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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Creating a Nurturing Environment for Kids with Nancy Blair



Episode 113 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Nancy Blair @blairteach, middle school principal, and #edchat leader gives us practical ideas to create a nurturing environment in our schools. As a result of these programs and ideas, Nancy has seen discipline problems reduced in the last three years she has served as the principal.

113 Nancy Blair Creating a nurturing environment

Podcast Sponsor

Staples is my go-to back to school shopping source. Check out http://ift.tt/2vQXj8m for my 10 Ways to tackle back to school like a pro. And remember to sign up for Staples Teacher rewards for free shipping on orders over $14.99 and 5% back. Staples has everything we need in stock all season long and ready to go for school. Go to http://ift.tt/1LCWpjn for more information and great deals! 

See Staples Back to School Deals


Below is a transcript modified for your reading pleasure. For information on the guests and items mentioned in this show, scroll down to the bottom of this post.

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Transcript of Episode 113

Creating a Nurturing Environment for Kids with Nancy Blair

 

VICKI:   Today, we’re here with one of my favorite principals, Nancy Blair, @blairteach to talk about creating a nurturing environment for students. So, Nancy, you’re a principal. How do we create a nurturing environment for students?

NANCY:       Well, and let me say, I’m also a middle school principal, which is an interesting age to connect with children because you have so many children that do want to connect, who still want to hug on you, and you have other ones who want to be considered adult-like and they would just assume you won’t end their sphere.

So, it can be a critical challenge to build relationships with children in middle grades. In our building, we’ve made that a priority. We’re a [Georgia] Lighthouse School to Watch, so that means that we make an extra effort to be not only culturally responsive but that we also want to be socially equitable and developmentally responsive in addition to the academics.

Read: Georgia Lighthouse Schools to Watch

Idea #1: Activity to Determine Your “Disconnected” Students

VICKI:          Wow. That sounds like a big task, Nancy. I mean, how does that look with creating a nurturing environment? Because — it’s a lot of big words?

NANCY:       Well, when I first came here, that was a primary goal of mine. And so about halfway through the year, we did an activity and we had the teachers, in five minutes, list the names of all the students that they knew; not only ones they were currently teaching but any students whose names they knew. And we compiled a list. And then we found all the children that nobody in the building, 60-some teachers, nobody mentioned.

[00:02:00]

And then talked about why does this happen, how can this happen, and what do we need to put in place to make sure this doesn’t happen. We over time have continued that kind of practice to make sure that every child has some kind of positive contact with people that somebody really knows them. We take the time to build relationships with children through teambuilding activities and just conversation.

Tip: Take time to do this activity during pre-planning. Give each teacher 5 minutes to list every student they can remember. Then, compile a list of those teachers don’t know. Divide up students to make sure each child has a teacher who is relating to that child on a personal level. You could also do follow ups to see how you’re doing. What a fantastic idea!

Idea #2: A Technique to Build Connections Between Teachers and Students

VICKI:          What would a teambuilding activity look like between you and your students?

NANCY:       Well, this isn’t exactly a teambuilding activity but it’s something that we started this year, which has also led to increased student relationship building and the sense of belonging and caring in the building. And we started an activity period once a week that’s cross-grade level. And it’s interest-driven.

The children had over 50 options to sign up their first, second and third choice, and they range from physical kinds of activities like team sports or running or walking, to robotics and working on their science fair project. There’s a quiet reflection room for children who want to just think and be and pray, whatever they want to do quietly to themselves; reading, do-it-yourself groups.

And so, tapping into the children’s interest and allowing them not only to sign up for what they wanted, but they are free to suggest activities that they would like us to have a group to do, it’s made a huge impact on the student population. And the teachers talk about getting to know the children in a different way, and children that they don’t normally see. It’s been really quite incredible to watch that unfold.

READ: Connect with Students: Getting and Staying in Touch with Every Student – if you need to understand how you as a teacher can do this in the classroom, Jenny Magiera has some ideas for how to do this from my previous podcast show.

VICKI:          So that’s once a week for how long?

NANCY:       That’s a 45-minute period. And it changes quarterly. So, we are encouraging children to try new things, but if they have a passion and an interest, just keep that, if that’s what they want to do.

VICKI:          So, you’ve given us two incredible things. You know, in five minutes, listing all the students you know, and that’s just an unbelievable activity. And then having these unique experiences. Do you have any other ideas?

Idea #3: Create opportunities for older students to relate to younger students

NANCY:       We do have our sixth graders who write letters to the incoming sixth graders, telling them what to expect. We have a group of students called Panther Partners, because we’re the Rising Star Panthers, that tour and connect with every new child who comes in the building.

[00:04:00]

                    So that we, from the very beginning, make sure that children have somebody to connect with. We’ve increased, through our literacy program, problem-based and passion-based learning so that children feel like they’re the drivers of their learning and that they’re invested in what they’re doing.

A conversation about disconnected students

VICKI:          I’d like to go back. I’m just really sitting here thinking about, you know, every school probably has these kids that nobody knows as deeply as they should. Did it just break your heart when you found that there were students that people didn’t have close relationships with?

NANCY:       Yes. And more importantly, teachers were shocked. And I can’t remember – this was almost three years ago; I can’t remember the exact percentages. But they were shocked at the high percentage of children that nobody mentioned. And it did vary by grade level.

VICKI:          Wow. So, did you see anything change when you really focused on those students who had kind of, I guess, been left out of mind?

NANCY:       Yes. Because I think that just bringing that to awareness of the faculty helped a lot. And they’re much more intentional about the kinds of things they’re doing with children, the kinds of conversations they’re having with children. We’ve really made an effort to engage children in people-to-people conversation and not just only academic conversation. And I think that helps.

Relationships Can Improve Discipline

VICKI:          Well, we have to relate before we can educate. Do you feel like that the relationships have improved over the last few years?

NANCY:       I do. And our discipline figures have declined every year over the last three years. So I think that that plays into it. We also administratively make a very big effort to be visible and make connections and conversation with children, especially at lunchtime. We wander through the tables and engage children in conversation so that they see us as people.

CHALLENGE: Go look at the lunchroom at your school. Are administrators and teachers interacting and speaking with students? Can you tell that there is a relationship building.

Read: 5 Ways for Living Large in Lunch Duty Land

VICKI:          Wow. And you can see so many things at lunch. I mean, you can see the kid eating by themselves, you can read the body language. I mean, there’s just so much you can pick up on at lunches, isn’t there?

NANCY:       Right. That’s very important.

VICKI:          Okay. So just be in there; you’ve got some fantastic ideas for nurturing.

[00:06:00]

How do we define nurturing?

 VICKI:                   And let me ask you this, Nancy – and we probably should have done this at the beginning but we didn’t – how would you define nurturing? Because, you know, I know some people who don’t really like the word “nurture”. I don’t know why, but they don’t.

