Introducing Online Writing Tools There are several different ways to help develop students’ writing skills, but implementing online tools is one of the best choices. This is due to many students’ inherent interest in all things technological – a lot of students have a fascination with any new tool that can simplify a basic task (like writing). If you’re interested in using online tools to help your students with their writing, the following list contains some useful ideas and websites.
Blogging: Let’s start with something simple: give your students a blog. You can have each student start his or her own page, or you can assign pairs, groups, or an entire classroom to one blog. This isn’t a fancy tool that will do part of the writing legwork for your students, but it’s a huge motivator and it’s fun. You might consider assigning blog topics, or you can have students research and propose their own “blog identities” before they start to write. The more you can get them invested in the idea of blogging, the more they’ll learn from the experience. Click here to learn more about getting started with free student blogging.
ReadWriteThink’s “Student Interactives”: Head over to this page at readwritethink.org for the handy Webbing Tool, Notetaker, Printing Press, and more. Many of the “Student Interactives” like these are useful, and they’re also indexed by grade level appropriateness. These types of tools can be a great interactive way to gain useful writing skills.
Model Bank: Introduce your students to Model Bank, a website with interactive versions of successful writing in common middle school and high school formats. For example, students can find a sample of a good poem analysis with notes in the margins and a printable “Writer’s Guide” to help implement the successful parts of the sample. The concept of “leading by example” does have merit in writing, and Model Bank is a great way to accomplish that.
Montessori curriculum follows a specific order when presenting activities. The Montessori preschool guide to cutting includes activities in both practical life and art, to help the child develop the required dexterity for proper manipulation of scissors.
BOISE, Idaho — State lawmakers will have final say in whether Idaho scraps a requirement that high school students pass standardized tests in science before they graduate.
A plan to dump the requirement is set to go before the 2011 Idaho Legislature, which convenes in January.
Public schools chief Tom Luna says science classes vary from district to district and students are only tested twice - in the 5th- and 7th-grades - before it really counts.
Luna’s office confirmed that the state Board of Education last week approved removal of the science test as a graduation requirement, starting with the class of 2013. Luna’s department was directed to create end-of-course assessments in science that students will have to pass to graduate.
Getting first graders to start to write about their favorite topics is usually an easy task for the teacher. Guide them to think about their favorite things, people, or hobbies, and work on that interest to build up their motivation to write about it. However, what’s more challenging is how to teach revising, editing, writing first grade outputs. Here are activities you can do with your students during writing laboratory sessions on revising and editing:
"My Special Tools"
During your mini-lesson on revising and editing, gather everyone on the reading rug and present to them, through a cartolina chart, a sample passage that you wrote. Then, tell the students that you need their help—they are to suggest more interesting words that you may want to add in your passage. If they have a suggestion, they should raise their hand and approach you. They will then be given the adding tool (
) made of cut-out cardboard. They are to insert this symbol where they want to add a word, after which they will then write the word/s that they want to contribute. Affirm each student as they make use of this symbol, and ensure that almost everyone is called up front.
Do the same procedure for deleting words that they feel are not important in the passage. Make them use the deleting tool (
) in accomplishing this task.
Tell your students how important it is for a classmate of theirs to read their work and make suggestions on how to make their work better. Give your first graders the opportunity to conference by pairing them up, assigning who is Partner A and B in each pair, and giving them a set of “Walkie-Talkie” stringed plastic cups. Organize their arrangement such that all A’s are lined against one wall and all B’s are lined against the opposite wall. Then, they are to set up their stringed plastic cups which will act as Walkie-Talkies. First, Partner A will whisper to their Walkie-Talkie the passage that s/he wrote. Partner B listens, and when A is done, Partner B will whisper on his/her Walkie-Talkie (1) his/her favorite part of the passage and (2) his suggestion on what words to add to his passage. They will switch roles after ten minutes.
The purpose of letting students read aloud and listen to passages are:
3. Listening to a passage is more effective for students to identify word choice and fluency (even though at their stage, these two concepts may just translate to “Maybe you want to use the word ______. It sounds more cool.”)
