Why we cant expect students to be great writers until we model it as teachers

I found this article by David Cutler about the importance of modelling high quality writing for students in more than just a five minute window on the the whiteboard.  It needs to become a meaningful process every time we pick up a pen and engage with students.

This is definitely something I have been guilty of not doing as well as I could when I looked at his six focal points of how teachers should writing effectively.

1 - Teachers need to be effective writers

2 - Teachers need to share their writing

3 - Teachers need to write for their students

4- Teachers need to run writer's workshops

5 - Teachers need to seek feedback.

6- Teachers need to write about the real world.

It is a great article for anyone teaching writing and is available here.  



Google Classroom just made specialist teaching easier across multiple schools

The ever evolving and ever improving Google Classroom has just released an update that will bring a smile to teachers and schools who share staff or run cross campus teaching groups.

This update allows a teacher to work with a class of students outside of their base school domain.  So for example if you were a specialist language teacher operating across three different schools you can now manage all of your Google Classroom activity from a single account.  The other option I can see here is that teachers could also enrol for professional development run through Google Classroom from an outside provider.

For this to update to apply your Google Apps for Education administrator will need to add any external teachers to their white list to ensure security for students.  Further information can be found here.

Creative book mark craft activity for students

Getting students to read can be a challenge at the best of times, and on occasion you will need a hook to encourage your students to reach for the novel they are supposed to be reading on a daily basis.  

CTBaker has come up with this excellent craft activity that might make that process a little more appealing and at the least will provide your students with a great opportunity to get creative.

Simple follow the instructions which can be found here and enjoy making these crafty book marks.

Are you signing up for Google's Computational Thinking course for Educators?

Google are going all in on coding and computer science in an effort to improve the learning opportunities for teachers and students.  

On July 15 they will begin running a free course for educators to train them in how to use 'computational thinking.' in the classroom.  The course is open to all educators and there is a set time frame allocated to complete the course.

I have enrolled and would encourage others to do the same.  The course will be broken into five different modules exploring 

  • Introducing  Computational Thinking

  • Exploring Algorithms

  • Finding Patterns

  • Developing Algorithms

  • Applying Computational Thinking

The Computational Thinking for Educators course runs with support from Google teaching assistants, content experts, and other students responding to questions in the G+ Community from July 15 through September 30, 2015 and can be completed at your own pace during this time. The course consists of text lessons, supplemental videos, activities, and a hands-on final project.  You can access the course here.

The stages of technology integration in schools

Terry Heick at Teachthought.com has written an article exploring four stages at which teachers and more so students integrate technology in the the classroom.

I like the manner in which he suggests that we should not all instantly aspire to become self directed learners absorbed by mobile technology and actually acknowledges the merit in using different stages to best meet your teaching and learning needs. 

This method of understanding needs to be also applied to the SAMR model of technology integration as we do not have to redefine every aspect of learning now that we have a computer in front of us.

The article would be useful to use with staff to both evaluate where they might currently be placed within these stages but also highlight other approaches to using technology to improve student outcomes.  The full article can be viewed here.

The ultimate tool for teaching students poetry

The ‘Poetry Power Pack’ is the complete solution for teaching and learning poetry in an elementary / primary classroom. 

This unique bundle of poetry resources and media is housed within a single PowerPoint presentation and contains a huge amount of resources for 19 styles of poetry including... 

Acrostic, Ballads, Clerihew, Diamante, Epitaph, Free Verse, Haiku, Irish Limerick, Monody, Monorhyme, The Ode, Palindromes, Pantoum, Quatrains, Shape Poetry, Concrete Poetry, Sonnets and Villanelle.

For each style of poetry you will find.
Visually driven and informative teaching guides which appeal to students.
Annotated and narrated poetry samples by a professional voice actor.
Quality external Learning links and resources.
Individual professionally designed templates to download and print in either grayscale or color.
Poetry Assessment Rubric to guide students in writing high quality poetry.
Curriculum links including the Common Core.