NANCY:       Yeah. I would define nurturing as caring in a supportive way, that we need to provide the supports necessary and the relationships with children to – it’s like watering flowers. They need care and love and support in order to be the people they need to be.

The vision of our school is to inspire and prepare children to succeed, and it ends right there. Because our goal is that children be successful in whatever they choose to do, and that they have the skills necessary to be prepared to be successful. Whether that next thing is high school, whether it’s further on in life, we want them to be prepared; inspired to do something, and prepared to do whatever it is they need to do.

How does the lack of nurturing in some homes impact what we do at school?

VICKI:          I think one of the most heartbreaking things, Nancy, is that some kids maybe aren’t being nurtured at home. Do you see that?

NANCY:       Yes. We do see that. Of course, we make every effort to be the area where children can connect when they don’t have somebody to connect with.

VICKI:          Yes. And that makes nurturing more important than ever.

So, remarkable educators, to be remarkable, you have to have that relationship. You do need to nurture students. You do need to encourage and care about students. And we have gotten some fantastic ideas from Nancy Blair. I also want to give a shout out to EdChat Radio, her podcast program in the weekly chat, and all that she does alone, because she does share with a lot of us her experience as a middle school principal.

SUBSCRIBE: Listen to Nancy’s Podcast #edchat Radio

NANCY:       Well, thank you, Vicki, for having me.

Thank you to our Sponsor, Staples

VICKI:          Staples is my go-to back-to-school shopping source. Check out http://ift.tt/2vQXj8m for my 10 ways to tackle back-to-school like a pro.

[00:08:00]

 And remember to sign up for Staples Teacher Rewards for free shipping on orders over $14.99 and 5% back. Staples has everything we need in stock all season long and ready to go for school. Go to http://ift.tt/2bpV9ah for more information and great deals. Good luck with back-to-school.

Thank you for listening to the Ten-minute Teacher Podcast. You can download the show notes and see the archive at http://ift.tt/2quX4Nu. Never stop learning.              

[End of Audio 0:08:37]

[Transcription created by tranzify.com. Some additional editing has been done to add grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. Every attempt has been made to correct spelling. For permissions, please email lisa@coolcatteacher.com]

Bio as Submitted by Guest


Nancy Blair taught middle school English and reading before becoming a middle school administrator. Her varied career includes a stint in the USAF, work with non-profit groups, public school teaching and administration, and school improvement consulting before assuming the principalship of Rising Starr Middle School, a Georgia Lighthouse School to Watch. Nancy co-moderates #edchat weekly on Twitter and co-hosts the Edchat Radio podcast.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

 

The post Creating a Nurturing Environment for Kids with Nancy Blair appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



From http://ift.tt/2eNwDlH
via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

23 GSuite Ideas to Excite Your Students about Learning with Eric Curts



Episode 112 - The 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Eric Curts @ericcurts  teaches us twenty-three ways to use Gsuite tools in our classroom. With ideas for Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings for all subjects and ages, you’ll want to scroll down and follow the links in our enhanced show notes.

eric curts 28 ways to use gsuite

Podcast Sponsor

This episode is sponsored by Staples. Staples is my go-to back to school shopping source. Check out http://ift.tt/2vQXj8m for 10 Ways to tackle back to school like a pro. And remember to sign up for Staples Teacher rewards for free shipping on orders over $14.99 and 5% back. Staples has everything we need in stock all season long and ready to go for school. Go to http://ift.tt/1LCWpjn for more information and great deals!

Check out back to school tips for teachers

Below is a transcript modified for your reading pleasure. For information on the guests and items mentioned in this show, scroll down to the bottom of this post.

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Transcript of Episode 112: 23 GSuite Ideas to Excite Your Students about Learning with Eric Curts

Download the transcript

VICKI:          It’s back to school and so many of us are getting ready to introduce the G-Suite of tools in the classroom for those of you who don’t know what that is. That’s all these Google tools. And Eric Curts @ericcurts from Control Alt Achieve   and co-leader of their higher Google Educators group has so many fantastic ideas. You’d definitely want to check the transcript and show notes for all of these ideas.

This blog post is being added to 100+ Great Google Classroom Resources for Educators. This resource has a curated list of Gsuite resources, books, and tips.

You’ll definitely want to go to Eric’s website Control Alt Achieve and his YouTube channel.

VICKI:                    So Eric, give us some cool ways that we can use G-Suite to start of the school year with a punch.

ERIC:               What I’m going to take a look at here as we run through these today are just some of the common Google tools that we tend to use but maybe look at them from a different angle and some fun ways they can be used. So why don’t we start off with Google Docs. http://ift.tt/2eKfGZe

Today, Eric goes through some engaging ideas for using 4 of the Gsuite apps:

    ERIC:               Most people think of that as Google’s word processing program which obviously it is and that’s a fantastic way for students to write reports and wrote stories on all the normal things. But some fun twists that you can put on this, some folks don’t know that Google Docs support emojis. You can actually insert emojis right from the ‘insert special characters’ menu and it’s going to open up a lot of really fun activities for students.

Idea #1: Write Emoji Stories

Idea #2: Summarize Something You’ve Seen or Read Using Emojis

If you’re looking for a way to get them engaged and excited early on in the year, they can write emoji stories or they can summarize a story or a movie or something they’ve seen recently using emojis.

See: 5 Emoji Activities for Google Docs  where Eric describes how to do all of these emoji activities including the emoji math picture shown below.

Idea #3: Use Emojis to Explain Math Variables

ERIC: They can also incorporate this into math. Yes, I used to be a math teacher so I just have a soft spot for math.

[00:02:00]

Emojis can be a great way to replace variables to bring a better concrete understanding of what you’re doing when solving math problems. And then there’s a lot of other possible neat examples. And like you said in the show notes, there’d be links to all of my blog post that go into the specific details on those. But that’s a fun thing.

Emojis help variables come alive and make sense. See Eric's blog post on emojis in Google docs to learn how to do this.

Emojis help variables come alive and make sense. See Eric’s blog post on emojis in Google docs to learn how to do this.

Idea #4: Black Out Poetry in Google Docs

ERIC: While still on the topic of docs another neat thing to do is to use the highlight tool but not for highlighting. Let’s turn it on its head and use it to black things out. In Google Docs you can use the highlighting tool to do blackout poetry where students start with some text and then remove all the words except what they want to leave for their found poem, you can also use the exact same tool to do summarization.

Idea #5: Article Summarization with Black Out in Google Docs

It’s a process called text reduction strategy which is typically done with a big black marker and an actual piece of paper or an article, but you can do it in Google Docs as well, you can take an article from one of the many excellent websites like DOGO News, throw that in there and have the students go through and remove everything that’s not critical so that they end up with their summarization of the article. It’s a great way to help move students toward those summarization skills.

Read More: Improve Reading Comprehension with Google Docs “Black Out”

Idea #6: Choose Your Own Adventure Stories

Beyond that, lots of other fun things you can do include creating choose your own adventure stories. Create one for students to work together in a group where they write a story and use hyperlinks inside of the doc to jump to different pages as they write their choose your own adventure stories.

