Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Four Strategies for Flipping the Classroom

Technology can help teachers “Ignite Learning” in the classroom by promoting literacy development and critical thinking. The ability to communicate and create is what sparks learning.

“Kids these days” are just wired to operate in a digital environment, which enables them to take control of their education. This technology captivates students and makes them desire to learn more about the content.

Elite and innovative educators are “Flipping the Classroom” in order to meet the diverse needs of students. The numerous FREE online resources available can create a classroom that extends beyond normal school hours and walls.  

This provides students with more flexible opportunities for peer interaction, learning the content, and developing technology skills. “Flipping the Classroom” and in-person environments is really the best of both worlds because students receive the benefit of face-to-face interaction with more opportunities to learn outside of the classroom. 

“Flipping the Classroom” consists of a combination of online learning using simulations, videos, and forums in addition to small group differentiated instruction facilitated by the teacher. These instructional methods are appealing to digital natives.

1. In the classroom, I use video clips from Discovery Education and Safari Montage to “Ignite Learning”. Our school district pays for an annual subscription to these websites.

Unfortunately, students do NOT have access to these videos at home. Therefore, I post videos on my classroom website from Khan Academy, TeacherTube, and Vimeo, which engages students at home for FREE.

Khan Academy (khanacademy.org) is a non-profit educational organization providing video tutorials and interactive exercises for a variety of subjects and grade levels. Their Virtual Teacher Workshop demonstrates how to create classes, manage students, collect data, and provide feedback and much more.

TeacherTube (teachertube.com) is a video sharing website similar to, and based on, YouTube. Teachers can also view audio, documents, photos, and blogs. Teachers can register and upload files for students or parents. Teachers can also upload students’ videos in order celebrate their work. 

Vimeo (vimeo.com) is another popular video sharing and social networking site. A community of professionals knows it for high-qualilty videos. It has a cleaner layout with no advertisements.

2. I facilitate the use of the Internet in order to have students conduct research, collaborate with classmates, and establish an online classroom presence. Students enjoy their time posting comments to a blog or on a social media site.

For my classroom blog, I use Google Blogger (blogger.com). Students can also create their own blog in order to show and present their work.

Blogger allows users to chose from different artistic templates. It also has widgets that users can use anytime to insert HTML codes, pictures, slideshows, links, videos, and much more.  

Edmodo (edmodo.com) is a secure social media site accessible through a code you generate in order to invite students. Teachers of all grade levels are using Edmodo to post assignments and allow student discussion.

Students can also upload assignments, take quizzes, and receive alerts. This is an excellent resource for sharing content with students while keeping them socially engaged.  

3. Graphic organizers, diagrams, and other tools can help focus student learning depending on the topic. This allows the teacher to have more time to assist students with work during class time and provides more opportunities for review at home.

Quizlet (quizlet.com) allows teachers to create flashcards to help students’ remember and study vocabulary. There are also study tools and educational games for students to use.

Teachers can choose from the library of flashcards already made by others. There are six study modes, 18 languages, and it is very easy to share on a classroom website.

InstaGrok (instaGrok.com) is a great tool because it allows students to visually research a topic. Students use a graphical map that shows how concepts connect using key facts, links, images, and videos. 

InstaGrok allows teachers to monitor students’ research and note-taking activity. Up to 200 students can be linked to your teacher dashboard. 

4. There are many ways to create a flipped classroom. Teachers need a “Face of the Classroom” in order to provide a location to share these online learning resources with students and parents.

Weebly (education.weebly.com) is perfect for creating classroom websites and student e-portfolios. This resource allows teachers and students to express themselves using a variety of multimedia tools.

Weebly consists of an easy to use drag and drop website editor. Teachers can protect all student websites with a password in just one click.   

Remind (remind.com) is a communication tool that helps teachers connect instantly with students and parents. They receive it as a text message or e-mail.

Teachers can also send photos, documents, and links. This is an excellent way to effectively communicate the resources available on your “flipped classroom” website.

Published by Corwin Connect. Click here

This article will be presented at MACUL: 

Flipping the Classroom
Friday, March 20, 2015, 10:00 to 11:00 AM, Room 250B
Style:  Listen and Learn
Theme:  Innovative Models for Teaching and Learning

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Digital Learning Day

Digital Learning Day is Friday, March 13th. Below is a list of resources for teachers. 

Edutopia Digital Learning Day Resources and Tools: 

Spark 101 is an excellent resource you can use to engage students in STEM- based lessons that directly link to real industry scenarios.

NOVA Labs is another excellent resource that allows students to engage in case studies as "citizen scientists." 

