Sunday, September 6, 2015

Google News for the Classroom

Students and teachers will soon have great new additions to our favorite free tools, including Voice Typing -- in our Google Apps for Education.  Look for them in your Google Apps in the coming weeks.

Read original here:  Google Sidekicks

What it Means

Voice Typing: 

Slow at typing? Need to compose an essay? Do it without touching your keyboard! Just activate Voice typing in the Tools menu when you're using Docs in Chrome. When using your phone, just tap the microphone button on your phone’s keyboard. Now all students can easily have access to creating and sharing their ideas.

Google Classroom

I've just started using Google Classroom for student assignments, and now that's even better.  Share to Classroom Chrome extension lets teachers share a website with the entire class at the same time—everyone can jump to a web page together, without dealing with typos. Awesome!

Google Research

Students already use the Research Tool in the Web App, and now there's the Research tool in Docs for Android. You can search within Docs, find the quotes, facts and images you need, and add them.

Collaboration Just Got Easier: New Button on top menu

The new button is "See New Changes." Figure out quickly what and who changed so next steps or questions can be added.


Templates in Docs, Sheets and Slides lets you add pizazz to the look of your work, whether they are reports, portfolios, resumes and other pre-made templates -- they make your life easier. You will find them soon at the top of your Docs, Sheets, and Slides home page.

Forms -- Think Surveys, Quizzes, Formative Assessments

With colorful new themes, customization with your own photo or logo, and forms will even choose the right color palette to match, your forms will take on new life. Insert images, GIFs or videos. Remember that you can pick from a selection of question formats. It's easy! Create your "Exit Ticket" and have the data instantly in a spreadsheet ready for you to assess student needs and next steps.

  Google Sheets is lot smarter:

Use "Explore" in Sheets in the bottom right corner to decipher your data and focus on your point. Check out Explore help and learn how to create charts and insights automatically. Visualize trends and understand your data in seconds on the web. It's pretty awesome if you're a data person. TPEP student growth data just got easy to analyze and share!

So, whether a student or staff member, take a little time to learn something new, once these tools pop up in your Google Apps for Education!

Please remember this is a school-related site. Model digital citizenship. Thank you.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Social Media in Education: Resource Toolkit | Edutopia

Social Media in Education: Resource Toolkit | Edutopia

Find an array of resources, tips, how-tos for using Social Media: in the classroom, with students, with families, for Digital Citizenship.

A Must Read!

This is a school related site so please respect others and comment appropriately. Please contact Ms Edwards if you have any questions or need to report any inappropriate activity. Thank you.Reflect Curiosity and Wonder...Go boldly and scatter seeds of kindness...

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Repost on Twitter


Twitter is a microblogging platform in which users share resources, discuss ideas, and collaborate all in 140 characters.

Video -- play, pause, learn, play -- Twitter: What and How

Click the image for larger view of a partial image from Kathleen Morris's post about Twitter.

In the image below you will see 15 excellent educational resources highlighted, discovered in just a few minutes: I logged in, I searched for "#elemchat" and read and chose resources from the tweets. Everyone in this section is relevant to my teaching today -- from math/standards lessons to rubrics to assessment to science tools.

Twitter does not consume your time; it saves time by providing answers to your questions, current research and resources, and links to webinars and further information.

How do you get started? 

On the computer, go to and click Sign Up.  

I suggest starting with a personal account, but you can start with your educator account for our school.  Just start your account name with nsd and add your last name. mine is  nsdedwards

For your personal name -- please make it identifiable to you, rather than a silly name; this is part of your digital personal: make it professional, whether personal or school.

On your iPad, open your iPad settings, go to Twitter, install the app, and create an account. Please create an account nsdyourlastname; mine is  nsdedwards.

Open the Twitter app, and go to your profile -- see below -- and click 'edit profile.'  If you don't have bio info, others will not follow you. A picture is also helpful.
See the little note icon at bottom left? Click it to add a note-- 140 characters including spaces:

Be sure to click 'send.'

Your message will appear on your profile.

Here I have sent a note to a friend, Mrs. Denise Krebs. Her username is mrsdkrebs, so I address the note as @mrsdkrebs

I asked her for her ideas about Twitter. Her response:

What do the icons mean on top of each message?

Still, why Twitter?  

The sixth, seventh, and eighth grades students at our school and two Iowa schools learned the Parts of Speech together in a collaborative project using Google docs. The whole project began in Twitter:

A sample of our messages:

The best way to learn Twitter is to just lurk a while. Go to 
Cybraryman's Twitter Chat page and select a chat about your interests.  Type the name ( including the #  such as #3rdchat or #spedchat ) into the search bar at the top of your Twitter page. You will be taken to the most recent conversation in that chat, like  the #elemchat previously discussed. 
Read a few, click on a person's name that has tweeted something you like, and click 'Follow' by their name. 

