CUE 2010 Recap: My presentations


Using Technology Effectively for RTI

Below is video from the presentation:

Takeaways: I know I did not cover everything as well as I could have, after I saw what Adina Sullivan, and Mathew Needleman did on interventions, but I think I covered the adult/paperwork part of RTI pretty well. You can judge for yourself. One thing that I’ve done for past presentations is to look up presentations after mine (since this one was at the second session, it would have been easy) that were related, or covered something I showed in more detail. I could kick myself for not doing that this time.

Unplugged Session on UbD

The Elluminate recording of the session can be viewed here.
Relevant links:

Closing out units post I wrote about the last group of units I finished

The New Units are Here! post where I wrote about upcoming units

My planning wiki

Post I wrote when I observed in Larry Ferlazzo’s class

Takeaways: This was a DELIGHT to do. It was small intimate gathering (the Edublogger Cafe), but since it was at a “crossroads” in the hallway, some people dropped in. What was very nice was having input from Tammy Stephens who did the prior session on constructivist learning. The two sessions dove-tailed well together, and Tammy adding some wonderful comments about the work I was doing.

DEN 7×7 Presentation

I don’t have any materials or video from this, it was largely based on this post, only I limited to seven and only got up to four, lol.

How-to Make a Class Report Quickly and Easily


As happens in the run up to Winter Break, time takes on some very strange and elastic properties. While days once dragged on endlessly, they are now short. Or time is endless, but your students’ attention span is not. What I find happening with classes in my school is that as time winds down to the break, the ability for classes to complete research reports planned in the hope and optimism of October/November disappears. What options do you have beyond having students cram in a low-quality writing assignment in the time remaining and handing out coloring sheets? How about gathering together what the kids have learned and putting it on a VoiceThread. Since this scenario happened with the fifth graders I see, I’m going to share how I think this could work in a regular classroom with only a few computers (let’s say 2-6).


Knowledge of how to create a VoiceThread. This is not a very high barrier. If you haven’t done it yet, get out some of those holiday pics you’ve taken in digital form and go to this page for how-tos, then create a VoiceThread on your own. Once you’ve done one, you’re ready to do it with your class. I’ll try to hit on some of the management aspects in my instructions. You’ll need at least one computer with an Internet hookup. A digital projector to share the results with the class would also be nice.

1. Research and writing: Likely you will have already done some of this, just not enough for each student to come up with a one, two, or five page report.  The idea at this point is to gather what knowledge they have gained.
Lab version: I had them in the lab, so they read on the Internet. The topic was Astronomy. I had them go to sites with information about the topic. NASA Kids has a whole encyclopedia of information on astronomy topics they can search. I’m more concerned with the lexile level at Wikipedia, than the quality of information (since science sections are pretty well-maintained, they can be more up-to-date than encyclopedias). WikiJunior has an astronomy section as well at a more accessible reading level for elementary students. I had the students write short blog posts summarizing a paragraph they read. I could have had the kids correct each other online by replying to each others comments with editing suggestions.
Class Version: If the class is doing a thematic unit they should be reading on paper as well as the Internet. Have take turns in pairs on computer looking up the online topics, and then have them look through books in the classroom as well. Have them do quick writes (a couple sentences) paraphrasing what they learned. You could have them pass the quick writes around for a “buddy” edit.

2. Getting photos: Visuals will make this more engaging for the kids and give them something to speak to.
The NASA site has a number of excellent pictures if astronomy is your topic. Flickr Commons is also good for other topics. VoiceThread will let you use creative commons photos on Flickr by using the Media Sources button when you are adding photos/video to your VoiceThread. You may want to “pick out” photos by searching Flickr in advance, as the VoiceThread tool is really great, but the search facility is not as strong as Flickr’s. A tip for looking for astronomy pics, add NASA as a search term (all government photos are public domain and can be used) to get the best photos of planets, etc. Pull one or two of the kids back at a time to pick out photos to use.

3. Add students’ voices: This is where the small parts they have learned will be gathered together and hopefully make something of more depth.
Have the students come with their quickwrites (or if you’re in the lab, pull up their comments on the blog), and have them read what they wrote as a comment on an appropriate picture. Ask them a follow-up question to see if they have picked up knowledge beyond the recall level. You can also have them come up in pairs or trios. Since you’re recording, you’ll want it quiet (although I never get it “silent” and you shouldn’t worry about that). Make sure the other students know to give you silent signals, etc. at this time. You might want to consider a small coloring/drawing project to keep the other students engaged, then you can scan or take a picture of the best ones to put up on the VoiceThread.

4. Listen and learn: Play the VoiceThread for the class via projector, or have them go up in small groups and listen. Ask them to share something they learned from others. If time permits, you can have them leave comments.

Is this as good as a research report? Is this going to have a lot of higher order thinking? Maybe, maybe not, but it will make the work they’ve done more useful and long-lived than just stopping abruptly, and not completing the reports. It will also give you and the students some closure on the thematic unit.

Here are the results I got:

ELL Carnival for December 2009


The next edition of the ELL/EFL/ELD Carnival will be…right here! Any blog posts, including examples of student work, that are related to teaching or learning English are welcome. You can contribute a post by using this easy submission form.

