Saturday, February 17, 2018

Choices and Consequences: A Provocation

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When thinking of a provocation I could use for the Sharing the Planet unit, Resources, with the Central Idea, "Access to resources is shared and limited leading people to make choices", I wanted to offer my students the experience of making choices and understanding the consequences of their choices.

The Writing Workshop connected to the unit is on opinion letter writing, so to create a connection between the writing and the unit concept I created an island. Of course, someone from that island had to send them a letter inviting them there.

The students had a lot of questions, and I did not have the answers, so they had to write back to the man on the island and try to get the answers.

After another round of letter writing, we brainstormed what resources are and what resources might be on the island. The students started populating the island with resources until there was a good-sized forest with animals, a river, and a lake.

One student said she needed a house if she were to live there. So I handed out some paper in three sizes and the students could choose the size of there house. After choosing, they built themselves houses and could choose where on the island they would like to live.

After the houses were up, I started cutting trees in half which had all the students shocked and asking questions.

Why are you cutting so many trees?

What they didn't know was that each house size had a point value. All but two students opted for the largest size house, so that turned out to be a lot of cut trees.

The experience gave the students a chance to ask a ton of questions and discuss what had happened. I think it also gave them the kind of shock to the system that gets them thinking about what we are learning.

In her book, The Power of Inquiry, Kath Murdoch has an awesome table titled WHAT DO INQUIRY TEACHERS DO? Starting my current unit, help students make connections between ideas and using authentic contexts were two strategies that I thought I could use.

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Sharing the planet
An inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things; communities and the relationships within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.

An inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.

resources, equality, access
Natural resources contribute to meeting the needs of living things (Function)
access to resources around the world isn't always equal (perspective)
Living things compete to share natural resources (Connection)
Balanced, Reflective,
function, perspective connection

SMS: codes of behavior; informed choices, Healthy lifestyle
SS: resolving conflict,
TS: Acquisition of knowledge, Comprehension, Analysis, Evaluation, Dialectical Thought
CS: listening, speaking
RS: Formulating questions, Observing

Appreciation, Empathy, Integrity, Independence

Monday, February 12, 2018

Strategic Technology Integration

I am taking a MOOC (again) about technology integration (2015). These are my notes.

Strategic Technology Integration


  • Find Inspiration and Evidence of Tool Effectiveness
    • Use your intuition. Ask yourself: "Does this tool allow me to do something in my teaching practice that I can't do without it?"
    • Poll your personal learning network
    • Attend a professional conference like ISTE or TCEA.
    • Ask a colleague to sit in on a lesson
    • Search the web for research-based evidence
    • Take a free online graduate course at Tarleton State ;-)
  • Assess Your Own Understanding, Skill, and Confidence Level with the Tool
    • Do you truly understand the functional purpose(s) of the tool and its general capabilities?
  • Assess Your Students' Understanding, Skill, and Confidence Level with the Tool
    • Do your students truly understand the functional purpose(s) of the tool and its general capabilities?
  • Assess Your Resources and Time Needs
    • Do you and your students have access to the hardware, software, bandwidth, and technical support that is required?
    • Try to forecast the amount of time it will take you to learn to use the tool from both the teacher and the student perspective.
    • Try to forecast the amount of time it will take you to test run and troubleshoot problems with the tool.
    • Try to forecast the amount of time it will take you to scaffold your students' use of the tool.


  • Invest dedicated time and energy into learning the tool (ideally from the student perspective first!).
    • Seek out training (professional development, online, from a colleague, or even from your own students).
    • Seek out opportunities to talk about and show others what you're learning.
  • What does success look like in your mind's eye?
    • Try to imagine how your class looks (organized chaos?), sounds (quiet, focused chatter?), and feels (energy in the air?) when learning is occurring using a technology tool. Try to work backwards from that point to determine how you reach that state of success.
    • What learning objectives can you accomplish with the aid of the tool?
    • What pedagogical strategies will you call upon?
    • What learning strategies will you call upon?
  • How will you scaffold your students' use of the tool?
    • Try to view things through the lens of the students. How will you provide them with instructions?
    • What might be hard for them to conceptualize or manage?
    • Where might students get off track?
    • How much 'experimenting' will you allow students to have with a tool?
  • What is your timeline for implementation?
    • This timeline should include the remaining steps 3-6.
    • Always overestimate the amount of time you think tasks will take by 1-2 hours. ;-)
  • What is your backup plan?
    • As you probably already know, technology misbehaves. Work with your support network to brainstorm workarounds for when the technology doesn't act the way you want it to.


  • Schedule dedicated time with support staff, colleagues, and even your own students to accomplish the goals you set in Step 2.
  • Test-run your use of the tool alone first, and try to forecast areas where things could go wrong. Develop a scaffolding strategy based on this.
  • Schedule time for support staff to assist you with a test run and for the "prime time" roll-out.


  • Test run the use of the tool in the exact environment that you will have in "prime time"
  • Test run your scaffolding on a test audience (your colleagues, your friends, your family - anyone who will agree to it!)


  • Use the tool for the first time!
  • Be okay when (not if) the technology misbehaves! Just keep your cool and move to plan B.


  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the tool in your context.
    • Did it facilitate learning?
    • Did it streamline a task?
    • Did it engage learners?
    • Did it engage you?
  • Assess your own attitudes, understanding, confidence, and skill level.
    • Was it worth the time and energy you spent?
    • Will it get easier the more you use it?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Make a Magazine Cover

I am currently taking a continuing education course and the first assignment is to make a magazine cover about what we learned using what makes a good magazine cover.

I love the idea of making a magazine cover to synthesize and summarize ideas in a creative way.

Assessing students by having them make a magazine cover seems like an extension of Project Zero's the headlines thinking routine.