Monday, February 23, 2009

Classroom Management and Project-Based Learning

A very useful article about classroom project management at led me to an exciting fourth-grade web site. Terry Smith is the teacher of a class at Eugene Field Elementary in Hannibal, Missouri USA.

The classroom management article is well worth reading. The focus is on how you manage all the activity of both the students and you, the teacher, using techniques from industry, so that you can accomplish your goals. The techniques discussed do work. I can testify to that based on our use of them in the school district where I used to work. We used these ideas for everything from the classroom to the cafeteria, teachers to technology.

The article links to a Learning With Projects web page for Terry Smith’s class. This page links to projects pasts and present. Projects include class blogs, wiki pages, Taiwan, video conferences, Internet chess, world problems, using the XO – OLPC, Landmark project, monsters on the net, Monarch butterflies, coral reef project, an international writing project, and many more. Global friends that the students have made while working on these projects live in Taiwan, UK, Japan, Pakistan, Canada, South Africa, and the State of Washington. The home page for the class this year can be found at You must explore this page to truly see these students’ projects.
“Kids use their thinking skills and communicate, plan, problem solve, create, and evaluate.”
If you want your students to learn and to think on a higher level, look at these ideas. If you want to integrate technology in the curriculum that you teach, start here. But, don’t think that these ideas are limited to the fourth-grade. Similar ideas can be used at any grade level.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 46

Pathway into the woods.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Journaling + Reflections + Technology = Thinking about Teaching

An online resource for language arts describes several different ways to use journaling in the classroom.
  • Metacognitive Journal
  • Double Entry Journal
  • Reflective Journal
  • Dialectical Journal
  • Journal Activities
  • Response Journal
  • Learning Log
  • Synthesis Journal
  • Speculation About Effects Journal
The site provides ideas from which we can choose appropriate strategies for our own classrooms. As I examined the various descriptions, I saw ideas close to what I do in my classroom.

I ask my students to write reflections about various topics that we discuss. Our reflections have three parts: (1) description of the topic, (2) how the student will use it in his/her classroom as a teacher, and (3) the pros and cons the student sees in using the described topic.

In past semesters, these reflections were standalone assignments. Now, however, I ask the students to write these assignments in their blogs. If I were teaching high school students, I might ask them to post their reflections in comments to a blog that I maintained.

Julie Reed and Christopher Koliba in Facilitating Reflection: A Manual for Leaders and Educators state that
Journals are a written form of reflection in which students consider their service experience in light of specific issues, such as those contained in course content. Students can examine their thoughts and experiences through journals, and further the learning they have done in relation to the service.
I’m asking my students to reflect before they use these ideas in the classroom. And, of course, I hope they also reflect afterwards!
Before instructing students to complete journals, one must consider the learning objective that the journal is intended to meet.
I hope that my students discuss the ideas they learn in class with others in addition to thinking about the ideas themselves. By posting their initial reflections in their blogs, they are opening a door for communication and discussion with other educators (and pre-educators) throughout the world. They are also learning to be transparent. And, hopefully, this experience will set the stage for their involvement in collaboration with other educators.

Melissa Kelly, in an article about journaling for, lists benefits of journaling, including

  • Sort out experiences, solve problems and consider varying perspectives.
  • Examine relationships with others and the world.
  • Reflect on personal values, goals, and ideals.
  • Summarize ideas, experience and opinions before and after instruction.
  • Witness his academic and personal growth by reading past entries.
I think that by writing the types of reflections that my students do in their blogs, they are learning about the topics, thinking about them before use, and doing so in an open manner that invites others to discuss the topics with them.

This method of journaling is not confidential. However, it is a good start for students to learn how to think through ideas before trying them in the classroom. And being able to comment on their blogs allows others and myself to discuss these ideas with them. I like the extra benefits that technology adds to the journaling/reflections assignments.


