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Category Archives: Environment Conducive to Learning

Emotions in the Classroom

Helping students navigate their emotions in their world is important to success throughout the school year as well as life.

Research shows that when teachers help students learn to manage their feelings during the school day, they become better problem solves and communicators when involved in an emotional issue. They are also better able to engage in the learning environment. 

In an age where the media and medical organizations are saying that teens (and even younger) are stressed out, overly anxious or even depressed, there needs to be opportunities for them to recognize and manage their emotions in a healthy way.

Watch this engaging, informative and unforgettable TED Talk by psychologist and author Susan David:

Dr. David offers 4 steps in teaching children how to work through negative emotions. They are feel it, show it, label it and watch it go.

FEEL IT

Validate the emotion instead of saying “don’t be _____”.

SHOW IT

Accept any emotion instead of using expressions like ‘boys don’t cry’. We are humans, not robots and our feelings make us honest with ourselves.

LABEL IT

Ask students, ‘how do you think (this person) is feeling?’ Teacher them to understand what is fear, panic, resentment, etc. Look at facial expressions, body placement.

WATCH IT GO

All emotions have value, but they will also pass. Give examples of what an emotion feels like and then what it feels like after it passes and what was done to help it pass.

When experiencing similar emotions in another situation, Dr. David says ask ‘who do you want to be in this situation?’ and ‘what’s important to you about this?’ Students will feel stronger as they start to learn that it is not how they feel that is important, but HOW THEY RESPOND to the feeling that makes the difference. Show students how to use emotion rather than be used by it – ‘what’s the function (of the specific emotion)?’

Literature for the Classroom

Book Riot has a great list of 23 Children’s Books About Emotions for young’ens. For teens, check out Epic Reads 10 Young Adult Books Guaranteed to Give You All the Feels.

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Harnessing Skynet for Good: Using AI in the Classroom

When we think artificial intelligence, it is very likely that we conjure up scenes from franchised science fiction thriller (Terminator) or complete infatuation with a computer (Her) or even autocorrect on our own smartphones.

Check out a basic video overview on Artificial Intelligence. (5:27)

Examples in Everyday Life article and more HERE.

 

How teachers can utilize AI in engaging student learning with next practice strategies?

AUTOMATION: assistance with grading. Here teachers can give quick feedback to students through a survey that is autograded. Opportunities for exit tickets, anticipatory knowledge gathering of a new concept/topic or just general interest will give both teachers and students a baseline of information to work from.

  • Chatbots like those found on Snatchbot (https://snatchbot.me/) can be created by students and teachers. Examples like Mitsuku, WestJet’s Juliet and Snatchbot gallery.
  • Chatbots for students – these at https://goo.gl/wtu7M6 can be used to get organized or to have a conversation.
  • Siri is found on an iOS device in Settings > Siri & Search. Allow “Hey Siri”.
  • Cortana is a digital agent for Windows 10.
  • A caution for teachers in using Voice Assistants like Amazon Echo Dot or Google Home in their classroom. Currently these smart speakers connect with a personal account which would not use a school division’s filtering system. Once these smart speakers are able to utilize or be connected to a hosted O365 or GSuite Apps for Education teacher account, they would be more secure and safe to use.

Such as text-to-speech or speech-to-text online systems that reinforce and provide tools to remove barriers for students so that they may demonstrate their learning.

 

Artificial intelligence resources in education are great in providing secondary sources of information and support for learners. The above examples are a small sampling of what teachers can do to provide students with access to machine learning in a purposeful way. Yet it is important to note that AI does not provide the humanity and emotional-social support that is so important in the classroom. School staff are an integral part of making a learning environment the most engaging, safe, imaginative and creative it can be.

 

Greetings That Make Your Day

We all want to be recognized, valued or noticed during the day. Whether we are at work, home or out in the community. At a recent sporting event, I was so enamored and excited at the musical greeting we got, it reminded me of the importance that greetings can have on a person’s emotional state and their readiness to engage in the work or event.