Those are just a couple of Docs ideas.

Read More: Choose Your Own Adventure Stories with Google Docs

Idea #7: Teach Anchors and Hyperlinks

VICKI:          And plus, choose your own adventure, we give you the ability to teach about anchors and teach about hyperlinks. There are so many things you can do with these ideas. I love them, Eric.

A hyperlink links to another web page. (Just go to insert –> Hyperlink.) However, an anchor links within the document. This lets you skip down a long page. I do this an easy way in a long document by making headings. Then, insert a table of contents. The headings automatically become anchors. You can also insert anchors manually.  they are a big time saver for students and teaches on long documents, for example, if you’re writing a book.

ERIC:           Absolutely.

VICKI:          Okay, what’s next?

ERIC:            Sure. Let’s jump over to Google Slides. http://ift.tt/2gZkhrf

A lot of times we think of Google slides as the presentation tool, which of course it is, and there’s nothing wrong with that, please don’t get me wrong. It’s fantastic for kids to just do a presentation. Stand up in front of the class, do a book talk or talk about their explorer or their animal. But there’s a lot of other fun things you can do with slides.

Idea #8: Comic Strips with Google Slides

[00:04:00]

ERIC: One way to do is to create comic strips with Google Slides.   And what you can do is think of each slide as a different panel of the comic strip. And students could then insert clip art and animations and speech bubbles. And when they then published that to the web you’ve got an online animated comic strip, whether it’s to explain a vocab term or science concept or retell part of a story.

Read more: Creative Slide Uses for Students

Idea #9: Create eBooks or Storybooks with Google Slides

In the same vein you can create eBooks or storybooks with Google Slides   where each slide is a page of the eBook and you are allowed to change the page dimensions, it doesn’t have to be the normal landscape. You can make it portrait, you can make a square to make it whatever size book you want.

Read: Google Slides for Student Created Storybooks

Idea #10: Create Stop Motion Animations in Google Slides

Other fun things include stop motion animation. This is a fun trick you can do with slides where basically you just speed up the slide show by hacking the URL just a little bit on the presentation so that you get each slide going by maybe a quarter of a second and you can either take actual photographs using the built-in webcam of your Chromebook or whatever device you have or you can just add images and move them around from one slide to the other.

Read: Stop Motion Animation with Google Slides

Idea #11: Dr. Seus Manipulative Slide Show

But, again, it’s another great creative way for kids to tell stories or express their understanding. Beyond that, some other fun things you can do especially with the little ones – I do have a bunch of manipulative type slide shows. We’ve got a one-fish, two-fish, red-fish, blue-fish sorting activity,   that’s great when you’re doing Dr. Seuss stuff.

Read: “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” Sorting with Google Slides

Idea #12 Build a Snowman Creation and Writing Activity with Google Slides

I’ve also got a Build a snowman one.    You may want to hang off on that a little bit further into the winter month, there’s great template that allows students to build their own snowman with a wide collection of eyes and noses and mouths and ears and hats and all sorts of other things. And so they copy and paste those onto their snowman and then there’s a box where they write a little story about what their snowman has done that day or what he’s going to be going off to do.

So lots of real fun things that you could do with slides besides just a traditional presentation.

Read: Build a Snowman with Google Slides

Idea #13: Pixel Art in Google Sheets

VICKI:          Now, all these hacks, you have cute little videos and tutorials and things to help us. So we’re just giving you teachers an overview and then you could pick what you want. So do we have time for another?

[00:06:00]

ERIC:                Sure. Google Sheets  is another fun one. We usually think of Google Sheets as something for math or for doing charts and graphs and it certainly is. Don’t forget that it’s always great for that. But it’s also a great way to do things like pixel art.   I have a template that you can use where you simply put in some letters there and it creates a colored in box for each one of those and you can make pixel art.

Read: Pixel Art Activities for Any Subject with Google Sheets

Idea #14: Random Writing Prompt Generator with Google Sheets

ERIC: Or how about language art with Google Sheets? Absolutely. Sheets are great for randomization.

So I’ve got two templates for random writing prompt generators.  One gives works being randomly put together…

Read: Random Writing Prompt Generator with Google Sheets

Idea #15: Random Emoji Writing Prompt Generator

ERIC:  …another one is random emojis being put together.   And both places, it allows you to generate a whole bunch of random writing prompts that will be great for journal entries, short stories or poems.

Read: Emoji Writing Prompt Generator with Google Sheets

Idea #16: Create Graphic Organizers with Google Drawings

ERIC: Beyond that, if we can still squeeze something in I’ll throw in Google Drawings. http://ift.tt/2gZl5MJ

One of my favorites, I think it’s overlooked a lot of times because it’s kind of hidden down in the menus there but Google Drawings is a great way to do loads of things including graphic organizers…

Read: Language Arts Graphic Organizers with Google Drawings

Idea #17: Create Interactive Posters with Google Drawings (These are like Thinglink)

ERIC: …interactive images which is like ThingLink, people are familiar with that.  You can use Google Drawings to make images and put hyperlinks on that branch out to videos and websites and additional information.

Read: Googlink: Creating Interactive Posters with Google Drawings

Idea #18: Magnetic “Drag and Drop” Poetry

ERIC: Google drawings is a great way for creativity with magnetic poetry, drag and drop poetry.   It’s also fantastic for math.

Read: Eric has two articles on magnetic poetry

Idea #19: Use Manipulatives and Tangrams in Google Drawings

ERIC: A lot of great manipulatives and interactives you can do such as teaching congruent figures and similar figures,  partitioning shapes…

Read: Pattern Block Templates and Activities with Google Drawings

Idea #20: Download Templates to Teach Shapes and Algebra So You Don’t Have to Create Them Yourself

ERIC: we’ve got algebra tile, pattern blocks, lots and lots of templates that I’ve created that you can just hit the ground running with those.

Read: 11 Ways to Teach Math with Google Drawings

Idea #21: Create Greeting Cards Using Google Drawings

ERIC: But Google Drawing also services well as a desktop publishing tool because it really isn’t something built into Google Suite that quite does what Microsoft publisher does. And so Drawings is a nice stand in for that for things like creating greeting cards, I’ve got a couple of templates for that…

Read: How Your Students Can Use Google Drawings to Make Greeting Cards

Idea #22: Make Motivational Posters in Google Drawings

ERIC: as well as making educational, motivational posters.  We’re used to those big black posters with the big picture and word at the bottom with a neat saying. Those can be done for actual motivation topics or you can pick a vocab term of the week and then add an appropriate image to go with it and a definition in your own terms.

Read: Have Students Create Educational “Motivational Posters” with Google Drawings

Idea #23: Explore Templates on Eric’ Site

[00:08:00]

ERIC:                    And all of those again, those templates are all available on the control of the ControlAltAchieve.com website.

