Engnology

Reflections of Blending English and Technology in the Classroom

Archive for the ‘twitter’ Category

15 Teacher Tips to Help Students Finish the Year Strong

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Last week I was contacted by Laura McMullen, a reporter for the U.S. News and  World Report , who wanted to interview me the following day about tips I had for teachers to finish the year strong. She explained that she had searched for “high school teachers” on Twitter and my account popped up. She checked out my tweets and blog (a teachable moments for my students) and decided I would be perfect for the article she was writing.

On Monday, the article came out – “Three Tips for Teachers to Help Students Finish the Year Strong” – which combines a few of the tips and examples that I gave to her.  During the time I initially received the first email I was collaborating with my friend Tim Hadley, a Social Studies teacher at Pekin High School. He agreed to act as my sounding board as I created a list of tips. Tim also graciously added a few of his own tips to the document. I thought I would share the complete list with all readers…

1.  Make a list of goals/objectives you wish to have students meet before the end of the year, prioritize them, and post in the classroom.
2. Chunk larger assignments into smaller sections; each section having due dates. This helps with procrastination and students waiting until the last minute to finish work.
3. End of the year is a great time to invite in speakers relevant to content studying into your classroom, either physically or virtually.
4. Give students choice. How do they want to demonstrate their learning?
5. Take advantage of the nice weather – reading, writing, geocaching, science experiments. Can your classroom be mobile and outdoors?
6. Provide an audience for your students projects, writing, etc. other than yourself.
7. Remain consistent with the routines and rules established at the beginning of the year.
8. Collaborate – get your class connected with students who are studying the same thing.
9. Reflect on the year and invite students to do the same; collecting responses to what they have learned, skills they have gained, least favorite and most favorite activities.
10.  Spiral review- Connect prior learning from throughout the year with what you are doing currently and have students predict what they will learn about to the end of the year.
11. Don’t fight distractions, feed them. Tie lesson plans into summer plans. Have a student taking a trip? Talk about the places they will go or have them plan the ultimate summer vacation.
12. Get students active. Plan a service project for your community in which students can give back to their community.
13. Talk about the future. Have students give input about the year and the course of study they have been engaged in. Ask them for advice about what and how should be taught to incoming students.
14. Create a classroom survival guide. When students are reflecting on the course, have them create a short survival guide for next year’s students on what they can expect from the course.
15. With the ending of a school year comes new beginnings. Have students create goals and aspirations for what is next in their lives

Please add your list of tips below!

Written by sfarnsworth

April 26, 2012 at 2:17 am

“You Never Know Unless You Ask” – Skype with Poet Taylor Mali

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As a bell ringer during the poetry unit, I share with students one of my favorite poems. This helps to showcase different poets, forms, poetic devices, etc. Tuesday began with Taylor Mali’sWhat Teachers Make” and a few other poems of his. The students fell in love with his boldness and play on words. He was a poet that they immediately connected with; speaking about school, relationships, typos…

Throughout the day I noticed tweets to Mr. Mali  from my students and much to my surprise he responded back to them. One of my students (I have labeled the “Queen of Social Media”) suggested he skype in with our class. We were all shocked and pleased when Mr. Mali agreed, stating to the student, “You never know unless you ask.”

Mr. Mali skyped with the students the following week. He spent time answering questions, inspiring students, and connecting with the kids. At the end, as a surprise, he sent them all a copy of his poem, “How Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog” and recited it for them. A memory that we all reflect upon fondly.

Top Things Students Learned:

1. Poetry is COOL!

2. Twitter and other Social Media connects you with experts/world.

3. You don’t know unless you ask…

The next day the students were abuzz talking about skyping with Mr. Mali weekly, other people they wanted to skype with, understanding the power of technology to connect them to the world! This experience is one they will never forget, and they joke about telling their own children one day how they met Taylor Mali.

One of the highlights of my career!

