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Showing posts from May, 2014

Going Paperless... Is It Good for Students?

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Author Note: Please check out a more thorough version of this post on EdSurge posted on June 26. Thanks!

As I close in on the final weeks of the school year, I'm always buried in research papers, projects, and data. But I can't help but be slightly nostalgic for that sweet spot about a month into the school year.  It is then that I don't feel the rush to grade by a hard deadline, I've had a little time to get to know my students on both an academic and personal level, and I have plenty of room to experiment a bit with content and instruction.

It was at this point in late September/early October of 2013 that I decided to take the plunge and go completely paperless.  This was certainly a personal and professional challenge for myself, but now that I look back, did it have a beneficial impact on student learning?

Because if it didn't, none of it was worthwhile.

As part of some end-of-year reflecting and some planning for next year, I asked my students if they would be…

Paperless Rubrics With Skitch

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The commitment to go paperless this year has been both exciting and challenging. Surprisingly enough, one of the toughest things to move into the paperless realm has been the department rubric. At our school, and in our state, there is an emphasis on measuring consistency from teacher to teacher and class to class with district determined measures. This means we:
choose a common assessment that measures content or skills that we feel are essential for our students;design the assessment and the evaluation collaboratively as a group of educators;read, compare and contrast student work together; and calibrate our evaluation of student work. For us, this meant working with document based questions (DBQs).  So how do I take a rubric that was designed for classrooms that use paper and adjust it to a paperless classroom?  Well, here are the steps:

Step 1: Screenshot On every laptop keyboard there is a 'PrntScrn' button. Locate it. It is your friend. I use mine all the time to create …

Best YouTube Channels for History Teachers

Here are my favorite YouTube resources for the history classroom. They've been sorted into two categories: METHODOLOGY and CONTENT.

Methodology
The Teaching Channel I recently started watching videos on the Teaching Channel website thanks to a recommendation from an assistant principal. I've found a few inspiring lesson ideas there that I've been able to adjust for my students and my classroom.  My favorite so far suggests teaching the Declaration of Independence as a break-up letter:

If you find something on The Teaching Channel YouTube channel you can go to their website to find more resources and discussions related to that lesson.  My favorite videos lately on the YouTube channel are the interviews of teachers and students surrounding Teacher Appreciation Week and the National Teacher of the Year. They are inspiring and can really recharge an over-taxed educator near the end of a long school year.

Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) The SHEG website is a rich resourc…

4 Ways to Keep the Conversation Going Beyond the Classroom Walls

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Learning is not, and should not be, limited to what goes on within the four walls of classrooms.  Students are constantly learning and usually new questions are sparked when that learning happens. How can we encourage our students to ask their questions? Without a way to communicate their ideas and inquiries when they occur, will our millennials develop the inquisitiveness that is necessary for them to become the innovators of tomorrow?

Here are 4 ways you can encourage your students to share their thoughts and questions when you aren't together in the classroom:

Google Drive My students submit their multimedia creations and lesson reflections on public blogs, but what about work that is in the draft phases? How can they submit that to me paperlessly and still get the feedback they need? Google Drive has been the answer to that question for my students this year.  Students make me an editor on their notes, outlines, and drafts. Then I can go in and comment on their work-in-progres…

Read, Analyze, Create, Publish

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Note: This post was originally published at Talks With Teachers.

History is an adventure.  It is a mystery to be solved. The evidence can be found in the images and words of the past.  As a history teacher I love digging into the evidence and finding new insights, but for a 21st century teenager they might not be so entrancing.  I’ve found the trick to getting kids to dig into both primary and secondary sources is to allow them to create something from what they’ve learned and publish their creation. Here’s how:
Give a Historical Figure a Voice We read two opposing views of the African Colonization Society from the early 19th century. Students found online images of Richard Allen and James Madison, the authors. Then ChatterPix helped them make those images come to life. They used their own words and voices to explain the views from their primary source. The resulting videos were shared with the class and published on their blogs.


Create an eQuiltThe role of women in the Civil War is …