Read: Here is an index of templates on Eric’s site. What a fantastic resource!

VICKI:          Teachers, I know your mind is blown but here’s the thing, you’ve all got great ideas, whether it’s emojis for variables in algebra there’s so many ideas. So one of the greatest things to do with kids is to show them something they’ve never seen before. And the best time to do that is in the first week or two of school. Blow their minds.

Follow the links in the show notes and I love Eric website particular because he shows us how to do stuff but also all the free templates. I have been tweeting out and sending out stuff of his all day, the day we’re taping here just because I love it. It’s great resource for G-Suite. And good luck with back to school. And get in there and use these tools and have some fun.

Thank You, Staples, for Sponsoring Episode 112 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast!

Staples is my go-to back to school shopping source. Check out http://ift.tt/2vQXj8m for my ten ways to tackle back to school like a pro. And remember to sign up for Staple’s Teacher Rewards for free shipping orders over $14.99 and 5% back. Staple has everything we need in stock all season long and ready to go for school. Go to http://ift.tt/2bpV9ah for more information and great deals. Good luck with back to school

Thank you for listening to the Ten-minute Teacher Podcast. You can download the show notes and see the archive at http://ift.tt/2quX4Nu. Never stop learning.

[End of Audio 0:09:43]

[Transcription created by tranzify.com. Some additional editing has been done to add grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. Every attempt has been made to correct spelling. For permissions, please email lisa@coolcatteacher.com]

Bio as SubmittedEric Curts


Eric has been in education for 25 years, and is currently serving as a Technology Integration Specialist for the Stark Portage Area Computer Consortium in Canton, Ohio where he oversees Google Apps for Education implementation, training, and support, as well as online learning and other technology integration initiatives.

Eric is an authorized Google Education Trainer and a Google Certified Innovator and provides Google Apps training to schools, organizations, and conferences throughout Ohio and across the country. He is a co-leader of the Ohio Google Educator Group (GEG) at tiny.cc/geg-ohio and runs the award-winning blog http://ift.tt/1W5EJjQ where all of his Google Apps and edtech resources can be found. Eric is married with four children.

 

The post 23 GSuite Ideas to Excite Your Students about Learning with Eric Curts appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



From http://ift.tt/2gZlnDj
via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Transform Learning this School Year with Eric Sheninger



Episode 111 - The 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Eric Sheninger @E_Sheninger motivates us to transform learning this school year. We’re starting Season 2 with a bang and a big book Giveaway, Learning Transformed by Eric Sheninger and Thomas C. Murray! Enjoy!

episode 111 eric sheninger (2)

Podcast Sponsor

This episode is sponsored by Staples. Staples is my go-to back to school shopping source. Check out http://ift.tt/2vQXj8m for my 10 Ways to tackle back to school like a pro. And remember to sign up for Staples Teacher rewards for free shipping on orders over $14.99 and 5% back. Staples has everything we need in stock all season long and ready to go for school. Go to http://ift.tt/1LCWpjn for more information and great deals!

Listen to the Show

Below is a transcript modified for your reading pleasure. For information on the guests and items mentioned in this show, scroll down to the bottom of this post.

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Transcript of Episode 111: Transform Learning this School Year with Eric Sheninger

Download a PDF of the transcript

[Recording starts 0:00:00]

Today’s show is sponsored by Staples, my back to school shopping location for my classroom. Stay tuned at the end of the show and I’ll tell you how to get my tips and trips for back to school.

Get motivated to transform learning this school year. This is episode 111 and the start of Season 2.

The Ten-minute Teacher podcast with Vicki Davis. Every week day you’ll learn powerful practical ways to be a more remarkable teacher today.

Eric Sheninger and Tom Murray have a new book, Learning Transformed. We’re hosting a giveaway. Click here to see how to enter.

VICKI:   Welcome to Season 2 of the 10-Minute Teacher. Today we have one of the most motivational people I know for our Motivation Monday, Eric Sheninger @E_Sheninger has a new book that he has co-authored with Tom Murray @thomascmurray called Learning Transformed. http://amzn.to/2tWOSLF

So, Eric, how can you get us pumped up to transform learning this school year?

ERIC:           When we think about transforming learning I think we have to look first and foremost at why we do what we do and ask our kids. All kids have greatness hidden inside them, it is the job of an educator to help them find and unleash it.

An essential mindset for starting the school year

Our mindset is perhaps one of the most important things we have as we start the school year. If we look at students as having greatness inside and view our job as unleashing greatness. It makes a big difference!

ERIC: How do we help them unleash it? You know what, first off, we got to focus on the ‘what ifs’ instead of the ‘yeah buts’. We have to look at the opportunities and the potential of the tools, the ideas, the pathways, the strategy that we have now to unlock creativity and limitless potential of our kids.

I think as we begin the year it really comes down to this, don’t prepare students for something, prepare them for anything. So as we reflect on our practice, how do we prepare kids for anything, how do we move past the status quo, how do we change our thinking? Because if we utilize the same old thinking we’re going to get the same old results. And when we think about transforming learning, Tom Murray and I spent well over a year looking at the research.

[00:02:00]

                    We unearthed over 180 research citations to focus on the why. I love the work of Simon Sinek @simonsinek, and if you have not watched his TED Talk on leadership  and focusing on the why. It is a great way to start the year.

Motivate and Inspire Yourself to Be Remarkable

Start the school year with your colleagues by showing a video get in the right mindset. The Simon Sinek TED talk is a great one. If your principal doesn’t show you videos, watch it yourself to get in the right frame of mind. Don’t let the doing keep you from being the kind of teacher you need to be!

ERIC: But if we don’t articulate the why, our vision, our mission, our values it is kind of fuzzy. My message, Vicki, to everyone listening is as we think about out beginning of the year, celebrate our success, celebrate what we do well, but keep an eye – where do you want to be? And what are those areas of our roles that we can do what we do better?

VICKI:          The why is so important and I hate say this – and my mom won’t be listening to this particular podcast, I hope, but sometimes our big ‘buts’ get in the way, they really do because so many times you talk about something transformational and then somebody look at you and here you see, and it’s coming and it’s coming and they say, ‘but’ and you’re like, “Please, let’s just focus on these students.”

We start building a culture of trust with our colleagues and students on the first day.

ERIC:           Yeah it’s interesting. ‘Buts’ really put up a barrier, a roadblock. And that road block inhibits us from building a culture of trust. We need to build a culture of trust with our kids, with each other. When we think about our work, when we think about learning, it all comes down to relationships. Without trust, there is no relationship, without relationships, no real learning occurs. And those ‘buts’ just enable us to, again, revert back to a fixed mindset, status quo, this is the way we’ve always done things and yeah, I guess it’s worked.

But when we think about kids the world is different. Kids are learning differently, the environment in which they learn is different. So we need to think, learn and act differently.

VICKI:          Yes, you have to relate before you educate.