Here is the greeting I spoke about:

Doesn’t it make you feel good? You want to be there, you want to be part of the moment.

Check out a few of the educational greetings examples that I have scoured the internet or my archives for and see how you could start greeting your students or how they could learn to greet each other.

 

Learning Today in a 24/7 Connected World

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Photo Credit: Kellie M. Simpson Flickr via Compfight cc

Like a traditional board game, learning has moments where all the experiences connect into some genuine learning wins while other times it seems like there are not enough resources and/or supports (like board pieces) in place to be successful. This post reflects on the many discussions, resources, and ideas that Will Richardson, renowned blogger, author, and outspoken educational advocate,  shared during his two keynotes at the BlendED Alberta 2018 Symposium in Edmonton. 

Whether in an Outreach program, learning centre, distance learning program or classroom, teachers are using the online environment to expand and extend learning opportunities, building flexibility to student learning.  The blendED Symposium is designed to share emerging practices while providing opportunities for networking with sessions that will inspire and provoke delegates to think outside the traditional learning environment.

With today’s society changing at a rapid pace in all aspects of work, life, and general society, what are schools doing to prepare students?

An important question to ask ourselves is: what is PRODUCTIVE learning?

How do we set up a learning environment that is relevant, active, engaging and supports the needs of all our students?

Sarasenlearning

What is your belief? How does your school or even school division support this work?

Another book to put on your professional reading list is Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a collection of essays, many of which build on articles for the New York Times, Bloomberg and elsewhere. This book follows a similar use of evolutionary psychology as self-help as his previous two books. The world is a scary, fast-changing place, so it’s no surprise our primitive brains struggle to navigate through it. We simply haven’t evolved to cope with automated checkouts and emailing after 7pm. Harari points out that humans are endlessly creative and sometimes we solve problems by changing the question rather than answering it. Hence, the large role that lifelong learning plays in each of us!

What are the contexts and conditions for this to occur?

Teacher answers around the world:                What people never say:     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For further reading, check out Timeless Learning a book written by an award-winning team of leaders, Chief Technology Officer Ira Socol, Superintendent Pam Moran, and Lab Schools Principal Chad Ratliff who demonstrate how you can implement innovative practices that have shown remarkable success.

 

How do we come up with the skills to address an algorithm-driven online existence?

In Alberta, some jurisdictions are already using gradeless report cards. Our own school division uses achievement indicators in grades 1-9 as seen HERE. Joe Bower, a former central Alberta teacher, shared the many ways he went gradeless in his classroom. His blog continues to be a great “go-to” for teachers to reflect on his experiences as well as update some of their own assessment practices.

Modern Learning

Some things to ponder:

  • What is learning?
  • What is “blended” learning?
  • What is our mission? Why “blended”?
  • Are we doing blended learning or blended teaching?
  • What is the most important role of the teacher in blended environments?
  • Do we have full empathy for the student experience in blended environments?
  • Are we co-constructing curriculum with students?
  • What opportunities are we creating for students to fulfill their greatest potentials?
  • How are we a model for blended learning?
  • Is our practice in “perpetual beta”?

Compare those questions with those directly from Richardson’s 10 Principles for Schools of Modern Learning. What do you think about being in “perpetual beta”? Is this a comfortable way to learn for teachers and students? How can we introduce this concept in the classroom? It certainly points to showing that nothing (like learning) is ever finished, rather knowledge is a constant conversation in the modern world. Have a peek into Peter Senge’s Schools that Learn (revised and updated) book.

What is the best way to provide a framework for students to show that productive learning is worthwhile?

Let’s make a move from Genius Hour and change it to Genius Learning; from Tinkerlab to tinkering our learning anytime/anywhere. We need to continue our professional conversations and provide the most inviting learning environments as possible. I look forward to seeing the influence that the new concept-based curriculum has in not only the K-4 classrooms in Alberta and also the upper grades as new curriculum rollouts will be seen over the next few years.