Soon your timeline will be filled with tweets by those people. And soon they will become your friends in your professional learning network (PLN), just as @mrsdkrebs, @tracywatanabe, and @plnaugle and so many others are to me. 

More Twitter Info:

Please remember this is a school-related site. Model digital citizenship. Thank you.

Monday, November 24, 2014

About Homework: It's not what you think

What we think about homework is not substantiated by research:

  • It does not improve grades or scores
  • It does not improve character development
What is the research?

From a Review of Current Research Study 
"First, no research has ever found a benefit to assigning homework (of any kind or in any amount) in elementary school.

"Was there a correlation between the amount of homework that high school students reported doing and their scores on standardized math and science tests?  Yes, and it was statistically significant but “very modest”:  Even assuming the existence of a causal relationship, which is by no means clear, one or two hours’ worth of homework every day buys you two or three points on a test.  Is that really worth the frustration, exhaustion, family conflict, loss of time for other activities, and potential diminution of interest in learning?  And how meaningful a measure were those tests in the first place, since, as the authors concede, they’re timed measures of mostly mechanical skills? " and "There was no relationship whatsoever between time spent on homework and course grade, and “no substantive difference in grades between students who complete homework and those who do not.”  by Alfie Kohn in Washington Post

Update 1//7/15 Homework and Poverty

North Carolina

"Supporters of homework claim that homework in the elementary grades can develop character traits like self-discipline and time management skills. However, this view lacks solid evidence."
University of Alaska

The main idea: Face Poverty -- this is one link, but the key idea from many sites: to face and accept the realities of poverty. Focus on school work.

From Educational Leadership  ASCD 2001 :

"Homework reinforces the social inequities inherent in the unequal distribution of educational resources in the United States. Some students go home to well-educated parents and have easy access to computers with vast databases. Other students have family responsibilities, parents who work at night, and no educational resources in their homes. A principal once told us that he had solved the homework problem for students in poverty simply by not assigning them homework."

 From Myron Dueck, "Poverty and the Grading of Homework":

To subject students to the grading of standardized, impersonal homework is questionable on so many levels, and I would argue that poverty-related challenges should be at the top of the list.  When any student arrives with incomplete homework, we as educators can never be certain of the reasons.   We should never assume that it is due to a lack of effort, but perhaps a safe assumption is that our most financially-challenged students have faced negative factors well beyond their control.
From the Center for Pubic Education [2007]:
"students from lower-income households may not have as much support at home as those from more affluent families; as a result, homework may not be a valuable learning experience for them."
 "Homework also has potentially negative associations, one involving students' economic status. Some have argued that homework can increase the achievement gap between students from affluent and poor families. High-achieving students who have extra resources from home, they say, benefit from homework because they have more opportunities to complete it and often get help with assignments. Low-achieving students from poor families, on the other hand, suffer due to home circumstances caused by economic deprivation. Such circumstances as parents working several jobs, frequent moves, and crowded homes make it difficult to complete homework or any at-home academic learning (Scott-Jones 1984; McDermott, Goldman, and Varenne 1984). Thus, higher income students who are high achieving gain the most from homework when compared to other high-income or high-achieving students, which begs the question of how much lower-income students—and especially low-achieving lower-income students—can benefit from homework."
This is an extensive and inclusive article, reviewing all areas. The only students for whom research shows a positive effect are students with diagnosed learning disabilities who have parents who work at home with them on specific skills. There are many possible negative impacts, so assign homework with care -- not as unfinished class work, not the same for everyone. It's worthwhile reading.

What can we do for students living in poverty?

From Julia G Thompson's First Year Teacher's Survival Guide:

• Students who live in poverty have not been exposed to broadening experiences such as family vacations, trips to museums, or even eating in restaurants. Spend time adding to their worldly experience if you want poor students to connect their book learning with real-life situations.
• Listen to your disadvantaged students. They need a strong relationship with a trustworthy adult in order to succeed.
• Work to boost the self-esteem of students who live in poverty by praising their school success instead of what they own.
• Provide access to computers, magazines, newspapers, and books so low-income students can see and work with printed materials. School may be the only place where they are exposed to print media.
• Keep your expectations for poor students high. Poverty does not mean ignorance.
• Don’t make comments about your students’ clothes or belongings unless they are in violation of the dress code.
• Students who live in poverty may not always know the correct behaviors for school situations. At home, they may function under a different set of social rules. Take time to explain the rationale for rules and procedures in your classroom.

Homework is not the helpful strategy many believe it is.  Focus on school work.

For students who have not had the advantages of rich experiences and opportunities, we need to provide opportunities to enrich the curriculum with worldly experiences. Remember that many of our students do have homes rich in cultural experiences of many kinds, and many families spend time watching educational shows such as the Discovery Channel. Many learn from YouTube Videos.

The most important strategy is to have rich discussions so those who have had experiences can share and all students can learn from our enrichment activities. Build experiences and vocabulary through enrichment and conversation.

