Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Analyzing Graphs and Drawing Conclusions with the New York Times


Do you need a new approach to getting your students to analyze graphs, draw conclusions and even evaluate the reliability of the information? Well, I just saw this on another blog I follow, Teacher Tech with Alice Keeler, and was intrigued by the instructional activity that encourages students to participate in an online moderated conversation about the data and their observations. Graphs display information about politics, policies, pop culture, and daily life topics, bringing in a variety of content related to most classrooms. Students 13 and older can participate in the online moderated conversation, but don't let this discourage you if you teach younger students. Have a whole group discussion and use the teacher account to add the comments, allowing students to have that online learning space opportunity.

The 3-day process of analyzing graphs and contributing to the online discussion with the New York Times is the same each week.

1. On Tuesdays, the New York Times releases a new graph on the website. Students and teachers formulate their own interpretations of the graph using the "I Notice, I Wonder" protocol. There are 3 simple questions to help promote their initial thinking:
    • What do you notice?
    • What do you wonder?
    • What might be going on in this graph?
Using the prompts students formulate and insert their own thoughts in the comment box. Once your students have posted, instruct them to read through other posts and reply to someone else. (What a fantastic, meaningful and authentic way for our students to practice being a good, responsible digital citizen.) 

2. On Wednesdays, an individual with American Statistics Association leads a deeper conversation in the graph and people's interpretation in order to get students thinking about their own understanding. 

3. On Thursdays, the New York Times will post the information related to the graph and students can analyze their own interpretations with the correct information. Encourage your students to post follow up observations and evidence based on what they have just learned.

For more information about this instructional strategy, I encourage you to visit the introductory post that includes the "I Notice, I Wonder" protocol. The website also has a calendar of the 25 Wednesday posts to help you plan which weeks to include this activity into your lessons. Let me know if you participate in this learning activity by posting your experience in the classroom and how your students are growing in these critical 21st Century Skills. 

After learning more about this learning activity, I found that The New York Times also has a "What's Going on in This Picture?", where students practice visual thinking skills and use evidence to support their claim. Pictures, without the captions, are revealed on Mondays and students use the same "I Notice, I Wonder" protocol that will drive the online conversation. Visit the link again on Friday of the week for the revealing of the caption and any other pertinent information that went along with the picture.


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Teacher Spotlight: Alesha Love, RVHS

Here at BeyondIntegration we’ve been spending over a year sharing ideas for technology integration in Richland Two classrooms.  We also, however, want to honor and share the significant uses of technology we see teachers implement regularly.  We will begin sharing a series called Teacher Spotlights.  You can find all posts in the Teacher Spotlight series by clicking the tag on the right side of the blog.

Teacher: Alesha Love, high school math

School: Ridge View High School (where she graduated from as well!)

Showcase of technology integration use:

On the day before an assessment in Ms. Love’s foundations in Algebra class, Ms. Love worked to engage students in reflecting on their understanding of various learning objectives to be assessed and provide support for students who had gaps in their knowledge.


The app Ms. Love chose for this task was quizzizz.com.  This isn’t your average quiz site but rather a gamified version of questions to engage and assess student knowledge in a friendly but competitive way.  On the projected screen, the website displayed an ever changing leaderboard of students’ names as they worked their way through the math problems seated at their desks on chromebooks.  You could hear cheers and sighs as students completed a problem and watched for their name to rise to the top among their classmates.


Ms. Love made this quiz game an even more significant learning experience by continually circulating among students to check in, examine their written math work, and provide specific feedback to help correct mistakes students had made in their calculations.  In no way was this quiz replacing the role of Ms. Love in this classroom; it actually served to support her as a teacher as she identified which students needed her help most and what content needed the most significant review for the upcoming quiz.


Ms. Love achieved 100% engagement of her students in this end of the day math class! A student told me this was their first time using the app and all kids were able to get up and running on the platform in no time. Ms. Love was able to receive a report of each student’s progress at the end of the quiz game and support kids with real time feedback during the game, using the leaderboard to know which students needed the most help.

For more information on quizzizz, check out the following resources:

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Checking Student Understanding During Instruction

Quick formative assessments provide educators with valuable insights that can be used to modify or improve lesson plans, adjust teaching methods, and, ultimately improve student learning. Ultimately, the goal of formative assessments is to: 

  • provide day-to-day feedback that can be applied immediately
  • provide useful information about what students have learned with minimal time or effort
  • allow educators to address student lack of understanding or misconceptions quicker
  • help to fosters the notion that teaching and learning are on-going processes. 

Technology makes the process of creating assessments and collecting the information much more simple and a much faster turn around. Here are a couple of suggestions to get you started. 

Create a Question in DyKnow
This is a cloud-based management system the district has purchased for our teachers this year.  A favorite feature of mine is the ability to push out a quick question to all my students in that class and have immediate feedback for each student. There is no threat to the students honestly answering the question as it displays in a graph for the teacher and students to see. However, the teacher does have the option to view each student’s answer by clicking into the question and seeing who may need a few extra minutes to clear up any misconceptions.


Using Yo Teach! in Math
Using Yo Teach! in MathI was a bit bummed out when Today’s Meet went away. It was a great tool I used in the classroom to facilitate conversations and allow students to check their understanding of the material we were discussing. Yo Teach! allows for this same interaction but also has a “whiteboard” feature allowing students to draw, write, take an image or type a response. As a teacher, it is very simple to use. Create your class by going to the site and naming your room - You are done! Simply send the URL to your students and after entering their name they are in the room and can add comments. I do want to mention a couple of other features that as an educator you may want to utilize with this website. As you are creating the room, you can click a couple more buttons to “avoid search” - making the room unsearchable. You can even choose to require a password to get into the room keeping it private to only your students. The last feature if the Enable Admin, you can delete rooms, mute students and messages, view student participating and such.

