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Online Tools for Educators

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One of our keynote speakers at the TIE Conference in South Dakota was Kathy Shrock! I don't think this woman ever sleeps with all that she is doing to help educators implement technology appropriately in the classroom. This session was focused on Telling Stories digitally.


Research states that facts and figures only activate the part of the brain where we make sense of words. But, when listening to a digital story, a recent article reports "not only are the language processing parts in our brain activated, but any other area in our brain that we would use when experiencing the events of the story are, too". To get their point across, the business world is shifting from bullet points to stories. How can we do this in schools? Presenting content using storytelling can be captivating, compelling, and can help students grasp the content. This presentation will include the research to support this pedagogical shift, various examples of content presented this way, and an overview of the process and tools that can be used to create these rich digital stories.Digital Storytelling - Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything


In addition to teaching online, Kathy writes, speaks, blogs, tweets, and conducts professional development workshops, presentations, and keynotes nationally and internationally. She is known for her practical presentations dealing with pedagogically sound practices for the embedding of technology seamlessly into teaching and learning. Her passions are online tools to support classroom instruction, the role of emerging technologies in the classroom, infographics, tablets in the classroom, copyright and intellectual property, and gadgets of any type! You can find her on Twitter (@kathyschrock), Skype (kathyschrock), Google+, and on many other social networks!

She currently maintains these Web sites:

Kathy has written hundreds of articles dealing with technology and education and has authored several books about edtech topics. In addition, she has received numerous awards for her work, including a People's Choice Webby, the ISTE and MassCUE Making IT Happen Award, the NCTIES Service Learning Award, has served on the ISTE Board of Directors twice, and has worked with the US Department of Education on several educational technology initiatives


The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) has teamed with the Pearson Foundation to capture and share exemplary 21st century learning practices that are improving schools, student learning and opportunities in classrooms and communities across the United States.

In addition to identifying, documenting, sharing and celebrating the 21st century practices of exemplar schools they are reporting on the broader common features– the Patterns of Innovation– that emerge across exemplar schools and appear to be at the heart of their effective transformation into 21st Century Learning Environments.

The 5 essential ingredients they have thus far identified as contributing to exemplar schools' success are:

  • Student Voice
  • Engaged Community
  • Distributed Leadership
  • Climate of Achievement
  • Evidence & Research

The implementation of the P21 Framework for 21st Century Learning is found threaded across each of these areas.

The Patterns of Innovation report  was developed by Christopher Brown of the Pearson Foundation, with input from the P21 Exemplar Working Group and staff, and designed by Collaborative Communications Group.

If you are not already using this sight for you and your students, I highly recommend this real world resource for your classrooms! You can even have them set up an rss feed to have the news pushed to you or your students.

CNN Student News - March 31, 2014 - CNN.com

As educational gaming moves from a future technology to a practice found in more and more classrooms, educators are recognizing game-based learning’s (GBL) potential to engage students and help them prepare for future learning. By ensuring that games meet certain requirements, educators will find themselves on the path to choosing an impactful game that goes beyond the typical drill-and-practice or end-of-unit reward game.

Dan White, founder of Filament Games, a member of the advisory board for Games for Change, and a founding member of the Games Learning Society at the University of Wisconsin, states, “Good games look a lot like inquiry-based learning tools and project-based learning tools, with constructive exploring principles.”

White provides us with 7 ways to evaluate education games to help make sure students are truly learning: 7 ways to evaluate educational games | eSchool News | eSchool News

Do you seek exciting new ways to engage and connect with learners? Are you committed to sparking curiosity and empowering students to create? If so, ISTE 2014 is for you. Part idea incubator and part collaborative workspace, ISTE’s conference and expo brings educators of all types and grade levels together to share discoveries and develop solutions for their greatest challenges—all while connecting to a global network of

education resources. ISTE 2014 (International Society for Technology Education)


As a professional development provider and technology integrationist and coach, I see this conference as the ultimate site to build my capacity!

  • Verizon's Innovative Schools Program will be there to share best practices and emerging strategies in mobile learning.
  • Lisa Fink from ReadWriteThink.org, one of the Thinkfinity Community partners, will be presenting.

  • If you need to convince the "powers that be" to allow you to attend this amazing technology education conference, ISTE has provided you with the resources. ISTE 2014 - a PDF of the conference website, a letter to your administrator, a powerpoint about the conference, and videos from the 2013 conference.
  • ISTE 2014 is for every educator at every level. They offer a multitude of professional development opportunities for the entire education team. Visit  ISTE 2014 to learn how this conference will benefit teachers, tech coordinators, network administrators, staff developers, media specialists, and administrators.


A purple monster with wild curls spiraling out of control explains the economics of oil production in the Sudan to students in Los Angeles, Sydney, Berlin, Jerusalem, and Riyadh.

That is education and animation working together to teach students everywhere, everything they ever wanted to know. Educators need only utilize the tools available, most of them for free.

Some of the animation links catalogued here will give educators very basic tools and histories of animation while others have the animation already created and set in motion, it’s just a matter of sharing it with students.

Educators need to decide which tool is best for them. If you want to create your own animation from scratch, then you want to go to sites such as Animwork. If you want to select from animation that’s already set up for you then perhaps Explainia makes more sense.

One of the easiest ways to animate, however, isn’t with your own camera and modeling clay, it’s with your links to sites that hand you everything within their own forums.

Use the first part of this list for creating original animation or using animation tools to create lessons. Use the second part to select animated lessons that are already completed and set to share.

1. Animation for Education

In this support system for educators, iCreate to Educate helps teachers and schools from primary through higher education become better learners by making animation more accessible throughout Europe. It offers some great resources and valuable animation software and resources. It also has a free stop-motion animation tool called SAM.

2. Animwork

A European partnership created this guide to help teachers learn more about using animation to teach. With some basics in place such as how to create a good story and what tools to use, Animwork puts everything into perspective for any teacher who wants to create his or her own animation.

3. GoAnimate for Schools

Easy and quick, GoAnimate for Schools is a one-stop shop for creating custom animation that’s well-made and easy to use. Globally accessible to any educator, it’s also secure and educators get a major discount. Schools can sign up about 200 students at a time.

4. GoAnimate

If the purpose of using the animation tool is solely for teaching and sharing educator-created animation, take another route to GoAnimate for business. This tool has a free sign-in where educators can use basic tools to create animation with whatever message they need to get across to their students.

5. Devolver

Quick animation with some bizarre characters and sleek backgrounds that help make a point or send students into the beginning or end of a lesson makes Devolver a great tool for the educator who moves fast. Students can also use it to email professors their interpretation of a theory or lesson.

6. Voki

Adding an interesting twist to communication and lecturing, Voki allows educators to create avatars that speak for them. Record or type in messages and send or embed the clips on a site. Voki even offers educator logins with free extras.