Yes, you will hear me say this a lot. You have to relate before you educate. Before you create. Before you innovate. You relate first. I believe I’m a better teacher now because I’m better at relating and building those relationships. On Wednesday in episode 113, Nancy Blair will talk about a genius idea to help a whole staff relate better to students.

VICKI: Now, Eric, I want you to travel back to the time when you were principal and you’re looking at those teachers and you’re thinking about the first day and you’re about to give the a pump-up speech to really reach those kids and leave the past behind and move behind, what do you say?

[00:04:00]

Eric Sheninger’s essential reading list

Leaders are readers and readers are leaders as John Maxwell says. (I paraphrased a bit.) I keep a list of books I might want to read in my to-do app. Many years a go, I read that Brian Tracey says to be in the top of your field, you need to only read an hour a day. That has been my habit for at least eight years now and it does make a difference. Here are some great books to start reading.

ERIC:           Well, I can tell you what I did many, many years ago. Part of my mindset shift was reading a lot of books. I read Drive  by Dan Pink, Linchpin by Seth Godin, Outliers   by Malcom Gladwell, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and I read another book, it was called the No Complaining Rule  by Jon Gordon and the rule was simple. Let’s not complain, we don’t want our kids to complain but complaining helps to create an environment that’s not conducive to change innovation. So when we think about our complaints and we think about our challenges which we have, we have realistic challenges. I would encourage everyone to think about solutions. If we focus on solutions as opposed to excuses and challenges we can truly begin the process of implementing the type of changes that our kids will appreciate.

And the other thing I would say is put yourself in the shoes of your students. Would you want to learn under the same conditions as your kids? Would you want to learn in the same environments as your students? And I think that gives us a lot of motivation to begin to change our practice, help our kids see value by modeling and implementing a better way.

The Biggest Mistake Educators Make Starting the School Year

We need to lear from our mistakes. But if we learn from the mistakes of others, we can get better, faster.

VICKI:          So Eric, what’s the biggest mistake educators make when they start the year?

ERIC:           I think the biggest mistake is we’re so focus on getting the schedule set up, going through our syllabus, going through the rules the expectations, going through them monotony of school. Basically, we’re prepping the kids for another year of school. And I think we have to flip it. I think instead of going through the monotony of the job and what we think we have to do because that’s the way it’s always been done, what about thinking about asking kids, engaging them, why are they here? Why is learning important? How can we together create an amazing learning experience for you? What do you need to be successful?

[00:06:00]

                    And I think taking Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5Tw0PGcyN0 , the why, the how, ‘the what’ to sort of flip that first experience we have with our kids can really jumpstart learning and begin to set the stage for a pretty exciting things as the year goes on.

VICKI:          So Eric, how do you have that conversation? Because honestly, some kids, if you say why are you here, it will be “because mama dropped me off”?

ERIC:           And that’s the challenge. If kids don’t see the ‘why’, we don’t engage kids enough at understanding the significance of learning. And I think we have to have those more conversations, we can’t be afraid of having difficult conversations because if we let that mentality go on, as the year goes on we just run the risk of losing kids more and more. And I think that ‘why’ is tying into the bigger picture, the bold new world of work, the exciting world and thinking about our interest of our kids, aligning that in the beginning days to the work at hand. It’s a difficult conversation, Vicki, but I think it’s a conversation we shy away from much too often.

A remarkable school year starts by captivating kids on the first day. How will you do it? Sure, we need to cover procedures but think about what students will SAY about your class on the first day when they go home to their parents. The first day is an important first impression. Use it well!

VICKI:          Well, and I believe that a remarkable school year starts by captivating students on the first day and I don’t know if anybody’s syllabus is exciting enough to captivate someone’s mind and capture their heart.

ERIC:           I don’t think so. And I think in our book, Learning Transformed, Tom and I talked about redesigning learning experience and we really don’t focus as much on personalized learning as we do personal learning. Get to know your kids, find out how their summers went no matter how old they are. Find out what books they read, what did they do with their free time and use that as a catalyst to plan future lessons, future units, future projects. Get kids excited about why they’re in your classroom and what they’re going to gain from that experience.

VICKI:          So Eric, we’re going to do a giveaway of your book, the information will be in the show notes. Tell us quickly about it.

[00:08:00]

About their book Learning Transformed

Enter the book giveaway competition.

ERIC:           Learning Transformed was Tom Murray and my attempt to bring all of the research together to, again, emphasize the ‘why’ but the showcase innovate practices in action. We don’t just present a ton of research, we present educators across every position that are implementing change, that are getting results. Sir Ken Robinson @SirKenRobinson said in his words, “This is a manifesto for the change that we need in schools.” And that’s a lot coming from Sir Ken who’s work on creativity we all appreciate.

So I think educators will find it research-driven, evidence rich and sort of it showing how we can bring efficacy to all the amazing ideas that we’re talking about.

VICKI:          So educators, let’s get out there and have a remarkable year. And Eric is giving us so many wonderful ideas. So let’s get motivated.

Thank you Staples for sponsoring this episode.

Our sponsors help keep this show going. I’ve been sharing my favorite products for makerspaces and other tips for back to school shopping for this year. Thank you for supporting our sponsors.

Staples is my go-to back to school shopping source. Check out http://ift.tt/2vQXj8m for my ten ways to tackle back to school like a pro. And remember to sign up for Staple’s Teacher Rewards for free shipping orders over $14.99 and 5% back. Staple has everything we need in stock all season long and ready to go for school. Go to http://ift.tt/2bpV9ah for more information and great deals. Good luck with back to school

Thank you for listening to the Ten-minute Teacher Podcast. You can download the show notes and see the archive at http://ift.tt/2quX4Nu. Never stop learning.

[End of Audio 0:09:49]

[Transcription created by tranzify.com. Some additional editing has been done to add grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. Every attempt has been made to correct spelling. For permissions, please email lisa@coolcatteacher.com]

Bio as Submitted


 Eric is a Senior Fellow and Thought Leader on Digital Leadership with the International Center for Leadership in Eric SheningerEducation (ICLE). Prior to this, he was the award-winning Principal at New Milford High School. Under his leadership, his school became a globally recognized model for innovative practices. Eric oversaw the successful implementation of several sustainable change initiatives that radically transformed the learning culture at his school while increasing achievement. He has emerged as an innovative leader, best selling author, and sought after speaker

Competition to Win the Book

Learning Transformed Book by Eric Sheninger and Thomas C Murray

The post Transform Learning this School Year with Eric Sheninger appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



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Thursday, July 20, 2017

5 Simple Ways to Improve Teacher Professional Development



From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

A common cry from teachers across the world is for relevant professional development.

A 2014 Gates Foundation study shows only 29% of teachers satisfied with current teacher PD. Another 2015 study shows that only 30% of teachers improve substantially with PD. So, what we have doesn’t seem to be working.

So, what can we do to improve teacher professional development?

This is a contribution to Cathy Rubin’s Global Search for Education Top Global Teacher Blogger’s Column. This month’s question is about how to improve teacher professional development.

