Posts Tagged ‘classroom’

My class is currently reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I did a little poking around and found that there were quite a few different web-based study aids out there, many in the form of games. I don’t know that I would use these for hours on end in the classroom, but they may provide a great 10-minute brain break that will help students review what they have read in the book.

The List:


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At the moment, my students are working on a project. I want them to be creative, so I give them as little guidance as possible when starting the project. This drives them nuts because they want as much guidance as possible. Really, they want the whole thing spelled out for them.

No Way!

One of the best things I have found to help inspire students is to show them examples of people who are creative, and it really helps if there is some explanation of the “where” and “how” these people come up with their ideas.

OK Go is a great place to turn for examples of creativity. I don’t think the guys have ever put together a project that didn’t totally outdo the last one. Their projects just keep getting bigger and bigger. What I really like about the band is that they not only produce great music videos, but they also often have a follow-up video that shows how they put the videos together. They show the whole process from the initial brainstorming all the way through to the finished product.

This is powerful for students to see. Too many students (or people in general) feel that they have no creative talent. They feel that creative people are just born that way. But this is not the case. Students need to know that anyone can be creative if they put their minds to it.

It just takes a bunch of hard work.

Today, the video that I showed was “The One Moment.” I started by showing the actual music video and followed it with the “making of” video. The music video itself is just over 4 minutes long, and the “making of” video is just over 5 minutes long. So, the whole “creative inspiration” only takes 10 or 12 minutes. I don’t like to talk much about it with the students. I let them process what they need to out of the videos, and then we get right to work on the projects.

Below, you will find both “The One Moment” and the behind the scenes look at the video production.




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In the last few weeks, I have been thinking a bunch about Youtube and how it can be used as an educational tool. I ran across this video today, and it confirmed all that I have been thinking about!


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This past week, my senior classes have been working on video projects. All of the video work was to be done outside of the classroom, so when students brought in their work, the classroom was full of various electronic devices used to record the videos, everything from tablets to laptops to phones of several different makes a models.

Of course, when I gave the assignment, I asked that students to make sure that there was a means of retrieving the video files from the devices before they actually did any recording. I knew that this would not happen, but it never hurts to try at the beginning of the project. Luckily, in one way or another, we were able to watch every single video on the projector in front of the room.

Don’t think it was easy. There were a few technical issues, but in the end, it all worked out.Here’s a few things we did to accomplish the task. Hopefully, these ideas can be of help for you in a future project.

The biggest lifesaver in showing the projects was a 50 in one card reader. Honestly, I am not sure that the small contraption could possibly read 50 different cards, but it certainly helped us to access many of the videos from the various student devices. Probably the biggest help was in reading micro SD cards from student phones. Many of the newer smart phones have a micro SD. Sometimes, if the student has the cord, the phone can be hooked up to the computer, but someone has to have the right cord. This is usually the case. Not only was the card reader useful in reading the mini SD, but we also had to read a Memory Stick Pro Duo.

The next biggest challenge came when a student, and several of his friends, used his new Galaxy Tab to record their videos. He didn’t have a cord to access the tablet, and he didn’t have a card either. This meant that all 23 of us were going to have to huddle around the small screen to watch the video, but then we had an idea! We opened up the webcam on the laptop and the student simply held the tablet up in front of the camera. He plugged the speakers into the tablet so we had good sound. The picture was a little shaky, but I was surprised how well it worked. Before class was over, we ended up doing this with two more tablets.

Another issue we ran across was videos that were not playing correctly. Many of the videos that were recorded using an iPhone wanted to play sideways in Media Player on my PC. After a watching a few videos with our heads cocked sideways, it dawned on me to open the videos off of the iPhone in QuickTime, which is an Apple product. That did the trick. The videos played upright. The same was also true for two videos that played normally but didn’t have any sound. When opened in QuickTime, they played correctly. It was just a formatting issue.



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As a part of a 7th grade Current Issues class, my students watch CNN Student news a couple times a week. Usually, once a week, students have an opportunity to write on the A-Z Blog to give their opinion about a current news story. Generally the students enjoy the activity. This is in large part due to the fact that they see their comments cue up alongside comments from students all over the country. They can even reply to other comments and begin conversations with other students.

Occasionally, Carl Azuz, the anchor for the show, will select a few of the comments to read during the news show. My students sit and watch anxiously every week hoping that a comment from the class will be read. I have explained several times that over 500 students usually comment on the blog, so the chances of having a comment read are slim.

This week it finally happened. One of the comments written from a student in our class was read on the show, and the student loved it.

Why am I telling you about this? I don’t really care if students are writing on a highly publicized blog like CNN or a classroom blog. Students need to know that what they write is public. They need to know that through different mediums on the internet, they have a voice in a global conversation. The problem is that a great number of teachers are still having their student write a paper or do an assignment that never goes further than the teacher’s desk. They have no audience, so there is not a whole lot of motivation to do a good job or in many cases, even complete the work.

This small incident definitely opened the eyes of my students. I am guessing  that the next time we write on the A-Z blog, they will all work that much harder knowing that their voice does matter and can be heard by global audience. They have now seen how it works with their own eyes.

Find a way to give students a voice. Whether it is writing a paper, participating on a blog, or publishing a cartoon, help students understand that their work does matter. With the web, their work is not just for the teacher anymore. There are others out there who will appreciate what they have to say.


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There are lots of uses for blogs in the classroom. They are a great way to give students assignments, to show off student work, and to engage students in meaningful conversations that extend beyond the classroom. I have used my classroom blogs for all of these reasons. However, the way I use my class blog the most is as a place to post links that I want students to use in class.

If you have ever tried to write a 70 letter dash number dash symbol URL on the board for students to copy down and type into their browser, you will know that it ends up taking a half hour of class to get all the students to the same site. On top of the time, there is also the stress and headache for the teacher. I am convinced that having students try to find a website using a URL that is written on the board may be one of the leading causes of teachers ditching technology and going back tot the text book! This is where the classroom blog comes in handy.

Initially, students may need help finding the classroom blog, but they will get it quickly. Then, it’s just a matter of posting the links to all the cool sites and apps you want them to use. They only have to remember the one URL, and from there it’s all smooth sailing!



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I ran across this info-graphic this morning, and I will be using it with all of my students in the near future. One of the struggles that students have in doing any type of search on the internet is knowing how to phrase words so they get relevant results. Just yesterday, I was working with students in my research class, and many of them were typing in questions in complete sentences. This is after I have told them and shown them on numerous occasions how to use search phrases with key words.

This info-graphic on how to perform Google searches might just be the ticket. I doubt it will solve all student search woes, but it is a great reference, one of those places to send students when they need reminded of how to use a search engine effectively.

I have embedded the poster below, or click here for the home page and embed links.

Get more out of Google
Created by: HackCollege


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