7. PowToon

A free business presentation tool, PowToon helps users create animated presentations with quality graphics. It even has a home dedicated to educators at any level. PowToon touts itself as being as easy to use as Powerpoint and educators seem to think it is.

8. Make It Share It

For those who prefer to draw, there’s Make It Share It. Create your own drawings from stick figures to sketches to full cartoons and animate them all online. This might be an online tool to share with students who like to draw or to create a project.

9. Wideo

But, if drawing seems to just get in the way, go to Wideo. Some modern graphics with interesting selections and fonts give users the ability to make unique videos for business and education. Nicely done tutorials provide users with confidence and basic skills to begin quickly.

10. Mixeek

This free software allows users to design web animations based on Javascript, CSS3, and HTML5. One of the best parts of this tool is that users can make their animation interactive. Mixeek also makes it easier for beginners to start the whole process with simple tutorials.

11. Myths and Legends

Hailing from the United Kingdom, this site is best used as a tool for students to create their own myths and legends. For instance, students might want to turn a factual news story into a myth or legend using the Myths and Legends tools.

12. Zimmer Twins

Make a movie or watch a movie with animation tools set neatly in place at Zimmer Twins. Create scenes from scratch or choose from scenes that are already set up. Educators can take advantage of Zimmer Twins at School by creating accounts for up to 40 students including blogs for added communication.

13. Loogix

For simple movements and creative elements of photographs or short film, use Loogix. It’s very basic and not as innovative or interactive but it gets the job done if the goal is to add a fun twist to images.

14. Blabberize

A hilariously fun site, Blabberize turns any image into a talking image complete with your recorded message. Now, whatever point any educator’s trying to make is a lot more effective when a talking cat, dog, or lama says it.

15. Aniboom

If there’s a need for something more tailored and none of the tools you’ve looked at so far meet your needs, try Aniboom. There you’ll find access to actual animators. Just post your project then assign an artist to it. You can check on the progress during the process.

16. Creaza

Another online animation tool has both a free limited version and a version that you can get a quote on for pricing. With a large variety of backgrounds and characters, using the premium version might be worth it. Creaza’s selling points are the video editor, an audio editor, a cartoon editor and a mind map builder.

17. Doink

An app for ipads, iphones, and ipods, Doink offers really creative tools that allow users to customize artwork and to create a library of drawings and animations. With a composition editor, animation appears professional and adds more versatility than a lot of other programs out there.

Ready to Go Animation

The following links will help educators find animation that’s already set in motion. It’s tried and true so educators simply search for their subject or their purpose and grab videos to help their students grasp concepts or even learn difficult material that otherwise may have eluded them.

18. TED Ed

Here educators will find brilliant animation with unique twists on a basic concept add new dimensions to learning with TED Ed. The clips are usually short, approximately 5 minutes, but they squeeze important information into that time frame and do it rather effectively.

19. Brain Pop

Another site with quick clips, Brain Pop simplifies difficult lessons in all the basic subjects including engineering and technology. Like TED Ed, it adds material constantly so there’s always more to choose from; however, there is a fee to access the material.

20. BBC History

Walk through the architectural planning of the Colosseum, watch the reconstruction of the Iron Age Chariot, and learn about the Battle of Somme in World War I among many other animated insights. It can all be found at the BBC Interactive Content Animations.

21. ABC

An Australian site full of insightful and entertaining documentaries, ABC also has cool animated videos about Greek gods, Naval officers, and science plus lots of interactive video and gaming.

22. Explania

From learning how to save the oceans to how to calculate your body mass index, the animations seem endless on Explania. Just register and gain access to creative animations that explain almost anything.

23. Google Apps

Google Apps for Education is filled with animated apps that shed light on otherwise out of reach concepts and difficult problems that sometimes even the best educator can’t perfect into a lesson readable by all students. GeoGebra and Desmos have sketchpads and graphing calculators and that’s just the beginning.

24. Enlightenment

RSA brings power to intellectual debates with animation. Use their videos as a springboard for further debate or to introduce 21st century topics to any subject that thrives on arguments.

25. Brainpickings

Full of informational animations that give the learner visuals that transfer difficult concepts into understandable snippets, Brainpickings narrows the gap between confusion and understanding.

26. Literature

Openculture compiled a list of animations relating to various literature such as Emily Dickinson’s poetry and Shakespeare. Explain the wonders of Plato and Kafka as well as Hemingway with these short clips.

27. Electric Literature

Find folktales, comedies, minidramas, and more, all animated with fascinating graphics and sound on Electric Literature. Bring story telling to students with these videos that offer unique perspectives.

28. WatchKnowLearn.org

With tons of videos to choose from, some aren’t animated but you can sift through them to find the animated ones. WatchKnowLearn.org is broken into subject areas and acts as a database for rated videos that teach students. The ratings have stars and a review, which is really helpful because it saves time when choosing which one to use.

29. Canada Film

At the site for the National Film Board of Canada, educators will discover free streaming documentaries and animated films. Short animated films about poets, poetry, music, and other themes add interest and are a great resource for any educator.

30. National Geographic

While housing all types of great resource videos, National Geographic also has valuable interactive animations for teaching about the world around us and the world itself. Click through the steps of Greenhouse Effect and learn exactly how it works.

31. BioInteractive

Sleek, professional, colorful, and detailed animations at BioInteractive help educators communicate their curriculum with students. Educators choose from topics such as anatomy, brain, cancer, cardiovascular, organism behavior, and a lot more.

32. The Archeology Channel

Using Google maps, The Archeology Channel has created an interactive map that gives educators a visual guide of its animated videos of historical figures and finds according to the country or region. For instance, if educators click on Italy, they’ll find a video about Matilda of Canossa.

33. How Stuff Works

Full of videos, the animated ones make understanding any subject or process much easier at How Stuff Works. Under the category Culture, you might click on the animated video How Murphy’s Law Works.

34. Cell Biology Animation

John Kyrk created intricate animations explaining cell biology. Beginning with amino acids and protein and delving into DNA structure, the animation available on his site provides learners with complete visuals into the workings of cell biology.

35. Plant & Soil Sciences eLibrary

Access well-made animations of flower structures, plant breeding, gel scoring, gene cloning, genetic mapping, herbicide metabolism and so on. Plant & Soil Sciences eLibrary allows educators to access and use animated videos for free after they login.

36. Exploratorium

Split into categories such as Astronomy or Cognitive Science/Psychology, educators can find animated videos depending on the subject within the subject inside Exploratorium.

37. iTunes U

Find any and everything at iTunes U, just search or select a category and move through animation after animation. Sign up as an educator and add something even more useful to the equation by creating your own unique lessons or even videos.