1 – Model What is Being Taught

In my own experience, I remember sitting through a class on differentiated instruction. The “teacher” had more than 200 slides. She read them to us.

To further make this point, let’s discuss what differentiation is. Think of it this way — Some students learn by seeing. Others learn by hearing. Others learn by doing. But no one learns one way. So, when you have many ways of teaching material, nearly every student learns better.

But during this class on differentiation, the teacher didn’t differentiate with us. She lectured. She showed slides. We didn’t act it out. We didn’t see a movie. We didn’t do any kinds of hands on activity. We didn’t talk about it with the person next to us. All the content on differentiation was delivered in a non-differentiated way.

So, if differentiation works – do it. If project based learning works – do it. Model teaching what you’re teaching if it works.

In my opinion, if you can’t teach me about game based learning by using games, you’re not qualified to teach game based learning.

Professional development should teach using the methods being taught.

2 – Commit to Personal Professional Development

Kaizen is a Japanese term for “continuous improvement.” Kaizen is a mindset. Organizations following Kaizen look at a system as a whole and make slow, small steps to improve.

My strategy of Kaizen innovation is that I “innovate like a turtle.”

Although I’ve been teaching in K12 for fifteen years, the last eleven have been transformational. Eleven years a go, I made a decision that changed my teaching. Coming back from GAETC 2015, I realized that I had been to the conference before but my classroom was unchanged. I had a list of fifty things and did none of them.

So, I decided to do two things:

A – List My Big 3. I would keep a list of the next three things I wanted to learn. Just three, no more. I would steadily learn about those things until I integrated them into my classroom. Sometimes, one of the three wasn’t suitable, and I’d abandon it for something else.

B – Turtle Time. I take 15 minutes 2-3 times a week during my morning break to learn something new.

I’m dedicated to Kaizen, but that term is not one that excites me. By calling it turtle time, I acknowledge my commitment to slow, steady improvement. Forward progress is progress.

3 – Understand and Use Micro Teaching Practices

In John Hattie’s updated ranking of effect sizes on student achievement, microteaching is near the top. Microteaching is

“a video recording of a lesson with a debriefing. The lesson is reviewed to improve the teaching and learning experience.”

Most teachers have a device that can record video. If we use our phones to record small portions of our lessons, we can use microteaching to improve. Certainly, there is a method of improving through microteaching.

Personally, I learn so much when I record my own teaching and watch it later. (I use a Swivl and my iPhone. The device follows and focuses on me around the room.)

4 – Use Student Feedback to Shape Learning with Just in Time Learning Strategies

Formative assessment can help teachers understand how students are learning. Formative assessment is a snapshot of how knowledge is forming in a student’s mind. Instead of asking one student what they know, you can ask the whole class.

The point that can make all the difference. But what does a teacher do when students aren’t learning? When a teacher realizes students aren’t learning is perhaps when the greatest professional development could happen. There are several strategies a teacher could use today, however, each of them has limitations and reasons teachers don’t. Perhaps if we understand these, we can work together to improve just-in-time learning strategies for teachers.

An Instructional Coach

The business world has “life coaches.” Education does have “instructional coaches.” Unfortunately, in some schools, these instructional coaches also have administrative responsibility.

To understand a common problem with instructional coaching, let’s look at the business world for a moment. For example, in the business community, a life coach is typically not someone in your chain of command. The person doesn’t have the ability to evaluate you. The “life coach’s” job is to help the person. Often a life coach doesn’t even work for the company of the person they are coaching.

In the education world, instructional coaches can be called by a teacher for help. However, if the coach is helping a teacher improve in an area, that needs to be confidential. If, however, the instructional coach makes a beeline to the principal, let’s see what could happen. Let’s say the coach told the principal,

“Mrs. Jones has me helping her with a classroom management problem.”

Now, suddenly the principal thinks Mrs. Jones has a huge problem.

In reality, however, every single teacher on staff has problems and areas to improve. Mrs. Jones is just the only one asking the instructional coach for help. Mrs. Jones may be one of the best teachers on staff, but she’s penalized for getting help to improve her teaching.

Until schools make it ok to admit struggles and get confidential help, teachers will keep their personal pd needs private. Teachers won’t ask for help even when student formative data shows they need it if their request for help is misunderstood or even worse – used against them.

Just In Time Resources

Many teachers use YouTube and other video services to search for help. For example, if they have a problem with Google Classroom, a video tutorial may do the trick.

However, with a few exceptions, edtech seems to dominate the teaching videos available on YouTube. It is hard to find answers for classroom problems like classroom management by searching YouTube.

Books, Videos, Courses, and Conferences

Teachers can find books, videos and courses to help them on an issue. However, typically curriculum directors or district officers determine how money is spent. Teachers have a difficult time getting money for individual opportunities. If they ask for it, they have to justify their need and may end up in the same situation they often have with some instructional coaches – they have to admit the problem they are trying to solve.

One problem with materials such as this is that classroom teaching is evolving so rapidly. So while a content creator may have a Ph.D., sometimes they may not be as relevant as a classroom teacher. Many teachers love Teachers Pay Teachers while others frown on the resources because they prefer traditional textbook companies.

Microcredits and Badges.

An emerging professional development “economy” of competency based micro credentials has teachers taking a new type of course. These small courses, for example, could have a teacher focusing on “checking for understanding.” They would take online instructional materials, but then involve peers and colleagues in a person submitting a demonstration of skill.

The fascinating aspect of micro-credentials is the melding of online and offline learning.

This area is evolving rapidly. So quickly, that the proliferation of badges has many calling for more rigor in the earning of badges. So, in this case, not all micro credentials or badges are created equal.

5 – Unconferences

If you’ve read this far, perhaps you can see why the teacher unconference is so popular. The most popular form of the unconference is the Edcamp, but many conferences are scheduling an “unconference” day with this same format.

At Edcamps across the world, teachers show up on a Saturday morning to an unconference location. It is free. Teachers self-organize into topics. If people want to learn something, they show up to the designated room. If a session doesn’t meet their needs, they can leave and go to another one. Teachers can model and create and innovate together. Sometimes they bring gadgets or share lesson ideas. Many teachers love this environment.

However, some locations don’t give teachers professional development credit for these valuable sessions. Understandably, some teachers hesitate to give up personal time without continuing education “credit.” Others like things to be more organized.

But on the whole, many innovators I know like unconferences and prefer them over any other method of professional development.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Personalized learning is the conversation in student learning today. It should be for teachers as well.

We know professional development as it has always existed isn’t working. We also know that we must improve teacher knowledge and learning.

What many people don’t know is that teachers don’t have much time. I have had years with too many “duties.” Those are the years I didn’t innovate. You can’t innovate like a turtle when you’re working like a dog.

So, first, we need to make sure that teachers have time to learn. Let’s streamline paperwork. Let’s remove non-teaching duties. Let’s help teachers focus on teaching and learning about teaching.