Written by sfarnsworth

March 2, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Teaching Tether Free: ipad and the Apple tv

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Three weeks ago I was given an ipad to aid in my teaching. Having never touched one before, I was excited to explore the possibilities and advantages that teaching with an ipad would offer to the students. I was also at an advantage having both an HDMI projection system and an apple tv to air stream my ipad through. (I would recommend both of these additions to maximize use) I have found 2 main advantages while teaching with an ipad:

1. No anchors, unlike hooking my laptop up to the dongle and then projecting from my station, with my ipad, I am MOBILE. Because of the wifi capabilities within our building, I am able to essentially be anywhere in the school and stream into my classroom. It is hard for me to sit still or stand in one place while teaching. With the ipad, I am able to move about freely. Mobility means closer proximity to students, easier monitoring options, and through the app Splashtop, I am able to control my laptop wirelessly displaying any document, program, etc. I might need from there.

2. Student Examples, I will list a few of my favorite apps later in the post, but one that I use most frequently is Noteshelf. Through Noteshelf I am able to draw, annotate, and explain in real time using student work. Take for example grammar, as I am walking around the classroom I notice a common mistake in students’ writing concerning commas. I can quickly snap a picture of their essay, annotate it, and use their own work as an example. This provides relevance and engagement; the examples are specific to their own writing. In essence, my ipad becomes a mobile document camera, when combined with noteshelf it allows me the capabilities to manipulate the document without being tethered to one place.

Must Have Apps So Far:

Splashtop

Noteshelf 

Zite 

ShowMe

Tweetdeck

Inkling 

Written by sfarnsworth

November 22, 2011 at 1:44 am

6 Word Memoir

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Last year creative writing students wrote 6 word memoirs; they enjoyed the exercise but it did not draw the attention that it has this year. With new students, the assignment has taken on a life of its own. I was attending a meeting out of the district  last week when I assigned this writing exercise. Students read excerpts about memoirs, background information about the 6 Word Memoir, as well as examples that have been collected in the past . Finally, students were to write their own memoirs to be shared with their blogging community. Half way through the meeting I started receiving emails from students containing examples of their personal memoirs, as well as added phrases such as “this is fun,” “love this,” and “when do we share.”

Each student will select one memoir to illustrate and submit to be published in a collection. In essence, they are creating the Class of 2012’s 6 Word Memoirs. These memoirs have also been springing up on their blogs, facebook, and twitter; proving that students desire to share writing. Three years ago my students shared their writing within the classroom, now they use social media to share with a world wide audience!

<div style=”width:425px” id=”__ss_9097119″> <strong style=”display:block;margin:12px 0 4px”><a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/ShaelynnFarnsworth/screen-shot-2011-0901-at-92926-am&#8221; title=”Screen shot 2011 09-01 at 9.29.26 am” target=”_blank”>Screen shot 2011 09-01 at 9.29.26 am</a></strong> <div style=”padding:5px 0 12px”> View more <a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/&#8221; target=”_blank”>presentations</a> from <a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/ShaelynnFarnsworth&#8221; target=”_blank”>Shaelynn Farnsworth</a> </div> </div>

Written by sfarnsworth

September 6, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Amazing QR Race Staff Kick Off

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BCLUW kicked off the 2011-2012 school year with a staff QR code race organized by new principal, Cari Teske. The staff was grouped together and “raced” around town in search of QR codes that were placed at local businesses. At each business location we had to do 2 things: 1. take a picture of technology in the workplace, 2.  interview bosses on the qualities they looked for when hiring.

Why this worked:

1.Movement – we, as a staff, interacted and physically moved. We didn’t sit and listen in lecture-style manner.

2. Purpose – connected with businesses to see the technology they used and qualities they look for when they hire.

3. Applicable in classroom – this exercise could easily be adapted into the classroom. In fact, when I have students participate in a writing marathon this fall we will mimic this activity.

4. Fun – Learning can and should be fun, even for adult learners.

Top qualities businesses look for when hiring:

1. Communication Skills

2. Appearance/hygeine

3. Punctualality

4. Integrity

5.Personality, ability to get along with others

How many of these are measurable on the state tests? But….. how important are these skills?