38. MIT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers open courses with some great animation available. Check out some of the courses available at MIT and send students that way if they need extra guidance or even if they need a good challenge.

39. PBS Online

Inside PBS.org, educators have access to animations of such topics as growth, well-being, and jobs in what it calls the new economy or the story of Theodore Roosevelt’s building the Panama Canal.

40. YouTube

Another helpful place to find animations, YouTube delivers any and every animation on almost any topic or subject imaginable. However, educators might have to sift through some unprofessional videos while searching.

41. Science Stage

Not just focused on science, Science Stage is worth visiting for almost any subject except literature. Anyone who wants to learn more about a chosen field will find all the videos fascinating, not just the animations.

42. NOVA

An animation of the “Island of Stability” for physics or animation of the growth spurts of a T. Rex give learners clear insight into the unseen worlds of learning on NOVA, a subsection of PBS.

43. NBC Learn

From sustainability of water to the science of the summer Olympics, NBC Learn makes education simple and understandable. The animations work alongside professional videos explaining various topics.

44. History

History actually partnered with Aniboom and created a contest where people use Aniboom to create a historical, animated video. On top of that, History online has awesome interactive games, maps, and timelines including Ellis Island: Then and Now and hilarious animation of Greek Gods.

45. LearnersTV

If educators need animated video of science subjects such as biology, chemistry, and physics, then LearnersTV boasts animated videos detailing these subjects. It also catalogues video on such subjects as engineering and economics but those videos aren’t animated.

46. Maps of War

At Maps of War, the history of religion, the Imperial history of the Middle East, democracy, terrorism, the World Wars, and more map out the past and sometimes the future, depending on how you look at it.

47. Khan Academy

Well-respected and known as the place to go for all learners, Khan Academy masters teaching and animation with videos that lead a student to the unanswered questions.

48. See Math

See Math animations explain simple and complex math with animations that make learning precise and understandable. Educators can sign up and show the videos to students or have students sign up and learn.

49. Math is Fun

Animated cubes, triangular prisms, hexakis icosahedrons, gyroelongated square bicupola, or hebesphenomegacorona among other three-dimensional animated shapes fill the web pages of Math is Fun, offering learners various ways to manipulate and view the movements.

50. Vimeo

If educators search Vimeo, they’ll find some nicely done animation of shorts about anything from sci-fi to love stories as well as beautifully done animation of challenging and enlightening concepts to spark creativity and innovation with any learner who needs a boost of imagination.

Source: Open Colleges

SymbalooEDU is bringing a Digital Learning Day contest to your classroom!

Have fun on Digital Learning Day and enter to win!           

The mission: Get your students SymbalooEDU certified! If you are a SymbalooEDU Certified Educator, you will have access to the Student Certification. If not, tell us at edu@symbaloo.com and we will send it to you! The teachers that sign up the most students and best video will win a Digital Learning Day package from us! Make it your Digital Learning Day activity to gain the most votes for your classroom! Have fun! Win prizes! Top 3 winners will win an ice-cream party for your SymbalooEDU certified class, 6 months free of SymbalooEDU premium, and special edition t-shirt for every winner! We will write a blog post featuring your class on the SymbalooEDU website and monthly newsletter! Want to enter the contest? Click here for more information!

The one guaranteed constant in educational technology is change, and the pace of that change is definitely accelerating. So T.H.E. Journal paused to survey the ed tech trends on the horizon. They assembled a distinguished panel of five experts and asked them to consider 10 topics related to instructional technology and predict whether each topic will be HOT ⇧, LUKEWARM ⇔, or LOSING STEAM ⇓ in 2014. They compiled their responses to come up with an overall trend line. There was unanimous agreement on some topics and less consensus on others, but taken together, their responses paint a compelling picture of what to expect from ed tech in 2014.

So, I thought it might be fun to have our own poll here in the Thinkfinity Community and let you, the educators, be the judge of what's hot and what's not!  I selected 5 of their 10 topics for us to vote on.  Check out the poll and let your voice be heard.

Read more at "The 10 Biggest Trends in Ed Tech."



I wanted to wish each and everyone a very Merry Christmas!!


I was trying to think of a way to include our Thinkfinity Content Partners and so I typed Christmas as the keyword and this is just the first page of 71 lessons and resources related to Christmas. See what you and your families might share and learn from these resources while on the Holiday break.


Christmas Content Parnters.JPG

Verizon Foundation and its Thinkfinity Content Partners are pleased to present the professional development series Going Mobile EdChat. In this series of online PD events, learn from and interact with panel experts around the topic of mobile learning. Each week, watch presentations from our panel experts and then join us at 8 p.m. ET for a #MobileEdChat on Twitter. Ask questions or share your experiences with using mobile learning to engage students. After each week’s presentation, keep the conversation going with discussions in the Mobile Learning Group here in the Thinkfinity Community. Find out what others thought of the first #MobileEdChat. (One member said, "This was my first Twitter chat and it was awesome!")


Next chat: Going Mobile EdChat: Student Created Content

November 5, 2013 (8pm ET)




The good news is you are all back to school and very busy organizing your classroom activities. We know teachers have little spare time, so let us help you with new ideas to extend your professional learning network and enhance your students' learning.


  • Karen Richardson offers you strategies for Taking Technology Back to School that she has advocated in her work with our Verizon Innovative Schools program. Don't miss this feature article!
  • Visit with Amy Rudd, our Spotlighted Member of the Month.
  • Join Trending Conversations in the Thinkfinity Community.
  • Increase your learning network by joining our Featured Groups of the month to share ideas with colleagues and our Content Partner experts.
  • Experience new Classroom Materials developed by our Content Partners.
  • Read Education News and Insights blogs to stay current with technology and new ideas.
  • Learn about the Verizon Foundation App Challenge and how you can be a part of this year's challenge.

Yes, by popular demand, Verizon Foundation and staff have created a Thinkfinity Newsletter for your use...it is designed to point you to valuable ideas and make good use of your limited time.

If you did not receive your copy by email, you can subscribe to the Newsletter on the Thinkfinity homepage, at the top of the right column, or locate the archived copies listed on the Thinkfinity Newsletters Index.  This index also is located in the Community Hub at the top of the page.

An Infographic by www.OpenColleges.edu.au


Wearable technology refers to devices that can be worn by users, taking the form of an accessory such as jewelry, sunglasses, a backpack, or even actual items of clothing such as shoes or a jacket. The benefit of wearable technology is that it can conveniently integrate tools, devices, power needs, and connectivity within a user’s everyday life and movements.

One of the most popular incarnations of the technology was the calculator watch, which was introduced in the 1980s. Since then, the field has advanced significantly, but the overarching theme behind the technology remains the same – convenience. These tools are portable, light weight, and often take the place of an accessory the user already wears, such as a t-shirt, glasses, or wrist-watch, making them easy to take anywhere.

