Thursday, September 29, 2011

Homework Menu: add choice and community service. It's not all on paper...

Teacher Sally Koch Hayes of Burlington, introduced a terrific idea about homework and differentiated learning.  She knows students have different interests and different styles of learning that is meaningful to them.  Basically, she gives her students a weekly homework grid and they must select three daily activities from a "menu" of 10 categories which may include:

1.  Pleasure Reading: books, magazines, recipes, newspapers, ebooks
2.  Physical Activities: walking, biking, skating, swimming, playing sports
3.  Hobbies: sewing, gardening, photography, caring for pets
4.  Art Projects:  painting, drawing, collage, dioramas
5. Community Service:  mowing a neighbor's lawn/shoveling for them, playing a game with an older person or younger person, picking up trash

Effective education thinks outside the box; it is creative and innovative.  This teacher found her students began to organize community clean-ups and learned how to play chess in order to play with an older person.  They extended themselves to build community.  Homework is more than regurgitating information and completing worksheets.  I like this idea; learning is not all on paper.  This is homework that would make Music lessons or participating on a Sport Team outside of school count.  Today's students would love a Technology option to interact with websites, view videos, and play online skill building games.   I like when students connect what their gifts are and where their strengths lie to extend themselves and reach out to others!

To read the full article on Sally Koch Hayes, please click here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Googlios: Transforming ePortfolios, Transforming Education

Educator G. Alex Ambrose, an academic advisor at the University of Notre Dame and an ABD Doctoral Student in Computing Technology in Education, created the concept and website on  Googlios (Goolge + Portfolio).   It is copyrighted and licensed under  a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.  See the 2 minute introduction video here:
I'm interested in these for students to build their ePortfolios through school and post secondary studies and for adults to continue to add to their ePortfolios as they add their own post Graduate studies and work experience to their resumes in the form of a Googlio.  You can make your Googlio public, private (for viewing by email invite only), or semi-private  (in the case of a school).  Click here to view the four part videos by G. Alex Ambrose. Please visit for more information.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pizza Books!

What do you get when you combine Pizza and Books? ...Pizza Books!  These creative books are seen in The Ultimate Lap Book Handbook...Plus Other Books to Make With Children  by Tami Duby and Cyndy Regeling.

Use this folding pizza- shape idea for reports or presentations instead of a flat poster. The pages of the book look like a pizza slice and it folds open page by page into a circular pizza.  Storage is easy as it folds back up into a single slice of pizza.  I've used this with children to present on their Family, each piece of pizza is a new paragraph and photo.  Use it for Social Studies to separate different regions, provinces or Flags of different countries.  Be creative!
Other variations the authors recommend are Rainbow Pizza Books using multicolored poster boards , decorating the edges with patterns, stamps, hole punch designs and stickers, and Mini-Pizza books!

Kids love putting these together with you and the best part is, they can't wait to write in them!  Enjoy.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pursuing Peace: The Talking Corner

Here is my Prezi to explain how to pursue peace through talking with your students in Grades 1-3: "The Talking Corner".  I have implemented this problem solving strategy with students and it works; focusing the students on talking, pursuing peaceful relationships and finding solutions. You can adapt the process to older students by replacing the Teddy Bear with a "conch" for the speaker and to represent taking turns.  Enjoy this idea developed by educator, Deanna Odland.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Alternatives to Worksheets

Creative Teaching Press has a terrific resource to change worksheets into fun projects compiled into a book called Alternatives to Worksheets written by Karen Bauer and Rosa Drew. They recommend using the projects for grades K-4, but teachers can modify projects to upper elementary grades. I've used them with students in grades K-6 as motivational and meaningful projects which can be adapted to any topic or inquiry study you are doing. These projects focus on written work and students enjoy creating them so much, they are motivated to write!

Some of my favorite ones to use in motivating children to write are Accordion Books, Shape Books, Pop-up Cards, Paper Vests, Book marks, Door Hangers, Cubes and Visors.

Useful strategies using this resource in Students reaching success include:

1. Students can work with a small group, a partner or independently.
2. Teachers model the project and students personalize their own creatively.
3. Brainstorm what you know about the project/topic together to help students get started.