So, while we all like playing a “game”, it’s really not the games themselves that improve learning, but rather smart game design and its impact on the brain. Teachers and administrators want to provide students with modern productive and engaging learning activities.

 

 

UDL Series: Resources for All Subjects

 

people-woman-coffee-meeting.jpgThis post is the sixth of a six-part series dedicated to the educational technology resources available for teachers and students to use to offer the best universally designed learning environment possible. There will be resources to provide multiple means of engagement, representation, action & expression.

For more information on universally designed learning environments (UDL) please check out the UDL guidelines site.

ENGAGEMENT – the goal is to have purposeful learning and motivated students.

  • Accessibility Settings – chrome environment, chromebook, laptop (Mac or PC), smartphone (iOS or Android) – all of these have accessibility settings built-in so make sure you go into the settings areas to see what they have to offer from speech-to-text, text-to-speech, magnification, font and color, size, and so on.
  • Augmented and Virtual Reality – A.R., V.R. check out the K-12 spreadsheets where I have vetted various Augmented and Virtual Reality resources per grade level (according to Alberta Program of Studies)! See Get Techy with AR/VR as well.
  • Chrome add-ons – Doctopus (S), Flubaroo (S), Orange Slice:Teacher Rubric (Doc) – students need to install Orange Slice: Student Rubric, Flippity (S) – website
  • Chrome apps – Google Calendar – students can use their calendar to input class schedules, exams, etc. or if they are in a Google Classroom, due dates will be automatically shared within a Calendar.
  • Chrome extensions – These are to make your day more efficient and informative: 
    • Add to Google Classroom
    • Doctopus
    • EDpuzzle – upload a video, add Q&A
    • Google Cast for Education – allows you to turn your computer into a wireless projector for screen sharing from another device.
    • Google Arts and Culture – breathe a little culture into your day whenever you open a new tab. Can use visuals as discussion and writing prompts.
    • Google Keep – on the computer as a great note taking tool, goal setting, checklists and on a mobile device the added bonus of audio + transcript.
    • Google Tasks – keep your lists close-by.
    • RW4GC for GDocs (Voice, Talk&Type, Highlighter, Voice Note), RW4GC for Web (Voice, Talk&Type, Highlighter, Screenshot Reader, Simplify), RW4GC pdf Reader (Voice, Text, Pins). Read&Write has a variety of tools – text to speech, talk&type, dictionaries, highlighters, PDF reader, website reader, vocabulary list builder, etc. A subscription is required.
    • Remote for Slides – if you use Google Slides for your presentations and have a mobile device, this extension allows you to move away from the laptop while still have access to your presentation (and speaker notes).
    • Screencastify – a great screen recorder. Easy to use and saves directly to Google Drive and even YouTube.
  • Digital Presence 
  • Feedback/Exit Tickets/Assessment
  • Gamification
    • Classcraft
    • Kahoot
    • Quizizz
    • Quizlet
    • BreakoutEDU – an immersive learning experience like an Escape Room experience but set up for the classroom. The experience can be hands-on or digitally interactive whereby groups of students must solve various riddles and find clues to complete or “breakout” of the experience. Teachers can buy Breakout EDU kits and the platform of lessons. There is also a great template for teachers to create their own learning experiences (and students can even create ones too!) Great for any age, any subject area and even for staff. If you really like this type of learning I highly recommend joining the BreakoutEDU Facebook communities as well.
  • HyperdocsEdgaged with Hyperdocs
  • Mood Meter app
  • Reinforcing Effort examples
  • Setting Objectives – goo.gl/rr2Tzq
  • Videoconferencing – Google Hangouts Meet, Skype (Skype in the Classroom, Mystery Skype), Webex, Zoom….
  • YouTube PlaylistsCrash Course, Mental Floss

REPRESENTATION – resourceful and knowledgeable students.