Google’s “Project Glass” features one of the most talked about current examples –  the device resembles a pair of glasses, but with a single lens. A user can see information about their surroundings displayed in front of them, such as the names of friends who are in close proximity, or nearby places to access data that would be relevant to a research project.

Wearable technology is still very new, but one can easily imagine accessories such as gloves that enhance the user’s ability to feel or control something they are not directly touching. Wearable technology already in the market includes clothing that charges batteries via decorative solar cells, allows interactions with a user’s devices via sewn-in controls or touch pads, or collects data on a person’s exercise regimen from sensors embedded in the heels of their shoes.

Currently, the number of new wearable devices in the consumer sector seems to be increasing daily, greatly outpacing the implementation of this technology at universities. The education sector is just beginning to experiment with, develop, and implement wearable technologies, though the potential applications are significant and vast. Smart jewelry or other accessories could alert students working in chemical laboratories to hazardous conditions, while wearable cameras can instantly capture hundreds of photographs or data about a user’s surroundings on an offsite geology dig that can be later accessed via email or other online application.

One of the most compelling potential outcomes of wearable technology in higher education is productivity. Wearable technologies that could automatically send information via text, email, and social networks on behalf of the user, based on voice commands, gestures, or other indicators, would help students and educators communicate with each other, keep track of updates, and better organize notifications.

Thinkgeek’s InPulse Smart Notification watch is relatively affordable at $150 and works with Android devices to enable users to view and organize emails, texts, phone calls, and other notifications.

A new brain-sensing headband called Muse displays a user’s brain activity directly on their smartphone or tablet. The ultimate goal for development is that users will be able to control televisions and other electronic devices merely by thinking about them.

Some current research and development efforts at the university level are related to sensory improvement, such as gloves that enhance responsive feeling when performing surgery or interacting with scientific equipment. The MIT Media Lab is taking this notion a step further by allowing users to turn any surface into an interface with SixthSense, a tool consisting of a pocket projector, a mirror, and a camera. The hardware components inside this pendant-like wearable device project information onto any surface, while the camera recognizes and tracks a user’s hand gestures.

Another significant area of interest for education is wearable flexible displays. Samsung, LG, Sony, and a number of other technology companies have already created light-emitting diode (LED) displays that can

wrap around furniture and other curved surfaces, and Erogear has developed a display that can be integrated into different types of clothing. Advancements in this area could eventually make smartphones, tablets, and other computing devices obsolete.

Professor Thad Starner at Georgia Tech University founded the Contextual Computing Group to develop applications and interfaces that can be worn. Projects include a mobile sign language translator, a wearable pendant that recognizes and translates one’s hand gestures into actions, and an application designed to make a tablet pressure-sensitive so it monitors tremor in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Although wearable technology is not yet pervasive in higher education, it will increase in impact as enabling technologies gain traction in the consumer market.

Cited From: http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/how-google-glass-can-be-used-in-education-infographic/#ixzz2cNfJQGqg


Arecent story on The Onion, the Internet’s beloved satire site renowned for its ability to pinpoint painful truths in its “fake news” stories, last week underscored one of the saddest dynamics of modern education. In “Inspirational English Teacher Cancelled out by Every Other Teacher at School,” the problem of teacher burnout is readily apparent:

“Despite her effusive passion for education, constant encouragement, and heartfelt devotion to her pupils, English teacher Marcia Belsheim’s inspirational influence on Clement C. Young High School students is reportedly entirely canceled out by the attitude and conduct of every other educator employed at the institution, sources confirmed Tuesday. “Mrs. Belsheim makes me feel like I can do anything I set my mind to, but then unfortunately the rest of my classes convince me that school is a waste of my time and I probably won’t amount to anything,” said student Paul Whitaker, 15, adding that the brief glimmer of excitement he feels toward learning in his first period English class is quickly and permanently extinguished by his six other teachers’ apathetic and detached classroom behavior.”

It’s just that the teaching profession is unlike most other jobs in its unique demands. Teachers at every level, from kindergarten to college, are expected to be sources of knowledge and wisdom, entertainers, cheerleaders, and innovators—all at the same time.

Look, we’ve all been there. There are days when we just can’t recapture our enthusiasm for teaching, or have to cover a topic for the millionth time, or are struggling with a class that just doesn’t seem to get it. When our colleagues are in a similar place, it’s as contagious as a virus—and that can bring down even the most enthusiastic instructor.

It’s not that we don’t love teaching. It’s just that the teaching profession is unlike most other jobs in its unique demands. Teachers at every level, from kindergarten to college, are expected to be sources of knowledge and wisdom, entertainers, cheerleaders, and innovators—all at the same time. Such a diverse load of responsibilities to juggle can be wearisome.

That’s why educators need to join together and support one another. For college instructors, this is a little more difficult because we generally work more in isolation than those who teach in the K-12 levels and have their own dedicated classrooms in smaller schools, see each other in the hallways, and attend school events. Online instructors are even more isolated, and lack even the most minimal opportunities for collegiality and mutual support.

So how can college instructors support and inspire each other? Try some of these suggestions and build a better, more collaborative team!

