A few days ago a friend sent me an email about an inspiring project. The project made me smile as did the thought of writing this post. Today’s goal is to inspire selflessness.
The holiday season is of course for giving…but more importantly for thinking about others. High above any academic curriculum I have ever taught, I place the importance of teaching children to understand the power of kindness and of demonstrating acts of selflessness. The holiday season is a perfect time to find teachable moments and model the importance of supporting others. I always seem to come across inspiring projects around the holidays and I wanted to share some fun ones with you today. While this may seem like a hiatus from educational posts, I think it is the exact opposite…a reminder of the most important thing to teach! A type of learning no one can take away from you…kindness.
Awesome Project #1
Join us on December 3rd for an afternoon of toy hacking for children with disabilities. We will cover the basics switch accessibility including taking a toy apart, identifying the electronics inside and how to solder a universal switch jack for access. Please bring a toy that you would like to switch adapt (see Ideal Toys section below).
December 3, 2011 from 12:30pm – 3:30pm
Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU
721 Broadway, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10003
Awesome Project #2
Make Happy Happen aims to spread happiness by facilitating personal promises, promoting social inspiration, and providing relevant fulfillment opportunities. We see the holiday season as dominated by corporate greed and shopping frenzies, but we believe that we can return the holidays to its core values of love, peace, and generosity. Together, we can make the holidays happy for all.
Make Happy Happen is a project of Leo Mancini Design (http://leomancinidesign.com).
Make your promise at http://makehappyhappen.org.
Awesome Project #3
Books for Keeps started as an effort to help one little girl who loved to read but didn’t own a single book. It’s grown into a grassroots movement to end ”summer slide”.
Lack of access to books outside of school is a leading cause of summer slide. Our solution? Give them books. It works.
Here’s our story.
Do you know of any projects that inspire kindness? Share them by leaving a comment!
A big thanks to my friend Alli for inspiring me to write this post:)
Later today you will find EdGeeks guest blogging on Edvoices.com. Edvoices is a great resource developed by the National Education Association. It is a website that compiles fresh educational ideas by a wide span of educational professionals. Edvoices has been sharing EdGeeks posts in their Around the Web section and today they are featuring EdGeeks as a guest blogger for their Educational Technology section. This particular article offers ideas and tips teachers and families who wish to integrate technology into their classrooms and homes but don’t quite know where to start.
Integrating technology into your classroom or home…for beginners.
Integrating technology into learning is not something that comes naturally for many of us, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Great parents and great teachers have a lot in common, perhaps most importantly, their passion for supporting growth among the children in their lives. Many parents and teachers want to use technology to improve and even increase learning for their children but don’t know where to begin. Here are my top 5 picks for gadgets that can support learning both at home and in school.
1. Microsoft Word
Here is a great everyday tool that is already in many homes and classrooms today! You might not know it but this is one of the most under-utilized software programs in education today. Most people think of Microsoft Word as simply a word processing program, but it is much more. Imaging your child using Word to listen to a text read aloud, or even to simplify a text that is too challenging to read independently! All of this is possible. Functions such as Speech-to-Text and AutoSummarize can support student learning. Click links above to learn more about how these functions can support your child!
This gadget is revolutionary and what I love most about it is that adults use it too! Today you can find the LiveScribe in universities and even office environments today. That means it can grow with the child and follow them all the way through their career as a student and into the working world! In a nutshell, this device is a computer inside of a pen. You can use this tool to record audio and to transfer your written notes straight to your computer. It has a USB port and is easy to connect to your home computer. To learn more about how the LiveScribe can be used to boost learning at home and in school, click here.
3. Speech-Recognition Software
Today there are a variety of speech-recognition programs. One software program that is getting a lot of hype is Dragon Naturally Speaking. This program is being used in many different fields and lucky enough for us, it is making its way into education so hop on board! Dragon is a speech-recognition software program that allows you to speak words that are translated into text at a much faster rate than most people can type. One might say that using Dragon is like having a personal scribe! This technology has many implications in the classroom. This type of program can be used during writing activities to assist: hesitant writers who struggle with the mechanics of writing, English Language Learners, students with learning disabilities and students with motor limitations. Click here to learn more about ways to use speech-recognition software to improve writing.
Here is a neat tool that can help teachers keep track of the learning in their classrooms. The tool is called a “Student Response System” but I like to refer to them as “Clickers.” A teacher can use a class set of Clickers to get real-time data that can inform instruction. Each student has a Clicker and can use it to respond to various types of questions. Some Clickers have advanced functions such as: true/false, multiple choice, cold call and even texting! Clickers are highly engaging for students, yet also can teach them how to become more independent in their learning. I know an amazing teacher who used Clickers in his classroom and developed rules surrounding appropriate uses for students. To learn more about how he used them in his math class, click here.