Student activities promoting digital citizenship - 

Digital Wish Helps Schools Put Technology in Their Classrooms

Digital Wish (www.digitalwish.org) is on a mission to solve technology shortfalls in classrooms. Educators can use the school locator to find their school, register, and submit a lesson plan to win over 50 technology grant opportunities. Your local school is probably already in the system! Teachers can explore a massive free library of technology-based lesson plans, loads of fundraising ideas, and a grants database of additional funding opportunities.

Teachers are invited to register, tell their story, and make their technology wishes public on http://www.digitalwish.org. The online donation feature allows anyone to make a tax-deductible donation to a classroom's account, or purchase items from a teacher's wish list (like a wedding registry). Teachers can also involve their students in running a letter-writing campaign to attract supporters. There's a fantastic "how-to" PowerPoint presentation, plus dozens of printable worksheets and templates to help teachers integrate letter-writing into their curriculum. One school raised over $20,000 using this strategy.

Make your classroom Digital Wish come true! Registration is free and open to anyone at http://www.digitalwish.org.

Check Out These Grants and Fundraising Links on Digital Wish

Digital Wish is a vibrant and free resource for teachers who are seeking technology for their classrooms. Visit http://www.digitalwish.org for the following resources:
  • Over 50 Digital Wish Grants - Apply for 50 grants directly from the Digital Wish website.
  • Free Lesson Plan Library - Browse a free lesson plan library that includes extensive ideas on using digital technology in the classroom curriculum.
  • Grants Library- Search a database of grants available from third party sources, which may also help schools find much-needed funding for classroom projects.
  • Fundraising Ideas - Explore additional fundraising ideas.
  • Printable Letter-Writing Resources - Run a letter-writing campaign to raise money for technology in the classroom.
  • Shopping - Teachers can shop for technology resources and cast their Digital Wish.
  • Teacher Profiles - Create a detailed classroom profile with lesson plans, project ideas, and a classroom wish list. See example.
  • Supporter Class Locator - Supporters can click through a series of maps to locate a local school to make a tax-deductible cash donation or purchase an item directly from a teacher's wishlist. Digital Wish will match every donation with an additional 2% in funding.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Michigan Kids Can "Bag the Junk"

According to Blue Cross Blue Shield, nearly one in three children are overweight across the country, and Michigan has the 18th highest obesity rate in the U.S. Unhealthy kids are more likely to become unhealthy adults. 

Eating healthy, going to the doctor's office, and taking medicine when needed is part of life. Our literacy class had a "Genius Hour" discussion on the successes of getting healthy food options at our school and their favorite ways to get moving in order to have an active lifestyle.  

Students seem to understand the importance of "watching what they eat". They are aware of the importance of eating healthy and following the food pyramid. 

Students need three meals every day to keep them strong and energized. These meals must include fruits and vegetables. 

Students agreed that eating at home more often is a good way to stay healthier. People tend to eat unhealthier when eating at a restaurant. 

Our school provides students with healthy food options within vending machines, cafeteria lines, our school store, and fundraisers. Even though students do not always like the idea that they cannot buy candy for a snack or soda pop, they have adapted to healthier food options such as fruit and water. 

Students enjoy the wholegrain Bosco cheese sticks, protein-filled chicken nuggets, and a salad bar filled with vegetables. However, they do complain at times that the gluten-free pizza tastes like terrible cardboard and sometimes the fruit is rotten.  

Students need 60 minutes of exercise per day. This can include swimming, riding bikes, jumping on a trampoline, walking around the block, and other outdoor activities.  

Students stay active and healthy by playing sports such as volleyball, football, hockey, soccer, baseball, and basketball. Many students play on school, recreational or travel teams. 

Students enjoy sharing their experiences and often make connections with their classmates. Many students dance at a studio, participate in karate, or do gymnastics after school. 

Enter the latest #MIKidsCan Contest. Click the link here

Eating Disorder Awareness

50%  of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression. 

25% of college-aged women engage in purging as a weight-management technique. 

In the United States, 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder.  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Read Across America and World Read Aloud Day

Let's all join together on March 2nd and March 4th, and every day thereafter, to ensure that our community's children have caring adults to share books and rich reading experiences.

