Start class off right with a historic intro activity!

As a history teacher I am always looking for ways to grab students attention and interest in history. One of the ways that I have found particularly helpful are introduction activities that bring to light topics and events that students do not always hear about. The following list of websites not only bring history to life by pointing out what happened on this day in history. It also exposes students to a variety of different types of events and historic information. This variety seems to grab almost every students at one time or another during the year. I simply start of the class by reading through one of the events or a couple of events from one of the websites. Then I have a quick discussion or question and answer session and move on to the lesson for the day. At this point I often have their attention and they have settled down for class.  This type of introduction activity is so powerful I often have students come back years later and bring up topics they learned through these various websites.

This day in History

This site is probably the best of the bunch they have great videos that you can play right as the class bell rings. They are interesting and can hold students attention for the 1-3 minutes in length.

 

 

BBC “On This Day”

For a another site check out the BBC’s “On This Day”. Here you are able to focus on one topic with a more information to have discussion or class activity.

For an American History focus only try the Library of Congress’s Today in History Archive. Here you can search by day and find some great American History introduction topics to discuss.

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Historic Witness Podcasts

I was reading one of my favorite blogs yesterday, Free Technology For Teachers, and came across a great resource post called BBC Witness Podcasts.  BBC Witness Podcasts provides first hand accounts of historical events.  This would be an excellent way to bring history to life for your students.  After listening to a few of these accounts I began to think of many ways to incorporate these historic podcasts into the classroom. They are engaging and provide insight and information about hisotoric events in a new light.

As they state on their website: “Witness – history as told by the people who were there. Five days a week we will be talking to people who lived through moments of history to bring you a personal perspective on world events.”

Check this site out at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/witness

If you have not read Free Technology for Teachers blog I highly recommend you bookmark that site check it out at: http://www.freetech4teachers.com/

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How Students See the World

The video below was a project asking students to show the world as they see it.  This is a very interesting video that poses some serious questions for educators.  We all know that every generation is different and to be a successful teacher we have to adapt to meet the needs of the current generation. The integration of technology for the current generation is not a gimmick or fad it is how they interact, learn and live their lives. To be a successful teacher and reach the current generation technology is now a key component. Watch the video below.

Click here to see the project

http://visionsofstudents.org/

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Help Students Find Their “True Swing”!

Wow! Time flys! With the school year coming to a close and state testing taking place I have been a bit overwhelmed. So I apologize for being off task and not posting as regular to this blog.

Over this past week as I have had time, I was reading my regular blogs and came across a post that, of course, I cannot find now which mentioned the movie, “The Legend of Bagger Vance“.  It got me to thinking about this movie and its many different messages. One that I feel is so important for students and teachers is to help students find their “True Swing”.  Their true passion in life.  Every student has a gift in a particular area, and it is so important for educators to help students find that area they are gifted in and have a passion for.  This is the key to success for many students.  Unfortunately, many time students do not find it until later in life and miss out on much of their education.  Watch the video clip below, and as I said to my colleagues at our school lets make this one of our new goals to help students find their “True Swing”!

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Making PowerPoint INTERACTIVE Easliy With ActiveOffice

Microsoft PowerPoint

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I have always been a big fan of cross platform integration.  Many times I have worked with programs and wished I could blend applications together seamlessly to create projects and lessons. Well, finally there is an integration that just makes sense.

Promethean is now offering  what they call an ActivOffice application that will integrate their software, ActiveInspire/ActiveStudio with Microsoft’s PowerPoint.  This feature will place a toolbar within PowerPoint that will allow you to access many of the features of the Active software.  With this extension in PowerPoint you will be able to incorporate Promethean LRS student devices to assess learning by quickly and easily by  adding questions and importing questions for assessment. This software also allows you to display these results within PowerPoint. ActiveOffice will also provide you the ability to annotate on PowerPoint slides and save them for later presentations. ActivOffice will provide instructors the ability to create interactive presentations within PowerPoint.

For more information on this great application take a look at Promethean Planet at the following links.

 

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Great Teaching Resource “Teacher First”

This past weekend I found a great resource that I wanted to share “Teacher First”.  I have looked at this site before but never really took the time to look at all of the available content.  It is quite impressive and has some great units and lessons that are engaging and well developed.  This site offers a wide variety subject specific resources and can be a great place for teachers to bookmark and visit when developing their lessons. Check it out at www.teacherfirst.com.

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Keeping “I GET IT!” & “WHAT?” Students Engaged

A special education teacher assists one of her...

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Every teacher knows that students learn at different rates.  We know that students need their own time to process the content that they are presented. The problem is that in many cases they are required to move at specific times to keep up with the scope and sequence of the class. This causes problems for some students.  While some are ready to move on early and are stuck waiting for the class others are just not grasping certain concepts and need more time.  Both scenarios cause students to be disengaged with school. This dilemma really seemed to be a problem with my students this year.

Sound familiar? We all have those years where we have two kinds of students the “I get it!” kids and the “What?” kids.  So it has caused me to rethink my delivery method and class organization.  Through some experimenting I came across a method this week that does show some promise. I call it pod learning.

My room is broken up into three groups. I have them color coded by rugs on the floor, red, black and green. At the beginning of each unit I give a pretest to see where my students are at. Depending on how they score on that test they are placed into each of the pods. The black groups is for kids who are struggling with the concept. Green students have a basic knowledge of the content and red who seem to have a good understanding of the concept. Once they are placed in their groups each pod has scaffolded instruction to their specific needs. Black will receive a lot of my attention and I will move them along slowly while green and red can move more at their own pace. My scope and sequence has not changed I have just added some enrichment activities to the green and red groups.  In some cases my red students get into their own course of study on the subject. This process really seemed to work well over the past couple of weeks and has led me to begin looking at refining this system even more.  While this is not true differentiating instruction it is allowing students to move at their own pace and has not created an excessive burden as far as planning my lessons. I am optimistic about this concept and wish to hear your thoughts on this little experiment. Drop me a line and let me know what you think.

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