Social Media Research: Pre-Research Discussions

I recently took a course via New York Center for Teacher Development called Questioning Techniques to Meet Common Core Standards.  The course was really useful in many ways! The following slideshow is the result of one of the assignments that I was given. In it, I discuss prepping students for using Social Media during research. Use whatever is helpful to you!

Citation Generators: A comparison

I regularly like to compare the product our school has chosen with other products out there. I teach our students to use citation generators and feel that using such tools help them focus more of their time upon the research concepts and writing. In this slideshow, I compared the generated citations from EasyBib and NoodleTools with the citations modeled within Purdue OWL. I hope this helps you consider which resource is best for your school or your personal research. You will want to view the slides in full screen view or link out to SlideShare.

Teacher Feature: Ken Ehrmann’s Flipped Classroom

The following interview was conducted with Ken Ehrmann, 5th Grade teacher in Pennridge School District, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  Ken is known for his work “flipping the classroom” and hosts a YouTube Channel dedicated to the flipped classroom.  Ken often trains teachers on elements of the flipped classroom, using his expertise to guide them as they embark on their own efforts to change the classroom environment for students.

Ken submitted a quick introduction video to himself and his classroom.

When a person hears the term flipped classroom, what might come to mind is the teacher asking students to watch videos or respond to articles as homework assignments; would you agree with the accuracy of this perception?

Yes, that is a very basic description of a flipped classroom.  However, it is too concise.  If you were to define a direct instruction classroom saying “a teacher that presents to the students and student write notes” would only define one type of classroom.  Direct instruction classrooms can involve students acting, students using manipulatives, kinesthetic instructions, etc.

A flipped classroom can be so much more than just watching videos, reading articles and responding.

How would you describe your flipped classroom?

I would describe my flipped classroom as a room where students feel empowered, engaged, and involved on a daily basis.  My students feel empowered to learn in the comfort of their own pace.  They feel engaged in the lesson more than they ever were during whole class instruction.  They are engaged in more team and independent tasks.  They are involved in hands on learning each day they come to class.

Thinking back to your pre-flipped classroom, what are the major ways that your classroom has evolved?

The biggest way my class has evolved is allowing for more small group instruction, remediation, and enrichment.  The students are “working” 90% of the time they are here, where before it may have ranged from 30% – 60% where instruction took a bulk of class.  They are applying the concepts they learn versus listening to concepts.

Are there milder (less-apparent or less-radical) changes to the classroom that are, ultimately, as important?

One mild change that doesn’t occur often, but is great when we do it, is discovery learning.  There are opportunities where students can figure out new concepts in math.  I have always done this type of instruction.  In the past we had 10 minutes of introduction, 20 minutes of exploring, 20 minutes of reviewing and seeing the new skill.

Now, we have 10 minutes of introduction and 40 minutes of exploring.  When they go home, they see the lesson to confirm what they discovered or see the pieces they were missing.  I had so many more students discover it on their own, and overall everyone more enthusiastic to see the new skill.

What tenets are important for teachers who are learning how to flip to keep in the forefront of their thoughts?

When we teach traditionally we don’t speak with perfect grammar, we can stutter sentences at times, and overall do an imperfect job but still deliver the content successfully.  Flipping is the same.  Your videos are not Oscar winning performances, your screencasts don’t have to flow perfectly.  Know what your goal is and deliver it.  It is hard as a teacher, but DON’T be a perfectionist.

Mistakes are okay, things may go wrong, and it is okay.  I have actually sent home a division lesson for my class, successfully taught the process but got the wrong answer! My students asked about it, they were right, and we started class by figuring out “how do you check division?”

Must someone fully flip?

Absolutely not!  Unless you have a lot of personal time to dedicate to a fully flipped program I would recommend against it.  Start at an appropriate pace for you.  One lesson per month, per unit, per week, whatever works for you.

We live in a busy world.  Students are kept busy at night with goals of physical activity, social growth, jobs or volunteerism, etc.  Does flipping add a time constraint to their already hectic evening schedules?

Flipped classroom homework eases the anxiousness of time for your homework.  When you send home a worksheet students don’t know how long it will take, how well they will do, and if they need parental help.

When you send home a video the students move their mouse to the bottom of the video, see the total time and know they are done then.  They may add more time by rewinding and pausing, but not much.

Additionally, you should try to keep your lessons between 2-8 minutes.  I would highly recommend never going over 10.  If your lessons are consistently long students will stop doing the homework.

What are your favorite aspects of the flipped classroom?