5. Reading Pens
A reading pen is a portable device that can scan text and read it aloud. Many reading pens also have a dictionary function where new or unknown words can be defined. A reading pen can connect to a computer so that the reader may upload the words they read after each use. Challenging words can then be stored for future use.
Reading pens are appropriate for children of all ages and even adults! Today there are many different companies who make reading pens so you can choose one that fits your child and that has a design that is age-appropriate. To learn more about how to use reading pens at home and in school check out this article.
When I was younger I loved school…most of it anyway. Unfortunately I was not a huge fan of science. I found the readings dense and the vocabulary challenging. Looking back I realize I didn’t have the right teacher. It is sad because I must admit, science is now one of my favorite subjects to teach because it is so experiential. While I didn’t love science in school, I always loved science projects, kits and games that I could use at home! I loved feeling a sense of ownership over my projects, whether it was growing plants, brine shrimp or crystal gardens! I specifically recall falling in love with these 3 kits:
Magic Crystal Garden Lab
Sea Monkeys Ocean Zoo
A lot of things have changed since I was in school. Today I want to review a particular set of more recent scientific kits that kids go crazy for! A science teacher I used to work with used some of these kits in her classroom. She even gave them out as rewards for the student with the most growth in her class at the end of the year…and as you can imagine, students would all shoot for the stars to have a chance at winning one of these kits! With the holiday season coming up, they can also make great gifts for kids – especially if you are looking for something that is on the academic/exploratory/creative side of the game world.
Scientific Explorer educational kits are a great way to get your child/student engaged in science. They make a variety of kits designed to foster creativity, exploration and curiosity in a range of scientific areas. Most of the kits are geared towards astrology, physics and chemistry and all of them make science accessible to even the least scientifically involved children. If you are looking to bring science into your classroom or home and want to ensure that it is fun and engaging, be sure to take a look at these kits!
Just to point out my favorite picks:
Do you have any other engaging science kits, games or experiments to share? Leave a comment so others can see your ideas!
Many children say they do not enjoy reading non-fiction texts. We need to encourage children to find non-fiction texts that are interesting and engaging. The truth is that at some point, we all need to read non-fiction and as in all other types of reading, the more you read the stronger you get! This post gives tips on supporting students in finding non-fiction texts that hook the reader.
Do you know a child who struggles with organization in math? Then this post will help! This post discusses how to use graph paper to place more structure for students in math. This simple, cheap strategy can improve students’ accuracy in math by making their work more clear. This is especially helpful for students who struggle with handwriting and alignment, which often results in writing numbers in the wrong column.
This post discusses an online journaling tool called Penzu. Ideas are offered to both families and teachers for how to use Penzu to support writing at home and in school. But Penzu and more importantly journaling, support more than just writing. Journaling is a way for students to de-stress, to find their voice and to feel a sense of freedom. Encourage your children/students to write by writing…what I mean by this is that you should model the power of journaling for your children/students by actually keeping one yourself!
I am a huge advocate of journaling for humans in general…not just students, which is why today’s post is not just for kids! Today I want to share about a simple online tool called Penzu.
Penzu is essentially an online journal. Why Penzu? Well, mostly because it is easy to use! You can access it from anywhere and it has autosave functions so that you do not have to worry about losing your information. I also love that you can easily upload photos and share your journal if you want to. I know they say not to judge a book by its cover, but to be honest, I really like the way Penzu looks. The interface happens to be very student friendly.
Why Journal? This is a larger issue! I will gear this response to students. It is important for students to keep a journal because:
Great math teachers make sure to review student work, complete error analysis, and offer feedback. Error analysis is exactly what it sounds like…the process of going back through a problem and analyzing the error(s) to figure out what went wrong and how to get it right next time! In analyzing the errors of my own students in the past, I have noticed that organization plays a large role in accuracy in math. Students who lack organization, clarity and/or neatness, often make errors that are NOT due to a misunderstanding of the math, but rather a problem in keeping track of their work.
On strategy that I have had success with time and time again is using graph paper to support organization. Teaching a child to use graph paper is simple! It offers structure, while maintaining student independence. Graph paper helps because a student can assign one number or symbol to each box. This allows children to ensure proper alignment of numbers, which often yields a higher rate of accuracy. The best part is that it costs barely anything…all you need is something like this:
Errors a student might make if they lack organization: