Category Archives: ELA

Using infographics for STEM: Part 2

In our last segment on Infographics for STEM, we looked at:

  • what infographics are,
  • why they are so popular now,
  • and what they look like in a classroom.

In this segment, we will look at:

  • more examples of infographics in STEM lessons, including interactive infographics
  • how to use infographics in your classroom
  • professional development opportunities
 

What does an infographic look like in a classroom?

(If you are viewing this on a mobile device, you may need to click on the images to enlarge them)
In this screenshot, you can see that we are in the infographic lesson for the Solar Energy Unit of our Energy Resources STEM project.  Just as good readers make predictions before they read novels, good readers of infographics scan the text and make predictions.  Since we want to make students aware of their metacognition, we ask them questions about what clues they used.
 
Look at the Math concept displayed and think of a question that would fit your grade level.  For instance, in this example, I know that this grade level works to the 10,000s place.  I selected the two numbers on the page that stay within that range.
 
Double dip.  How many Math concepts can you cover with one image?  Common Core, PARCC, and Smarter Balanced all work with progressive questions that build on each other.  Don’t be afraid to put multiple questions on one page.
 

What is an interactive infographic?

 
In interactive infographic is an infographic that can be manipulated in some way.  Sometimes, just hovering over a section of the image creates a pop-up.  Sometimes, it is hyperlinked to more data.  Let’s take a look at an interactive infographic here.  Click on the picture below and explore for a few minutes.
  1. Take a moment to look around the infographic.  It helps if you look in a clockwise motion, starting with the top left corner.  What information will this infographic give you?
  2. Scan your eyes to the top right corner.  What is pictured there?  
  3. Continue to the bottom right corner.  What picture is there?  What information will be there?
  4. Follow this pattern to the bottom left corner.  What can you expect to see there?
  5. Finally, direct your eyes to the middle of the infographic.  What does it say to do next?  
  6. What happened when you clicked one of the circles?
 
Spend some time with the infographic before you use it with students.  What information do you want them to learn?  Don’t be afraid to bring English Language Arts into the conversation too.  In the example above, I used the infographic to reinforce the ELA concept of Greek roots and affixes.  
 
You can still incorporate Math concepts in an interactive infographic.  You may need to take a screenshot of the infographic to really highlight that section.  In this example, I used the same screenshot for three math questions.  
 

How do I teach my students to “read” infographics?

It has been said that “a picture is worth a thousand words”.  Even if you are not labeled a “visual learner”, you have been using your eyes to make sense of the world since infancy.  Fortunately, there are strategies to harness that instinct.  Just as young readers are taught directly how to read a book, 21st century students need to be taught directly how to “read” visual text.
 
http://www.ideasforeducators.com/idea-blog/teaching-students-how-to-read-infographics

Students don’t have to “read” infographics on a computer.  You can print them.  In fact, by printing them and placing them in a page protector, your students can interact with the infographic even more.  I LOVE the ideas presented in this article on IdeasForEducators.com.  

 

  • Place a star next to the very first thing that catches your eye.
  • Place a circle around the one word that best describes the topic.
  • Place a square around important quantitative information
  • Draw an arrow to point out the best graphic that helped you to understand the topic.
  • Put a smiley face next to the data source.
  • Draw an arrow showing the best pathway to follow to read all of the important information.

As students become more adept at reading infographics, you can prompt to respond to 6 common questions in a journal or online text:

6 questions

  1. who
  2. what
  3. when
  4. where
  5. why
  6. how

 

Finally, students should reach a deep level of analysis.


  Ask students to find and analyze an infographic. They should be able to answer the critical thinking questions:


·         Does the infographic cite their sources? and, Are the sources reputable?


·         Is the data relevant?


·         How old is the data?


·         Is there an angle or bias coming through?


·         What is the motive of the organization, person, or group that created the infographic? Is it to educate, entertain, or sell something?


·         Are you being manipulated through the text, colors or graphics?


·         Does the infographic represent an accurate outline of the data?


Where can I learn more about this?

Since visual text is becoming more and more prevalent, professional development opportunities
exist to help teachers.  
 

 

 
 Visual Thinking Strategies offers professional development on how to analyze works of art and other visual text.  With the rise of infographics, there has been an insurgence of webinars on the topic.  You can search directly for infographic webinars.  If you are ready to create your own infographic, you can search YouTube for infographic tutorials.  


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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.

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:

What Does Common Core have to do with Project-based Learning (PBL)?

What is PBL?You might be surprised to learn that there is a direct connection between preparing your students for Common Core and the PARCC exam and using project-based learning in your classroom.  Project-based learning is a great tool to have in your teacher toolkit as you make plans and efforts to prepare your students for the deeper thinking and higher difficulty of the Common Core Standards.

The new standards aim to prepare students for college and career readiness.  Project-based learning (PBL) is a great way to prepare students for Common Core because it emphasizes significant content and real-world outcomes.

Consider the following quote from David Ross, director of professional development for the Buck Institute for Education.

