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Invest in Inferencing with Students

think

Photo Credit: Gwen Vanhee via Compfight cc

 

I work most often with teachers and administrators in my role as Curriculum Ed Tech Facilitator in my school division. Over the years, I have come to recognize that a majority of students struggle with inferencing. They can most easily gather evidence and observations, but when it comes to applying these pieces of information to draw conclusions, students are at a loss as to how to achieve this.

These skills are needed for all sorts of school activities and learning, in all subject areas. Inferential thinking is a complex skill that will develop over time and with experience and teachers need to explicitly teach this to students throughout the school year.

There are many resources that can support teachers, below are a few examples as well as more resources to allow both teacher and students to engage in various inferencing activities.

For me, information comes in many forms – think about text (articles, newspapers, textbooks, poetry…), but also audio (lyrics, transcripts), video, and imagery. One such example of how powerful images and symbols are is found in this VIDEO. Teachers should use enticing images to build student’s background knowledge and even to replace text!! Watch the video – what do you think about these images and symbols? Are they not powerful? Think about how you can add and/or replace text with images to enhance the learning environment. Images can be found in a variety of places. For Alberta Teachers, the LearnAlberta website has many curricular-based images, just use the Search and Format features. For everyone, check out 2Learn.ca’s image gallery (make sure to click open the index), Creative Commons Search, use Discovery Education Canada (if your school division subscribes to it) and even Google (with proper copyright criteria).

Another resource (Explain the Image) that I like to share is one that was created by The Critical Thinking Consortium (TC2) where the template can be used at any grade level (just adjust the amount of text and add visuals for your younger students). It is a great one to use throughout the year and is easily scaffolded from a whole class activity, to small groups filling in specific rows, to small groups filling in the whole template to even individual work. Try it yourself! Click on the IMAGE and then have the QUESTIONS document open at the same time. (Make a copy so you can type in your info online). Input the Evidence/Observations column first and then add your Inferences next. Finally, summarize your thoughts. I’ve seen this used effectively with any text, audio, video and images with a variety of grade levels. The discussion between students about the artefact are SO amazing.

As a trainer for the Stepping Out Literacy Program, I also like to share this template – It Says, I Say, And So. In this example, I am only showing one row of text, but as a teacher, you may be looking at a longer text that would require several other rows to be filled in. Teachers would enter specific portions of text that they want their students to tackle. Once again, scaffold how students learn to use this template.

For those of you who live in the GAFE environment with their students, make sure to take advantage of:

    • GDoc > Tools > Research
    • GSlide > Tools > Research

These tools allow students to work within the Google environment with a separate pane right where they are working. And if they find some great information but are unable to tackle it as easily, do show them how to use text to speech (like chrome extensions, VoiceNote, Read&Write Google, or even Announcify). The citation pieces that come with this are fantastic. (Show students how to read the links to understand where the online information has come from.) As well, I also introduce, as young as grade three, GDoc – Add-ons > like Speech recognition (speech to text), SpellRight (proper spelling), Mindmeister (mind mapping).

If students are unable to write well (when they hold a pencil or pen it seems to drain all their thoughts and they are unable to write anything) or unable to type but can certainly speak out to demonstrate their knowledge, try out an image + audio iOS app/website for Fotobabble.

 

Extra Resources

 

If Teaching Were a Sport…

As some of my American teacher colleagues return to their classrooms, I wish them all the best in having a successful, exciting and effective 2015-16 school year. There is much preparation that goes into setting up a classroom, getting to know students and parents, digging into the curriculum in authentic and interesting ways and ensuring true engagement is occurring to each student’s level of confidence and understanding. Just remember to take those needed rest breaks throughout the year AND show your students how to take brain breaks as well throughout the day! (GoNoodle is a great curation tool for this.)

Below is a video via K&P from Comedy Central which not only got me to laugh, but also find the appreciation of all teachers do (without the large salaries!).

Enjoy and have a great start to the school year.

 

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2015 in Communicates to Inspire

 

EdTech Trends, Challenges and Developments

5077453679_3f51278a13_mPhoto Credit: Marlene Manto via Compfight cc

Each year, the NMC Horizon Report provides information about various educational technology trends. For this post, I am concentrating on the newly released 2015 K-12 Edition.

