Friday, September 27, 2013

YouTube in Education

Recently in my American History classes we covered a unit on Industrialization and development in the United States in the late 19th century.  When we finished the unit, the students were assessed on the material.  Assessment does not always mean a test, as we complete projects, essays, quizzes, etc, however in this case they had a test on the unit.  I always prepare a study guide for the students and did so in this instance as well.  Rather than discuss the study guide in class, I recorded audio of a discussion and shared it on YouTube with students to access at their own convenience.

I have done a few of these in the past, however my students this year really appreciated this method. (See picture below for # of views!)  It allows them to study when they want-and not have to rely on just hearing the review in class.  They may access this as many, or as few, times as they'd like.  If they miss the class period we review during, they can still get every bit of information they need.  YouTube is a great tool for this and many other practical solutions in the classroom.  I simply recorded my voice on and uploaded my videos to my YouTube channel.  You can capture videos, create photo slideshows, insert sounds or music, all from your computer's webcam on YouTube, and they have made it very user friendly and simple.  I anticipate this being something that many teachers will be attracted to, as students today are busy-and the more access you give them to your material-the more they will access it!

For an example of my test review click here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

L to J Update

About a month ago I gave a brief overview on a form of classroom assessment known as L to J, to read my post click here.  As of today, we are through 5 full quizzes in each class and are starting to get some early results!  Its interesting to note that while all classes take the same quiz-not all classes achieve the same results for a variety of factors!  As we progress through the semester-the trend should obviously lead to greater results, so far we've only scratched the surface!  Here are our current results after 5 weeks:

Friday, September 13, 2013

Teaching 9/11

This past Wednesday marked the 12 year anniversary of the horrific attacks on America.  Many of my students (freshmen) were just 2-3 years old when this happened, hard to believe its been that long ago.  Teaching 9/11 has always and will always be a delicate topic for educators everywhere.  Where do we begin?  What do we include?  What do we omit?  All of these are difficult questions, however one thing is certain: we must teach it!  It's too important and too historic to omit.  I have done a variety of lessons in the past, I tried something different this year and spent a bit more time preparing, it went well and the students learned a great deal.

To preview the lesson I asked the students in each class to jot down the first 5 words that came to their mind when I said 9/11.  I then typed each of these words into which created the word clouds in the pictures below, fascinating to see what the students know, think they know, and possibly don't know!  We then viewed news clips from the day, discussed the facts of what happened, and used google earth and the sphere app to take virtual field trips to these sites.  

The lesson went well.  I am always amazed to find out how much confusion there is over what exactly went on that day 12 years ago.  Here are a few takeaways for me from the lesson: (1) no details are too small to omit.  Many students don't know if Iraq/Afghanistan/Syria or who was involved, teach the facts and explain them thoroughly. (2)  Descriptions of the day in words are good, but video/audio footage gets the students to really understand the gravity of this situation and can be extremely powerful. (3)  Finally, more schools/teachers need to teach 9/11..every year, in every grade, in every subject, if we do not...9/11 will become another date on the calendar.  Never Forget.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Talk a Mile a Minute

Recently we completed our review unit on the Civil War and Reconstruction.  We then took our first test of the year.  To prepare for the vocabulary section of the test we used a review activity that I picked up from Toby Boss at ESU 6 in Milford last year.  This is a great activity that gets students up and moving, lets them be a bit talkative (loud!) and allows peer review and instruction.  The students loved the activity and we will definitely be using it again!  Below are a few pictures from our activity.