  • Accessibility Settings 
  • Blogging – use blogs as math/science journals, to showcase learning. Use specific blog sites like Kidblog, Edublogs or reflections in GDrive, on GDocs, on GSites.
  • Chrome add-ons
  • Chrome apps – PicMonkey, Pixlr Editor
  • Chrome extensions 
    • Announcify – reads aloud any website.
    • Google Keep
    • Mercury Reader – removes ads and distractions from websites.
    • Open Dyslexic font
    • RW4GC for GDocs (Dictionaries, Voice, Talk&Type, Highlighter, Voice Note), RW4GC for Web (Voice, Talk&Type, Highlighter, Screenshot Reader, Simplify), RW4GC pdf Reader (Voice, Text, Pins)
  • Classroom Screen – https://www.tcea.org/blog/classroomscreen/
  • Discovery Education: SOS
  • Flocabulary – Resource Link
  • GDocs – File>Page Setup, Explore features for research of sites, information and images.
  • GClassroom will keep assignments, resources and information altogether in one area. Great to use as a subject tool/LMS.
  • Identifying Similarities and Differences examples
  • InfographicsPiktochart
  • Instructional Strategy Templates
  • Templates, new Templates from Google
  • Knowledge Search Engine WolframAlpha
  • Non-linguistic Representation – post
  • Online Reference Centre (Alberta access only)
  • Public Library Card – Tracpac > Cloud Library, Hoopla, Overdrive

ACTION & EXPRESSION – strategic and goal-oriented students.

  • Chrome extensions 
    • Bitmoji – create your own avatar! Drag those images into GDocs as part of your comments on student work. Use them on top of other images/text in a Google Slide. Make a visual story, spruce up an email or grab attention in a newsletter.
    • Google Keep
    • RW4GC for GDocs (Dictionaries, Voice, Talk&Type, Highlighter, Voice Note), RW4GC for Web (Voice, Talk&Type, Highlighter, Screenshot Reader, Simplify), RW4GC pdf Reader (Voice, Text, Pins)
  • Cooperative Learning examples
  • Digital Sign Generators – https://goo.gl/EJ8pNi
  • EduMemes – https://goo.gl/Rdk9td
  • Green screening
  • GSuite – GDocs, GSlides, GSheets, GDrawings, GClassroom
  • Image Responses
  • Interactive video assessment 
    • EdPuzzle
    • FlipGrid
    • Thinglink
  • Summarizing and Note-taking – post
  • Video Responses
  • Voice Responses
    • Chatterpix – make an image speak using your voice and lips.
    • Fotobabble – similar to Chatterpix, only available now on the computer (hope their iOS app is fixed soon).
    • Thinglink – annotate images, video and 360 content. Freemium.
    • WeVideo
    • RW4GC – use voice note.
 

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UDL series: English Language Arts

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This post is the first of a six-part series dedicated to the educational technology resources available for teachers and students to use to offer the best universally designed learning environment possible. There will be resources to provide multiple means of engagement, representation, action & expression.

For more information on universally designed learning environments (UDL) please check out the UDL guidelines site.

ENGAGEMENT – the goal is to have purposeful learning and motivated students.

  • BreakoutEDU – an immersive learning experience like an Escape Room experience but set up for the classroom. The experience can be hands-on or digitally interactive whereby groups of students must solve various riddles and find clues to complete or “breakout” of the experience. Teachers can buy Breakout EDU kits and the platform of lessons. There is also a great template for teachers to create their own learning experiences (and students can even create ones too!) Great for any age, any subject area and even for staff. If you really like this type of learning I highly recommend joining the BreakoutEDU Facebook communities as well.
  • Chrome extensions such as
    • Bitmoji – create your own avatar! Drag those images into GDocs as part of your comments on student work. Use them on top of other images/text in a Google Slide. Make a visual story, spruce up an email or grab attention in a newsletter.
    • Grammarly for Chrome – the free version auto-checks for spelling and punctuation.
    • Power Thesaurus – a nice option when building vocabulary skills and searching for different words to use in writing.
    • RW4GC – Read&Write for Google Chrome has a variety of tools – text to speech, talk&type, dictionaries, highlighters, PDF reader, website reader, vocabulary list builder, etc. A subscription is required.
  • Rubrics – a great rubric allows students the opportunity to strive for a target. Co-creation with students helps them take ownership of their work as well.
  • YouTube Playlists such as TED-Ed. Creating Playlists and sharing them on a classroom blog/website/GClassroom gives students the opportunity to rewatch key concepts whenever they like. TED-Ed has a fantastic set of video clips that teachers can utilize and also embed questions for student responses.