The flexibility and time.  I still come upon a new reason I love it, but it is all based on flexibility and additional time.  Extra time for discovery learning, extra time for small group learning, extra time for projects, extra time for great discussion.

Flipping your classroom literally give you more time.

What are your students’ favorite aspects of the flipped classroom?

I turned to my students for this one.  I asked them, “write a word, phrase, or sentence about being a student in a flipped classroom.”  Here is what I got:

One student: It’s not my way of learning.

A majority of students had responses including: I love it, I think it is awesome!, I love being able to pause, rewind, and rewatch!

One student: “I think it is about responsibility”

Ken will be presenting on Monday 2/22/16 at the Pete&C Conference in Hershey, PA

To contact Ken for any Professional Development needs, follow any of these routes:

email: kennethjehrmann@verizon.net

Phone: 215-499-6934

Twitter: @KenEhrmann

 

 

 

Scholarly Journal Articles in High School

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Print journals may be dead, but these articles are not!

Scholarly journal articles are long… Scholarly journal articles are filled with career-specific jargon… Scholarly journal articles are intimidating.

HOWEVER…

Scholarly journal articles are filled with findings from detail specific research… Scholarly journal articles have information which can support many additional research areas… Scholarly journal articles provide much deeper concepts to consider than popular magazines.

So, as high school teachers, we should:

  • direct students towards finding and using these articles
  • provide guidance to students in using them most effectively
  • reduce the superfluous effort students may put towards reading the article in its entirety
  • essentially, work towards keeping students from running away from these articles and help them begin to use the expert information within to support the inquiry process that they have designed, through their thesis statement and outlines.

Additionally, as high school teachers, we should recognize that certain field-specific scholarly journal articles are formatted in a more narrative way, while others are easier to use and deconstruct for students. At our school, we found this was true while our juniors were doing Truman research. We had chosen, within our research scope and sequence, to introduce students to scholarly journal articles in 11th grade. Where this was mainly happening was in the social studies class. The articles students were using were formatted in narrative designs. As a result, students were not seeing the formats that were easier to use.

So, we began to offer more guidance within junior English classes (where students were likely to receive article results that were written with section headings, etc.).  This graphic organizer was designed to help guide students in using the articles to determine what was and was not useful to them and their research (and not feel as if they have to read the article top to bottom)

Good luck introducing these to your students and helping them to use the articles effectively!

image citation:

Clede, Jonathan. “Scholarly Journal.” Flickr. Yahoo, 8 July 2006. Web. 6 Jan. 2016. <https://www.flickr.com/photos/duststorm/187826783&gt;.

 

Using Interlibrary Loan Services to Support ELL Populations

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A few years ago, I sat in on Dr. Cathi Fuhrman’s session at PSLA on providing ELL students with materials written in their native language.  Here is a link to Dr. Fuhrman’s presentation

The important points that I took away were:

  • reading in a native (primary) language promotes reading achievement in multiple languages.
  • it is vital that libraries are welcoming and proactively support students who have a primary language (which is not English) by purchasing and/or accessing books for the students written in their primary language.
  • ideally the librarian may seek out special funding or grants (or set aside their own budget money) in order to develop a collection that addresses varied interests, genres, and reading levels.
  • This brings about the limitations, specifically budget limitations (especially for a population which may be ever changing and evolving)

I came back and purchased some titles in Spanish and then we had a new student from a non-Spanish and non-English speaking country and suddenly I had nothing…

This leads me to a very special day of training last spring on the new interlibrary loan platform in Pennsylvania. I was tinkering around in the “sandbox” (why do I hate that term?) and I became obsessed with the concept that we could now access books via interlibrary loan to support our native speakers of non-English languages.

So, here is how to do it using Access Pennsylvania’s new platform:

  1. Enter a specific title or a more broad keyword (i.e. fiction) – Your choice!
  2. Hit the enter key
  3. DON’T hit Advanced (unless you desire typing in your keyword, yet again)
  4. Instead, hit Modify Search
  5. Select the Languages tab
  6. Select the dropdown bar for languages
  7. Check the language(s) that you desire to access
  8. Hit Search
  9. Narrow by subject, as needed

Now, you are ready to request books written in multiple languages via Pennsylvania’s interlibrary loan database!  Remember that it is so important that each student or patron feels valued, welcomed, and understood.  You have the keys to help this very pivotal transition in your students’ or patrons’ lives.  Good luck!

image citation:

Brown, Elliot. “Selly Oak Park – sign – Shared paths – Please Slow Down & Keep Left.” Flickr. Yahoo, 13 June 2012. Web. 15 Dec. 2015.

