Archive for the ‘Student Centered’ Category

My intervention/enrichment students have been involved in an activity/service project gathering supplies to be placed in care packages for troops stationed around the world.  We are utilizing Operation Shoebox as our vehicle to meet this goal.  As we studied WW II, we spent some time learning about the North Platte Canteen that served 6 million troops snacks, drinks, and goodies on train stops while passing through North Platte.  My students wanted to help this idea live on, and North Platte teenagers are once again helping to brighten our service people’s days.

Read an article from the North Platte Telegraph here…

Read an article from KNOP news here…

adams_canteen

Any subject area teacher can and should create curriculum tools that can help students that require accommodations in their learning.  This is key to differentiated learning and instruction.  When I think of my content area of social studies I know that it can require a lot of reading.  Vocabulary is an important piece of knowledge that can help students make their way through the content, and I try to create or find activities that support vocabulary acquisition.

In the past I have utilized sites like Quia to create activities that build and reinforce vocabulary knowledge.  Quia activities like flashcards, matching, concentration, word search, and hangman are a few that present vocabulary in a fun way.  You can also create cloze reading activities with Quia that enable a user to read passages of text and identify key terms that complete a paragraph.  Online textbook resources also often have ready made vocabulary activities that can make it much easier for students to navigate text or take an active part in classroom discussions and projects.  Online textbooks are also interactive and most have an audio or read-aloud feature built into the text.

The following are several examples of vocabulary and reading activities that I have created or found and linked to that assist all students and especially those that may struggle with reading (especially see the flashcards, matching, concentration, word search, hangman, jumbled words, pop ups, and cloze activities).

American History Vocabulary and Reading Activities

World Geography Activities

Hokanson’s American History Quia Class Page

Help your students gain a better understanding of the content by accessing the reading tools that are all around you or create some today.  Technology makes for better and more complete learning, and your students deserve to utilize these tools.

If you are interested in the book see the following (I profit in no way…)

Flipped Classroom

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

 

It has been a few years since I heard Ian Jukes speak at the T+L Conference in Nashville (October 19, 2007).  However, his words continue to ring in my ears, and I want to share some of them with you as I reflect on where our school district is with embedding technology in learning.

Ian Jukes said:

“We have access to some new technologies but their use is generally optional not integral and certainly not required of all teachers – and the technologies are often used to reinforce old practices and assumptions about teaching and learning and assessment and do not require the teacher to change their current instructional practices.”

“Ask yourself this very important question – would your students be there in your classrooms if they didn’t have to be? Are they there because they want to be there? Or are they there because they have no other choice? And if they’re there only because they have to, what can we begin to do differently to help more students want to be in our classes?”

“…Our emphasis as professional educators has to be on more than just LOTS.”

“The starting point for making the necessary changes is that as educators we have to understand how truly different our students are.”

“This shift is so fundamental – the gap between them and us is so wide – that there’s no going back to the basics. There’s no going back to the way things were when we were kids.”

“The problem is that many educators just don’t get that there is a digital divide. Many of us pay lip service to the notion that this generation is different. We knowingly nod our heads but then we shut the door to the classroom and go back to business as usual where it could just as easily be 1960 all over again.”

“Most teachers know very little if anything about the digital world of their students – from online gaming to their means of exchanging, sharing, meeting, evaluating, coordinating, programming, searching, customizing, and socializing.”

“The bottom line is that we really don’t understand their digital world and we never will until we take the time to honor and respect where they come from. But to do this we have to be willing to acknowledge their world and start to educate ourselves about that world.”

“If we truly want to make a difference in the lives of our children, schools must become a place where students are actively engaged in constructing their own knowledge and know how…”

“The context of a significant event provides a frame of reference and relevance for remembering the specific information about what you were doing long after the event. By providing a context for the new information teachers are actually helping students with long-term memory.”

My summary and challenge to myself and others that continues today:  As educators it is time that we take responsibility for our own learning.  If we want to create self-directed learners, we must become one.  We must model self-directed, independent learning, and we need to discover how our students learn in the 21st Century.

Angela Maiers poses some wonderful Parent-Teacher Conference questions at her blog.  Her personal experience in gaining answers met mixed results, but she explains how these questions do not fit into the aspect of data that has high priority in schools.  However, the questions are what I want to know the answers to as a parent.

The questions:

  • Who is my child to you?
  • Who are they as readers, writers, community members?
  • What makes them unique?
  • What are they passionate about?
  • How do they add value to your class and the wider community?
  • What makes you proud?

Read Angela’s article to learn more:  Parent Teacher Conference: “The Morning After”

Sites for bullying, friendship, personal safety, anger, or conflict resolution:

Bullying-

http://www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/kids/

http://pbskids.org/itsmylife/friends/bullies/

Friendship-

http://www.cyberparent.com/friendship/

Personal Safety-

http://www.missingkids.com/en_US/publications/NC122.pdf

or http://www.ncjrs.gov/html/ojjdp/psc_english_02/

http://www.safetykids.org/

Anger-

http://kidshealth.org/kid/feeling/emotion/anger.html

http://www.angriesout.com/

Conflict Resolution-

http://www.crnhq.org/

http://www.creducation.org/

http://www.teach-nology.com/teachers/lesson_plans/health/conflict/

This will make you think…

more about “Derek Lomas: Open Source Games“, posted with vodpod

I had the opportunity today to work with seven wonderful 4th graders as they created podcasts, via Photo Story, about animals they had researched.  This was the culminating part of a project based activity as they had already done their research, gathered pictures, and written their narratives.  What we accomplished today was to create the final presentation of what they had learned.