Key Trends in accelerating K-12 educational technology adoption are:

  • long-term impact (5+ years): rethinking how schools work and shifting to deeper learning approaches
  • mid-term impact (3-5 years): increasing the use of collaborative learning approaches, shifting from students as consumers to creators
  • short-term impact (1-2 years): increasing the use of hybrid/blended learning designs, rise of STEAM learning

For the school division that I work with, we have focused that last several years in rearranging the entire school experience by being part of the High School Flexibility Project, looked at various project-based learning throughout the school year such as Innovation Week, CTF Showcase, Genius Hour and continue to utilise Critical Thinking challenges (from TC2) and Cooperative Learning techniques (from Kagan Structures) to change the typical classroom environment to one of creativity, innovation and flexible learning for all students. We also are fully vested in the GAFE environment (sharing the various Chrome apps, extensions and add-ons to have students participate at their level) as well as building our digital presence via Edublogs (for classroom blogs and student showcase eportfolios), Twitter (check out #psd70), Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram.

Challenges impeding this adoption are:

  • solvable (we understand and can solve): creating authentic learning opportunities, integrating technology in teacher education
  • difficult (we understand but solutions are elusive): personalizing learning, rethinking roles of teachers
  • wicked (complex to define/address): scaling teaching innovations, teaching complex thinking

I work within Learning Services that supports all schools, their staff and I also work closely with our IT department and other departments in using technology and embedding curriculum in interesting and engaging ways. We have facilitators who work with staff to create more inclusive environments for all students. We have staff who are experts in curriculum, early years education, etc. We also have many expert teachers throughout the district who are willing to share, collaborate and create together. We continue to talk about the Learning and Technology Policy Framework (student-centered learning, research and innovation, professional learning, leadership, access, infrastructure and digital learning environments) and see what are readiness is and where our schools need to work towards to move along. We also work closely with our New Teachers throughout the year to build their confidence in using the technology that is available at our school sites – projectors, document cameras, Smartboards, Chromebooks, BYOD, iPads – to name a few. There are always many professional learning opportunities for staff throughout the year. We are also looking forward to see where all the work in the province of Alberta on Curriculum Redesign will go after our new government has had a chance to review it.

Developments in educational technology are:

  • > one year adoption: BYOD, Makerspaces
  • 2-3 years: 3D printing/rapid prototyping, adaptive learning technologies
  • 4-5 years: badges/microcredit, wearable technology

BYOD or Bring Your Own Device Initiative has sprouted to various school sites and grade levels throughout our school division. A couple of our schools (one K-4, one 5-9) have delved this past year into 3D Printing and more are interested in using this tool in the learning environment. (For some its a budget concern and for others its pedagogical.) With Makerspaces we are seeing our Library Learning Commons staff taking the lead in introducing this to their school sites and some keen teachers taking it further and making curricular connections (ie. Caines Arcade). Some adaptive learning technologies being used are IXL Math, Accelerated Reader.

Overall, my school division sees the value in integrating technology into the learning and teaching environment. We see the many opportunities it creates for ALL our school communities from creating new ways to express and demonstrate learning, removing barriers (such as print or writing or reading) to engaging with each other, other schools and even other countries.

Take a quick read through the NMC Horizon Report Preview 205 K-12 Edition and then for a “meatyer” report, check out the full meal deal of the NMC Horizon Report.

 

Effective Classroom Instruction Using Tech: Generating and Testing Hypotheses

6150105185_2568db7c99_mPhoto Credit: cali.org via Compfight cc

Eight years ago, the authors Pitler, Kuhn and Malenoski took the eleven essential instructional strategies that were identified originally by Marzano, Pickering and Pollock. These essential instructional strategies allow teachers to then use them purposefully to steadily improve student learning. In this digital age of learning and in considerations of this research, I have included not only an outline of how technology could be used to complement and enhance these teaching strategies but also specific technology tools/resources.

Essential Instructional Strategy #11

In generating and testing hypotheses teachers engage students in complex mental processes where they can apply content knowledge to enhance their overall understanding of the content. Technology allows students to spend more time interpreting data rather than gathering it.

Within the learning environment, various resources may be used. Below is a complementary list of actions and ideas, but by no means is it an exhaustive list. Please add your ideas in the comments section if you like.

Use spreadsheet info (Excel, Google Sheets) to make predictions, collect data, analyze data patterns and revise their hypothesis or create a new one.

Use data probes to recognize patterns in science.