Second, teachers must personally commit to learning. If we teachers are freed up to learn and use it to hang out in the teacher’s lounge and bash students, we aren’t innovating like a turtle – we’re becoming toxic waste. As a teacher, it is my professional duty to level up and learn continuously.

And third, I think we need to let teachers have a major role in vetting and determining how they’ll learn and what they’ll do with their PD. We should give teachers the financial resources and the time to go to professional learning opportunities. While teacher shortages are a problem in many places, we can’t shortchange teaching professionals and keep them from learning how to become better teachers. Effective professional development should be a priority.

If personalized learning works, perhaps it should start with teachers.

Let’s learn. Let’s become better teachers. And let’s be part of the evolution of teacher professional development. It’s about time.

The post 5 Simple Ways to Improve Teacher Professional Development appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Amazon Alexa in the Classroom



Episode 108 with Bill Selak

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Bill Selak @billselak shares how he’s using Amazon’s Alexa via the Echo and Dot in the classroom. He shares the ideal grades (in his opinion) and how the Echo is an “assistant” of sorts for his teachers. He also talks about how his school made an app for the Echo and about the biggest mistake they made in implementation.

amazon echo in the classroom

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Bio as Submitted by Guest


Bill Selak Bill Selakis the Director of Technology at Hillbrook School in Los Gatos, California. He is an Apple Distinguished Educator, ISTE 2014 Kay L. Bitter Vision Award recipient, ISTE 2013 Emerging Leader, and a Google Certified Innovator. Bill is currently obsessed with sharing his professional learning on Snapchat.

Transcript


http://ift.tt/2uFHd51

 [Recording starts 0:00:00]

About the Podcast

Starting the week of July 3rd, for three weeks, we’re going to be taking a well-needed summer break from the Ten-minute Teacher. But I wanted to take the chance today to thank those who have supported me on Patreon. You can go to http://ift.tt/2qAC2S9.

Thank You’s

And I want to give a shout out to Evelyn PV, Deborah Johnson and Gina Boyd. I also want to give a shout out to four people who have recently left iTunes reviews; William D. Parker, Diana Maher, Always Learning Admin, and Teacher Mike. I do appreciate those reviews, and it does really help other people find the show. I am so grateful for all of you listening to the Ten-minute Teacher and telling your friends.

For this first season, I also have to thank Lisa Durff, the most amazing research assistant, extraordinaire in the world. And also, my dear husband Kip, who has been an incredible producer. And I hope you guys will give him a shout out, because he’s really done a tremendous job editing the show. I had no idea we would be on such an adventure or so many of you would listen, and I’m really grateful. Thank you so much. And have a great summer.     

About This Episode

Episode 108. The Amazon Echo in the classroom. This is a special ISTE Episode. And I do want to warn you. After some discussion, we decided not to bleep out what we say to activate the Amazon Echo. So if you have one, you might want to listen on headphones or turn the Echo off so we don’t activate your Echo. Enjoy the show. And I hope all of you have enjoyed all the ISTE goodness.

The Ten-minute Teacher podcast with Vicki Davis. Every week day you’ll learn powerful practical ways to be a more remarkable teacher today.

[00:02:00]

How Bill Selak is Using the Amazon Echo in the Classroom

VICKI:          Happy Edtech tool Tuesday. Okay, so I have an Amazon Echo in my kitchen and I love it. But Bill Selak @billselak is using it in his classroom. Bill, how are you using the Amazon Echo?

Note from Vicki Davis: There is the Echo – http://amzn.to/2uz1KHp and the smaller, Echo Dot http://amzn.to/2tcp6PD. Technically, I have the Echo Dot hooked to speakers in my kitchen. Many people who have speakers in their classroom already are just using an echo Dot and hooking it into their class speakers.  

BILL:    Yeah. So that’s a great question, Vicki. We actually have it in all of our first and second-grade classrooms. I got the idea talking with Scott Bedley; @Scotteach  he’s a fifth-grade teacher in Irvine. He applied for a grant and actually got four of them for his classroom, and put one in each corner. And just, he had kind of a hunch and was like, how might we use these as learning tools? Because he was feeling overwhelmed with students coming to him, what’s this and what’s that. You know, in fifth grade, the state report is a big thing in California.

So, like, you know, well, what’s the capital of Massachusetts; and he’s like, just look it up. So all those kind of low-level stuff, students were able to actually use the Echo to get the information from, which freed him up for the more interesting things that I think teachers would want to be doing, like looking really critically at some of these projects.

So I heard him talk about that about thought, wow, how might we use those at Hillbrook School? And so was just telling the story at lunch to Sarah Lee, one of our second-grade teachers, and she was like, “that’s amazing; I would love to have one of those in my classroom; imagine the things you could do.”

So at the lunch table, I just took out my iPhone, bought an Amazon Echo for her and put it in the second-grade classroom, and she was blown away. And so she got it. And we have two sections of second grade; so then the other second-grade teacher thought, well, that’s really cool, I hear students talk about it all the time. You know, they share students an awful lot. And so they would go into the other second-grade class and say, you know, where is the Echo? Or even better, sometimes they’re just…

Or even better, sometimes they’re just…

VICKI:          Where’s Alexa?

BILL:            They’re just like, hey, Alexa; what’s the – and nothing replied.

VICKI:          Oh. Talking to nothing. I guess she’s not in there.

BILL:            I know. And then first and second grade, all four of those classrooms, share one building. We call it a pod. And the first-grade teachers had a couple of Amazon Echos at home, and so they asked, how might we use these in first grade? And that seems to be the sweet spot.

Takeaway: First and second grade seems to be the ‘sweet spot’ for Amazon Echo devices according to Bill Selak and what he’s seen in his school.

[00:04:00]

                    Talking with the kindergarten teachers, and they weren’t particularly excited with the use of it. And we even tried it in a third-grade class, and third-graders got just so excited that no matter what, Alexa will always talk back at you. And so just kind of first and second grade for us, kind of for our culture to be the sweet spot for it. So we’re using it a lot for just really basic facts that are so super important as a first-grader and as a second-grader, so, like, how to spell things and double-checking math facts.

So things that students want to know they got right, so it’s not like a way to cheat, which is a great thing about the Echo. If you’re doing like two-digit addition, if you shout across the room, hey, what’s 24 plus 36, everyone is going to know that actually the Amazon Echo is giving you the answer. But if you’re doing a little bit of work on your own, you can just walk over quietly and say, what’s 24 plus 36; you get the answer and go, cool, I’m right.

So it’s enabled us, in first and second grade, for students to have way more control over their learning and in double-checking things, and it’s freed the teacher from that bottleneck of, how do you spell this, how do you spell this, considering writing time; the teachers are able to work on the more interesting things like story, and let’s try and get a really good hook, and the students write the spelling, which, again, is a really important part of second grade; to be able to spell correctly, it empowers the students to take ownership over their own spelling. So it’s been really cool.