  1. Build an online resource database: We can all benefit from collective wisdom, and one of the more effective uses of new online technologies is the opportunity to share our expertise and creativity with our colleagues. Most schools now have online learning management systems, including Blackboard, Moodle, and Edmodo are just a few. But even schools without a full online component at least have web pages for the departments and the college itself. There’s a great opportunity here to create a database of creative assignments, worksheets, readings, research instructions, etc. Let each faculty member contribute and establish a user agreement system, perhaps through Creative Commons licenses that give permission for other faculty members to use the assignments.
  2. Start a reading group: This week I’ve been reading Bruce MacFarlane’s “Teaching with Integrity: The Ethics of Higher Education Practice” (2004), a book I’ve been meaning to read for years. It addresses some of the most common ethical challenges college instructors face, including how to treat all students equally (i.e., if we give an extension to one student are we ethically obligated to give one to all students?) I cannot wait to discuss this book with my teaching colleagues, but I won’t really be discussing it with them as much as I’ll be telling them about it, because we haven’t all read it. A regular book discussion group focusing on professional issues would solve this problem, and allow faculty to bond over the kinds of discussions that transcend departmental divisions, and help us maintain our own critical faculties.
  3. Collaborate on lesson plans and rubrics: There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel every time you teach. Work together to build cohesive instructional strategies and create consistency across your department. It helps you get to know your colleagues and their teaching philosophies, as well as encourage meaningful dialogue about your common goals. These plans and rubrics should not be mandatory, to preserve academic freedom, but on those days when teaching seems especially challenging, it helps to know you’re your colleagues have your back. As with the resource database, this can be shared in an online format. It will also come in handy any time your department comes up for accreditation review.
  4. Mentor new teachers: St. John’s University has an Online Faculty Mentoring Program that should be emulated by universities everywhere. New online instructors are paired with experienced faculty who volunteer to “help instructors to expand and refine their strategies while incorporating approaches offered in University courses that prepare them to teach online. Mentors also provide feedback about student-faculty and student-student interactions.” This not only provides new professors with a sounding board and resource, it also helps those new instructors integrate into the school and faculty culture.
  5. Team-teach by taking over in your area of strength: Many times when I’ve taught ancient history survey courses, I’ve wanted to invite scholars of ancient Greece and Rome to take over my course for a lecture or two. It’s not that I am not fully-versed in those areas—I couldn’t teach those courses if I wasn’t. But faculty members with specific research interests always bring a uniquely personal element to their subjects, and I’d like to take advantage of that more often. It’s a way of acknowledging and honoring the achievements of my colleagues, and also an opportunity for me to learn, too—and that’s inspirational.
  6. Create a Facebook page just for your faculty group: Social media today is what cocktail parties were to coworkers back in the 1950s, but now professional and personal news is shared across the cloud rather than a crowded room. Borrow a page from your students and start sharing interesting articles, stories of funny teaching moments, and department information through a Facebook page just for you and your colleagues. Don’t be surprised when invitations start to fly back and forth; your department will become a friendlier one when there’s more informal, low-pressure contact. Just remember to keep it professional and preserve student confidentiality. Read more about creating a professional learning network.
  7. Create a Collegiality contract: Last week one of my colleagues arrived early to class and walked into the room to dump his bags while I was still teaching. It was distracting to me and my students. While it’s helpful to make sure that everyone in a department shares a common commitment to collegiality, that’s clearly not always possible. Some departments seem fraught with conflict that can be rooted in professional disagreements, personality clashes, or both. Ask your colleagues to collaborate on a collegiality pledge or contract, because it’s well-known that people are more likely to honor decisions they have a part in making. Establish basic rules of conduct and civility, and promise to stick to them.
  8. Design and conduct a research project together: Another way to show respect for your colleagues is to unite your department through a shared project that shows off the other professional skills of your teaching faculty. You can design a project that analyzes student outcomes or another relevant factor of your academic program, and then publish your findings or present what you’ve learned at an academic conference. The interaction between fellow teachers can be a bonding experience that strengthens your department.
  9. Pick an “instructor of the month” to highlight: You may not always agree with your fellow instructors, but it’s important to take time to show appreciation for the hard work that everyone in your department does. This can be as simple as allowing one of your colleagues to share what they’re doing in class during a faculty meeting or as elaborate as inviting them to share their most recent research in a guest lecture open to the whole school.  The important thing here, though, is to do this for every instructor, including adjunct, part time, or other contingent faculty, such as those on visiting or temporary contracts.
  10. Observe your colleagues in action: All too often, college instructors are locked into their own cocoons as they struggle to balance the various aspects of their careers, including teaching, grading, research, writing, committee work, etc. One way to maintain your momentum is to find inspiration in your colleagues. Is your curiosity piqued by the rave reviews your students give to another instructor? Ask that professor if you can sit in, unobtrusively of course, on one of their lectures. It’s flattering and helps encourage greater collegiality in your department. You may even discover a whole new style that you can incorporate into your own teaching.

These are just a few of the ways that you, as an instructor, can initiate positive change in your department or at your college. Inspiration can come from anywhere, but if you find it among your fellow instructors, you will help your department become a positive and effective environment for both students and the hard-working faculty members that serve them.

Source: informED

Cited From: http://newsroom.opencolleges.edu.au/features/10-ways-to-inspire-your-colleagues/#ixzz2Pl5MgCqo

social entrepreneurship

“Social entrepreneurs don’t just pursue a social end, they pursue that end in a fundamentally communal way.” –Sally Osberg, Skoll Foundation

In a not-so-distant past, college degrees were the safety nets that led to job security. Now those nets are riddled with holes, sagged down by the weight of so many recipients. And unless young professionals have something new to offer, awarding them some leverage back into the net, they slip between the seams into the greatest hole of all: unemployment.

Because of this new development, the term “entrepreneur” has moved beyond the walls of the business school and into many secondary classrooms across the world. It now has a much broader definition, welcoming anyone— in any field— who plants a seed of change and directs its growth. The definition includes serial entrepreneurs, lifestyle entrepreneurs, family entrepreneurs, creative entrepreneurs, extreme entrepreneurs, non-profit entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, and others.

Regardless of which path our students take, it is the entrepreneurial values of ownership, innovation, and sustainment that we should be cultivating in them from an early age. This way, our students will be prepared to hold onto that net when it starts to sag.

In his 2012 article for TIME, Steve Mariotti (founder of the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship , which provides programs that inspire young people from low-income communities to stay in school, recognize business opportunities, and plan for successful futures) writes, “As an educator of at-risk youth for over thirty years, and NFTE’s founder, I’ve seen only one thing consistently bring children raised in poverty into the middle class: entrepreneurship education.”

Over the past several years, educators have taken off running with the idea of teaching entrepreneurial values to youth.

At a Middle School in Cheshire, Connecticut, eighth grade students are planning and managing their own “businesses” through a project called Mind Your Own Business (MYOB), selling food and crafts to the school’s faculty and study body.

In Kansas, the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) provides students with a specialized, entrepreneurial alternative to traditional high school. Here, young innovators can develop and test their ideas, receive support from business and engineering experts, meet venture capitalists and investors, and apply for provisional patents in order to commercialize their products.

“Owner-entrepreneurship education empowers young people to make well-informed decisions about their future, whether they choose to become entrepreneurs or not,” Mariotti says. “Our students discover that, like every individual, they already own five powerful assets: time, talent, attitude, energy and unique knowledge of one’s local market.”

It makes sense. In a world economy where jobs have become scarce and degrees insufficient, entrepreneurship offers a promising alternative: If you can’t find a job, why not create one?

The Rise Of The Social Entrepreneur

Social entrepreneurship, in particular, has risen to the occasion as an appealing alternative. As our governments and markets fail to provide solutions to social problems, a new legion of self-appointed individuals all across the world swells in influence and number.

Bornsetin writes, “There have always been people who build organizations that demonstrate new possibilities and spark change. In business, they were given the name “entrepreneurs” some 200 years ago. In the social sector, until recently, we called their counterparts — people like Dorothea Dix, Gifford Pinchot or Asa Philip Randolph — humanitarians or revolutionaries. It’s only in the past 30 years — and primarily in the past 10 — as the number of social entrepreneurs has multiplied, that we’ve come to appreciate their role in social change — and begun to study their methods.”