The last edition of the Carnival hosted by Jennifer Duarte and Michelle Klepper is  here, and as always it’s chalk full of useful information for working with English Learners.

Future hosts will include Shelly Terrell at Teacher Reboot Camp: Challenging Ourselves to Engage Our Students on February 1st and Karenne Sylvester at Kalinago English: Teaching Speaking Using Technology on April 1st.

You can see all the previous twelve  editions of the ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival here.

Curriculum and Instruction 489


Thanks for letting me chat with your class tonight. Lots of great questions. I’m sorry I was under the weather and unable to stay long. If you have further questions, please send me a comment below. Also, it would be a great help is you share with me resources or approaches that have or have not worked for you in trying to build an online PLN (Personal Learning Network).  Since I do professional development for my district and conference presentations, this will help me offer good advice to my audience. Below are some of the resources for online networks that I mentioned, and some new ones:

Moving Forward list of education blogs

Support Blogging list

Twitter for Teachers list

Plurk for Teachers (Plurk is like twitter, a 140 character microblog, but the comments are “threaded”)

Classrom 2.0 Social Network (this one is really big, so pick a group to join)

Ed Tech Talk You can listen to podcasts on ed tech topics, and if you listen life, chat with others about the show (I forgot to mention, I have show here called It’s Elementary).

Edutopia groups BIG miss not mentioning this one. I moderate a forum on classroom management here, but there are others on project-based learning, etc. It’s more about pedagogy and less about technology.

Instructify is part of LEARN-NC out of UNC-Chapel Hill and is a great resource blog. I used to work for them as a free-lancer.

Have you no shame?


I love getting and reading the Sacramento Bee, and love being able to read it online. The comments however are a real mix of the bitter and the sweet. I hate how the limited space in the print version constricts representations of different points of view. If that is the problem in the print paper, the online version is like a polar opposite. To be frank, it’s embarrassing. Many commenters think nothing of making racist comments, ad hominum attacks, or weaving entire backgrounds for stories that have little to do with reality.

A recent Sacramento News and Review (our independent weekly) had this to say:

“If you are someone who leaves comments below news stories on the Sac Bee’s web site, chances are your politics are reactionary and inhumane and your heart flinty and cold.
Under a story about a child who drowned in the river, you might write, ‘Kids drown all the time. Why is this news? And Rodriguez? Was the kid even here legally?

Like a piece in the Onion it is funny and sad, because you could literally find comments that read almost exactly like that in the comments section in any given week. It’s like all the happiness and joy has been sucked out of the comments section. Instead of the milk of human kindness, they’ve reverted to the poison of reptilian bitterness.

My husband follows transportation articles as part of his job, and shares the story about a woman who was forced off the road by a driver enraged truck driver who felt she had taken too long in a drive-through line where he had been stuck behind her. The commenters all came up with reasons why this must have occurred: texting, using a cell phone, putting on makeup, including elaborate descriptions of what she was doing. All of this with no facts to back up any of their suppositions, but it obviously filled their preconceptions.

The comments on recent story on burn victims from the daycare fire in Mexico coming up to Shriners International Hospital here in Sacramento was the most recent example of this combination of ignorance and meanness. Commenters were angry that we were taking care of non-Americans showing their ignorance that other commenters were fortunately quick to address; services are not paid for by taxpayers by the international efforts of Shriners and the hospital is part of a network which includes a hospital in Mexico. The response? One commenter vowed not to contribute any longer to Shriners because he only wanted to help American kids. Local columnist, Marcos Breton, has weighed in on the ugly nativism that paints all folks from South of the U.S. who have a Spanish speaking ancestor as illegal (and squares off on the reality of “illegals” as well).

My maternal grandfather was a proud Shriner for years who collected his own spare change and stood in front of grocery stores raising money. It was to help sick children. Period. I could resort to terms like, ignorant, racist, etc. but the one that really fits is small. We Americans like to think of ourselves as generous people, and we are, those comments were not from that America.

There is another more general concern that I have about the online comments. I teach in Sac City in an elementary, but one of my colleagues is Larry Ferlazzo, who teaches at Luther Burbank. We both have large immigrant populations from Mexico and SE Asia. Our problem is that we rely on using links to stories to help teach our students about their culture and how it intersects with mainstream society, which can expose them to the comments section.

A few months ago Larry pointed out a story on traditional conflict resolution methods in the Hmong community in light of the recent murder that had it’s roots in an extra-marital affair. The comments were the usually blend of sanctimony and bigoted opinions that have marked the online comments.

I wondered, what will students make of this? Most of the commenters probably don’t consider the students important enough to worry about it, but they should. Proposition 13 passed around the time I was 13 years old. In the flurry of threatened closures of libraries and other services Howard Jarvis opined that it didn’t matter if libraries closed because none of these ignorant kids read anyway. That was my political crucible and I have never and will never find anything that Howard Jarvis or his taxpayers association has to say to be credible.

I have to think that some of Larry’s students might be coming to the same conclusion about folks in the Bee comment section that I once came to about Howard Jarvis and his ilk. I once was 13 and powerless, but now I am 44, vote in every election in an electorate where my views are shared by a majority. Someday many of Larry’s and my students may be too, demographics is on their side. Meanwhile, those commenters will still be trolls.

Photo Credit: Dirty Troll Revue on Flickr

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