Tuesday, August 30, 2011

AAAS Science Assessment Compendium

As part of Project 2061, the AAAS has created a compendium of science assessment items HERE.
Here is how the site describes itself:

Here you will find free access to more than 600 items. The items:

  • Are appropriate for middle and early high school students.
  • Test student understanding in the earth, life, physical sciences, and the nature of science.
  • Test for common misconceptions as well as correct ideas.

This website also includes:

  • Data on how well U.S. students are doing in science and where they are having difficulties, broken out by gender, English language learner status, and whether the students are in middle school or high school.
  • “My Item Bank,” a feature that allows you to select, save, and print items and answer keys.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Struggle to Communicate

As I prepare to teach my online M.Ed course for the Fall 2011 semester, I felt that I needed to reflect upon my successes and struggles in this endeavor. This is my fourth time teaching the course, and I've made some significant changes and improvements over time.

Here are the things upon which I have improved:
  • I have started to embed multimedia into the homepage of my course each week (Vokis, Wordles, videos, etc.) to ensure that students see something "fresh" when they log in. I'm hoping that draws in students.
  • I use Google Reader as an assignment. This encourages students to explore the fantastic information sources and educational blogs that far exceed the content in my course.
  • I use Google Docs instead of the grading tool inside the LMS. Then students can post quick reflections, questions, or thoughts right beside their rubrics. This format also allows me to encourage second-chance learning and constant revision.
  • I added Clay Shirky's book, Cognitive Surplus, as an additional text. I think it provides good perspective that can be applied to both education and the world at large.

Here are some areas that I still want to enhance:
  • I want to provide more opportunities for collaboration and peer work. I do use a lot of discussion forums, but I need to provide LOTS of opportunities for interaction.
  • I want to have students choose and attend an #edchat as a learning opportunity. I'm not quite sure about how to bridge this gap yet.

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Show Me iPad App

A few weeks ago, I attended Padcamp. (You can read more about that here.) One of the apps that I learned about was ShowMe. This is a FREE app that allows you to create little videos of whatever you write/say on a whiteboard. I can't believe this app is free.

Here are a few of the applications I could see with this application:
  • Assessment: Have students explain their methods as they solve a math problem.
  • Assessment: Have students explain the relationship between two concepts as they draw a graphic organizer representing the relationship.
  • Instruction: Create short videos for your students to review as support.
  • Practice: Have students create their own instructional videos that can be used with peers or younger classmates.

We have a few iPads in our district that are specifically used with our special education population. I think this app could be very beneficial in these classrooms!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Filter Bubble

A few weeks ago, I finished reading Eli Pariser's book, The Filter Bubble. Eli strives to inform the pubic about the value of their personal data in cyberspace. We dole out personal data each day when we click, search, and purchase on the web.

All of the "free" services that we use harvest personal information, making us targets for personalized advertisements and messages.

Further, the information that is delivered to us serves to reinforce our existing tastes, beliefs, and ideas. For example, the books recommended to me on Amazon typically echo the same topics and concepts I have already explored and liked.

If the Internet is controlling the content that is first and foremost in my stream of information, then the likelihood of accessing dissenting information/literature/books/blog posts is handicapped.

I need to be aware of my personal biases and seek out information in a non-biased way.

Our students are being raised in this environment. We need to teach them to search and surf beyond their "comfort zone." We need to help them identify reliable sources that represent different types of viewpoints.
Teaching students how to search and evaluate is critical. It should be a part of "how we do business" in our classrooms. Pop the filter bubble.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Padcamp Reflection

Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure of attending #Padcamp, an unconference event about the implementation of iPads in schools. Given that my district only has a few iPads deployed to classrooms servicing our special education population, I did not have some of the mass sync/transfer problems that other schools shared. However, the conversation was extremely beneficial, and it helped me understand how to best guide any growth of the project within my district.

I also learned of several apps to support my teachers. ShowMe, Fotobabble, and Toontastic were my favorites.

Most importantly, I had the opportunity to connect and share with educators facing the same struggles as me.

One of the fabulous special education teachers who works in my district accompanied me, and she really enjoyed the unconference model.

Thanks to @kjarrett and the generosity of the entire Padcamp team for putting together a great free day of learning.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Study Jams

Ever get a catchy jingle "stuck" in your head? Well, you can use this technique with your students this year to enhance content retention. Scholastic has released a new site called Study Jams that contains catchy jingles about common math and science concepts. It's a great resource for music to play during independent work time or during centers. Thanks to Richard Byrne for this resource. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

TedxPhillyEd: Edcamp Rocks!

Thinking about running an EdCamp? Trying to get others on board? Feel free to use my TedxPhillyEd talk as a resource. Go EdCamp!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Leadership Day 2011

This blog post is part of the Leadership Day 2011 Blog Post Series. Enjoy!
Pablo Picasso once said
"Computers are useless. They can only give you answers."

Yes, inside our Macbooks, our Google Chromebooks, and our phones lie millions of answers. Facts about scientific properties, dates from famous battles, and mathematical algorithms are abundant.

So, what does this mean for education?

Teachers can no longer live in classrooms where they are the sole expert. Teachers must encourage students to look beyond mere "answers." Instead we need to strive for collaborative solutions where we invent new knowledge.

How does this fundamental change occur? Simple. Through the influence of powerful leaders.

Leaders do not need to be principals, administrators, or superintendents. Anyone can be a leader.

Share a new tool. Influence someone's paradigm. Be the change.


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