Cari used QR Treasure Hunt Generator  to organize and create the codes.

Written by sfarnsworth

August 19, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Travelling the Globe with a Twitter Connection

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A twitter connection has provided another opportunity for the students at BCLUW. I met Aaron Cretin on twitter a few years ago, and in person at the first Iowa 1:1 Conference in 2010. A few weeks ago I received a Direct Message from Aaron asking if I would be interested in discussing a possible connection between my students and his brother, Brian Cretin.

Brian and I met at  Applebee’s where I listened to his college and career journey, his local connection, and his plan to travel the globe this upcoming year!  As I sat and listened my mind raced with possibile learning experiences for my students, from having them consider ipod apps essential to travel, to Google Earth walks in Thailand.  Brian spoke with excitement as he told me how he was introduced to International travel in college. By sharing this global  journey with students, Brian hopes to inspire the students to consider possibilities and opportunities available to them.

Along with skype calls and blog discussions, Brian is also capturing his travel through photography. His web-site, View From A Cretin  showcases images from past travels. Creative writing opportunities  will flood the senses of the students as they start their journey in London and travel to Thailand. From there, Brian will decide where his travel takes him.

Organically, the connection will grow throughout the year. The students will guide the learning tailored to interests on the country, cultures, and travel.

Thank you  Aaron for the connection! And thank you Brian for the opportunities you are providing to the students of small-town Iowa as they view the world with you!

Safe Travels and Skype you in a few weeks!

Written by sfarnsworth

August 18, 2011 at 8:08 pm

#iowaish Trip to Sweden

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At the beginning of the school year I had no idea my year of focusing to connect students globally would include a trip to Sweden. Now back just 2 days, I have had a brief time to reflect on the trip, connection, and collaboration that began back in October with @john_noonan and the students in his Philosophy class at the International School of Helsingborg. Last week, Cari Teske, myself, and 5 senior students flew from Chicago to Sweden.

We had an educational and fun trip which was led by the careful planning of Mr. Noonan. Students had a myriad of experiences from museums, castles (including the one that inspired Hamlet), a Picasso exhibit, European Soccer Match, spent time at the school, and lived with host families. Students tasted local cuisine, navigated through the city with public transportation, and appreciated the cultural diversity that surrounded them!

While much hard work and planning went into a project and trip like this, providing an opportunity for students to connect globally through technology has given them, and me, an experience of a lifetime. A small connection on twitter turned into friendships that across continents. Teachable moments were plentiful on the trip, but the most satisfying thing to come from the whole experience was the students’ desires (from both countries) to connect face to face and creating a plan to make it possible. The students returned with a satisfaction that anything was possible, from traveling to a foreign country to being on their own next year for college!  Next week I will have the students write a reflection and post on this blog… but will leave you with a few pictures of our travels! For more about the project checkout our website IOWAISH

At the reception

Philosophy class

A view of Helsingborg (walking tour)

At Hamlet's Castle

Written by sfarnsworth

March 25, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Global Connection Update (#iowaish)

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Time is fast approaching for our trip to Sweden to meet the philosophy class that we connected with last semester using various social media forums. In March, 5 AP Literature students, myself, and Cari Teske (BCLUW librarian) will depart from Chicago and spend 9 days in Helsingborg, Sweden. This opportunity stemmed from a twitter connection and a desire to connect students globally. Mr. Noonan, a philosophy teacher from the International School in Helsingborg, and myself designed a unit focusing on the understanding of Existentialism and its application to “The Stranger” written by Albert Camus. Although there are many things that will be modified for future use, students gained more than the initial education goals we set at the beginning. The students not only gained an understanding of a difficult philosophy, but also learned to collaborate with others thousands of miles away with differing opinions using technology. The social aspects were the most surprising gains that we as teachers didn’t expect. Students found they had more similarities than differences and added each other on facebook, twitter, etc; becoming fast friends while learning how to use social media for personal and educational uses.