How the Amazon Echo Works

VICKI:          You’re blowing my mind. But I have a couple of questions. So those of you who have not had an Amazon Echo, the way that you activate, it’s kind of like “OK Siri”, and now probably all the devices on my desk are going to go crazy. And I’m actually hoping that Alexa doesn’t hear me from the kitchen. You say Alexa, and then you tell Alexa what to do, and then she’ll do a variety of things, whether it’s, you know, play Jimmy Buffet or set a timer or what’s the news; there’s just so many things you can do. Now, do you have more than one Echo in a classroom?

[00:06:00]

BILL:            We have not tried that. We’re just putting one in every classroom.

VICKI:          See, I’m afraid to do that. Because I would be afraid that she would hear the different places. Now, here’s the next thing; does the school actually have the Amazon account?

BILL:            Yes. So that’s how we did that.

VICKI:          Okay. But you turned off purchasing, obviously. Because if you turn on purchasing at the house, you can say, you know, Amazon, deliver some dog food, and she’ll do it.

BILL:            Yeah, exactly. We have one account right now. And I’ve heard that Amazon is looking at ways of schoolifying these to make them so that a school can own it and it feels a little bit less like, “hey, buy some more fruit loops,” and you’re able to use it. Like, the interface becomes more education-facing.

VICKI:          Yeah. The thing I love is that you can actually look back and see all the things that have been searched on Alexa. So you can monitor it. It’s not like she’s being asked all kinds of things without you knowing what they are; you can actually look and see what those are.

BILL:            Exactly. That’s so powerful, actually, for the teacher to get the analytics on what are students wanting to double-check spelling on.

VICKI:          You know, when I heard, I saw it on Facebook, and you all were talking about using the Echo in a classroom. And I’m like, why didn’t I think of that? I use it all the time. And I’m calling her her, and it’s a thing. What are your teachers thinking about this?

Teacher Response to the Echo in the Classroom

BILL:            It’s great. They actually don’t talk that much about it, which I think is one of the greatest things you can have with technology, is that it just becomes another tool. Like, our teachers aren’t talking about scissors; oh my gosh, we have these new scissors, can I show you how great the scissors are? You might do that like the first day, and then it’s another tool. So Amazon Echo has really just become that pretty quickly.

We went from one classroom to four classrooms in just two years, and it’s another tool; it’s another great thing they can do. We also have TVs, Apple TVs hooked up; beginning of the day, had some kind of mellow, chill music as students come in.

[00:08:00]

                    And that used to be on the TV. And I’ve seen, depending on, I guess, their mood, sometimes they’ll just be playing on the Echo, just having some nice music in the background.

VICKI:          You can just say, you know, Alexa, play some calm music or play some piano music. I mean, you can just say whatever and it just plays it.

BILL:            Exactly.

The Biggest Mistake Made While Implementing the Amazon Echo

VICKI:          So as we finish up, now, we have to say that this is actually part of your whole school life movement to more flexible classroom. And we are going to do an upcoming episode on that, because that’s really the big picture. This is just a tool that’s part of this student-customized environment. But, Bill, what do you think the biggest mistake that you made with the Echo when you first got it?

BILL:            I think the biggest mistake was not setting expectations with students. If you introduce it and say, this is the coolest thing, you can ask it anything, and all you need to say is, hey, Alexa; if that’s how you tee it up, then every human, I would imagine, is going to go, hey, Alexa. But if you talk about, hey, there’s this amazing tool that will help us check math facts, help us check spelling, will give us all kinds of facts, will actually tell jokes also; that’s a big part of the culture at Hillbrook School, is telling jokes. We do that school-wide every Monday. And so, you know, Alexa will even tell us jokes. But saying, here is what we’re going to be using it for so that students see it immediately as an educational tool in the classroom and not just, oh, I can ask it any random question, and be silly around it. And that’s so important. And that’s just, you would do that classroom management-wise with any new thing.

We do that school-wide every Monday. And so, you know, Alexa will even tell us jokes. But saying, here is what we’re going to be using it for so that students see it immediately as an educational tool in the classroom and not just, oh, I can ask it any random question, and be silly around it. And that’s so important. And that’s just, you would do that classroom management-wise with any new thing.

Amazon Alexa Skills

VICKI:          Yes. And they can be silly because you can tell Alexa to talk like a pirate, can’t you?

BILL:            Yes, you can. You can also – you might not know this one. One of our parents actually built a skill – that’s what these little apps are called on Amazon Echos – a skill called the Hillbrook bear, so you can download that skill and say, hey, Alexa, ask Hillbrook bear, and the Hillbrook bear will give you, like, what letter day it is and what school-wide events they are.

Note: A Skill is an app for the Amazon Echo devices. See how to create an Amazon Echo Skill in 6 steps

[0010:00]

                    So we’ve actually used that as part of kind of our morning meeting each morning to find out what’s happening schoolwide. So that’s been a really cool thing also. It’s more than just talking like a pirate.

VICKI:          Yeah. Because skills are something you can add features and functionality. So we have 30 seconds left. What are the – you’ve already talked about math, you’ve talked about spelling, and now you’ve talked about a special app just for your school. Is there anything else cool that people need to know about the Amazon Echo will do in the classroom?

BILL:            So I love just the inquiry that second-graders do around it. When they got it, it was just, what questions do you have. And the second-grade class shared that with me, and it was just 100 Post-it notes. And they went through, like, what’s a question that a database can answer and that can’t answer, and talked about opinions and facts. And it led into so many amazing authentic discussions.

Teaching Tip: Classrooms using Amazon Echos might want to have a discussion about fact versus opinion. Bill’s suggestion here is a great tip for teaching. 

Instead of just saying, today, we’re talking about fact and opinion; you can frame it around, so Alexa didn’t answer this question because it’s an opinion, let’s talk about that. So it became just really authentic learning that was much more student-driven than it otherwise would have been.

Is Alexa an Artificial Intelligence App?

VICKI:          Would you call Alexa AI, artificial intelligence, or not?

BILL:            I don’t know. I think the jury is out on that one. I think that it’s a specific thing; you could make a case either way.

VICKI:          Yeah. Because, really, it’s almost like the semantic web; it’s just accessing the web with your voice, right?

BILL:            Yeah. I think it’s more of just that and other specific things. It can search and query and give you the results of. I don’t think that it really learns in the way that we think of as artificial intelligence.

VICKI:          Yeah. Okay, so we’ve hopefully given you an exciting new tool to consider for your classroom, the Amazon Echo. Happy Edtech Tool Tuesday.

 

Thank you for listening to the Ten-minute Teacher Podcast. You can download the show notes and see the archive at http://ift.tt/2quX4Nu. Never stop learning.

 

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[Transcription created by tranzify.com. Some additional editing has been done to add grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. Every attempt has been made to correct spelling. For permissions, please email lisa@coolcatteacher.com]

The post Amazon Alexa in the Classroom appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



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