Addendum -- Conversations in the Twitterverse to consider:

 Griffith University
 "Personality traits like conscientiousness and openness are better indicators of long-term academic success"
"The review examined what are known as the five fundamental factors of human personality: conscientiousness, openness, agreeableness, emotional stability, and extraversion. A person's conscientiousness and openness exerted the largest influence over how well they learned new things. "
In searching for strategies that will improve learning, what implications does this information on homework, poverty, 2015, and personality suggest?

Please remember this is a school-related site. Model digital citizenship. Thank you.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Connected Learners #ce14 #clmooc

Connections.  Everywhere. A network of sharing and growing.
That's what being a connected learner is.  My connection with #clmooc has expanded my focus from one classroom and one teacher, to a networked community from which I can give just as much as I can learn.

Here's a network, a small one:
Note: You can enlarge the MindMap and click the related links.

Create your own mind maps at MindMeister

I've made several connections by following blogs of people I admire and learn from on Twitter and in other communities. Here you see and can link to the Two Writing Teachers and Grant Wiggins. Their blogs brought me information about projects, workshops, rubrics, and checklists. I had already read about and started using the question strategies noted in the Right Question book, but Grant Wiggins brought it new dimension.

I designed a project based on a focus question:

"Thousands of kids from Central America are entering the United States illegally -- and alone."

Students wrote and considered open and closed questions before reading an article about it. Then they answered their top three questions.

By this time I had read the blogs and Grant's book, so I designed an authentic task that would include several Common Core State Standards as students collaborated, investigated, discovered relevant content, designed a campaign, and edited each presentation:

"With a team of peers, collaborate to create an informational or persuasive campaign for an audience of your choice to share the information you research about "Thousands of kids from Central America are entering the United States illegally -- and alone." Each team member will create a project for your campaign that meets the expectations of an investigative researcher and project designer. Together, your artifacts will present a thorough, factual, and detailed explanation, and perhaps solution, of the topic. "
Along with the task, considering the Common Core State Standards,  I drafted a set of Essential Questions which we will consider all year:

Essential Questions:
  • Investigate: How do researchers investigate successfully?
  • Collaborate: What strategies and processes do collaborators need for success?
  • Discover and Develop Content: How do readers and writers determine and develop relevant, accurate, and complete topics?
  • Design and Organize Presentation: How do publishers design and organize content for their audience and purpose?
  • Edit Language: Why and how do editors and speakers use and edit with the rules for standard English grammar and language?
I had already drafted a rubric, and now revised it to include the Standards and the five topics of the Essential Questions. Finally, I created draft checklists that explain the rubric and allow students and I to connect and confer on the progress and growth of their work. We now have authentic work: Kids Alone.

Student chose their focus, audience, and purpose and began their investigations, collaborating in teams. I confer with each team as we discuss the checklists and transfer our progress to see how we meet the expectations on  the rubric.

Here are the project documents:

As we work on our campaigns, students are connecting with each other and with me. I provide feedback towards learning goals and standards, and peers teach peers as well. Here is one example from a team of four students: Debate: Are You For or Against Obama?  There audience is bloggers, and their purpose is to consider both sides of an issue.

So, through my connections in blogs, on Twitter, and through blogger's books, I have developed a learning progression that differentiates student learning, expects high standards of work, and provides a venue for students to connect and collaborate as well. Since many have chosen to publish work online, their connections could grow globally.

We are all connected learners.

Please remember this is a school-related site. Model digital citizenship. Thank you.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Twitter Sunday #ccss #ce14

What did I learn on Sunday [Monday] Twitter?

I focused on Common Core State Standards.

ASCD presents several resources in a Pinterest Board you can follow:

A WA State teacher shares her #CCSS resources for parents; you may find them useful as well.

And Stanford has free online classes, including for #CCSS
And a teacher recognizes that students need to part of the #CCSS equation -- participants in the process:

I stumbled upon and old tweet about authentic learning, so relevant to #CCSS college and career ready:

Which led me to this one from Buck Institute -- how that authentic learning leads to success on the new #CCSS assessments:

So --- I've got some ideas to play around with.  How about you?

Please remember this is a school-related site. Model digital citizenship. Thank you.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Google Drive and more from Susan Oxnevad #ce14

Power Up Pedagogy presented Susan Oxnevad's ThingLink experise.

On her site I found this terrific -- amazing -- professional development slideshow of tips and strategies and how tos:

ThingLink on Google Drive
ThingLink on Differentiation
ThingLink on SAMR -- tech integration
Webinars -- 2014 Schedule

Being connected provides a world of resources at my fingertips -- and those finds I share with others so they may learn and grow as well.

Thanks what being a connected educator --- a connected learner --- is all about.

Enjoy and learn:

Link to slideshow

Please remember this is a school-related site. Model digital citizenship. Thank you.