Photo Resolution... Day 45

Corn crib.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 44

Tree-lined drive. As a photo this should be lighter. As a study in colors and patterns I like the darkness.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 43

Late night stop at Starbuck's

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 42

An evening ride on the new drive on campus

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 41

A pleasant surprise!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 40

Hmm... can an artificial dracena be called a virtual dracena?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 39

Can you buy buffalo burgers in your town?

EduHound... Lots of Resources for K12

EduHound ( is a site that has many collections of useful information for educators. I found lesson plans, games, toolkits, research, rubrics, templates, and more. I also found a few deadends, but not many.

A section on differentiated instruction includes planning suggestions, practical tips for the classroom, lesson plans, resources, sample units, learning styles, and explanations on the theory behind it all.

The inventions area has a variety of options including games for students. I did beat the computer at Brain Drain, but I had to work at it!

A communications toolkit is available for those working with Adequate Yearly Progress.

Data-Driven Instruction includes information from CoSN, NCREL, and others.

The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Literacy section has maps to help you integrate ICT into the core subjects in addition to rubrics and research that indicates what works.

Lesson plans, an interactive tour, and related materials are available in the immigration area.

Lesson plans and resources from Maine can be found for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Free templates for PowerPoint are provided.

The section on Project-based Learning includes links, lesson plans, professional development, checklists, and student projects.

EduHound is a source for resources in these categories…
  • Administration
  • Adult Cont. Ed.
  • Arts
  • Back-to-School
  • Business
  • Culture & Religion
  • Early Childhood Ed
  • Educational & General
  • Employment
  • ESL & Foreign Language
  • Family
  • Grants & Funding
  • Guidance & Psychology
  • Health & P.E.
  • Holidays
  • Home Schooling
  • Kid Sites
  • Language Arts
  • Lesson Plans
  • Mathematics
  • Multimedia
  • Museums
  • Organizations
  • Publications
  • Reference
  • Safety & Security
  • School Supplies
  • School/Playground
  • Science
  • Seasonal Resources
  • Social Studies
  • Software
  • Special Education
  • Standards & Testing
  • Student Resources
  • Substitute Teaching
  • Teacher Resources
  • Technology
  • US Depts. of Education
  • Virtual Explorations
  • Vocational & Technical
  • WebQuests
  • Worksheets
I do lots of searching on the web for information. Sometimes I like to see what someone else thinks is the best of the many web sites available today. EduHound is a good tool for that.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 38

Trees. I can't wait to see leaves on these trees!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 37


The geometry teacher in me loves lines and patterns.

And the photographer that is developing in me loves blue skies!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 36

Desks in a one-room schoolhouse

Photo Resolution... Day 35

A mouse for my utility photos.

And posted after midnight again. :(

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 34

There are times when I need photos of everyday objects for one purpose or another. I guess I might as well take them myself! So this numeric keypad is my photo of the day.

I learned this morning how to make a Flickr badge. It's really easy! The badge I posted this morning (lower right of the blog) has the January photos from my New Year's resolution to take and post one photo each day this year. At the end of February I'll add February's photos.

Thanks to Miguel Guhlin for the link!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 33

A movie theater... and a blue sky!

Searching Strategies to Teach... Elementary and Older

I've recently come across several helpful sites about teaching search strategies. Some of the ideas are best for elementary students; some, for secondary students.

(1) Web Searching Strategies for Elementary School Students

How can we help elementary students learn to search the web… safely and effectively? Silvia Tolisano shares some very helpful advice to help us consider appropriate tools, terms, and resources to help our elementary students learn about searching.

Thanks to Tim Lauer for sharing the link to this site!

(2) Site Specific Search

A Real Simple blog provides a simple (of course!) explanation of how to use Google’s site command.

(3) Teaching Internet Search Strategies

Richard M. Byrne shares several resources which help students learn how to use Boolean Logic when searching. Some resources are more appropriate for elementary students and some, for secondary students.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Photo Resolution... Day 32

It's amazing how some sunshine and warmer temperatures can make the snow look better!