Everyone knows that content is king and Common Core wears the crown. Significant content is one of our eight Essential Elements of PBL. Make an easy connection: Significant Content=Common Core.  Now let’s use a shorter word. When designing a rigorous, relevant, and engaging project, Common Core is the “what.” But what about the “how?” In our minds the answer is obvious: PBL is the solution for Common Core implementation. PBL is the “how.”

 Of course, we realize that PBL is not the only way to help students master these new standards. As states move toward implementation of the Common Core, however, more and more schools and districts are focusing on PBL as their go-to instructional strategy to prepare students for deeper thinking. Next-generation assessments aligned to the new standards (still in development at this writing) are expected to emphasize application of knowledge rather than recall of facts. Here, too, we find common ground with PBL, in which students demonstrate and share what they know or can do through performance assessments. For PBL veterans, student demonstrations of learning are not new at all. They’re an essential element of every project.

 Common Core Standards for English Language Arts include tasks that are very familiar to people who know PBL:

“Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions”

“Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners”

“Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others”

“Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question)”

Common Core Standards of Mathematical Practice also echo PBL best practices. The math standards set expectations for students to do real-world problem solving, use mathematical modeling, apply statistical analysis, and communicate their understanding. “Mathematically proficient students can apply the mathematics they know Loading…to solve problems arising in everyday life, society, and the workplace,” according to the Standards of Mathematical Practice. Such applications naturally have a place within high-quality projects that ask students to use mathematics concepts and procedures in authentic contexts.  (Excerpted from the book PBL for 21st Century Success: Teaching Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity, published by the Buck Institute for Education, 2013)

doonlinecoursesIn the Whiteriver School District, the Tech Ready Grant is currently developing STEM lesson plans for every grade-level that implement Common Core standards.

These units are structured around Science, but also include Math and ELA Common Core standards as well as digital PARCC-type questions in the units.  The Science and Technology elements of the units are used to engage students as well as fulfill the need for informational text required by the ELA standards.

These units are being developed to give WUSD teachers access to PBL units aligned to their curriculum and resources without having to develop them from scratch.  Teachers will be given complete access to the units so that once they are implemented they will be able to make changes, extensions, and additions to the STEM units.

You can access the units that are being developed here.
Use the following login to explore the units:
(Username: wusdteacher  password: pass123)

Troubleshooting Guide for Dell Latitude Tablets

The first phase of the tablet deployment is underway.  Many students have completed a required online technology orientation, in which they have learned the basic operations of the device, their responsibilities and digital citizenship.

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Teachers have also received training and in class support.  Many have already started using the devices to support instruction.  During this second phase of deployment, we have learned a few lessons  have caused trouble for teachers and students. The Tech Ready Team has created a troubleshooting guide to help with the most common technology glitches and difficulties. You can download the Tablet Troubleshooting Solutions guide for your convenience.

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Teachers are not the only ones that are learning how find solutions to technology difficulties.  Students are also learning to become excellent problem solvers and eager to help each other by showing off their troubleshooting skills.

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Challenges and technical difficulties are inevitable, especially when using new technology, but providing teacher support and finding solutions is a critical factor for success.  A BIG thank you to all the WUSD teachers for their participation and dedication!

Finding Common Core, I mean AZ CCRS, activities.

Masteryconnect.com has released a new tool to help teachers find classroom activities that meet specific Common Core Standards.  The new tool is called Resource Pins.

Resource Pins is  a free service that allows teachers to post and view activities tied to specific Common Core mcStandards.  If you’re familiar with pinterest the layout will be familiar.  It has only been open to the public since the middle of November; however, there are already over 10,000 resources posted!

If you would like to try the service simply go to http://masteryconnect.com and click on the “JOIN FREE” button.  Once you have set up your free account, you will be able to access the Resource Pins.

  You will find the “Resource Pins” button on the top menu.  Simply use the search boxes to choose the Subject, Core, Class, and Standard categories.  If you wish to add Resources use the “Add Resource Pin” button on the top right.

Click the picture below to see a sample query for 10th Grade ELA standard RL.9-10-10

Resourcepins

Getting Set up With Your Online Textbook – Glencoe and McGraw-Hill

The White Mountain Tribal Fair and Rodeo has arrived, your classroom roster is set, and September is here.  If you have a Glencoe or McGraw-Hill textbook it’s also time to get your online resources set up through the ConnectEd website.Connected
Not sure if you have online textbook resources for your classroom?
WUSD #20 has online textbook resources for Reading and Literature from 2nd to 8th grade.  Social Studies textbooks for 7th and 8th grade have also been added this year.
treasuresconnected

If you’re new to ConnectED, there is a great resource  entitled, “Intervention Tools: Treasures Connected” that has all the information you need to take you through the steps of setting up your class, adding students, and assigning work.  This resource is set up as a class in Moodle, so you will have to enroll with your username and password.
However, you do not need to do the assignments- simply watch the videos and follow the 5 steps to setting up your class.

If you want to take the course for 301 credit, email me, and I’ll open up the course  if there’s enough interest.

If you’ve used ConnectEd before you will only need to go set up your class.  If you’ve switched grade levels you will need the mastercodes for your new textbook resources.  To get the secret mastercodes click here.  Yes, you will have to use your username and password to login.  They wouldn’t be very secret if you didn’t.