There is now a host of post-secondary and graduate programs— such as the Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship (AGSE) the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) first launched in the UK, and Ashoka U in the US— that provide the resources and guidance young professionals need to travel this path. Activity can also be seen at the elementary and secondary levels, as middle and high school teachers begin implementing lessons on social entrepreneurship in their classrooms.

In 2010, members of the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) in Greater Los Angeles commenced a year-long pilot program in an underfunded LA school to teach the fundamentals of business, entrepreneurship, and giving back to the community— all through the lens of a social entrepreneur.

Each student was challenged to create a marketing campaign with a “pop-up” retail store in their high school, where they were given $20, taken to a local wholesale market, and told to negotiate and create retail products to sell at lunch. The catch: every “pop-up” store had to have a cause attached to it. The NFTE also teamed up with MyCorporation.com to provide the most innovative students with a real-life business launch kit that included free entity incorporation, websites, logos, accounting software, business guide books, and more.

The Grand Prize winner, sophomore Hayley Hoverter, created eco-friendly, dissolvable rice-paper sugar packets that can be dispensed from a bamboo container on a coffee shop counter, preventing businesses from tearing through nearly 1,000 paper packets a day.

The Problem

This is all fine and good, but one detail seems to have gone awry: In defining social entrepreneurship, aren’t we neglecting community?

The term “entrepreneur” connotes a sole effort, however wide the sweep of its impact. Even when preceded by “social,” the term points not to the method involved but to the cause for which the method is enacted. A social entrepreneur tries to change the world, and almost certainly connects and works with others along the way, but is typically portrayed as a one-man team.

David Bornstein hits the nail on the head in his New York Times column from last November: (quoting Sally Osberg, president and chief executive of the Skoll Foundation) “For a long time, Osberg said, she viewed social entrepreneurs as ‘individual actors’ whose ideas led to the ‘creative destruction’ necessary to ‘replace a societal status quo’ with systems that were more just. ‘But over recent years,’ she added, ‘I’ve come to see how the “social” that characterizes their purpose also characterizes their way of working. In other words, social entrepreneurs don’t just pursue a social end, they pursue that end in a fundamentally communal way.’”

This concept – defining “social entrepreneurship” by its method as well as its purpose—is not new. It has simply been masquerading under different names, namely “system building,” “network weaving,” “infrapreneurship,” and “intrapreneurship.” But it has not been featured as an important aspect of the term we use in our classrooms.

In a recent blog post on Forbes.com, an Ashoka contributor blamed the higher education crisis in the United States on untapped social potential: “The problem isn’t that higher education doesn’t have anything of value to offer (colleges are nothing if not mountains of world-class learning opportunities), but that students aren’t getting any of that value. “ The community is intimate, the resources are plentiful, the network is waiting to be built— but students have not been properly advised on how to proceed.

A Social Means To a Social End

Frustrated with this oversight of traditional higher learning, Weezie Yancey-Siegel, now a social impact program manager for Flavorpill, decided to take matters into her own hands. After spending two years (and a pretty penny) at a prestigious liberal arts college in California, she took a year off of school to travel around the United States and Europe, attending conferences and interviewing other social innovators.

One of her interviewees, Rithesh Menon, is the Director of Partnerships for StartingBloc, a network and training program for young leaders. StartingBloc is a community of people who are brought together by a common trait: they are all wanting to change or impact the world in some way. For some people this may mean that they have an idea for a social venture that they are willing to build and lead.

Menon says he isn’t a big fan of the term “social entrepreneur.” There are many other roles that are needing to be filled in order to leverage true change, he says.

Weezie first began thinking about these roles in October 2011 when she met with Cassie Robinson of the co-working space Hub Westminister. Cassie is a perfect example of someone who is deeply committed to the system as a whole rather than just one project. As she puts it, “I’m interested in system builders as opposed to entrepreneurs.’”

Cassie works on several different projects, and is able to bring various perspectives and opinions to them. Cassie and Weezie talked about how much their society celebrates the entrepreneur, when it really needs to be looking at these system changer roles as well.

As Cassie explained, “I can never apply to any programs for personal development, or support, or funding. You can apply if you’re a social entrepreneur.”

She gave Weezie an example of something called The Big Venture Challenge, which awards 25 of the top entrepreneurs in the country. “I phoned them up because I just wanted to challenge them a little bit. In the application you had to say how you would go into an area in the UK and how you would basically help low-income people out of poverty. My argument to them was, ‘Why are you looking for a lone entrepreneur with one idea to be able to do that? There’s no way one organization or entrepreneur will be able to do that. There’s different aspects of a social problem like poverty and it would require a system for people. Why don’t you invest in people who know who those ten organizations would be and who could hold that together?’”

On May 8, 2012, Weezie posted the following on her blog, www.eduventurist.org :

“Funders and investors need to recognize, reward, and incentivize these critical roles to enable more people to take them on as jobs in the realm of social development. On the other hand, there is also a need for those who work within an organization or business that already exists and who innovate from within. I’m all in for creating new structures and recombinations. But the fact is, there are so many existing things that can benefit from fresh insight and begin to evolve to become something more adapted for the present and future. We call these people intrapreneurs, and like system builders, I feel that there is not enough emphasis or even education on these roles and their importance. Let’s ensure that the evolving educational systems will be mindful of these gaps that need to be filled.”

How You Can Redefine Social Entrepreneurship

Amid the anarchical din of MOOCs and anti-college movements, there is one lasting ray of hope for traditional schooling, and that is social entrepreneurship.

For a moment, forget the Common Core Standards and assessment tests, the push for college preparation and career success. Forget the emphasis on the individual student, whom, to the student’s own dismay, we have forced into premature self-awareness.

For a moment, imagine a learning space where students are first and foremost encouraged to work with and depend on one another for success.

With a little guidance, students will be prepared to take full advantage of the community-building resources that a college campus has to offer, and will carry this skill with them into the real world.

Here are five steps you can take to promote system building in your own classroom:

  1. Instill a sense of inter-dependence in your students. Create a social activity, such as building a mock-organization that provides clean drinking water to underdeveloped countries, and let them research, identify, and “fill” various roles needed to design and execute each project.
  2. Encourage design thinking. The three pillars of design thinking are human desirability, technical feasibility, and business viability. Although these seem like advanced concepts that belong in a business school lecture, you can introduce the same basic habits of thought to students in a sixth grade class. Break students up into groups and hold a “design your own robot” day, where groups are further divided into three “panels” for Who Does It Help, How Does it Work, and What Does it Cost.
  3. Require students to lead workshops rather than give presentations. This way, students can ask and respond to questions, exercise leadership and discussion skills, present ideas in a more collaborative (and less judgmental) setting, and make their peers feel involved and socially responsible.
  4. Emphasize the importance of organizational and collaborative skills in areas like human resource management, business/nonprofit law, marketing, and fundraising. Turn your classroom into a business model by breaking students up into “departments” that work together to improve the functionality and efficiency of the group overall.
  5. Expose students to organizations and resources that encourage social entrepreneurship through collaboration: Skillshare, School of Everything, Ashoka U, Breaker, Skoll Foundation, Echoing Green, Social Spaces, Trade School, the Middlebury Center for Social Entrepreneurship, and ThinkImpact, just to name a few. Many of these organizations hold internships, apprenticeships, and competitions throughout the year.

