Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Week in Rap Lesson Plan


My independent study summer school students just begged me to play a Week in Rap video.  During the school year, we watched one video per week as a warm-up.  The mini lesson plan I used last year is below.  Warning: it's not totally paperless, since I did not have one-to-one laptops last year.  I plan to revise it using a Google Docs form in the fall. 

Week in Rap Quick Lesson Plan
1. One student distributes a small sheet of scratch paper to each student.
2. Whole class watches the current Week in Rap video, which is embedded on the blog and shown on the SMART Board. (I normally use this time for housekeeping tasks.)
3. Each student writes at least three key words from the video on the scratch paper.   (I also use this activity to reinforce common and proper nouns.)
4. Whole class briefly discusses the video.
5. One student collects the scratch papers and creates a Wordle of the whole class's words.  Then, the student emails the embed code to the teacher to post the Wordle on the classroom blog. 

I used this weekly lesson for at least the last ten weeks of my school year.  As a result, I noticed that my students began to follow current events mentioned in the video and look forward to hearing about breaking news  they heard during the week.

Monday, June 28, 2010



Bing + Google = Bingle

1. Go to www.bingle.nu and search.

2. View your results in Google and Bing.

Charles Leadbeater: Education innovation in the slums

TED Talk to Martinez (I wrote this for an assignment.)

As part of his recent TED Talk titled "Education Innovation in the Slums," Charles Leadbeater (2010) stated that "education needs to work by pull, not push," and extrinsic and intrinsic motivation are needed in order to pull learners.  However, as an American public school teacher, I am expected to push my students achieve at-grade-level mastery of state academic content standards, perform at a proficient level on national assessments, and graduate college well-prepared for college. Since my students are wards of the state at a residential campus designed to increase the high school graduation rate among foster youth, they are constantly pushed to meet all of these expectations.

Implementing Margaret Martinez's personalized learning model can help to pull my students into learning in combination with the intrinsic motivation of increasing their knowledge and the extrinsic motivation of independence beyond the foster care system.  I cannot create a completely learner-centered environment based on my students' individual or group inquiry and/or academic needs. However, I can continue to design differentiated activities within my standards-based lessons.  As Patti Shank (2007) explains, following this personalized learning model can "encourage self-motivation, self-direction, and autonomy for improved learning and performance" (226-227).  By providing my students with options of what activities, tools, and text to use while mastering standards, their motivation and depth of learning will strengthen. 

Leadbeater, C. (2010). Charles Leadbeater: Education innovation in the slums | Video on TED.com. TED: Ideas worth spreading. Retrieved June 25, 2010, from http://www.ted.com/talks/charles_leadbeater_on_education.htm

Shank, Patti. (2007). The Online Learning Idea Book: 95 Proven Ways to Enhance Technology-Based and Blended Learning. Washington D.C.: Pfeiffer.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Techy English Class

As I have previously mentioned, I teach English 9 & 10 at San Pasqual Academy(SPA), a residential high school for foster youth. I am using two periods of my upcoming first-quarter English 10 classes as my learning setting. My English 10 classes are divided into two periods of students who are grouped by similar assessment scores. Most of the students who will be enrolled in my classes have already been in my class for English 9. As a result of abuse and/or growing up in the foster care system, many of my students come to my classes reading at a fourth grade level. However, by the time they take the California High School Exit Exam during their sophomore year, around 80% of them pass on their first attempt. This is partially due to the fact that almost all of my freshmen and many sophomores are also enrolled in support classes for decoding, reading, and writing. Around 20% of my students are on Individualized Education Plans or 504's due to learning disabilities or other challenging conditions, but I do not currently have a special education teacher or assistant in my classroom. However, I have a bilingual adult teacher's assistant, who sometimes works with individuals or small groups. Around 25% of my students are bilingual; most speak Spanish, and one speaks fluent Cambodian.

Thankfully, my school district strongly supports using technology in the classroom, and I have plenty of useful tools at my disposal. I recently acquired a Dell laptop cart, so each of my students checks out a laptop for use during each class period. I also have three other student computers, a teacher's assistant computer, and a teacher laptop that I am allowed to take home nightly. My laptop normally sits on a table at the front of my room, so it can connect to a docking station that has a flat screen monitor and connections to a keyboard, mouse, speakers, document camera, and Smartboard. My projector is mounted to the wall and my Smartboard. I also have a laser printer on a counter in the back of my room that is networked to all of the computers in the room by a wireless Internet connection. Between the Smartboard at the front of the room and printer counter at the back, my students sit in desks that are somewhat arranged in a square--my room is a small rectangle and my desks have chairs attached, so my seating options are limited. My students sit facing the Smartboard for direct instruction, but turn their desks to the walls if they begin independent or group work on the laptops. Of course, I also have all of the typical high-school supplies in my classroom: a bookshelf filled with novels and dictionaries, textbooks on the counter, student work on the walls (most is actually print-outs of online assignments), bulletin boards of current units, posters of projects, standards, and inspirational quotations. The side of my room also has a door that leads to two small offices, which I use as storage and a workspace for my students and assistant. (In addition to all of this technology, each of my students has a computer in his/her bedroom, a computer with Internet access in his/her house's living room and access to on-campus after school computer labs.)

My school district provides access to many programs and tools such as Microsoft Office, Adobe, PLATO Learning, Rosetta Stone, Discovery Education, Net Trekker, My Gradebook, Atomic Learning, and Inspiration. However, in my classroom, I mostly use free online tools. Though paid subscription software, such as PLATO are useful lesson supplements, I prefer to use free tools that my students can access outside of the classroom and after high school. I use Blogger, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Voki, and Delicious on a daily basis, but I integrate at least one new online tool into my lessons almost weekly. I also maintain a classroom blog, which currently serves as the skeleton for my courses--within it I post daily assignments and resources. But, I am currently working with my district's technology team as they develop our new Moodle server. Within the next few weeks, I hope to be hosting my remaining summer school courses on Moodle. Also, each of my student's creates and maintains a blog which contains a mixture of academic and personal postings.