*Absolutely no preparation required - This is a perfect resource for both full time and substitute teachers alike.

This resource has taken over ten years to compile and refine to the point it is now. It has been used by teachers around the world in various formats and is now available for the first time as a complete solution to teaching poetry in your classroom in an engaging and professional manner.

There is over three weeks of continuous work which can either be directed by a teacher or students can learn independently at their own pace. In most cases you would use this frequently throughout the entire school year.

The entire collection is provided to you in both the original PowerPoint format and also as a printable PDF ebook to best suit the needs of students and teachers.

This bundle goes above and beyond what you would expect of any other PowerPoint presentations and Poetry bundles currently available on Teachers Pay Teachers and will not disappoint you.

Ensure you meet Common Core Standard 10 for grades one through five. ( "by the end of the year, students should be able to read and comprehend literature including POETRY." ) though the use of this Poetry Unit. 

Access the Poetry PowerPack here

Why Adobe Slate should be your go to publishing app on the iPad in the classroom.

Over the last twelve months Adobe have produced some incredible free apps for teachers and students on the iPad.  

Adobe Voice has rapidly become my favourite presentation tool for students as it makes the competition such as Keynote and PowerPoint seem ugly, dated and unengaging for both the creator and the audience.   If you haven't seen it make sure you check out my complete guide here. 

To continue this run of innovative literacy apps Adobe have just released Adobe Slate which is aimed at filling in all the gaps of Voice  allowing students to create a presentation that requires a larger amount of text and imagery.  Something that Voice was designed to minimize.

Adobe Slate allows students to publish their projects online and in print to produce a product that looks like it belongs in Vogue or National Geographic.  

Students from years 3 up can easily create stories in Slate using an interface that makes it simple to add text, choose the right photo layout and apply curated looks and motion. Scrolling transitions make words and images move for an engaging and exciting read. Don’t just take my word for it click here to see what this blog looks like in a Slate.

I would recommend this app to anyone who is looking for a fresh way to express their ideas and thoughts on the iPad.  Download the app for free here and take a look at the video below for some evidence of it in action.

iOS Apps on the iPad to support Coding and Robotics

A must see resource for coding and robotics in the classroom.

A must see resource for coding and robotics in the classroom.

The iPad is a great tool for coding.  Particularly for developing the skills and concepts in the junior years around directional language, understanding sprites and developing the building blocks of coding before moving onto traditional desktop coding software.

Here is a list of great apps on the iPad to assist coding and robotics in the classroom.  If you would like to learn a great deal more about coding and robotics in the classroom I an strongly recommend getting a copy of this excellent eBook.

Hopscotch   A visual programming tool for year 3 - 7 Students

Tynker Edu  Video game and puzzle creation tool for year 5 - 9 students

ScratchJr A visual programming tool for juniors for P - 2 Students

My Robot Friend A Problem Solving and Logic Skills Game for P - 6 Students

Codeacademy Code Hour Learn how to build things through coding. Various ability and challenge forTeachers / Students

The Foos Learn to code for an hour game forP - 2 students

Treehouse:  Learn Programming and Design Various resources to learn coding and design for Year 7 - 12 Students

Move the Turtle A variation on the classic BASIC programming skills from the 80’s for year 3 - 5 Students

Kodable A game introducing coding and problem solving skills for year P - 2 Students

Cato’s Hike a programming and logic odyssey. A friendly game for juniors intended to introduce coding and logic for year P - 4 Students.

Codea Kind of like Garage band for Coding.  More complex than anything else here but more rewarding and great tutorials and support for year 5 - 12 Students

Gamepress  Great tool for video game creation on the iPad.  Share your creations with peers also for year 5 - 9 students

Hyperpad Built on Gamepress platform but you need to create everything yourself.  You can actually export apps to iTunes store from Hyperpad.  Quite open ended. for year 7 - 12 students