Monthly Archives: March 2014

Why STEM Projects Work

As the Tech Ready Team has been working on building STEM projects this year, I’ve had a chance to see how these projects are working in the classroom and the great opportunities that these projects are opening up across our district.

The slideshow below is part description, part reflection on the ways they’ve been successful, and part vision of how they could be expanded.  Take a look at it.

Advertisements

How to Moodle… Just Ask Us

If you’re the type of person who likes to have a manual to refer to this is the Moodle resource for you.  howtomoodle

How To Moodle is a company that provides training for schools and teachers using Moodle as their classroom website.  They have decided to make available for free their Moodlemanualmanual on using the latest version of Moodle.  If you’re the type of person who likes to have a manual to refer to this is the Moodle resource for you.  The manual is useful with all versions of Moodle, but WUSD will  hopefully have the latest version of Moodle up and running soon at your school.

To download the manual click here, you can also find it on the WUSD Tech Resources page under the LMS section.  It’s in pdf format so you can refer to it as an eBook in electronic format.  Before you click the link and push print, be forewarned that the manual is 162 pages.  Below is a screenshot from the manual on the Moodle Quiz Activity:

quizactivity

Finding Common Core Passages Online

Common Core, or as Arizona calls it, Arizona’s College and Career Readiness Standards, states,

To build a foundation for college and career readiness, students must read widely and deeply from among a broad range of high-quality, increasingly challenging literary and informational texts….By reading texts in history/social studies, science, and other disciplines, students build a foundation of knowledge in these fields that will also give them the background to be better readers in all content areas.

Some school districts are purchasing “common-core aligned” curriculum to help their teachers find those complex texts in other disciplines.  However, many school districts do not have funds for this.  Teachers are left to search endlessly on the internet to find informational texts at their students’ reading levels.  Until now…..

ReadWorks.org is a non-profit website which offers high-interest passages and comprehension questions.  The passages are fully-searchable.  Teachers need only type in a keyword, select the reading level, and search.

The site is free and sign-up is quick.  There are hundreds of high-quality passages for grades Kindergarten through 6th grade.

Go to ReadWorks.org to start searching now.  You can search in the box in the top right corner.

When you have created a profile, you may save passages to “My Binder”.

If you don’t know exactly what you want to read about, you can search by standard.  Click on “My Standars Alignment” at the top.  If you already have a profile, it will direct you to your state standards.  If the pacing guide (curriculum map) for the week says “Cause and Effect” you can select that standard.  **Make sure you select the correct grade level.

Lesson plans are designed with the Gradual Release of Responsibility framework of “I do, We do, You do”.  Most lesson plans also include:

  • learning objectives
  • a vocabulary routine
  • guided practice
  • graphic organizers to scaffold understanding
  • student engagement strategies (Turn and Talk, Buddy Buzz, etc.)
  • independent practice with multiple choice questions and constructed response prompts
  • extension ideas
  • novel studies (for 5th and 6th grades, however, I have used some of those novels in 4th grade)
  • paired text

I want to take a minute to explain the paired text feature.  Common Core asks for readers to make connections between texts.  If your district-adopted curriculum does not provide paired texts, it can be very time consuming for teachers to find texts on the same subject and reading level.  On ReadWorks.org, the work is done for you!

For a tutorial on finding specific texts, watch this video:

Troubleshooting with 4 A’s

Schools everywhere are acquiring more and more technology with the goal to benefit teaching and learning.  Unfortunately, experiencing technical difficulties from time to time is inevitable. Good things can also come from these, sometimes frustrating technical problems.  Troubleshooting is a skill that in this day and age everyone should be prepared to handle, regardless of their level of expertise.  Teacher and students will become technology independent and more tech savvy, but the greatest benefit is the critical thinking and problem solving skills that the student will acquire.

There are two things to remember about troubleshooting:

  • The goal is not necessarily to”fix” the problem. If you can’t find the solution, that is okay! Sometime even the “expert” wont have a solution.  Instead focus on how you as a teacher, can use this problem solving process to publicly exhibit how your students analyze information, draw conclusions, take action, and evaluate by reflecting on the outcome.
  • Don’t think of troubleshooting as a technical term, think of it as a logical procedure.

