Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Curriculum Pages for Differentiation

As I was completing my Learning Summary for EME 5050, I had an A-ha moment. Instead of using one curriculum page for the whole class, we could use modified pages for appropriate differentiation in the classroom. We can create one curriculum page for the majority of the class. Then make a modified page to support and scaffold our struggling learners. This page can modify requirements and provide additional practice of the concepts. This page could also offer review and practice of basic concepts, if necessary. This page could have the option for portions to be read aloud to struggling students.

Finally, make another page for gifted learners. This page could be an extension of what you're doing in class or something completely different if your gifted students have already mastered the objectives you're teaching. We can accelerate or enrich our gifted students through curriculum pages. This would be an incredibly motivating way to differentiate for our gifted learners. Heck, some of your gifted kids could create curriculum pages for other kids!

The initial set up of these pages would be time-consuming. However, appropriate differentiation has always been time-consuming. This wouldn't take any more time than creating differentiated centers for your diverse learners. You could start slowly and create these diverse pages for one unit you tech each nine-week period. Then slowly add pages for additional units of study. Also, teachers can work together and divide the workload to get these done. And once they are done, you can utilize them repeatedly with minor tweaking.

I think that curriculum pages could be a powerful tool in the fight to meet the needs of the diverse learners in our classrooms!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

I found this article from late 2015, linked below (also linked in diigo), about two schools that do not allow the use of technology. One is in London and one is in Silicon Valley, of all places!

According to the article, employees of some of the tech giants like Apple, Google, and Yahoo send their kids to the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, which prefers hands – on, experiential learning rather than technology. Instead, they emphasize imagination, creative thinking, and problem solving. There is apparently some research showing that technology use has shown no significant improvement on student learning and some even says that students using a great deal of tech actually do worse. These schools want students to become producers of knowledge rather than consumers.

Personally, I can see both sides of this argument.

First, I’ve been teaching a looong time, and we did just fine before there were computers and internet access in every classroom. We managed without Power Point or Word or gradebook software. We researched in the Library instead of on Google. Students bringing devices in class can be very distracting. At my school we caught students using texts to cheat on exams. Teachers often complain about shrinking attention spans and I think there is some truth to the argument that the constant stimulation of technology has added to that. So I can understand the appeal of tech – free classrooms.

On the other hand, tech – free classrooms?!?!? Are you crazy!?!?!? With tech, lessons are more engaging, practice at an appropriate level is immediately available and OMG! who wants to ever see another card catalog??? Tech has allowed us so save so much time on research and grading and lesson planning. It is hard to imagine going into a classroom tomorrow and not having my Smart Board and projector. As advanced as it was for the time, no one misses the overhead projector!! So I can understand the appeal of tech – filled classrooms.

So, I bring this up because I figure there are LOTS of opinions out there on this subject. What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Digital Storytelling Project:

This project will be part of a Reading assignment for 5th graders. They will research the mystery genre, write their own short mystery story, and then create a digital storytelling project. I did my example in Power Point, which I realize was not the best choice. It tells a story written and read by a 9 year old.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Integrating Digital Storytelling into the Curriculum

          For my gifted fifth grade Language Arts students, I would assign a digital storytelling project as part of a genre study. For example, if we’re studying mysteries, they would read at least one mystery, identify the required elements of a mystery, identify optional elements of a mystery, and then craft a digital mystery story using these elements. This same project could be done with any genre. This assignment would demonstrate mastery of the elements of that particular genre. This would require them to access all levels of Bloom’s for completion.

           At the beginning of this unit, I would familiarize students with web resources such as Powtoons, PowerPoint, Animoto, Voicethread, Crumbles, and Zeega. I would also have them watch tutorials such as: What is Digital Storytelling? ( and Digital Storytelling Tutorial ( Ideally, I would try to find an expert in digital storytelling to speak to the class. This unit will require access to computers in school, so use of a computer lab will probably be necessary. I would also prefer that each student have a jump drive so their work can be saved and they can continue working at home.

           As this unit is for gifted learners, much of it will be self-directed with the teacher acting as facilitator. In the final product, I would be looking for a complete story (beginning, middle, and end) as well as a minimum number of elements usually found in the genre. These elements should be fairly easily identifiable in the final product.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Is computer coding a foreign language?

Should coding be considered a foreign language for high school credit requirements? I found an interesting article linked here from U.S. News and World Report. The article shares the different points of view on this topic. Believe it or not, Florida actually tried to do something first! Florida Senator Jeremy Ring submitted a bill to allow students to choose computer coding over the traditional foreign language requirements. The bill passed the Florida Senate, but then died. In speaking to the Senate, Ring said, "We can be the first state to do this, or we can be the 50th state to do it. It's our choice. It's going to happen."

I found this to be an interesting debate. The concept is that coding is a foreign language, allowing us to communicate with computers. Critics say that speaking a foreign language is a great advantage in the world marketplace. As someone who took the required two years of a foreign language, I can tell you that I am in no way fluent in Spanish, so I don't see the current requirements as beneficial.

I do think that coding courses should be considered a foreign language. Sure, maybe speaking Chinese will be a marketable skill, but communicating with computers? No doubt that this is a skill that will be needed more and more as technology continues to grow exponentially. Our students today are digital natives, so they should have the chance to learn the language. All the computer hardware in the world won't do us any good if we can't tell the computers what we want them to do.

Galvin, Gaby (2016). Some Say Computer Coding is a Foreign Language. U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved on 10/14/16 from