REPRESENTATION – resourceful and knowledgeable students.

  • Book Creator for Chrome – this infamous book creation tool for iOS is available in Chrome. Free teacher account has 40 books in the library that can be used. Students can add text, images, audio, and video. A fantastic way to showcase student learning.
  • Differentiated Reading Sources such as
    • Newsela – differentiated reading articles in a variety of subject areas. Ability to change the reading level automatically (5 different levels). A great way to have ALL students reading the same information but at their level. Grades 3-12. Teachers create a free account and students sign up with a code.
    • Tweentribune is much like Newsela, however, its interface is a little busier and does have a few more articles in Grades K-2 (not many but it does have some).
  • Summarizers like
    • Litcharts – online literature guides with a summary, themes, chapter reviews, character information. A solid backgrounder for students. Mainly for middle and high school years.
    • Sparknotes is similar to litcharts. Advertising is a little annoying but the information is good.
    • 60 Second recap is the brainchild of a quirky librarian that recaps middle and high school years books in video clip format. Teachers can use this to introduce, to recap, to review.
    • Thug Notes YouTube Playlist – a raw version of how novels could be reviewed. Does contain inappropriate language yet the explanations are brilliant at the high school level. Highly recommend teacher preview.
  • Online Reference Centre (Alberta access only)
  • ReadWriteThink.org – supported by the National Council of the Teachers of English this site has a wealth of lessons, resources, student interactives, etc.

ACTION & EXPRESSION – strategic and goal-oriented students.

  • Booksnaps with Google Slides, images, Bitmoji chrome extension. Take a text and showcase important information, facts and/or gems.
  • Google Suite apps for education allow school divisions to provide a safe, collaborative, engaging and personalized environment.
  • Hemingway Editor is a desktop app that allows students to see how their writing can be analyzed in order to improve. The free version gives an overview.
  • National Novel Writing Month
    • In the month of November, students can work on their writing via nanowrimo.org. The goal is to write 50,000 words (or a novel) in 30 days.
  • New York Times Learning Network has an amazing array of resources from writing and image prompts to discussions to graphs to comments and even contests.
  • Screencastify chrome extension provides the opportunity for videoing content on display. Easy to use and it save directly into GDrive (and even YouTube).

Just try ONE of these resources in your next ELA class. It WILL make a difference to your students engagement.

 

 

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Using a Growth Mindset During Tragedy

This past weekend has been an especially hard one emotionally for me. I am speaking of the Humboldt Bronco’s bus tragedy whereby 15 people were killed as they made their way to a playoff hockey game in Saskatchewan. Both my children are in sports and we often travel to games whether by motorcoach or car. We also indirectly know some of the hockey players and two of them attended schools in the school division that I work in.

Image from Silvia Pecota Studio

This post sheds the use of a growth mindset in the face of tragedy. I find that Jack Canfield succinctly shares ways in which we can deal with disasters. This can easily be used in any environment to help anyone.

How to deal with overwhelming emotions (via Jack Canfield):

  • take a deep brief and that whatever you are experiencing this too shall pass
  • be patient with yourself
  • be patient with others
  • forgive yourself
  • use ETF tapping (video below)
  • practice gratitude

Homework

  • to make it easy for myself, I created a Google Keep note and started to type down things that I’m Grateful For… I used Canva to create the .png image. I find I like Google Keep since it is available on my smartphone, on my laptops so that if something pops up, I can quickly add via voice or text the already created note.

Now check out the ETF Tapping Therapy video below:

The ETF tapping therapy looks like something that I could possibly use more in the work that I do to support teachers who support students.