flipped Classroom

· #SSchat—Social Studies

The list literally goes on and on, and there is a hashtag for each grade level, and you’ll even find them for administrators, counselors and AP classes. 

One of the things that I have discovered and am loving is that educational groups often meet to have live Twitter chats using these hashtags.   I have only participated in three so far, but I look forward to continuing discussion in the future.  If you use Twitter often and if you search the hastags, you’ll find that you’ll start seeing people post about when these chats are going to be.  If you’re not on Twitter often, you can check The Educational Twitter Chats Calendar to see if your content area will be chatting any time soon.  This is a great way to find people to follow and to also find out what current trends are and what resources people are using.  I have found topics to be timely and relevant to my own needs, and have discovered many fascinating professionals this way!

Need more info?  Check out this 10 minute videos: Twitter for Teachers on Edudemic—or email me and we’ll figure it out together

How to search Twitter

If you’re new to Twitter, start by searching for the hashtags either on your phone’s app or on the Twitter web page.

To do that, just click in the search box at the top of the page and type in # and the education hashtag of your choice.
This is the basic way to follow a chat as well.  If you see that there is going to be a chat soon, you can simply type in the hashtag at the specified time and watch the chat develop.  If you want to check it out, there’s an #edchat every Tuesday afternoon from 12-1 and again on Tuesday evening at 7.  Often, someone will post a link on Twitter for an archive of the chat, that way you don’t miss anything if it’s going too fast.
If you find someone you want to follow this way, just click on their post, and using the app, click the picture of the icon that has the bird and + sign.

Summer is the perfect time to learn about Edmodo

This is year was the first year I really dabbled with Edmodo.  Edmodo is a social media learning platform that I used in the library as a place for third graders to share research and post about books they’ve been reading. 
While the kids were really excited to give it a try—and some of them use it on their own—I would say that I have a long way to go to unlock the full potential. 
The site is an excellent platform for flipping your class, extending discussion or for the trending  “Gamification” by allowing you to assign badges to students for completing tasks.  There are also a wide range of applications available for purchase and for free,  in addition to a plethora of resources to explore through the Discover Icon.
As with many forms of technology, I think one of the best ways to learn how to use Edmodo is to jump in and play around with it and then of course share!  And, the great part is, we can use Edmodo to learn and share together.
To do this, follow this Group Link for a PLN class I created (Professional Learning Network) and if you haven’t already, create a free teacher account on Edmodo  and we’ll begin learning together.
I’ve already got a how to article posted that will help us get started making connections with other teachers.
Email me if you need help!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tuesday Teacher Tips - May 14, 2013 - Puppet Pals, Chet Gecko Series, Summer Reading Programs

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iPad App: Puppet Pals

There are a number of storytelling apps available that allow your students to tell a story and record; however, there aren’t a lot that will allow you to  share the work they created on your own website.  Enter: Puppet Pals. 

With the free version of Puppet Pals, students can choose up to 8 characters to include in their work—7 standard characters that are common to fairytales or fables with the additional option to create your own characters with photos from your cameral roll.  You also have the ability to choose from three backdrops and you can add backdrops from your own photos.

The simple record and save features can be easily used by even the youngest iPad users, and with just one extra step to export, you can quickly have your feature presentation saved to your camera roll where you can access it for sharing via social media or your own website.

For an additional $2.99, there is the option to purchase a “Director’s Pass” which gives you all access to all content, or you can buy individual content packs for $.99.  While the extra packages are awesome, you could certainly spark a lot of creativity with the content that is free.

This app would be great for creative story telling, retelling a story in your own words or just presenting information in a fun way.

Want to see the app in action? Check out some of our work at the link below!


Summer Reading Programs—Keep Kids Reading!

While summertime is the perfect time to recharge after a tough year of school, it’s also unfortunately a time where some students fall victim to the summertime lag and actually regress in their ability.  One way to keep their brains charged is to encourage reading, and what better way to do that than to share with their parents some of the reading programs that local book sellers and libraries are offering.
Don’t miss the June 1st kickoff to Campbell County Public Library’s Summer Reading Program—Dig into Reading.  Barnes & Noble will be giving away books to students who read 8 books in their Imagination’s Destination program.  Joseph Beth Booksellers is offering programming in Camp Joseph-Beth.  You also may want to check out the Scholastic Summer Challenge and register your whole class (or school) to  read, record their minutes and earn reward!

Chet Gecko - Mystery Series!

Do your students love mystery and suspense?  Consider introducing them to Bruce Hale’s Chet Gecko: Private Eye—the series about an elementary aged lizard with a knack for beating crime. 
The series , which could be enjoyed by grades 1-5, is written in the style of classic detective programs like the Maltese Falcon, and includes comical and colorful descriptions of characters: “’What’s the story brown eyes?’ I said ’If your face was any longer you’d have to rent a chin.’”
Any of the books in the series could offer a great lesson on description and voice.
We have 3 of the series  in eBook format, but you can pick up the print version at the local, public library.
Let me know if you want an eBook demo!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tuesday Teacher Tips - May 7- Tips for test anxiety, inference, summarizing and theme

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Stressing over the test?

From Flickr - Fort Worth Squatch

Do your students have a lot of test anxiety when it comes to end of course or high stakes standardized tests? Helping students remember that they are prepared and of course creating a positive environment can go a long way in relieving anxiety and encouraging student success.

Selina at Classroom Magic reads her students the story Testing Miss Malarkey by Judy Finchler Kevin O’Malley and discusses test anxiety with them (we currently don’t have this book, but it is in at the Newport branch of the public library). Then she uses the mnemonic SWEET (Stay positive, Work hard, Examine the questions, Eliminate wrong answers, and Take all the time given) to help her students remember they are prepared.

Another  mnemonic “Thank Goodness I Can Read Better” comes from Scholastic’s “Prepare Students for Standardized Tests” page and uses the first letter of each word (T = take your time, G= go back to the story to find answers, I = italics are important, C= check your work, R= read all the choices, B= bubble correctly).

Sheet bubbling can be a challenge for many young students.  Consider using The Bubble Test Form Generator from Catpin Productions, and have students practice filling in bubbles ahead of time, so you can give them feedback.

Do you have kids who need a little extra help with test anxiety?  It might help to share with them “When Tests Make You Nervous” a KidsHealth article that explains what test anxiety is and gives some practical ways to help alleviate it.

Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!

Celebrate all the things your class has learned (and all the teachers who have helped along the way) with Dr. Seuss Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!
Even the students at Diffendoofer get nervous when it’s time to test, but Mrs. Bonkers says it best: “’Don’t fret!‘She said ‘You’ve learned the things you need to pass the that test and many more– I’m certain you’ll succeed!”’.
Need some teaching idea for the book?  Check out the Seussville guide for some ideas.
Three ELA Quickies – Inference, Summarizing & Theme
Inferences—check out this blog post “Feasting on Inferences” from a Year of Many “Firsts”.  If you scroll down the page, there is an example of a graphic organizer that you can get for free that will help students organize “What I already Know + Words from the Text = What I Infer”.
Summarizing—Summarize story elements with the “Somebody Wanted But So” strategy.  Check it out at Educational Communications Board
Theme—use movie clips to introduce universal themes.  You can search by theme at movieclip.com—as a warning though, not all clips may be school appropriate so preview them before using with your class.