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Showing posts from April, 2015

Guest Post: Baby Steps to a More Student-Led Classroom

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By Melissa Milner

Thanks to Paul Solarz and his fantastic book Learn Like a PIRATE, my classroom is becoming even more student-led than ever before.

Baby Step 1 Every time we come back from vacation, the desks and chairs are in the corner due to our room being cleaned and the floor being waxed.  I always have my students collaborate and figure out how they want the room set up.  This time, I said nothing.  I greeted the kids at the door, asked them about their vacations and waited to see what they would do.  They got straight to work moving the furniture, but some were unsure whether they were just putting it back where it was before vacation or choosing a new set-up.  One student said, "We get to decide, remember?"



Baby Step 2 Our morning meetings are always student-led. No one has to raise their hand, and they have to listen and respect each other.  I usually pose a question and then sit back and listen.  This time I asked the class how they could lead more in the classroom…

A Guide to Creating a Collaborative Learning Environment

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I'm passionate about giving my students learning experiences rather than merely conducting a class.  I like to call it 'Collaborative Learning' and I've been building my model for the past 3 years.  Lucky for me, EdSurge picked up my recent post on how I do it.  It is up on their site today.  It is also in this week's Instruct Newsletter.  Click on the screenshot below to read. Thanks!


Balancing student privacy with the benefits of #EdTech

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This article was originally published in The Hill.


There is momentum building behind education policy in Washington these days. And with good reason. It has been nearly 15 years since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act and a lot has changed in our nation’s classrooms.  

In addition to considering issues like accountability and teacher quality, federal policymakers are now thinking about the role of technology in school. One bill would add new regulations to the collection and use of student data. Another contemplates updates to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).

Protecting student privacy is, of course, a paramount concern for teachers like me. Because the role of technology is essential in all of our lives, it is also increasing in our children's classrooms. This means we are creating more data and we must ensure that data is safeguarded. We must remember, though, that technology plays a critical role in helping teachers prepare …

Guest Post: A Guide to Using Instagram in the Classroom

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By Jennifer Gray


Everyone loves social media.  Middle school students, like adults, take out their smart phones and tablets every chance they get to check their Instagram feed.  I am a teacher who doesn’t want to fight for my students’ attention.  Instead, I want to become a part of what they are using anyway.  I created my own classroom Instagram account: @mrsgray108

As a teacher of French and Spanish, I don’t think kids can ever get enough practice.   When my students are home at night scrolling through Instagram on their phones, I love that they can be learning a new French or Spanish word or getting some practice with vocabulary they already know.  Making a connection through Instagram brings my class closer and makes my subject more relevant.  Below are just a few ways I’ve incorporated Instagram into my classroom.

French and Spanish Word of the Week:
I like to introduce a new word about once a week.  Sometimes I choose a word that students have asked me about in class, or I chose th…

The Dr. Will Show - The Connected Educator

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Tonight I had the pleasure of chatting once again with Dr. Will.  This time we talked about the benefits of being a connected educator.  Check out the complete post on his blog.  Watch the video podcast below.

The Collaborative Learning Formula

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Over the past several years I've posted many examples of collaborative learning in my history classrooms grades 8-10.  I've also spoken about the #gallagherhistory model at various conferences around the country and right here in Massachusetts.  The part that gets most students' and educators' attention is that I do not give tests.  Ever.  Lecture is also never a part of the student learning experience.  I invariably get follow up messages and emails filled with questions.  Here are some of the most asked questions and their answers.

What is the formula?
Here it is:
Essential Question that connects history to students' livesEvidence from primary and scholarly sources that can be used to find an answer to the essential questionActivity to help students dig into the evidence and develop their own understanding of the topic.  These activities are usually collaborative in groups of 4-6 students.Record their understandings both with textual and visual annotated evidence …

Guest Post: Snapchat: Beyond the Duckface

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By Leia Richardson




It’s thirty seconds before the bell rings for class.  Students are bouncing into my classroom.  Instead of getting out material for class, I watch them take one more picture of themselves making a goofy face, a tongue-sticking-out face, or the ubiquitous duck face, and then send it off to a friend in another class.  Sound familiar?  If you teach high school it is.  And I’m sure you can guess that in this scenario students are sending funny pictures of themselves through the app Snapchat. But what if Snapchat was the material for class?  This was the question I explored during a Twelfth Nightand The Adventures of Huckleberry Finnactivity, and it was inspired by one of my students who suggested using the app in the first place.
While reading William Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night, students usually gripe that the play isn’t funny. My goal for the students was to experience the comedy in Act II, scene iii, a hilarious over-the-top party scene. Knowing regular question…