Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Teaching Content via Skype

For the last three years I have used Skype to connect with other classrooms around the globe. I have found students to be very engaged during Skype sessions because for most of them this is a new experience. Each of these activities requires excellent classroom management from the teacher. Students must be familiar with the appropriate use of Skype in the classroom, this is something that partnering teachers should discuss before attempting these activities. The following activities go beyond the typical "guest speaker" Skype session. 

Here are some active approaches to Skype in the classroom:

1:1 Activities (One iPad or Computer for every student)
Reading buddies: Students on both sides of the computer take turns reading passages of the same book to one another. 
Example: Student 1 reads while Student 2 follows along, then they switch. Students have the same guided reading questions and answer the questions together.

 Study buddies: Students are given the same review sheet for an upcoming test on the same content. 
Example: Students can quiz each other via the web and can use their class resources to check their answers if they get stuck.

Whiteboards: Students are given the same worksheet, they show work, draw political cartoons, or share other answers using their whiteboards. 
 Example:  Students can complete the same math problems over the web while checking each other's work.

Speed Debating-  Students are given a topic from History or a character from the same book. Example: Students hold a "one on one" timed debate, they are instructed to complete a writing activity based on their Skype partners opinion. When time is up, students on one side of the web switch seats and begin a new debate with a different Skype partner. 

Jigsaw Activity- Students read a piece of the same article and come together to talk about the main idea.
Example: Students on both sides of the web are put into pairs with one computer or iPad for each pair (making a group of four). Students from Class A read the beginning of the article while students from Class B read the end of the same article. Students then discuss the article as a whole and complete a common assessment.

Whole Group Activities
Mystery Skyper- Connect with teachers across the globe and have them "Skype in" to your class giving clues as to what area they are calling from. 
Example: Each class gives 3-4 clues about their city, state, or country. Each class ends the call and has 5 minutes to discuss  their 3 guesses. Students can even keep track of each city, state, or country on a map.

Competition- Host a competition with another school in your locally, nationally, or internationally. 
Example: Math Tournament, History Bowl, etc.

Formal Debate- Hold a formal debate via the web.

Language Speaker -Language teachers can connect with a guest speaker who will fluently speak to students (this is also great for ASL classes.)
Example: Language Speaker tells a story while students answer questions about the main ideas. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Back to School Shopping for the Teacher

I recently found some good deals on teaching supplies. Target's dollar section has some great materials like: whiteboards, flash cards, organization supplies for your desk, and cheap "prizes" you can use for student incentives. My next stop was Micheal's, they are very teacher friendly when it comes to their 20% discount. I bought some colorful boarder for my bulletin board for cheap. If you are an elementary school teacher they have bulletin board decorations like Dr. Seuss and animal themes. Staples is also a great place to seek out decorations for your room, their prices are minimal and they have a wide selection. My last stop was the Scholastic book store in NYC. They offer a 50% off discount on certain teacher resources. However, I was unimpressed by their limited resources for secondary educators. I think elementary teachers can definitely utilize their material.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Meet My Intern: Edmodo

Edmodo is a social networking site for teachers and students. To students it looks like Facebook, to teachers it looks like Course Web with upscale features. Edmodo holds students accountable for handing in assignments on time and staying organized. Edmodo tracks students progress throughout the year all while keeping parents informed. Edmodo is like an organized intern that never makes a mistake! 

 Here are some ways that I have used Edmodo efficiently in the classroom over the last 3 years:

Expecting a guest? I once had a state representative come in and speak to my government class. I created a "group" on Edmodo and I had students (after researching the representative) post questions from their seats via Edmodo. These questions would appear on the SmartBoard, the representative would select the questions he wanted to answer. The guest speaker was comfortable because he was able to pick his questions and my students were excited when their question was answered.

Make differentiation easy: I found it very feasible to differentiate homework, projects, and tests using Edmodo. On the day of a test or quiz I would actually send my IEP students the adapted test directly. This way they would not have to leave the room, or get a different color test, etc.

Not your average poll questions: I have used poll questions for the Presidential Election, Breakfast Invitations, or "Do Now" document based questions. This is a tool to quickly assess student learning, plus students answer anonymously.

Need a vacation? Edmodo makes a substitutes life a lot easier. Post your class assignment to your students and have your students turn it in by the end of the class period.

Never hand grade again! Edmodo has a quiz feature that acts like a modern day scantron. Teachers can ask T/F questions, multiple choice, short answer, essay, and matching. Teachers can also time each quiz. When I give students a test on Edmodo, I select 45 minutes since my class ends around that time. When I assign a quiz for homework, I may ask 10 questions and I may only allow my students 25 minutes. Edmodo will grade your test or quiz (essay questions must be graded in real time) because you tell Edmodo the correct answers. Teachers can also randomize the questions.

Grade written assessments the modern way: Have students upload their word document file to the assignment you create. Once students have uploaded their paper, you can actually edit their paper by commenting, highlighting, or crossing out information directly on their paper. Students can go back and view your critiques.