Archive for December, 2010

I have been contemplating my personal learning network (PLN) as of late, and I have shared my off and on dealings with such tools as Facebook, Twitter, and the like.  As an educator, a PLN is vital in gaining new ideas, sharing, seeking support, and maintaining all sorts of human relationships that get one through the days, weeks, and years.  I have never been a good giver over my digital PLN, but living as a taker has helped me to survive.

Sometimes people come along and give you a good shot in the arm when you least expect it, and two gentlemen did just that for me many months ago.  Dale and Jarred were two new teachers, just finishing up their programs of study at university.  Last year was their first year in the classroom, and now they march along in the second.  I had followed these teachers, and visited with them on rare occasion, but I lost them for a bit (my fault).  I backed away from my digital PLN to gain some perspective, that I never quite found, and added them back today.  Hopefully they will take me back.

Chances are good they didn’t know I was gone, and that would be my fault for being a taker.  That’s okay.  I need to take from them, I need their enthusiasm, I need to hear of their struggles and triumphs, and I need to be ready to offer encouragement when I think they need it.  That encouragement makes me a giver.  Support is one of the great benefits of a PLN.  It comes from strangers, those you least expect, but they become familiar:  they become family through one’s PLN.

We come to the end of a calendar year.  This is a time of reflection for many, and a time to set new goals.  I’ve been thinking about goals, been taking stock of the past, and wondering how to navigate the future.  I have been looking for perspective.  I was referring to my PLN via my RSS feeder to find some wisdom, and Dale provided just the perspective I needed in the following video (Dale and Jarred:  Thanks for finding me many months ago even though you didn’t realize I needed to be found!):

You can follow Dale and Jarred on Twitter:  @DaleHolt and @JarredRowe and learn from them at “Not Your Average Teacherhttp://notyouraverageteacher.com/

They truly are not average, they are great!!!

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Inference – Online Resources

Simply put, an inference is also known as reading between the lines.  The reader must put together the information the author provides and the information that the reader already knows to come up with the answer.

Lesson Plans (K-12):

http://www.liketoread.com/read_strats_infer.php

http://www.brighthub.com/education/k-12/articles/71905.aspx

http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/1666

http://eduscapes.com/sessions/pilot/pilotinference.htm

http://www.lessonplanet.com/search?_kk=making+inferences+lesson+plans&_kt=864f8932-f3fa-4ec6-9cb6-e018e6b72567&gclid=CInAv4iPraUCFVVi2godAireYw&keywords=Making+Inferences&media=lesson&rating=4

Ideas (K-12):

http://www.edutopia.org/comic-books-teaching-literacy

Science (6-12):

http://www.teacherlink.org/content/science/class_examples/Bflypages/nos.htm

http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/articles/bahcall/

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/neutrino/

Logic Problems (K-12):

http://www.nationalmathtrail.org/il4a.html

http://school.discoveryeducation.com/brainboosters/

Elementary Activities:

http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/1675

http://www.gamequarium.com/readquarium/skillsi-p.html

http://www.brainpopjr.com/readingandwriting/comprehension/makeinferences/preview.weml

Middle School Activities:

http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/848

http://www.gamequarium.com/readquarium/skillsi-p.html

http://www.tv411.org/lessons/cfm/reading.cfm?str=reading&num=11&act=2&que=1

http://www.quia.com/pop/43335.html

High School Activities:

http://www.brighthub.com/education/k-12/articles/40409.aspx

Resources (K-12):

http://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/page.cfm?p=2097

http://www.englishcompanion.com/pdfDocs/inferencenotes.pdf

Speech-Language:

http://www.angelfire.com/nj/speechlanguage/Onlineactivities.html

Differentiated instruction (sometimes referred to as differentiated learning) involves providing students with different avenues to acquiring content; to processing, constructing, or making sense of ideas; and to developing teaching materials so that all students within a classroom can learn effectively, regardless of differences in ability (Tomlinson, Carol 2001).

Identifying differences in ability is a key step in gathering technology resources for students to utilize.  We can easily identify students that have differences in ability via pupils that have an IEP.  Often, we can access resources that we have used for these students and modify them to meet the needs of other students.  This really is a good foundation to draw upon; however, we want to focus our attention on student strengths and constructing knowledge when it comes to differentiation, and multiple intelligences are another good place to start.