To ensure that our students take full advantage of the incredible value educational institutions have to offer, help them first understand the value of community.

For a great resource on teaching social entrepreneurship to students, check out Ashoka U’s “Social Entrepreneurship Education Resource Handbook.” Originally designed for faculty members interested in teaching social entrepreneurship, the Handbook was revised to include uses and applications for administrators eager to advance social entrepreneurship at their colleges and universities, students interested in launching their own social ventures and plugging into relevant resources, and practitioners of social entrepreneurship with an interest in higher education programs.

Source: Open Colleges

Cited From: http://newsroom.opencolleges.edu.au/features/teaching-social-entrepreneurship/#ixzz2PSpNbVww

Jump Start

Over the years, I’ve noticed how one question can change the dynamics of any situation. Everything might be moving along quite nicely at the dinner table, everyone’s happy and laughing but one question can send those same smiling faces into a frenzy of shouts and upset.

This also holds true in a classroom. Students may be working quietly and the teacher might be content but one question or comment from a student or the teacher can turn that quiet into bubbling sea of chatter.

Beyond textbooks and worksheets, at the core of every basic lesson lies the key to teaching students anything and everything.

Routines give rhythm and security to any learning environment. For students, the rhythm begins with knowing that when they enter the classroom, they need to begin writing in their journals about the topic on the board.

In another class they might start with a set of problems to solve. In yet another, they might pick up from where they began with the lab work they left behind in the previous class. In online classrooms, routines give students order and direction.

It’s when these routines turn into lullabies that it’s time to change the rhythm. These suggestions aren’t meant to become a project where the teacher spends endless hours planning. These are just quick tricks to step up the beat so that students stay interested.

Enter Math Class

1. Lesson:  Money and Multiplication

Multiplication and money go hand in hand. Word problems center on pulling apart large amounts into smaller ones and the number of $5, $10, $20, and $50 dollar bills which make up the equations.

Beginning class with a lesson in multiples only makes practical sense. So, students write times tables then often answer a word problem to demonstrate multiplication. After the routine sets in, add music—actually add rhythm.

Add Music.

Teachers can take it as far as you want, with short tapping, dancing or even a jump rope routine, but be sure not to penalize students who aren’t good at this part or don’t find it helpful. It’s simply a break in a routine.

2. Lesson: Measurements

Students may be learning the basics of measurements or even learning the conversion table. Either way, repetition helps understanding settle in. But, once it’s clear that this has happened, break into the pattern and challenge them.

Add Objects.

Challenge them to bring in objects to measure or weigh. Suddenly the lesson becomes three-dimensional and the daily routine has a heartbeat.

3. Lesson: Mental Math

With mental math lessons, students are practicing multiples in conjunction with addition and subtraction. They may also be rounding and working on place value. So they answer routine questions daily. Then move on to more challenging formats and ask students to create their own problems.

Add Candy.

Essentially, all mental math equals visuals so give them a series of problems with lollipops or any other candy that you know they’ll love. Then, reward them with it once they solve the problem correctly.

4. Lesson: Computations

Whether it’s a lesson in associative property of multiplication or distributive property of multiplication over addition, repetition of the ideas creates comfort for students. However, application seals it in their minds so add a little challenge into the routine.

Add a Party.

Have students plan a party. Give them a budget and a quick list of criteria to complete such as a shopping list and a supply list. Students can partner with each other or even work in groups of four.

5. Lesson: Algebra

Students must practice equations and word problems constantly in order to keep their minds focused. For a practical problem such as y + 8 = 32, students work their answers easily and move to more complex equations quickly. Fine. Then, they get the challenge of the word problem and essentially, so do you because you have to make sure they’re still learning.

Add Grapes.

Bring in grapes or nuts or chips. The idea is that you allow students to focus on an object or reward to motivate them to create word problems centered on their object of devotion. Again, they do the creating. They’re motivated. You’re free to teach within their enthusiasm.

Enter Reading Class

6. Lesson:  Fluency

Never before has just the act of reading on a daily basis been more important to a student’s learning experience. Making sure that students can form words correctly and sound out new ones can be a tiring task for teacher and student.

Add Choice.

Simply ask the students what they’d like to read and only read that no matter how simple. It builds confidence and gives them a feeling that they have some control over what they’re learning.

7. Lesson:  Comprehension

It would only follow that if a student achieves fluency then they should be able to comprehend what they read. That’s not always the case or teachers wouldn’t spend so much time reading passages and having students answer comprehension questions.

Add Quiz Masters.

After several days of reading and answering questions have students ask the questions. Tell students to ask the questions and have them quiz each other, either in groups of 2 or 4. It can be a large-scale challenge or a small one. The idea is that they are in charge.

8. Lesson:  Vocabulary

Whatever the grade level, teachers are constantly making sure students are acquiring new vocabulary. But, while matching definitions and looking up definitions may clarify the meanings of the words, it doesn’t ensure that students will remember the words.

Add Passwords.

Simply enough, at least at first, have them build a story together. Each student takes a word and begins a story with one sentence. This takes 10 to 15 minutes and means a lot to them in the end: attention, laughter, and challenge.

9. Lesson:  Central Idea

There’s nothing more important and more difficult than teaching the central or main idea of stories large and small. Right when you think they’ve got it, students turn around and give you the completely wrong idea. So, it’s important to keep training them by constantly asking the same question. When teachers start to feel themselves collapsing, the class may collapse too.

Add Fishbowl.

Turn your class into a fishbowl. Put six or seven chairs in the middle and the rest surrounding those. Switch out students throughout the lesson. The students in the middle have to come up with the main idea and the students on the outside take notes and critique them.

10. Lesson:  Analysis

Analysis for short stories or novels requires a lot of critical thinking questions in which students justify their answers with evidence from the story. Without analysis infused into daily lessons students would be lost in any subject requiring them to think outside the box. When practice becomes redundant, have them be the characters.

Add Drama.

Have them write a one-page response to the class from the characters point of view. Have the character analyze them. The character could be humorous or angry or even bitter about the whole thing. Whatever the view, it should give them some added interest.

Enter Writing Class

11. Lesson:  Opinion pieces

Daily journal writing is a great way for students to practice expressing their opinions on most any subject. Teaching them to respond to different questions gives them a sense of comfort with various topics.

Add Tension.