In the process, there are many things that these students will take away from what they have done, not just the content, but also the ability to utilize technology to share what they know.  The podcasts are quite simple, nothing fancy.  They are straight forward pictures, text, and best of all, narrative.  The students didn’t need much “training” as far as using the computer or the software, they pretty much went right to work.  In the end, they had a product that encapsulates their knowledge.

I was a facilitator in this process, and I cannot take any credit for what they have produced:  I shouldn’t.  The activity was embedded into the learning process, there was no need to wonder about the details of the computer hardware or software.  The students simply shared their ideas and content, it was posted, and now the world can see and hear what they know.

The technology tools didn’t get in the way because the students weren’t afraid to use them, and I wasn’t afraid to let them use the technology.  Could the final products be better?  Probably.  Will there be time to re-edit and fix?  Maybe.  Should students be doing things like this each day in their pursuit for knowledge?  Yes.  Do they?  Probably not.  Why?

The following is an article I posted on our district website detailing our recent netbook deployment.  North Platte Public Schools in North Platte, Nebraska has roughly 4200 students:  1 high school, 2 middle schools, and 10 elementary schools.

Netbooks: A Cost Effective Digital Learning Solution

by Neil Hokanson, Educational Technology Director North Platte Public Schools

December 21, 2009

During the fall of 2008, the North Platte Public School Technology Department began to evaluate netbooks as a digital device solution. Netbooks are small laptop computers (with 10 inch screens) that have all the computing power of a regular laptop without a DVD or CD drive. The cost is roughly 1/3 that of a regular laptop and much cheaper than a desktop computer. Best of all the devices are portable opening up use anywhere, anytime. Pilot projects were tried in the North Platte High School Science Department and at Adams Middle School to see how the devices held up and met the needs of teachers and students.

In the spring it was determined, from building level technology plans developed by teaching staff and administrators, that a netbook would be a priority solution to increasing the number of digital devices throughout the school district. Plans were made to identify the number of devices that the district could purchase within the parameters of the technology budget, along with identifying stimulus funding as an additional source, to get devices in the hands of students. Three deployments were developed and the technology department has been facilitating that process since the summer months.

The first deployment brought 150 HP mini devices to Madison Middle School in August. Staff and especially students have been using these learning tools in a variety of ways to provide students new methods and experiences in practice, research, notes, developing presentations, creating art, for communication via email, creating brochures, and photo editing. Furthermore, the initial deployment at Madison has enabled the sharing of a wealth of information concerning the deployment, maintenance, use, and overall value of netbook computing that now spans many schools in the district and benefits other schools as netbooks are deployed elsewhere.

After the Madison deployment, and following budget approval in September 2009 and a meeting with the school board technology subcommittee, the second deployment was started and has been recently completed. 300 netbooks were placed in North Platte High School, 150 at Adams Middle School, and 30 each were deployed to Eisenhower, Hall, Lake, and Osgood elementary schools. Older computers from the high school were redeployed to McDonald, Washington, Eisenhower, Hall, and Osgood to provide equity with a thin client classroom solution that was done in most of the other elementary schools last school year. Since the middle of December 2009, including existing digital devices (laptops and desktops), computing has gone from as much as 12:1 to at least 3:1 digital devices per student in many schools.

The third deployment is well under way and will bring 120 netbooks to Jefferson, 90 each to Lincoln, Washington, and Cody, and 60 of the devices will arrive at Buffalo in the coming weeks. By the end of the 2009-2010 school year there will be at least 3:1 computing, with Web 2.0 capable devices in every school in the district. Schools that are at 3:1 will be identified as “next in line” to receive any new devices in the future and a replacement cycle is now in place to keep digital devices updated and renewed over the coming years.

Netbooks have facilitated a cost effective solution for the North Platte Public Schools in getting as many updated digital devices in the hands of students that we can in an equitable, wise, and fiscally responsible manner. Along with an updated network and server backbone over the past couple of years, teachers and students are reaping the rewards of 21st Century digital learning right now in the North Platte Public Schools, and the future will build upon the use of these devices to increase learning, facilitate collaboration, break down walls by opening up connections to others outside the classroom, and by developing a thinking culture that will prepare our students to be successful in an ever changing world and global economy.

NPPSD Netbooks Slideshow!!!

In February I had the opportunity (I took the opportunity and it is there for the taking!) to complete the Quest Atlantis professional development.  The following video produced by Suffern Middle School students utilizes several clips from QA, Second Life, etc. to drive home a very important point!  Enjoy and do!

http1The following are some new and old online sites that you may find useful as educational resources and fun instructional tools. I have included links to each site, a brief description, and information quoted from each site. I have known about many of these and learned about a few at an Educational Service Unit (ESU) meeting I attended in Ogallala, Nebraska.