Following the  4 A’s below will help guide you and your students through the troubleshooting process.

troubleshooting diagram

  1. ATTITUDE- The most important and most difficult step to when troubleshooting is having a positive attitude.  Your attitude will determine how you control the situation.  Having a positive attitude will also increase your chances of success.
  2. ASK – Stop, think, and ask questions.  Ask yourself and your students what happened and why it happened. The more questions you ask, the more in-depth diagnosis you will generate.
  3. ANSWER – Answer the questions you asked yourself and your students.  Let your student generate assumptions and evaluate the information.  From here, you can proceed with the process of elimination to narrow down the problem.
  4. ACTION – Use your and your students’ intuition to take action(s) to resolve the problem.

If the problem is fixed, you and your students will have saved the day!  If the problem is not fixed, do not get discouraged. Reflect on the outcome , ask more questions, and try again.  If after a few tries, the problem is not fix, don’t panic. Remind yourself and your students that some problems are harder to fix than others.  Effort and what was learned from the process is the most important lesson.  If you need to seek for additional help from tech support, try to stay involved so you collaboratively fix the problem.

The more practice, the more effective and successful you and your students will become. So next time your having technical difficulties, instead of having the “expert” work their “magic” and save the day, let your students be your heroes!

Innovation Nation: A STEM Festival

Ination poster

Click the picture to download the poster in pdf format. Print on legal size paper.

The rest of the country has set their clocks forward, Spring is around the corner, and it’s time for a STEM festival.
On Wednesday, May 14th, the Chief Alchesay Activity Center will be host to Innovation Nation.

This event has been designed to bring awareness of STEM opportunities to the White Mountain Apache Nation as well as spotlight student STEM projects in the Whiteriver School District.

Booths will be set up from private companies, STEM organizations, Universities, and Government Agencies that will highlight innovation, new ideas, and creativity.

Winners of school contests at each school will be presenting their projects at the festivals.   During the event students, community members, and teachers will receive tickets for participating in activities at the various booths.  Participants can use the tickets they earn to “purchase” food at the event.

Students can participate and win prizes at various engineering and math problem solving competitions during the event.

What Can Teacher’s Do to Participate?

1) Advertise it to your students.

You can download the Innovation Nation Poster here.  Make sure to print the poster out on legal size paper.

2) Participate in the Class Innovation Contest at your School.

Winning classes will receive a pizza party, and we’re also working on prizes for winning teachers.  Contact your STEM curriculum developer or principal for information about the deadline for this contest at your school.  You can download a flyer for this competition here.

3) Attend for Professional Development hours on Wednesday, May 14th.

You’ll receive more information about how to register in mylearningplan.com to receive PD hours for attending.

4) Volunteer to help.

If you’re interested in volunteering to setup, hold student contests, or clean up, please email me: bgoode@wusd.us

Innovation Nation Contest

Click the Image above to download a pdf version of this flyer.

Where Does Writing Fit In?

 

Science cannot advance if scientists are unable to communicate their findings clearly and persuasively. (A Framework for K-12 Science Education)

 

 When you think back on science in high school, there were probably lots of hands-on experiments.  Probably just as many lectures to teach you about the theories and laws of science.  But, how many times did you write about science?  “Well, that’s for the English Language Arts teachers to worry about.”  Not anymore.

 

The Common Core State Standards (or as Arizona calls them “Arizona’s College and Career Readiness Standards”), specifically state that writing and reading is now the job of all content teachers.  “The Standards insist that instruction in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language be a shared responsibility within the school.” 

 

 

The percentage of nonfiction text increases as students move up the grades

as well as the percentage of nonfiction writing projects.

 

Our STEM Curriculum Developers have looked extensively at the Model Content Frameworks to embed writing into the STEM units.  

 

http://www.parcconline.org/mcf/english-language-artsliteracy/overview-frameworks-elaliteracy 

We don’t wish to replace the novel studies and literature circles.  Quite the contrary.  We aim to step right alongside those fourth graders reading City of Ember to start a STEM project on renewable resources.  And we know that teachers have nine hours of content to teach in a seven hour day.  The solution seems to be integration.  Let’s use interdisciplinary units, that have nonfiction text, that prepare our students for 21st century jobs, and that produce writing projects for a global audience.

 

Common Core asks students to “write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences” in Anchor Standard 10.  We have embedded 

 

journal prompts:

Journal page for 2nd graders with sentence stems

 

constructed responses: 

Writing activity after Close Reading of text

online forums:

Students write in an online forum and comment on peer’s threads

and final writing projects:

Digital Poster for final project

 

Website with digital media for final project

Our STEM Curriculum Team actively seeks the input of our teachers.  As we look to future STEM projects, what writing projects would you like to see?