When opportunity presented itself for a chance to meet our “new classmates” we quickly sought parental approval, board approval, and community support. This once in a lifetime trip will bring the connection full circle. We plan to spend time at the school, participate in a Model UN, tour Hamlet’s Castle (a play we also read), visit IKEA headquarters, a trip to Copenhagen, along with experiencing the culture and people of Sweden.

We have started a website to track our progress – Iowaish.net

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be planning a trip to Sweden this year!

Connecting Cultures, Continents, and Classrooms – a testament to the power of 1:1 laptops in the hands of students and teachers!

Written by sfarnsworth

January 5, 2011 at 9:24 pm

#Iowaish – Connecting Iowa and Sweden

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What began as an off -the- cuff request on twitter has snowballed into a collaborative project connecting BCLUW AP Literature students with students from The International School of Helsingborg in Sweden. Each year I teach Albert Camus’s “The Stranger” and struggle through the lecture, questions, and discussions over Existentialism. At the beginning of the school year I met John Noonan a philosophy teacher in Sweden. I approached him for help and a possible guest lecture spot, but after many discussions we decided to connect our students for a collaborative lesson.

Starting in early October, students have connected through twitter(using the hashtag #iowaish), blogs, and Skype.  October 12, will be the first face to face meeting between the two schools. Throughout the next couple of weeks, students will identify characteristics of Existentialism, participate in a Skype video lecture on Existentialism given by Mr. Noonan, and apply their understanding of the philosophy to discussions, readings, and blogs. In November, students will be placed in small groups with members from both the BCLUW AP Literature class and ISH Philosophy class. Collaboratively, they will defend an argument based off of a question posed by myself and Mr. Noonan. A debate will conclude the project.

The 2009 -2010 school year was the first year of the BCLUW 1:1 laptop initiative. The ISH is also a 1:1 laptop school, making the collaboration and connection accessible outside of the walls of the school and hours of the typical school day. Having an opportunity to collaborate with students other than their normal peers, plus with a diverse group such as the one found in Mr. Noonan’s International School, cultivates an understanding of different countries, cultures and opinions. The collaboration increases the writing, speaking and debate skills of the students by constructing an audience other than the typical teacher they interact with daily. The project has already exceeded expectations and the students are looking forward to future connections and the final project.
I will update this blog periodically with our progress!

Written by sfarnsworth

October 12, 2010 at 3:26 am

#GOALLOUT

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Last week I started following and connecting with enpsteacher on Twitter. Reflection on an interaction we had has led to the post you are now reading. We were discussing how to assess student creativity on assignments/projects with thenerdyteacher when enpsteacher suggested a category on a student rubric labeled as “go all out” . This “go all out” category would be difficult to assess yes, but aren’t most of the things we grade subjective? #GOALLOUT began morphing into more than just a measure of creativity on a rubric and at the end of the exchange  we decided to adopt the slogan as our motto for the year. #GOALLOUT would be the focus for teachers, students, and administrators – producing the most effective year ever on record. Although it may have originally been amusing and unintentional, I have decided to adopt this for my focus. I promise to #goallout this year – for my students and myself. I am willing to put in the hard work because I know success and effective, engaging teaching will not fall into my lap. It is not easy to be an exceptional teacher, or else everyone would be one. I do not want to be remembered by my students as a mediocre teacher, I want to be remembered as someone who has influenced their lives and made them thirst for knowledge. It is with this thirst that I will make little differences and send them out into the world to make big ones. I will be prepared, I will challenge thinking, I will engage students, and I will demand greatness. I realize that this is the only 2010-2011 school year my students will have in their lives. I will not take the easy way out and slide by with poor lessons or useless assignments; nor will I allow my students to coast through the year and end up in the same place they began. This year I will #GOALLOUT – will you?

Written by sfarnsworth

August 23, 2010 at 2:52 am