Teaching-Learning Styles Map

Technological Learner?

As an undergrad at Mount St. Mary's College, I contributed to the development of the training and coursework of the Women's Leadership Program. During that time, we tested out many leadership theories and style inventories in an attempt to find the best match for our program. We found that many useful inventories were available that supported the leadership theories we were investigating. We also found that we could not just select one inventory to address all our needs. When using inventories to assess learning styles, it is best to test and compare results from a variety of sources.

So, I completed three learning style inventories. According to the Multiple Intelligences for Adult Literacy and Education's "Assessment: How Are You Smart?", my learning styles are interpersonal (86%), naturalist (71%), and kinesthetic (69%). My results on Richard M. Felder and Barbara A. Soloman's "Learning Styles and Strategies" assessment, state that I am far more active than reflective, more intuitive than sensing, much more visual than verbal, and barely more sequential than global; my overall strengths are visual and active. According to Neil Fleming's VARK Inventory, I am multimodal, but my strengths are kinesthetic and visual. Overall, I am amused by the results of these surveys. I completely agree that I am social, active, intuitive, and kinesthetic. However, I also teach high school English, so I am also very capable and interested in linguistics, read/write, and verbal.

When I taught middle school support classes, I incorporated a learning styles inventory into my curriculum. It was called Shape-Up! and divided the students into four learning styles; hearts, diamonds, circles, and squares. The groupings combined learning styles with teacher and student styles. At the beginning of the school year, my students completed the assessment to determine their style and completed activities to assist students to successfully work with other "shapes" when completing projects. (This curriculum was created by a local San Diego County teacher. I will post more information when I am able to access my manual.)

If I were to select an online inventory to use in my current high school classroom, I would use "Assessment: How Are You Smart?" provided by Multiple Intelligences for Adult Literacy and Education. This inventory is based on the work of Howard Gardner, and includes social, nature, body movement, self, language, spatial, logic/math, and music styles. The results of the assessment are very easy to understand. For example next to my interpersonal rating, it stated, "effective techniques of enhancing your learning using your social intelligence include taking part in group discussions or discussing a topic one-to-one with another person" (Assessment, n.d.). Additionally, a practice resources are available, which give ideas such as, "Set up interview questions, and interview your family" (Practice, n.d.). My students could independently use this resource.

One element that seems to be lacking in the learning style inventories is the inclusion of technology. It seems that these styles are all based on pre-technology classrooms. Though many of the categories can be stretched to include technology, current tools are not mentioned in the implementation or development of these learning style strengths. I would actually best classify myself a technological, social, kinesthetic, read/write learner.

Assessment: How Are You Smart?. (n.d.). Multiple Intelligences for Adult Literacy and Education . Retrieved June 3, 2010, from literacyworks.org/mi/home.html
Felder, R., & Soloman, B. (n.d.). Felder & Soloman: Learning Styles and Strategies. NC State. Retrieved June 3, 2010, from http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/ILSdir/styles.htm
Fleming, N. (n.d.). The VARK Inventory. Honolulu Community College. Retrieved June 3, 2010, from http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/intranet/committees/FacDevCom/guidebk/teachtip/vark.htm

Implementing My Learning

As a result of taking Teaching & Learning with Technology, I have already begun to create changes in my classroom. So, my list of "ten most important items" is actually a list of the ten changes I have already begun making, or hope to make, as a result of this course:

Six of my ten changes are based on information I learned through our textbook, e-Learning and the Science of Instruction.

* Following the coherence principle, I will remove all unnecessary graphics, sounds, animations, and transitions from presentations in order to help my students focus on processing only the most important information.
* Following the continuity principle, I will copy and paste directions into the text part of assignments created in Google forms. I will stop just posting links to the directions documents when I am in a hurry, so my students do not have to go back and forth between the two windows.
* Following the learner-control principle, I will use pictograms to create "how to" tutorials. I will stop using videos, so my students can control the pace of their learning.
* Additionally, following the learner-control principle, I will limit project choices in my classes designed for students with low academic test scores. I will not provide them with as many project design options, since most of them are novices who struggle with the ability to self-regulate.
* Following the segmentation principle, I will break the direct instruction lessons at the beginning of units into smaller portions. I will stop presenting everything in one lesson to allow my students to process information through smaller chunks.
* Following the cognitive theory of multimedia learning, I will create a wordless classroom while my students are reading and writing. I will stop talking and playing lyrical music during this time, so my students' working memories do not become overloaded.
* By making these small adjustments to my current lessons and classroom management strategies, I will create a more focused environment for my students to learn.

My remaining changes are based on my experiences of completing projects for this course.

* I will continue to use podcasts as my own tool, instead of just having my students create them as assignments. I will use these podcasts to share my learning and practical ideas with other educators, or I will use them as a way to share ideas with my students.
* I will continue to regularly design lessons that utilize my students' blogs as open portfolios of their learning and expressions of their individuality. I will also encourage them to share their blogs with others.
* I will convert my old PowerPoint direct instruction lesson into Prezis in order to clearly show the relationships between concepts and to overcome the limits of PowerPoints.
* I will remember to use the tools I have collected. When I am preparing lessons, I will search through my Delicious link collection or resource until I find the perfect tool to create an engaging and meaningful lesson.
* As a result of challenging myself to create projects that were the best demonstration of my thinking, resources, and technology skills, I have begun to feel a renewed sense of intrinsic motivation. I am not just learning to discover novel ways to help my students learn--I am learning because I am enjoying the process.