Friday Photo: Just Dance!

Jun 3, 2016 by

Don’t walk out of that school when your school year ends… Dance!  Have a fantastic summer and don’t forget to have a little fun!IMG_7332

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Repost: I side with… choose your candidate!

Jun 2, 2016 by

isidewithI Side With. . . is a website that allows users to complete a survey of current issues in the country and the world from political views to financial views to personal views.  I love this tool.  One of my favorites during election season.  In addition to responding with their thoughts on a topic, users can rate how important that topic is to them.  Using their opinion and weighting, I Side With. . . will determine which Presidential candidate is most closely aligned with the user’s views.  Users can also see a break down of exactly how they responded compared with the candidates.  I Side With. . .is a great tool to get classroom discussions started based on specific policies or candidates or the electoral process in general.

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Repost: Inkboard for Note taking

Jun 1, 2016 by

InkboardInkboard is a virtual sketchpad.  The app has tools such as crayons, markers, pens, highlighters, erasers and more.  Inkboard allows users to pull images from the camera roll and add annotations.  This is a great way for students to take notes on diagrams, slides, or images of content.  Inkboard will let you create on a blank canvas so that users can sketchnote.  If you aren’t sure what a sketchnote is, check out this description on Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything.  Inkboard is a very flexible tool for note taking and annotation.

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Repost-Word Brain

May 31, 2016 by

WordBrainWord Brain is a word game that can be used as a brain break and will also help build vocabulary and exercise critical thinking skills.  The app has multiple languages and hundreds of levels.  It starts off simple but gets more complicated as you progress.  The player not only has to find the words but selecting them in the right order will clear the level.  Word Brain is an engaging way for students to exercise their brains and learn while having fun.

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Repost: A Must Read for Teachers

May 30, 2016 by

This week we will be featuring the most viewed posts of the 2015/2016 school year.  Beginning June 6, Last Backpack will be on summer break so posts will be weekly instead of daily.  We will resume regular weekly posts on August 29.  Thank you for reading, we would love to hear about your classroom adventures. Stay Crazy!

Most Viewed Monday Success

Please read this story this summer!  It is a success story of amazing proportion and is a fantastic read.  I highly encourage you to take 5 minutes to read the whole article… but if you absolutely do not have time, below is a short summary.

Paloma Noyola Bueno is growing up on the edge of a garbage dump, living in poverty with 7 siblings and a father dying of cancer.  She is an intelligent girl who followed along with her classmates as teachers handed out government prescribed curriculum.  She always did well but never stood out or excelled until 5th grade.  Finally, Paloma landed in a classroom with a teacher who was bored to death with the curriculum and knew the students were too.

Sergio Correa became a teacher to change lives, having grown up in the same town next to the same garbage dump.  He wanted to help kids lead a different life.  And so the journey began. . . Sergio started researching some of the “new” philosophies based primarily on what he had read about the work of Sugata Mitra.  The difference. . . Sergio had no technology in his classroom for his students.  Instead, Sergio researched at home, brought ideas to his students and then got out of the way.  He really did very little (you know I like to ask: who works hardest in your classroom?).  Contrary to the training he had received, he let the students ponder and discuss and debate and struggle as they worked to explore concepts and build a consensus before presenting the right answer to him.  Sergio noticed that for nearly every problem he proposed, Paloma jotted down the answer within a few minutes and quietly observed her classmates discussion, occasionally adding to it.  When asked why she had never expressed an interest in math, Paloma indicated that she had never before found it as interesting as she did now.

Sergio continued through the year with his “radical” new teaching method and it came time for the government mandated standardized testing.  Historically, the students in the small school next to the dump had not done well on the standardized test and Sergio had no idea how they would do this year.  When the results were finally published, it turned out that Sergio’s students had made vast improvements over previous years.  Ten of his students scored in the 99.99th percentile and one student had the highest math score, not just in the district but in the entire country of Mexico.

The part I like most about this story is that Sergio let go of control, tried something new, and did not limit his students to his own understanding.  He asked them to think- not just remember.  I am sure this was a scary proposition for him especially considering he would also be evaluated by how his students performed.  He took a chance and let the students do the work.  Thank you, Sergio, for inspiring me!  Read the whole story here.

 

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Friday Photo: Stay Positive

May 27, 2016 by

Always Stay Positive!IMG_7129

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Bloomz for Parent communication

May 26, 2016 by

BloomzBloomz is a parent communication tool that will also help teachers build a learning community.  The app makes it easy to keep contact information secure while sending out important information to parents.  Teachers can also see which parents have read important class updates.  The Bloomz app also makes it easy for teachers to send out group communications to parents with a few easy taps.  Teachers can also share classroom moments quickly and easily.  The Bloomz app is an easy and efficient way to keep parents involved in their child’s education.

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Bookshare for Reading

May 25, 2016 by

BookshareBookshare is an accessible library for individuals with print disabilities.  Users will need to sign up for a Bookshare account and then they can select from over 400,000 titles that they can read independently.  Bookshare is a wonderful tool to open the literary world to students who otherwise wouldn’t have access without support.  Bookshare is accessible on the web or through the Android application Go Read.  Bookshare is a great tool to help students with disabilities develop a love of reading.

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MicNote for note taking

May 24, 2016 by

MicNoteMicNote is a Google Chrome extension that will allow users to type notes on a note pad while recording a lecture or meeting.  Users can record long lectures and meetings and add their own ideas or points for clarification and MicNote will sync the note with the voice.  This extension will also timestamp where the note was added in the lecture.  MicNote will also sync your recorded notes to the cloud using Google Drive or Dropbox.  This extension is a really handy tool for students to study with; they can listen to the lecture again and use their notes to make sure that they understand all of the content or identify where they need assistance.

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Monday Musing: Photos in the Classroom

May 23, 2016 by

Just in case you missed it, I wanted to share the EdChat Interactive Webinar on using Photos in the classroom.  Photos and images are very powerful instructional tools and I hope this webinar gives you some new ideas on activities you can do with your students.

Pop some popcorn, put your feet up and enjoy!

Please feel free to share your great ideas for using photos in the classroom!

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