Step Up Your Vocab: The Musical

cc licensed flickr photo shared by bionicteaching This is pretty simple and likely to be pretty fun. It probably fits best in an English classroom1 I’m not sure how I’d start this . . . I think I’d go this route. I’d show the kids a bunch of article headlines and quotes complaining about the deterioration of today’s society and how today’s music sucks. This is really just to get them riled up and interested in proving they’re not the brain dead people being described. The kids pick their favorite favorite song and go find the lyrics. Then you have the kids run they lyrics through something like this site which calculates reading levels. This one isn’t great for this purpose but it’ll do for this demonstration. We just want some sort of number that quantifies the sophistication of the lyrics. The challenge for the kids is to increase the reading level as high as possible while maintaining the spirit of the song and it’s rhyme scheme (if any). So they have to really figure out what makes the reading level go up or down and then apply what they learn. They’ll be working with vocabulary, sentence structure etc. The students will have to think about the essence of the song and struggle with the subtleties of word choice. 1 […]

Jason Tester Presentation

cc licensed flickr photo shared by bionicteaching I saw a presentation today delivered by Jason Tester (Institute for the Future). It was one of the more interesting presentations I’ve seen in a while. The whole presentation was framed around superhero skills for the immediate future. The names are a little silly but he had some fresh websites and I think the ideas are solid. Tester is not an education expert and so he didn’t try to make tight ties to how these skills play out in schools. mobbability -work in large groups while maintaing role, organize and collaborate with many simultaneously influency -ability to be persuasive in multiple social contexts ping quotient -measures your responsiveness to other peoples request for engagement, propensity/ ability to reach out to others via a network protovation -fearless innovation in rapid, iterative cycles open authorship -creating content for public consumption and modification emergensight -ability to prepare for and handle surprising results and complexity (or create the right conditions for it) signal noise management -filtering meaningful info patterns and commonalities from the stream of information coming into our lives cooperation radar -the ability to sense, almost intuitively, who would make the best collaborators on a particular task longbroading -thinking in terms of higher level systems, cycles, the big picture One of the things that struck me […]


If you’re going to do this 21st century thing . . .

Here’s my advice. Get your leadership on board with the same vision of what this looks like. That doesn’t mean “Yeah, P21 sounds good.” or “I like ISTE’s version.” If your administration is going to push this as something that needs to be done, they actually have to know what they’re talking about in detail. General comments about doing things 21st century style won’t cut it. The vision has to come from the top and it has to be focused on your county/school. Even if you could just apply some framework out of the box you’d lose quite a lot of value. So now you’ve got your vision. You’re going need to have some way to assess where you are now, otherwise there’s no way to see if you’re getting better or where you need to focus specifically. If you really think about you can make a tool that will perform a variety of functions with only minor alterations. This is a good idea for all kinds of reasons- for instance you won’t have to spend enormous amounts of time making brand new tools all the time and the commonalities will make the data more comparable and consistent. Think about observations, quick walk throughs . . . Now you’re going to need to norm the observation tool. If not, you […]


Best Practice, Shared Resources, Tools and Community

Mike Caufield’s post made me realize I’ve done a pretty poor job of publicizing what we’re trying to do lately in good old HCPS1. So here’s my attempt to put this out there for people to spot holes, misdirection, etc. Setting Best Practice We’re turning to video for best practice more and more. We’re doing that for individual subjects, certain pedagogical techniques, major tools like IWBs (no luck so far) and for other things you might not expect like administrator training. We have a whole series dedicated to illustrating the art of the post observation interview for our administrators. It’s a three step process so for some of them we now have the planning conference video, the class itself and then the post-observation wrap up interview. That allows administrators to see the steps of the process, put themselves in the classroom to gather data and then watch how that administrator wraps things up. This video series supports a larger web based structure that has different observational tools, process maps etc. We tend to use the videos when the administration is brought together. They’ll watch a video, break it down in small groups etc. etc. and then be directed back to the main site for the tools/process maps/documentation. So that’s the relatively simple part. Here’s where we’re attempting to merge a […]

BattleDecks (Queensland Rules)

cc licensed flickr photo shared by bionicteaching Way back when, I really, really wanted to do something with this whole BattleDecks idea. Two years or so later and I finally step up to the plate. These were the rules my students got when they came in. Your group will be assigned to one of the following topics. 1. Internet safety 2. 21st century skills 3. Technology integration 4. The future of education Rules * Your presentation will last between 2 and 3 minutes * You can only choose from these 20 pictures 1 * You must use 10 of the provided images * You can add no more than 10 written words in the entire slide show2 You have 30 minutes to prepare. So it’s not exactly like the BattleDecks setup but it’s close enough and I think the rule changes made allow for more processing and a little less improv/comedy talent being necessary. The students had a lot of fun and the presentations were pretty decent. I think they’d improve the more we did this sort of thing. My plan for next semester is to do this weekly or every two weeks as a review of the previous class. I’m kicking around a few additional ideas to keep it interesting. having the students pick the images for the next […]

Questioning – Elementary Math

Dan’s post on math questioning reminded me of the video below and how impressed I was by this teacher’s questioning skills. She ran the whole class like this and made it work well. It really was so much fun to watch. This is an elementary math classroom but I promise it’s worth watching for any teacher. I filmed this a while back. Sadly, it’s too easy to do these projects and put them in the heavily fortified garden a lot of our school video lives in and forget about them. Here is a Word document that was related to this series and adds some context. Here’s the question the students are trying to solve. Although I think she had the questions more clearly delineated. I would suggest heavy reformatting before using it with students. more good teacher questions