Lesson Plans, Resources, and SO MUCH MORE!!!

Thinkfinity http://www.thinkfinity.org/

Remember the Marco Polo site? Thinkfinity is Marco Polo in its new incarnation.

“Thinkfinity.org makes it easy for educators to enhance their classroom instruction with lesson plans, interactive activities and other online resources. Thinkfinity.org also provides a wealth of educational and literacy resources for students, parents and after-school programs.

All of Thinkfinity.org’s 55,000 standards-based K-12 lesson plans, student materials, interactive tools and reference materials are reviewed by the nation’s leading education organizations to ensure that content is accurate, up-to-date, unbiased and appropriate for students.

At Thinkfinity.org, you’ll find primary source materials, interactive student resources and grade-specific research lists to help you tailor materials to meet your needs. Start exploring now!”

Web Tools

Tiny URL http://tinyurl.com/

Have a long web address/url/or web site “number” as VP Biden calls it ;-)? Tiny URL can assist in creating a much shorter url for you to use or remember.

“Are you sick of posting URLs in emails only to have it break when sent causing the recipient to have to cut and paste it back together? Then you’ve come to the right place. By entering in a URL in the text field below, we will create a tiny URL that will not break in email postings and never expires.”

Web 2.0 Sites

Glogster http://www.glogster.com/

This site has some possibilities and there is an education version: http://www.glogster.com/edu/

I envision students using this to create posters, collages, etc. for various classroom projects.

“Mix graphics, photos, videos, music and text into slick Glogs. Glog yourself every day!

Amaze your friends – send others links to your Glogs.

Pimp your profile! – share your creations on Myspace, Facebook, Hi5, Friendster, Bebo or wherever you want…

Find new friends by their style

Have fun browsing Glogs, comment on other people’s Glogs and get inspiration”

MorgueFile http://www.morguefile.com/

This is a place to free photos and there is also a classroom section where you can learn the basics of photography.

“Morguefile, where photo reference lives. This morgue file contains free high resolution digital stock photographs and reference images for either corporate or public use. The purpose of this site is to provide free image reference material for illustrators, comic book artist, designers, teachers and all creative pursuits.”

Gigapan http://www.gigapan.org/index.php

See the “Gigapan” from the Nebraska vs. CU game (For my fellow Nebraskans, click the following link and zoom in to find yourself if you were there!): http://tinyurl.com/88ao9d

“GigaPan consists of three technological developments: a robotic camera mount for capturing very high-resolution (gigapixel and up) panoramic images using a standard digital camera; custom software for constructing very high-resolution gigapixel panoramas; and, a new type of website for exploring, sharing and commenting on gigapixel panoramas and the detail our users will discover within them. The GigaPan website allows hosting and sharing all kinds of panoramas, and so the robotic GigaPan mount is recommended but is certainly not required to be part of this community.”

Picnik http://www.picnik.com/

Online photo editing and more.

Picnik makes your photos fabulous with easy to use yet powerful editing tools. Tweak to your heart’s content, then get creative with oodles of effects, fonts, shapes, and frames. It’s fast, easy, and fun.”

BeFunky http://www.befunky.com/

Create artwork with your photos.

“BeFunky Photo Effects allow everyday people to easily create photographically rich and artistic results from their digital images without the need for any technical knowledge. These “one-click” photo effect options produce desired results effortlessly and each effect comes with the option to make simple adjustments.”

Several netbooks (ASUS Eee PC 904HA) have entered some of the classrooms in our district.  I mentioned this particular make and model earlier as I treated myself to one of these small wonders for my birthday in November. It is a nice little machine and can hold its own for many projects that students can be doing.  The key words in my previous statement are “that students can be doing.”  With these tools in teacher’s and student’s hands they should be doing.  We can’t wait forever to get what we think we need to educate students because forever never comes and time and resources are wasted.  In 1997 I had one computer in my classroom and a school wide, shared, dial up Internet connection.  I didn’t wait for a lab of computers in my classroom.  I didn’t think about what I could do if I had the right equipment, I just did with what I had.  I really, honestly did!  

Waiting for something to happen is a terrible thing, and I hope that if any educator reads this and you have been waiting, please STOP!  That is your first step in doing! You cannot wait.  There has to be something that you can do and someone if you need help to get started or restarted.  There are many like myself that are willing to help you; so, please let us help you help the students.  I have five young souls in my home that walk the halls of public schools each day.  They ALL want you to help them, to teach them, to utilize tools that they are familiar with.  They have technology in their hands whenever they need it at home, and they expect you to utilize it at school.  Many of their teachers do, but these students can do so much more.  Even little Heather, a kindergartner, is ready more that many will ever know if she never gets the chance to share what she can do and create at home using technology.  I’m glad there are some netbooks in a couple of schools now (there needs to be more portable, digital devices and that shall come to pass) but how sad will be the day if these devices aren’t in young hands. Please put them there and let them show you what they know.  They can!