Category Archives: Elementary

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.

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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:

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.

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)

Common Core Math Resources (Free of Charge)

It’s tough to know where to start when looking for Math resources online- there is so much good stuff out there. It’s even more difficult to know where to start when looking for math resources that are aligned to and address the common core standards. This list of math resources has been compiled by http://www.ccedtech.com to specifically help get a handle on Common Core. I’ve added a few more resources to their list. Here they are:

The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives: This site is developed by Utah State University to support K-12. It includes plenty of online exercises.

Inside Math (videos and lessons): A resource for math educators that you should be familiar with.

Interactivate– Common Core Aligned Lessons:  A collection of digital interactive resources aligned to common core math.  Similar to NSDL below.

Learn Zillion – Common Core Aligned Lessons: Video tutorials, guided practice, and lesson plan downloads for teachers.  Read the TechReadyTeam post here.

Opus Math Problem Bank:  This is a search engine to find math problems aligned to common core.  It focuses on 7th and 8th grade.

Eureka Math– Common Core Math Maps: This is a pay site that has a free preview of their digital common core curriculum for grades K, 3, 6, and 9.

National Science Digital Library: Browse the Common Core Math Standards and find plenty of digital resources associated with key learning goals.

Math Video Sites:

Teaching Channel
Numberphile
SEDL
Mathalicious

I think you will find these sites a great help if you take a few minutes to look at them.

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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!

ChronoZoom by Microsoft

Finally, an online timeline resource that is worth posting about. ChronoZoom is free, easy-to-use, and open source. While it looks a lot like Windows 8 (and a lot like Prezi) it is really much easier to use. After creating an account or just logging in with your Google account, you can start creating or adding to timelines that already exist. Below is a screenshot of a timeline in progress on the Earth and Solar System.

Additionally, the help guides that come with the site are actually…helpful. Thank you, Microsoft. And because the project is open-source, users have the options of adding their own timelines or modifying existing ones. If you are super hardcore, you can get into development.

WP post

This is a great resource for class projects in all subjects – small group or individual. Start creating today!

There’s an app for that- Whiteriver Teacher Tool

With the goal of trying to make technology resources easier for teachers to access, I’ve created a web app that can be downloaded on your smartphone or tablet.

If you have access to a smartphone or tablet, simply open a browser and find your way to http://wusd.app.appery.io or scan the QR code below.

QRcode

What’s in the app?

The app consists of 3 parts: Home, Resources, and Get Help.
The Home screen provides quick access to the WUSD Calendar, Your Classroom LMS, and Web Mail as well as an explanation of the purpose of the app.

home        About

On the Resources Screen you will find links to the tech ready team blog, the new STEM units that are currently being created, the curriculum maps,Resources as well as a link to the My Learning Plan website.  On the bottom of the Resources Screen you can swipe across to access the different WUSD Social Media:  WUSD Facebook, Tech Ready Facebook, and the Tech Dog Twitter Page.

Probably the most useful portion of the app is the Get Help page.  This page gives you the option to report a computer or network problem and turn in a ticket to the help desk via an online form.  In addition there is a form for requesting help with technology integration issues which I will receive.  At the bottom of the page is the link to the technology resources page on www.wusd.us where you can find answers to your technology questions.

Gethelp

How do I get the app on my device?

It’s very simple to place this app on your device or tablet.  Simply navigate to the site mentioned above http://wusd.app.appery.io.  Once you have the app open in your browser you can add this web app to the home screen of your device by finding the “Add to Home Screen” icon.  When you open this app directly from your home screen you will notice that it is no longer running inside a browser, but as a separate app.

You can teach your kids to be a maker, a creator, or an innovator with the Hour of Code

Would you like to introduce your students to the concept of programming computers?  Do you and your students not have any background in computer programming?  The Hour of Code is an initiative that enables you to introduce your students to programming concepts even if your students are absolute beginners.  Below is a promotional video.

This week is national Computer Science Education Week and you will see a link to the Hour of Code on google.com underneath the search box.  the  Hour of Code is an initiative to get 10 million students introduced to writing computer code.

How do I do it?


There is a website (code.org/educate/hoc) where there are currently 30 tutorials available to teachers to use with beginning students kindergarten through 12th grade.
You can participate in some of the tutorials without any access to computers.

However, the easiest way to get started is to look at the site, pick an online tutorial, and have your students work in groups with computers or tablets in your classroom, or take your students to a computer lab.