An (aspiring) Educator’s Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘lesson plan

Not your grandmother’s time capsule.

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I’m always looking for new ways to show my students how we have grown over time intellectually and socially (community building). Capzules (via angelamaiers on twitter) seems like an innovative new way to do that. Capzules says you can “combine your videos, photos, blogs, and mp3s into rich, multimedia story lines”.

I’m brainstorming uses for my 5th grade class:

– Making our class time capsule during our last morning meeting of the week. Keeping track of our class goals, celebrations, favorite lessons, etc.

– Digital storytelling in language arts, social studies, and science: having students tell stories using digital media.

– Portfolios: uploading student work into a digital portfolio they can keep forever.

– Better teaching: keeping a portfolio of my lessons and contributions of the class. This is a cool way to track professional growth.

capzules

You don’t have to bury this time capsule in the playground.

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Make your video content Klickable.

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One of my friends in nonprofit communications introduced me to Klickable. You can use the site to make web videos click-able. This means you can click on any object displayed in the video to learn more about it. Klickable’s motto is “interactive video that connects you to the content”. Although the folks at klickable are marketing their site for PR purposes (the demo video features a Klickable of a Trump properties commercial), this could be an amazing tool for teachers. We can take videos we find on the internet or ones we make and add a new layer of content for students. If your students do video projects, they can add more information.

Neat deal.

Klickable

Written by TeacherC

1 March 2009 at 2:16 am

Are We There Yet?

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I ran into the City of Memory project via Gothamist:

An organization called City Lore has created an interactive map that fuses NYC cartography with its residents’ oral histories. Whether on the news, the subway, or even online, New Yorkers see mapped representations of their town several times a day. City Lore’s City of Memory map has deepened that visual familiarity by creating an interactive environment where users can hear vignettes from other New Yorkers about their lives. The organization, which is sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation among other groups, has produced a number of the stories itself, but the general online public is free to submit their own stories for placement on the map.

This amazing project got me thinking about lesson plans involving oral histories and interactive maps. Google has easy to follow video and text tutorials that show users how to personalized Google maps including place-markers, videos, shapes, pictures, and other annotations.

I found examples for how interactive maps and oral histories can be used across the curriculum:

Stay tuned for a more complete lesson plan.

A Dance Eduhack: The 2 Minute Dance Party (Revolution)

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Dance first.  Think later.  It’s the natural order. – Samuel Beckett

Next time you’re mad, try dancing out your anger.  – Sweetpea Tyler

We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.  – Japanese Proverb

I stumbled across the 2 minute dance party in college. It’s 3 am. You’ve exhausted your supply of diet coke, coffee, and peanut butter M&Ms. Your mind has gone so fuzzy that you can’t remember simple facts. Your thoughts wander. Sample inner monologue: “Did the Civil War end in 1864 or 1865? Should I use an OLS or logistic regression model to model the determinants of binary dependent variables? Why is OLS ‘BLUE’? Who played Cowboy Curtis on Pee-wee’s Playhouse? What’s my cell phone number?…. Who am I?!?”

Enter the 2 minute dance party. I throw on a song with a fast tempo and dance like Kevin Bacon in Footloose. When the dancing is over I attempt my studies with renewed vigor – usually, it works. I retain more of what I read, come up with innovative ideas, and avoid the 3 am existential crisis.

It turns out that there are a few studies about the impact of exercise on learning (see NPR story). One of my projects this summer is to come up with ways to mold movement into my lessons. Daily 3 minute dance parties, active science experiments, jumping jack spelling bees, acting out stories, and concept relays are just a few ideas.

I don’t want my classroom to be like that little town in Footloose.

We all love Ellen’s dance parties:

Written by TeacherC

4 June 2008 at 11:42 am

When washing their mouths out with soap isn’t an option.

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That Works…. – An EducatorBlog Comic

Forget the soap

I believe that the use of profanity is an issue that teachers should tackle. Why? First, many swear words have a derogatory history. Even if students don’t know this history, they are engaging in forces of discrimination and oppression. Second, students need to understand the words they use and strive to achieve new levels of complexity in their language. I’ve realized the occasional F-bomb gets my point across in certain situations but realize there are more sophisticated and appropriate ways of expressing myself. If students believe that they are using adult language, they may not push themselves to develop superior modes of expression. As this NPR story points out, children use profanity because they are trying to adopt adult modes of communication and behavior – they are trying to push themselves out of childhood and into adulthood. As a normal part of language acquisition, children pick up these words from parents, peers, and the media.

Third, students need to understand swearing disrupts professional environments. Students should understand that how they address peers on the playground and on the bus may not be appropriate for all social situations. Linguists call this code switching. Successful adults know how to change their manner of speech when necessary. The syntax, grammar, and content of my speech that I use to speak to a dartboard competitor at a sports bar are different than what I would use to communicate with my students.

Here are a few innovative ways that teachers can educate students about the power of their own words:

After overhearing a derogatory phrase or profanity, educate students about why the terms are inappropriate. Many teachers just tell students “DON’T DO THAT!!!” instead of creating a learning experience. Students need to understand the history of the word from a linguistic and social perspective. How has the word been used in the past? Has the meaning changed over time?  How do students use the word now?

Then, the analysis needs to go a step further – students need to understand how their use of the word connects to history. Are they promoting values of respect and social justice when they use those words? How might certain ethnic, cultural, and social groups react? On a simpler level – is it ‘nice’ or ‘mean’ to use those words?

Students need to feel like they have control over the language they use. After students learn about the history of a word and the social implications of using the word, the whole class should make an agreement that the word will not be used. Older/more advanced students can discuss the merits of using the word in art, literature, or pop culture.

There are many ways to integrate these ideas into the classroom – the discussions would look different in a middle school and a high school classroom. Maybe you have students make wordless posters about the word or how people feel when they hear the word. If you are reading controversial material that uses profanity and derogatory language (Joyce, Twain, slavery/Jim Crow narratives, the history of the Holocaust, etc) you can discuss these words as they appear in the material and debate whether or not they should be used in that way.

The key is to give students the information that they need to make better choices. This will not work in all cases – there will always be students who choose to use profanity and derogatory language. If students understand the negative history of a word (its relationship to slavery, oppression, the Holocaust, etc), maybe they will be less likely to throw it around in daily conversation. Also, students need to feel like they have a personal stake in the learning environment and understand the power that their words have on others.

Teachers should clarify policies with administrators before they tackle profanity in the classroom – are teachers aloud to teach material that has profanity? Can a teacher utter profanity in certain education contexts? Are permission slips required for these experiences?

If teachers create an environment where profanity is not an issue, we can focus on the development of sophisticated language skills.

Here are a few links:

Online Etymology Dictionary: the history of words.
Interactive Dictionary of Racial Language: An instructor of a college course on race and language has her students post entries.

“Ghetto” – The New “N Word”: Harold M. Clemens that argues that the word “ghetto” perpetuates racism.