Let Them Teach Themselves
In 2009 Glogster launched Glogster EDU, a secure learning platform for teachers and students. Today, Glogster empowers millions of people all over the world with a space to express their emotions, ideas, and knowledge online.
How often do you ask your students to express what they are learning visually? Yes, you've probably used PowerPoint and Paintbrush for that in the past. Glogster explodes with creativity, allowing students (and teachers!) to create interactive, engaging and entertaining "posters" on any subject imaginable. Check the sites below to get a taste. Teachers can sign up for a free account. Paid options provide a classroom management system and many other features. Start out with your free option, which students are allowed to use, and go from there!
Don't have time to try it yourself? Don't let that hold you back. Give one of your students the URL and ask them to report on it.
ProLitearcy is one of those jewels on the web, serving adult educators and students in the U.S. and abroad. The organization evolved from the merging of the two adult literacy giants: Laubach Literacy and Literacy Volunteers of America.
In its mission statement, the organization states, "ProLiteracy champions the power of literacy to improve the lives of adults and their families, communities, and societies," adding, "ProLiteracy envisions a world in which everyone can read, write, compute, and use technology to lead healthy, productive, and fulfilling lives."
ProLiteracy resources are many. Its publications (Notebook is really helpful to teachers), tutorials, research, class materials, and courses support of a variety of program, instructor, and student needs. Membership provides many benefits, so check it all out at http://www.proliteracy.org/.
One of the many offerings that I've enjoyed from ProLiteracy is the list of facilitated and independent online courses and tutorials. Go to ProLiteracy Educational Network and immerse yourself in the offerings: http://proliteracyednet.org/. I've taken several courses from ProLiteracy Network and use them in teaching as well. Take a course yourself (Thanks Verizon Foundation!) or have your students take a course from a long list of topics. Click on the link of your choice at http://www.proliteracyednet.org/, and start your journey. You'll find topics expanding into many different opportunities.
Quick Projects and Template in Excel
Excel is definitely one of the most under-used educational applications. People think of it as a business tool. However, unlike other MS Office applications, it is naturally interactive and an ideal tool for learning in any subject area.
You can download ready-made projects from dozens for sources, which you can then modify or simply use with students at all levels. So many teachers, for example, tell me that their students struggle with charts: interpreting them and making them. Enter Excel! It is an absolutely turn-key application that can create a beautiful, simple or complicated chart in 5-10 minutes.
If you want to explore more of the many Excel ideas online, simply Google, "Excel student projects," or something similar. Watch the list expand!
Five-Paragraph Essay Worth Teaching/Learning?
I had a South African student stay with us for a year when my kids were in high-school. We enrolled her in advanced classes so that she could pick up some credits while visiting the U.S. One of those classes was writing. When Laura returned from school, she asked, "What the heck is this essay form you guys follow? It makes no sense to me. What are teachers trying to do?"
Laura was an excellent writer, but she had never heard of the five-paragraph essay, the standard in academic institutions and certainly the GED standard. I often think of Laura's dilemma and her difficulty in trying to squeeze and mold her creative ideas into the essay format. She hated that kind of writing. So do many of your students.
In Beyond the Five Paragraph Essay, Campbell and Latimer challenge our wisdom in promoting the structure. Stendhouse Publishers say, "Love it or hate it, the five-paragraph essay is perhaps the most frequently taught form of writing in classrooms of yesterday and today. But have you ever actually seen five-paragraph essays outside of school walls? Have you ever found it in business writing, journalism, nonfiction, or any other genres that exist in the real world? Kimberly Hill Campbell and Kristi Latimer reviewed the research on the effectiveness of the form as a teaching tool and discovered that the research does not support the five-paragraph formula. Worth considering. Worth a read.
The Intake Process
First impressions are the most lasting. What impression do our students have about learning during their first few minutes in our programs?
(You might want to post these on a wall for students to interpret! Encourage them to develop their critical-thinking skills. Post riddles and other puzzles on walls, too.)
A. Just for fun, try some of these: http://www.brainbashers.com/funsites.asp
B. What word or phrase do the images represent?
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