Ask a deliberately uncomfortable question. At this point you should know your class pretty well, so asking this question shouldn’t be too difficult. Just make sure that it’s within the limits of being appropriate for their age group.

12. Lesson:  Structure

Teaching structure is like pulling teeth. Students either love it so much that they sound like robots or they hate it so much that they fly off topic after the first couple of sentences. Forcing them to remain on topic on a daily basis means they’ll do it automatically when under pressure.

Add Bubbles and Boxes.

Students who hate structure love bubbles. Students who like structure love boxes. Tell them to use either for the next few daily lessons and insert their information accordingly. When they check over their work, they must then write anything unfocused outside the bubbles or circles.

13. Lesson:  Argument and Support

Students usually enjoy persuasive essays until they’re on their fortieth prompt and it’s still the beginning of the school year, so mixing things up becomes more than important.

Add Posters.

There’s something about doing the same thing, only bigger that makes students pay attention. Break the room into groups of four or five. Have them brainstorm and work on introductions one class period then put it on a poster by the end of the class. The same can be done for the three supporting paragraphs and conclusion.

14. Lesson:  Expository and Information

One of the most misunderstood formats that students write, expository essays need constant practice depending on the grade level. There are several variations within the essays themselves. But, students begin to gripe about it after they’ve gotten over the first groans of protest and are deep into their routine.

Add Gummy Bears.

Gummy bears, chocolate, Skittles, or whatever candy they love to snack on. Have them research how it’s made then write about it. The essays that receive above a “B” or include certain criteria win free packages of their favorite candy. It all depends on how deep the lesson needs to go.

15. Lesson:  Grammar and Style

Identifying parts of speech and how to use them may mean endless reviewing and writing. Picking apart sentence structure and practicing syntax requires discipline. Diagramming sentences feels like a routine vaccine visit unless you add some interest.

Add Magazines.

Have students first read a high-interest story then pull some sentences from that. This will break up the lesson but also give the student and teacher a better idea of what’s really being learned.

Enter Science Class

16. Lesson:  Solar System

While learning about the solar system makes for an interesting lesson for most, some of the actual terminology needs repetition to be learned. After they’ve learned all the basic planets and that Pluto is now one of the dwarf planets, offer a challenge.

Add Meteors.

Students believe the world revolves around them anyway so play into that. By now, many have read about the meteor blast in Siberia, so ask students to not only read about it but come up with their own theories on how this affects the rest of the world. Teachers and students can also read more about current theories and discoveries at sciencemag.org

17. Lesson:  Matter & Chemistry

Acids and bases, atoms, chemical equations, and so forth require reinforcement with repetitive lessons. But, minus movies and lab experimentation, try sealing in some of the terminology with some twists and turns.

Add Everyday Items.

The familiar world around us changes when we look at it differently, so have students find chemistry in their everyday lives. Challenge them to bring in various items as you move forward in the lesson. Simplicity matters. Use tea and add lemon to demonstrate the lightening effect.

18. Lesson:  Energy

Teaching energy efficiency, renewable energy, thermodynamics, or energy transfer gives students the knowledge they need in order to become literate in the subject matter. If the daily lesson involves answering a set of questions or rewriting definitions or simply reviewing, don’t allow the information to float away.

Add Critiques.

Simply asking students what they think of the way the school uses energy may be enough. Have them continue to follow their lesson but tell them to look around them and bring in five alternatives to the way their school consumes energy. The idea is that students are doing the work and finding the solutions to problems while doing one of their favorite things: complaining about school.

The U.S. Department of Energy has great lessons for teachers with useful ideas for practical purposes at www1.eere.energy.gov

19. Lesson:  Life Science

Biotechnology, cells and cell processes, and genetics are among the many topics covered in Life Science lessons. Although interesting enough, the lessons require students to acquire and use new vocabulary as well as connect all the new concepts introduced. Making sure students retain this information can be a challenge in itself. The key remains repetition with connection.

Add Cloning.

With ideas and vocabulary swarming around the room on a daily basis, ask them what they think about cloning humans. This question alone should start the discussion up and then refocus them to the matter at hand. Teachers can take it as far or as little as they want. Find out more at www.discoveryeducation.com

20. Lesson:  Minerals

For some, learning about rocks and minerals naturally sparks interest. For many students, it only affirms their boredom. This means that even a demonstration with actual minerals will provoke little curiosity. So, once routine sets in…

Add Aliens.

Ask a simple question. How does our study of minerals help us search for extraterrestrial life? Then, let them argue their points and challenge them to use what they’ve learned about minerals so far.

Enter Social Studies Class

21. Lesson:  Maps

Students love to look at maps and pretend they know how to read them. They love to take notes on them and act like they’re experts after a day’s lesson. But, ask them to answer a question about distance traveled or where a team of travelers ended its journey and students suddenly have no idea where to start.

Add Scavenger Hunts.

Have them use their maps and create points in the class that represent a point on the map. It takes five minutes to put together and students love it. Add a reward to the mix, and they’ll like it even better.

22. Lesson:  Government

Teaching the branches of the government and how they work may be important but it can be an excruciating process. So many students despise the thought of it. So adding interest needs to be sprinkled throughout the lessons.

Add Current Events.

There’s no other way to get students to learn this part of social studies than to tell them to find a story on a weekly basis that’s related to the topic at hand. Or, just have UpFront, Scope, or Time for Kids available in the classroom for students to find stories that apply.

23. Lesson:  Civil Rights

One of the most important lessons taught to students, this gives them a deeper understanding of right and wrong and why laws exist and need to be enforced. Sometimes students see it as ancient history though. So keep it current as well.

Add Students.

Ask the important question: How have things changed? Have them list it or journal it then expand on that as the lesson continues. They need to understand their relationship to it.

24. Lesson:  American History

Teaching students about the Revolutionary War may be interesting to the two history buffs whose eyes sparkle when they hear the topic. But, the rest of the class might be going comatose. So, give them options.

Add Inventions.

Ask students what they would’ve done without air conditioning or even electricity considering that it had just been discovered. Ask them what they would’ve invented. Possibly assign them inventors to research.

25. Lesson:  World History

Teaching world history can actually be a very interesting lesson for students because they learn so much about parts of the world that they otherwise may never have known. However, ingesting this information means a lot of textbook chapters. To break the routine, just think of the wild, imaginative stories created by cultures around the world.

Add Stories, Myths, and Legends.

Learning about countries and their unique cultures through myths, legends, and other stories makes the countries live inside the students’ minds and gives value to their knowledge. So, ask them to bring in an article or information about a legend or story unique to a particular country then share it with the class.

Source: Informed
Cited From: http://newsroom.opencolleges.edu.au/features/running-on-empty-25-tricks-to-jumpstart-routine-lessons/#ixzz2OtHRLcui

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