Howard Gardner is a leading researcher on the topic of multiple intelligences and is an excellent resource to draw from when focusing on differentiated instruction.

http://www.howardgardner.com/MI/mi.html

Gardner has extensive research and resources that can be found at the above link, and I highly recommend reading through his information on multimedia and technology and their relationship to multiple intelligences.  Some other good Gardner resources can be found at the following links:

What are my learning strengths?  (Inventory)
http://mail.nppsd.org:8080/~nhokanson/MI/MI_Inventory.pdf

Products for Multiple Intelligences
http://mail.nppsd.org:8080/~nhokanson/MI/MI_Product_Grid.pdf

Utilizing Gardeners inventory is a quick way to identify learner’s strengths, and the product lists provide teachers with ideas on what various students might create in a project based environment to show what they know.  Most of these products can be produced via technology tools.  This product list can provide a reference point to work from in order to create lessons that will build a foundation for varied learners to construct knowledge and reach their project goal.

As a former building intervention team chairperson I found myself faced with researching various strategies to provide accommodations for students that were struggling in various subject areas.  I found technology to be one tool that met many students’ needs.  The following web site and tutorial page is an older example of online activities that shared similar information in a variety of ways.  The strengths and needs of particular students in my classroom guided my efforts to assist students in gaining the basic information in my geography classroom, and not all students completed all of the online activities.  The activities helped me to differentiate instruction, practice, assessment, and re-teaching based on particular students’ abilities.  After those basic skills were in place I could then draw upon Gardner’s multiple intelligences product ideas to expand student opportunities where they could construct knowledge via projects to show what they knew.

Hokanson’s World Geography
http://homepage.mac.com/nhokanson/Sites/socialstudies/geography/index.html

Hokanson’s World Geography Tutorials
http://homepage.mac.com/nhokanson/Sites/socialstudies/geography/tutorials.html

Most of the activities in the above links were created, over time, by my students and I via an online “quiz maker” called Quia or a program called Hot Potatoes.  I also utilized a program called Game Show Presenter to do whole class review over basic information that students needed in my geography classes.  These activities served as scaffolding exercises to build knowledge toward student created projects.

Quia:  http://www.quia.com

Hot Potatoes (Installed on all NPPSD district computers since 2007!):  http://hotpot.uvic.ca/

Game Show Presenter:  http://www.almorale.com/

Now, with today’s World Wide Web there are many online resources that serve the purpose of many of the initial activities I created years ago (See links below).  Teachers also have access to technology based resources via subject area textbooks especially online.

Example web site (blog) with links to resources for differentiation:  http://oxpower.wordpress.com/

Textbook Resources:   http://www.glencoe.com/sec/socialstudies/ushistory/taj2005/index.php4

Secondary Online Resources:  http://mail.nppsd.org:8080/~nhokanson/online_resources_hs/index.html

Elementary Online Resources:  http://mail.nppsd.org:8080/~nhokanson/online_resources/index.html

All of these resources are simply tools to assist students as they construct knowledge, but each tool and resource allows for deeper understanding of content and provides a foundation for students to build upon their strengths as they piece together information.  Remember, technology is one vehicle toward learning, it is not the focus, and it cannot be an event.  Technology is a tool that can be utilized to differentiate instruction and ultimately support individualized learning.

Other “quiz” makers to explore:

http://yacapaca.com/

http://testmoz.com/

http://www.contentgenerator.net/

http://www.curriculumbits.com/prodimages/details/misc/quizscorer.swf

http://www.quiz-creator.com/blog/2009/09/free-online-quiz-creator-tools-create-online-quizzes/

I have been reading Steve Wheeler’s Learning with ‘e’s blog series on Digital Literacy.  It is quite a good read and continues to offer salient information.  The following are links to parts in the series and I’m sure it is to be continued:

Digital literacy 1: What digital literacies?
http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com/2010/11/what-digital-literacies.html

Digital literacy 2: Reach out and connect
http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com/2010/11/reach-out-and-connect.html

Digital literacy 3: Crossing the divide
http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com/2010/11/crossing-divide.html

Digital literacy 4: Watch your back!
http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com/2010/11/watch-your-back.html

Digital literacy 5: Making an impression
http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com/2010/11/making-impression.html

Digital literacy 6: Content creation
http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com/2010/12/content-creation.html

Digital literacy 7: Organising and sharing content
http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com/2010/12/digital-literacy-6-organising-and.html

Digital literacy 8: Repurposing content
http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com/2010/12/digital-literacy-8-repurposing-content.html