If you've ever shared a book with a child, you know the joy and excitement this small but meaningful act can bring. But, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, since 1993 only 53 to 58 percent of children ages three to five received this joy on a daily basis.
We can do better! Simply reading daily with a child does require parents, older brothers and sisters, and other caring adults to add yet another hat to the many they already wear to care for and raise a child. But by adding the reading hat to your collection, you also add great rewards:
  • Children who are read to at home have a higher success rate in school.
  • Children who read frequently develop stronger reading skills.
To get kids excited about reading and encourage more adults to spend time reading with their children, the National Education Association (NEA) launched the first NEA's Read Across America day in 1998. On March 2, 2015, NEA's Read Across America will mark seventeen years of celebrating reading and the birthday of Dr. Seuss.
So from coast to coast, teachers, celebrities, community members, and parents are putting aside the many hats they wear for work and play and donning their reading hats, the red and white striped stovepipe hat of the Cat in the Hat. Here in our community, we promote NEA's Read Across America Day and how it supports raising a community of readers.
In bringing a nation of readers together under one hat, NEA's Read Across America offers opportunities for you to volunteer, to read, and to share your life experiences; opportunities for businesses to contribute products to congratulate young readers and for employees to volunteer time at reading programs; and opportunities for our elected officials, from the national to the state and local levels, to make reading a high priority.

On March 4th, LitWorld.org presents World Read Aloud Day emphasizing the importance of reading aloud and sharing stories. All children have the right to read, write, and share their stories. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Teaching: 3 Opinions on “Tackling Student Apathy"

We as a society can’t truly address the issues facing schools until we make a serious effort to tackle the issue of student apathy. Many students are struggling in schools due to a lack of engagement.

Apathetic students do not pursue due dates or appreciate the significance of obtaining an education. They simply don’t care. They may be overwhelmed with the class assignments, their home life, or other commitments in and out of school.

If a parent acts like education is unimportant at home, or if he or she is unable to help his or her child become a successful student, the child tends to become apathetic toward formal education.

1. After speaking to colleagues about this major problem, we determined that student apathy could be caused by a lack of connection between the student and the classroom or the teacher. It is imperative that teachers and education support staff make personal connections with students outside of class in order to increase engagement.

We should support our students with their extracurricular activities, and show that we’re excited about their passions. In order to avoid apathy building among students, educators need to ask students about their passions and goals, and incorporate these into their lesson plans.

Productive, respectful, and trustworthy relationships are essential for students’ success, and teachers must take time to get to know or interview their students. Keeping the interests of students in mind as we go about our daily lives and actively searching for opportunities to connect with them can make a difference.

In my classroom, I take the first five minutes of most class periods to make connections with students by talking to them about their ideas, opinions, passions, and interests. We usually have amazing conversations about music, sports, and their extracurricular activities.  

During this time, I often share video clips or articles about student passions and interests. This shows that I listen to all of my students, and that I encourage them to share their lives with the class.   

2. Since there is a relationship between economic advantage and student performance, students of disadvantaged households are more likely to develop feelings of apathy. This is a major problem facing our institution, especially as 20 percent of American children are living in poverty.

The high level of achievement required of all students—including students of poverty—places a lot of pressure on schools. Our school, for example, provides students of poverty with a free or reduced priced breakfast and lunch in order to improve their health and nutrition, which can in turn enhance their learning.

We also provide free tutoring to at-risk students after school and during the summer in addition to free counseling to students and parents in need of guidance through social workers. If the student’s family cannot afford a field trip or an educational resource, our school will cover the cost.

We have a school-wide process for monitoring student academic progress and planning interventions. These interventions can include additional instruction time, modified assignments, and daily agenda checks.  

In addition to creating a learning environment where students feel safe and welcomed, teachers should also advocate and search for funding opportunities that support health, tutoring, counseling, and intervention programs. Teachers need to provide students with an abundance of learning opportunities in order for them to be successful and boost their self-esteem.

3. One of the biggest challenges I face in my job is the number of students in my classroom. Since state funding for schools has been cut, our class size limits have been lifted.

This makes it more difficult to give each student the individual attention he or she needs and deserves. I have donated numerous hours of my time to help my students before or after class, especially if they return to homes where their parents do not help them with homework.

We must focus our energy on empowering all students to work together, care, and understand the importance of obtaining a quality education. I give my students partnership of our classroom by requesting their constructive and timely feedback through technology tools such as Survey Monkey, Twitter, and Edmodo, which can be found on our classroom website – mrlerchenfeldt.weebly.com.  

Students today crave technology whether it is videogames, Smartphones, iPods, and social networks. As an educator, I recognize that technology is the key to gaining student interest in the content being taught in my classroom, and I am using a SmartBoard, response devices, and various online resources to engage and formatively assess students.

I am consistently striving to learn about new technology to utilize in my classroom in order to give students more individual attention. For more tips, please read my post – Teaching and Technology: 4 Strategies for “Flipping the Classroom”.   

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Celebrating Diversity in the Classroom

Teachers are expected to effectively teach in a diverse classroom. This can be difficult when racism and feminism is prevalent in today's culture. 

A teacher is partly responsible for shaping students’ attitudes towards racism and feminism. Most students tend to develop their attitudes and morals from listening to their families and friends. 

However, a teacher can encourage and provide examples of the importance of being open-minded. Teachers should remain neutral and unbiased in order to avoid controversy. 