Example of Google FormThis Google Suite feature allows you to create a survey and collect information on a spreadsheet. The results are also captured in a graph for the visual learner who wants a quick view of the class as a whole. Google has some surveys already created and you can modify to your needs. Or, it is pretty simple to create a form from a blank space.
Using Lino in the classroomLino This digital corkboard allows students to leave “Sticky notes” of their thoughts, understanding, and questions they have in regards to the content. They can also add images or video to the corkboard allowing for some choice in how they want to demonstrate what they have learned.

So, what are some types of questions you would want to focus on? I leave you with this list of suggested ideas, but know that you can develop some great ideas based on your grade level and content. Content related knowledge and skills; prior knowledge, recall and understanding, analysis and critical thinking skills synthesis and creative thinking skills, problem-solving skills, application and performance skills. Student attitudes and self-awareness; students’ awareness of their own values and attitudes, students’ awareness of their own learning processes, and content-related learning study skills awareness. Student reactions to instruction methods; student and peer reactions to teachers, and teaching class activities, assignments and materials

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

More tips for teacher to student feedback

Previously we shared some ideas for using Google Sheets and Orange Slice Docs rubric to make the process of giving feedback faster for teachers.  Today we are sharing some ways to provide feedback easily using two tools you may already have incorporated into your regular classroom practice.


Many teachers use Google Classroom to collect assignments from students.  It certainly helps teachers reduce the amount of papers they carry around and the commenting features within the Google apps makes giving students guidance in their working document very easy.  



Still, when you’re working with 30 students per class, the time it takes to open each student’s document and waiting for it to load can add up!  As a result, Google Classroom has released a grading panel that makes navigating through each kid’s document quicker for teachers and the included comment bank makes providing feedback to frequent mistakes a breeze.  Watch this tutorial for more information.





Google forms changed a lot of teachers’ lives when it first came out and using forms in combination with the Google Sheets add-on, Flubaroo, revolutionized formative assessment by automatically grading and emailing results to students.  




The new Google Forms has included an option to do this task all within the form (no more navigating to the google sheet and adding additional scripts!) and even has the added option of providing the teacher’s feedback to students on specific questions they miss.  Check it out in the tutorial below.


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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Starting Your Class off Right

Starting your class off in a productive way can jump-start a student’s thinking process toward a learning objective/target. “Bell Ringer” activities are usually a short question, problem or task for students to engage in that can either review the previous day’s topic or begin thinking about today’s topic. In a 1:1 digital environment, these bell ringer activities can add more creativity and Google Suite has everything you need to make it relevant and meaningful for the students. I have 4 simple strategies that you can use in any subject that will take between 5-10 minutes to complete.

Create a Comic Strip using Google Drawing



Comic Strip Example
  • ELA: Comic Strips are a great way to encourage reading and writing and reinforce key story elements  Have students recreate a scene from a story the layout of comic strips is a useful tool to help students plan a beginning, middle, and end to their story or their interpretation of an event that occurred in the book.
  • Science/Social Studies: Ask a character/historical figure/Scientist a question. What if students could ask someone they’re studying a question? What would they ask, and how would that person likely respond? Then, use the image search to find a photo of the person to whom they’ll ask the question. Add speech bubbles to ask questions. 
  • Math: Have students discuss a math problem from the previous night’s homework explaining how they solved the problem. These math talks are becoming an effective way to understand the thought process.


#booksnaps exampleCreate #Booksnaps using either Google Slides or Google Drawing
I love this idea for students to be able to respond to text in a creative way. Students locate a passage from a book they are reading that resonates with them. They snap a picture of it and annotate on it, underline and add text reflections. Students can also add fun things like emojis and Bitmojis. Taking it beyond the reading, you can use this for #MathSnaps, #ScienceSnaps, and #SocialStudiesSnaps.

Create a "Tweet" using Google Slides
Have students create tweets like Twitter to review, summarize, and create ideas about an event or topic, using the “Twitter” format of 280 characters or less. Students open Google Slides and search for a topic related image to insert into the Slides. Students can add shapes and text to image resembling a tweet. This strategy can be implemented in any subject area, from book characters tweeting to one another, scientists sharing a discovery, meteorologists with the weather, or historical figures recapping an event. 

Twitter Example

Shared Slides
Create a slide presentation with enough slides for each student in the class. Share that slide deck with the class. Each student gets a slide where he/she can do his/her own work. Depending on the age, you can assign a specific slide or ask students to chose one. You can also create a template for students to add in content or allow students to create their own. I worked with a 3rd-grade teacher during a social studies unit about South Carolina. Students were assigned a letter and a template was created for students to use to insert the information. This is a great opportunity for students to provide feedback on each other’s work in a “closed” digital learning space.



Bell ringer activities can be effective in many ways. Here are a few tips to think about while designing for your instruction:

  • What do the students need to know to find success in the lesson?
  • What skill(s) are students required to use in order to accomplish the learning?
  • The activity should require students to practice that skill by either
    • responding to a question, 
    • completing a short writing assignment,
    • drawing an illustration. 
    • What procedures will you put in place so assigning digital bell ringer activities becomes routine? Staying within the Google Suite, may I suggest using Google Classroom, creating a topic “Bell Ringer” so students have a consistent place to go to each time they walk into your classroom. 
I am curious about your ideas that you have for digital bell work activities. Leave a comment below sharing your examples.





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