Participate in Global Collaborative Projects.

Demo interactive online simulations – Social Impact games, Gamequarium, Smog City, Historical Scene Investigation, Zoo Matchmaker, Hurricane Strike.

 

References:

1 – Pitler, H., R., E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works. Alexandria: ASCD.

2 – Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., & Pollock, J. E. (2001). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. Also look at Dean, C.B., Hubbell, E.R., Pitler, H. & Stone, B.J. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement, 2nd Edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

 

Effective Classroom Instruction Using Tech: Homework and Practice

12133776646_c9b1226c06Photo Credit: clogsilk via Compfight cc

Eight years ago, the authors Pitler, Kuhn and Malenoski took the eleven essential instructional strategies that were identified originally by Marzano, Pickering and Pollock. These essential instructional strategies allow teachers to then use them purposefully to steadily improve student learning. In this digital age of learning and in considerations of this research, I have included not only an outline of how technology could be used to complement and enhance these teaching strategies but also specific technology tools/resources.

Essential Instructional Strategy #10

In homework and practice teachers give students review time. Technology facilitates by providing resources for learning and collaborative with others. It can also offer time for students to refine and build on skills.

Within the learning environment, various resources may be used. Below is a complementary list of actions and ideas, but by no means is it an exhaustive list. Please add your ideas in the comments section if you like.

Use MWord Review tab – research, dictionary, thesaurus, spelling, grammar.

Use chrome extensions like Read&Write Google, Google Dictionary, Google Thesaurus, and Grammarly.

Use Google Docs add-ons like Kaizena Mini (voice commenting), MindMeister (mind mapping), OpenClipArt (inserting images into notes), Speech Recognition (dictation), SpellRight, Tag Cloud Generator (for images or seeing which words are being used the most).

Use Excel or Google Sheets to master calculating, manipulating and displaying data.

Check out educational software sites – EDDIE, Tech & Learning, eSchool and Discovery Education.

Go to online games – virtual manipulatives, Explore, Thinkfinity, ReadWriteThink, PBS, Stellarium.

Collaborate online with GoogleDocs, Writeboard, YourDraft, Etherpad

 

Effective Classroom Instruction Using Tech: Identifying Similarities and Differences

3350940973_4333e99a81_mPhoto Credit: dullhunk via Compfight cc

Eight years ago, the authors Pitler, Kuhn and Malenoski took the eleven essential instructional strategies that were identified originally by Marzano, Pickering and Pollock2. These essential instructional strategies allow teachers to then use them purposefully to steadily improve student learning. In this digital age of learning and in considerations of this research, I have included not only an outline of how technology could be used to complement and enhance these teaching strategies but also specific technology tools/resources.

Essential Instructional Strategy #9

In identifying similarities and differences teachers establish the context of the information which allows students to restructure their understanding of that content. Technology allows students to create graphic organizers for comparing, classifying, creating metaphors and analogies.

Within the learning environment, various resources may be used. Below is a complementary list of actions and ideas, but by no means is it an exhaustive list. Please add your ideas in the comments section if you like.

Classify terms, genres or create an analogy puzzle. Compare raw data from Landmark.

Use Read&Write Gold/Google Vocabulary List to establish a baseline of knowledge.

RWGvocablist

Take time to review the many lessons and activities created by ReadWriteThink.

 

References:

1 – Pitler, H., R., E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works. Alexandria: ASCD.

2 – Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., & Pollock, J. E. (2001). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. Also look at Dean, C.B., Hubbell, E.R., Pitler, H. & Stone, B.J. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement, 2nd Edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

 

Got a Story? Share It.

I was introduced to microTrend’s “What’s Your Story?” contest via one of my Diigo groups – Digital Citizenship in Schools this past week. It was exciting to see this yearly video contest (for students aged 13+) that highlights creative, impactful and safe and responsible ways to interact online. Not only is digital citizenship an important topic in schools today, but to have opportunities to see and hear some innovative ways that students relate/connect to it is fantastic.

Don’t wait for the individual or school entries to be shown, try this with your students right now in the classroom. Have them create a video(s) using the same specifications found in the More Details section.

Develop some criteria on what would make an effective video? Should it be creative? Memorable?

Have students look at past winners. And have them check out the many resources before they storyboard and film their masterpiece.

I think one of this year’s participants really has nailed it! What do you think? Could you do better? How?

 
 
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