The attitude a student develops needs to be completely up to them. Teachers need to show students the negative effects of making hasty generalizations of specific social groups in order for students to avoid developing a hatred of a race or gender. 

In the classroom, students should learn about Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement, Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust, the Woman’s Rights Movement, the Rwanda Genocide, and current events that show acts of hatred toward a specific race or gender. These examples will show students that it is important to be open-minded and to accept people who are different than what they consider normal based on the attitudes that they have developed.

Teachers can provide ways for students to learn and appreciate diversity by celebrating the differences that make us unique. By learning about other cultures, students will be more knowledgeable enabling them to develop their own attitudes rather then basing them off of someone else’s opinion and ignorance. 

In social studies, our students learn about India. They are learning about their religions, work ethic, culture, languages, and historic events. 

Our students have embraced this culture and are looking forward to learning about the people of other countries. This is important especially in the Detroit area where there are many people from different cultures: African, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Polish, Mexican, and many more. 

The more students understand these cultures the more likely they will keep an open-mind. There are many free resources available for teachers to use within their classrooms in order to pass on these values to students.    

February is African American Celebration and Black History Month. We watched and discussed the films "A Children's March" and "A Time for Justice" provided by the Teaching Tolerance Project. Students were interested in learning about the Civil Rights Movement and the role children played in the battle against segregation. 

Our class also watched and discussed the E60 episode "Four Weeks in Ferguson" provided by ESPN. This lesson opened their eyes to current issues involving racism with the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. 

We also had a recent discussion on the viral video created by the University of Oklahoma's chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. In this video, members of this fraternity were chanting a racist song.

There is a growing pattern of hate crimes that involve racism being committed. We must continue educating students on the importance of being knowledgable of other cultures. 

Three Muslim students were recently murdered in their University of North Carolina residence hall room over a parking dispute. These type of crimes are often ignored by mainstream media.  

"Remember the Titans" and "42: The Jackie Robinson Story" are excellent sport movies that also show students the negativity of racism. These films should be discussed or viewed either at home or in the classroom.   

Published: Oakland Press Open Forum Blog Bytes (June 23, 2013)    


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Teaching in New Zealand

My experience in New Zealand was both professional and personally rewarding. I learned new teaching strategies, developed my listening skills, and adapted my lifestyle in order to live and work in a new environment. There are many similarities and differences between New Zealand and America. 

I had to listen carefully to the different accents that existed in New Zealand. Many words we use in America have different meanings or do not exist in the New Zealand vocabulary. 

For example, if I asked a student to place a "period" at the end of their sentence, they would have no idea what I was talking about. In New Zealand, they call in a "full stop." If I asked a student to pull out an "eraser", they would have no idea what I was talking about. They call it a "rubber." Now, one word that is unique to both New Zealand and America is "soccer". We are the only two countries that use this word to describe the game we love. 

When American's travel to New Zealand, they have to learn the "opposites." In New Zealand, you walk on the left side of the sidewalk, you drive on the left side of the road, and the driver's side of the car is on the right side. While I was there, I walked into many people, always questioned myself what direction a car was going, and entered the car on the driver's side when I was not even driving. I never had the opportunity to drive in New Zealand. I lived with my assistant principal and her family who immigrated to New Zealand from Scotland nineteen years ago. She provided any transportation that I needed. I worked everyday teaching fourth and fifth grade at Sunnyvale Primary School in Auckland, the most populated city in New Zealand. 

It was a remarkable experience because they teach and operate a school differently than we do in America. As a teacher, I was responsible for teaching my students all subjects including swimming, fitness, art, sport, and music. 

New Zealand has a population of about four million people, and is composed of one-third European, one-third Pacific Islander, and one-third Maori, which are its natives. It has a beautiful landscape which has been most recently been utilized for America's film industry. There are mountains in every direction, and in a short drive you can either be at beaches on the Pacific Ocean or on the Tasmian Sea which separates New Zealand from Australia. Almost everyone I met had travel to a different country. 

They are very knowledgeable and aware of the United States. They have a lot of respect for us because they realize the decisions we make affect their economy and well-being. They watch our television shows and movies, and read our books and magazines. 

New Zealand is one of the countries suffering from the depleting ozone. It is very easy for them to develop skin cancer. Their society is environmentally conscious. Wherever there is a garbage can, there is likely to be a recycling can. Their roads are smaller, and they drive smaller and more fuel efficient cars. They make use of sunlight by using photovoltaic arrays and having more windows in their buildings. 

This experience has turned me into a more confident, well-rounded, self-reflective educator. Not only was I challenged by learning to teach using a different curriculum, but I was challenged to adapt to a new culture and environment. If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend traveling to this beautiful country.