 

http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/conferencesandevents/ecollab/resources/aasl11_breaking_barrier.pdf

http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/conferencesandevents/ecollab/resources/aasl11_breaking_barrier.pdf

Teacher Feature: Erin Banas’ Truman Research

banasQuestion #1:  Please describe your Truman project.

Students are required to take a position in the prompt, “Was President Harry S. Truman justified in using the atomic bomb to end WWII against Japan?”  A three-point thesis statement is required, which lends itself to a five paragraph essay.  Students are also required to correctly cite their sources parenthetically within the body of their paper, as well as compose an annotated bibliography.  The annotated bibliography requires that students not only summarize their sources, but also they must connect the resources to how it enhanced their paper’s arguments and the quality/authority of the source.

Question #2:  Why do you prefer this prompt over others?

In the several years of utilizing this prompt, I feel that is sparks the interest of both male and female students.  Additionally, this prompt allows students to examine the topic from several different discipline areas (political, military, scientific, etc.).

Question #3:  You have used Google Sites with many resources preselected, do you feel as if you have completely eliminated the need for students to locate and access sources and why do you prefer this method?

Not at all.  By providing students with some preselected resources, I believe it makes the students comfortable at first with getting their feet wet with scholarly resources.  It also helps to keep the students from becoming frustrated and throwing in the towel on the project.  Students are also provided links to the research databases in which they can locate their own resources.  That is ultimately my main goal in making the students independent in conducting research using scholarly resources.

Question #4:  What are the research skills that you hope to focus upon and strengthen during this assignment?

Finding scholarly resources to base their evidentiary support.  Today, technology is a blessing regarding academic pursuits in that it provides students with a plethora of information.  However, not all information on the internet is accurate.  Although it may take a bit of extra time to learn how to navigate library and academic databases, students often find that once they use such resources research becomes a lot easier.

Question #5:  With each student being given the same prompt, do you feel that students ever have trouble offering unique viewpoints?

Not really.  Again this prompt allows students to examine the topic from several different disciplines.  

Question #6:  What is your favorite part of this project?

Witnessing their confidence in knowing they can complete such a rigorous research paper.  On the day I first assign this project I always hear groans from the students and comments such as, “I can’t do this so just fail me now.”  The way in which the research paper is scaffold over the time period of a month, researching and writing the paper is not so overwhelming for the students.  I hope they carry this confidence with them senior year when they complete their graduation project research paper and throughout their freshman year in college.

Question #7:  What is your students’ favorite part of this project?

Students like the research portion to determine which argument is more compelling to them.  Students also appreciate the level of preparedness that this unit gives them to succeed in completing larger research papers.

Shared Google Doc: Editing Marks

If you find that you are asked often by students to provide feedback on their writing (being asked to help edit) and they share them with you via a Google Docs, it can be hard to offer consistent feedback.  You may find yourself forgetting to focus upon one area of their writing because you have spent more time commenting within a different area of their paper.

…you may find that you are re-writing their work versus directing them towards suggestions to improve their work on their own and learn to become a better writer.

…you also may find that you are spending A LOT of time during this process with them.

Each can be a serious problem.

Our school recently received really useful training by one of our English teachers, Carole Lee Deemer, where she directed us towards creating shortcut codes and comment banks.

  • Shortcut codes allow you to type in a sequence of letters and upon hitting the enter key, a pre-determined statement that you have plugged into preferences comes up in its place.  This is what happens when you type in 1/2 and word processing software formats it for you or (c) becomes converted into the copyright sign (only with these, you are creating your own shortcut commands). To create a shortcut code for yourself (to add to the preset ones), go to Tools within the Google Doc and you select Preferences.  You will see the list of preset shortcuts come up, however this is where you can also add your own!  Just type in your code and then, in the next cell, type in what you want it to say.  When you type the code and hit enter, it will convert your code into lengthier text for you, adding it to the paper!
  • A comment bank is a list that you create of common comments that you use with students that you copy and paste into student work using comments to the students to make editing easier.  The copy and paste of the comment saves time over re-writing the comment over and over and over again every time you edit.  I like it because you can really consider the best ways to word your comments.  It is here where I often fail to guide the students versus re-writing for them.  If the comments are designed to guide, this can help you serve that role as a person who guides the student to learn.

After our training, a few teachers collaborated to create codes (at times we threw out common editing marks at times in favor of a short and easy keystroke for quick editing).  We also created comment banks and organized them into categories that could be used at varied points to provide guidance.  We have them here in this shared Google Doc (which will be updated, as needed).

Combining these strategies with suggesting, editing, and commenting features helps it to become much easier and quicker to edit.