What does a teacher need?

I need your help.

Here’s a scenario. It’s early August, a high school teacher is preparing her classroom for the new year. She is a new teacher and wants to incorporate the latest educational practices in her classroom.

I am wondering in the age of collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking (4Cs); the maker movement; Project Based Learning; Passion Based Learning; Design Thinking; 1:1 implementations; what supplies does a high school teacher need to be successful?  Once a teacher compiles this list, what is the best way to go about getting all of those supplies? I am not just talking about posters on the wall. I am talking about real everyday supplies like post it notes, chart paper, etc.??

Please leave a comment below or add your suggestions of a supply list for this classroom here.



Twitter in French Class

On Thursday, we are trying something pretty exciting. I am working with Mrs. Layman to create a Twitter conversation with her French 2 students. The students are being asked to read the article; To speak another language isn’t just a cultured, it’s a blow against stupidity. We are hoping the article will spark some thought provoking discussion in the class… and the students are looking to transfer that discussion to an online open discussion with the world.

We would love it if you could be a part of it. The conversation will begin to take place Thursday, September 16 at 1:15 EST. The hash tag for the conversation is #rvhfr2. Please read the article and join us!

Reading out loud with Inflection and Voice

A while back I received an email from a teacher at one of my elementary schools. Kim Spivey is a Reading Strategist at South Kilbourne Elementary School and was thinking about ways her students could improve their reading out load. She wanted to do a podcast of her students reading their character narratives of  based on The Diary of Anne Frank. Kim was working with three students who were in 4th grade. While reading the book, students learned about point of view. The short podcast looks at the point of view of Hitler, Anne Frank, and Anne Frank’s father during World War II. In their brief writings they covered the over all tone of the person. Prior to me coming to help. Kim’s students did all of the writing and practiced reading out loud.

The day arrived to record. I showed up in the class and the students were excited and nervous to make this podcast. With a few practice tries we successfully recorded their voices as they tried to get in to character. Now it was time for the fun… adding affects to set the mood and tone.

Here is what they came up with? What do you think? Not bad for 4th grade huh?

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Monologues with Podcasting

Do you students ever experience anxiety over performing in front of the class? Earlier this month I worked with Anne Shealy at Hand Middle School to try and combat student anxiety with performance. She decided she wanted the students to perform their monologue by recording it as a podcast. The students really enjoyed recording because they were able to use an iPod to do so. I asked Anne to reflect on the process and here is what she had to say.

Podcasting is something that I had wanted to try for several years now. I subscribe to several podcasts and felt that there was definitely potential for using podcasting in the classroom. I found the chance when my students wrote monologues in response to Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Veldt.” Students analyzed a character from the story and then wrote a monologue from that character’s point of view. Students performed them in class, but I didn’t see the level of performance that I was really looking for. One boy stood lifeless in front of the room to read his while another girl just begged to go ahead and read hers because she wanted to get it over with. Of course, there were those who love the stage and did a great job hamming it up in front of the class.

By offering the students the opportunity to create a podcast, I was hoping that I would reach some of these students who might not perform well in front of a crowd. I was hoping that they would take risks with their performances that they might not have taken in front of the class. Though I have not heard their finished products, I have hopes that many of the students did just that. The boy who had once stood lifeless to present his monologue was completely engaged with the project. He had received an iPod for Christmas and loves to talk about it. I was able to watch him record his monologue and I definitely saw him move into character and bring life to his presentation.

One of the most interesting parts of this project that Ms. Sansonetti and I both noticed was the level of engagement for all of the students. By using this technology, kids were turned on. They listened intently to instructions regarding how to use it. They knew this was a privilege and they did not want it taken away. They knew that we are planning to post these on the school website so again; they stepped up their level of performance so that they could show their best work.

All of the kids loved it, but here are few comments:

“It was fun because we got to use a cool modern device. It forced me to think about how I presented my monologue and if I read too fast and if I changed my voice well enough to get across how my character was feeling at that time.” Lauren F.

“I thought the pod cast was really fun. It was cool that you never had to use a computer. The micro-mini plugged right into the iPod. I also got to know someone a little better.” Nic

“I thought the podcast was a cool and interactive way to share our monologues. It also helped by faking away some of your nerves of having to perform in front of people” Armanis

“It was fun to change from normal class into technology with the iPods and with Ms. Sansonetti.” Danny

“The podcasting was cool because it let me learn how to do podcasting. It forced me to get into a character and change into another character. Thanks for letting us do the podcasting.” Anakul

“The podcasting was cool. I had fun because I got to hear my own voice.” Jalen

“The podcasting made me very much realize that I needed to project my voice a little more and stop being afraid to talk in front of my friends.” Paris

“I thought the podcasting was easy and fun. Doing that made me read with expression which I would not usually do.” Katie L.

“The podcasting was really fun. Everyone in the class enjoyed it . . . It helped me to practice speaking with good drama and voice and mood because it made it easier without people around to embarrass you.” Collin

Give them a Hand @ Hand Middle School

Recently, I made my way to Jody Davidson’s classroom at Hand Middle School to work with her students. The students were creating podcasts and wanted to incorporate a little handheld technology. I showed Ms. Davidson and her students how to use iPods with microphones. Of course the students were pros at manuevering through the iPod menus but many of them had never used the voice memo or recording functions. We quick to figure out how to pause the recording instead of stopping and starting over when someone got the giggles or if they needed to think a little more about what they needed to say.
By the end of class, 6 groups created the beginnings of what I like to call “Literacy Talk” podcasts. The students turned in the iPods and I got to work on editing the student’s conversations. With a little editing, the students lost the um’s, ah’s, and music was added to add a little flavor.

The Literacy Talks covered topics such as what makes students excited to read, how do they choose a book, and what happens when they are forced to read. It was a great way to express how they felt about reading. Podcasting is a great way to get students engaged in the learning. Think about it… students go through the writing process from brainstorming to writing a final product. Although you don’t necessarily want students reading from a script they have to prepare what they are going to talk about. Students are also publishing their work. There is a sense of anticipation and nerves with how will I sound? Will I be able to communicate a clear message? With interactive lessons like podcasting we are reaching students on so many levels and preparing them for the world outside of school.

Take a listen…

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