Another way of conferencing is the Peer Conference via the Author’s Chair. While the Author’s Chair is used more to showcase works of students, you can also use this opportunity for the students to give praise to and suggest more revisions for the writer so that his/her writing would improve.
Gather everyone to the reading corner and call on a volunteer to sit in the Author’s Chair. After s/he reads his/her work, the teacher will model how to give feedback by telling the author what s/he liked most about the passage and what she suggests on making the passage better. Before the activity, make sure that you review to the class the write way to phrase a suggestion: It would be better if ______________________ rather than I don’t like the part where _____________________. After your turn, call on your students to also give their feedback to the author currently on the Author’s Chair.
After the Pair Conference and the Author’s Chair, you can then give time for students to improve on their work based on others’ suggestions. Remind them to use the adding and deleting symbols in their revising and editing activities.
Revising and editing writing first grade outputs is more meaningful for students when they see how their work impacts their classmates. They get to feel that writing is also a community effort and that they need each other in order to improve as writers.
The research for the stories was funded through the non-profit Hechinger Institute, which sponsors investigative journalism on education issues and is directed by a former fellow at the pro-charter Hoover Institution at Stanford — which makes the stories’ critical conclusions about this issue even more striking. Parents and students explained to the reporters how charter staff openly recommended that they transfer back into public schools or required them to pay hundreds of dollars to the school for the students’ disciplinary infractions.
As the reporter for WBEZ notes, Chicago school chief Ron Huberman dismissed such stories as a “myth,” but then failed to provide an evidence for his claims:
Now, journal articles aren’t exactly hard to come by on the web. You can always search Google Scholar for whatever you’re looking for, some universities offer their own search tools, and there are plenty of topic-specific sites that can help you find relevant material. The problem, according to Academia.edu founder Richard Price, is that this content and the communities around them are very fragmented. So Academia.edu built a directory of as many journals as it could find.
The feature is pretty straightforward: head to Academia.edu, and you can browse through over 12,500 journals sorted by topic (here’s a listing of publications related to biology). You can opt to ‘follow’ your favorite publications, and relevant stories will start popping up in your Academia.edu news feed, so you don’t have to worry about looking them up yourself every month. Price also says that this feature ranks journals by how many followers it has, which could be used to gauge how influential (or at least, how popular) a given journal is.
I’ve always wanted to share some of my files and resources with people on Tumblr. I feel that it’s a more visual way and practical way to share information, and I figured out how to! All I did was a create a website (for free) that allowed me to upload one a document that I adopted from my super,…
Maniac Magee is one of my favorite children’s novels. I have not had the opportunity to teach it, as I generally work with students too young for the book. However, I did read it and write a paper on it for my undergrad Children’s Lit course. Then, for my masters, I built a reading unit around it (I was partnered with someone in the intermediate grades, and I agreed to do a book in her grade area). This book is excellent for teaching about bullies, racism, a sense of family, and fairness. There is SO SO much that can be done with this book.
I do not think that teacher-education programs have your practice co-teaching and working with an aide enough. I know I had a hard time finding balance at first, and was always worried about stepping on someone’s toes. When I had an aide, I really had a difficult time delegating anything to her, so I pretty much did everything myself (well, it also didn’t help that my aide didn’t like children).
I think this is an excellent article for teachers to read.
omeone asked me yesterday if I knew of a simple voice recording service to replace the one that Drop.io offered before announcing their shut down. Vocaroo could be a good replacement for the Drop.io voice recording service.
Vocaroo is a free service that allows users to create audio recordings without the need to install any software. You don’t even have to create an account to use Vocaroo. All you need to provide is a microphone. I used the microphone built into my MacBook to make the recording below. To create a recording just go to Vocaroo.com, click record, grant Vocaroo access to your mic, and start talking. After completing your recording, Vocaroo gives you the choice to publish it or to scrap it and try again.
This could be an excellent tool for my students that need their tests read to them, but do not come to see me enough for them to take all their tests with me.
With this site you can create bar, line, area, pie, and xy graphs.
I used this when I taught K-1 on my smart board to make bar graphs as a class on things like favorite colors, favorite holidays, what color shirt students were wearing, etc. I also had it book marked as one of the activities that students could do in the computer center.
I know that Everyday Math has students learn about rules in math by using a function machine. Students are given a number, the end number, and have to figure out the rule is. Sometimes they are given the number, and the rule, and they have to find the end number, etc. This would be a fun game to use to have students practice that and then check their answers.
This site covers everything from adding and subtracting to exponents. It gives a full explanation of how different operations work, as well as some visuals to help students. The game section is mostly puzzles and mazes, but also has connect four and chess.
Due to the type of my position, I do not have parent / teacher conferences. I don’t see my students daily, and some of them I only see once a week. If it were up to me, I’d have parent teacher conferences, but this is the set up my school has. The students that struggle the most are on a support plan, and we meet regularly with the parents before school though, so I do get a chance to talk to them then.
Our parent / teacher conferences are on Friday. Which means I get Friday off! My co-workers do not.
I think sometimes a lot of our parents forget that they signed permission for their child to come work with me at the beginning of the year. So, at parent / teacher conferences I give each teacher one of the following for each of their students that I see on a regular basis:
letter reminding them who I am
how often that group of students usually comes to see me
the content standards we have covered so far
list of web resources and activities that they can do at home to reinforce what they are doing in school
I do one of those for each grade and they all get the same letter.
Then I do a handwritten note on a “Note from the Teacher” paper that I can type up Name- Teacher - Grade- Comments - free on my free Mailbox Magazine Extras account . On this I write about each student specifically. I mention their behavior (I have very few behavior issues, so I usually write that they are respectful, helpful, ready to learn, etc. whatever truly fits the child). I note improvements they have made this quarter, and what we will still be practicing (what they are struggling with). I like to begin with a positive, give anything they need improvement on, and then end with another positive. It is important to me to communicate with the parents about progress and areas that we need to work on, but it is also important to me that I value their child. I think forming it like this helps keep anyone from being defensive. When I had my own classroom I followed with the same formula. Open with a positive, discuss weaknesses and the plan to help the student, end with more positives.
“Personally, I don’t think teachers are resistant to change because we are hell bent on making sure schools fail, because, hey, who cares, we get summers off and oh by the way we need to walk out the door at 3. I think some teachers are resistant to change because they know that in twenty minutes or two weeks or two months or two years it’s all going to CHANGE AGAIN. And again. And again. And one more time just for ha has and/or to possibly mess with our heads. The Powers That Be can be crazy like that.”—Change, from It’s not All Flowers and Sausages
There are surely tons of other nuanced things that I do from day-to-day, but hopefully this list will help get those of you struggling with this issue started. Did I miss something? Add it in the comments below.
A little while ago, I had a question about classroom management and dealing with defiant students. I strongly feel that classroom management and promoting and environment where students feel safe and respected are the essential components to having a successful classroom. Click the link to read the entire article.
One-hundred-and-fifty years ago, Americans went to war with themselves. Disunion revisits and reconsiders America’s most perilous period — using contemporary accounts, diaries, images and historical assessments to follow the Civil War as it unfolded.
Welcome to the wonderfully diverse world of children’s multicultural literature, “literature that represents any distinct cultural group through accurate portrayal and rich detail” (Yokota, 1993, p. 157). Such literature appears in different genre which together present a multitude of perspectives about the lives, culture, and contributions of each cultural group to American society.
This web site contains links to annotated bibliographies of children’s multicultural books appropriate for the elementary grades (kindergarten through grade six). Cultural groups currently listed include: African Americans, Chinese Americans, Latino/Hispanic Americans, Japanese Americans, Jewish Americans, Native Americans, and Korean Americans.
Books are categorized by genre: realistic fiction, information (non-fiction), traditional literature, biography, historical fiction, poetry, and fantasy.
Each annotation includes an approximate grade level designation, e.g., K-3, 4-6.
Each link above contains related links for elementary school teachers.
No attempt has been made to evaluate the literary quality of each work nor its appropriateness in terms of cultural content. It is left to teachers to determine each book’s appropriateness/relevance to his/her children and curriculum.
After hopping endless subways and trains (in pointy heels) I managed to arrive to my grad classes on time. And good thing that I did because I learned about two different activities that focus on improving students’ use of interesting, specific details in their writing. The exercises are…