Text to Text: A Strategy for Common Core Close Reading

» 26 September 2013 » In How To, Literacy, Strategies » 5 Comments

The-Scarlet-Letter-1917The NY Times Learning Network has just launched a new series of lesson plans called "Text to Text." It's a simple approach that pairs two written texts that "speak to each other." I think it's a Common Core close reading strategy that could be easily replicated by teachers across the curriculum - great way to blend nonfiction with fiction and incorporate a variety of media with written text.

Each lesson includes a key question, extension activities and additional resources to expand the basic lesson. Here's two graphic organizers to help student organize their "Text to Text" thinking. (free PFD downloads)
Comparing Two or More Texts
Double-Entry Chart for Close Reading

The NY TImes plans to continue the series at the Learning Network - tagged Text to Text
To date they have created three sample lessons:

"The Scarlet Letter" and "Sexism and the Single Murderess"
Key Question: To what extent is there still a sexual double standard, and how does that double standard play out in contemporary culture?
It pairs a passage from "The Scarlet Letter" with a recent Op-Ed article that, together, invite discussion on societal attitudes toward female sexuality.

"Where Do Your Genes Come From?" and "DNA Double Take"
Key Question: How are recent advances in science changing our understanding of the genome, and how might this affect fields like forensic science or genetic counseling?
It matches a Times article with often-taught scientific, historic, cultural or literary material. This edition is about new findings in genetics.

"Edward Snowden and Daniel Ellsberg"
Key Question | Is Snowden a Hero, a Traitor or Something Else?
It pairs two Times articles that capture parallel moments in history: Daniel Ellsberg’s surrender to the police in 1971 after leaking the Pentagon Papers, and Edward Snowden’s public admission in June that he leaked classified documents about United States surveillance programs.

Image credit: 1917 Film version of "The Scarlet Letter" - publicity still (cropped)
L. to R Stuart Holmes, Kittens Reichert & Mary Martin Date

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PBL: I Come to Understanding by Making

» 11 September 2013 » In Commentary » No Comments

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Watch this short video as Matthew Shlian talks about himself, how he learns and the role that curiosity plays in his work. Then think about the kind of classroom that would foster Matt and learners like him. He states, A lot of my work is about curiosity. I come to understanding by making. If I can see what something’s going to look like when it’s finished, then I don’t want to make it. That would be like filling out a form.

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Teaching Big History

» 22 August 2013 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, Projects, Strategies, Web 2.0 » 2 Comments

Big history

Just launched – The Big History project is a free online course that weaves evidence and insights from many scientific and historical disciplines across 13.7 billion years into a single, cohesive story. Here’s info on how you can join this project as a teacher or student. The course highlights common themes and patterns that can help us better understand people, civilizations, and the world we live in.

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Think Like a Historian: Close Reading at the Museum

» 22 April 2013 » In History / DBQ's, How To, Literacy, PD, Strategies, Students » 4 Comments

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The Common Core encourages students to more closely read a text (in all it’s multimedia formats) by answering three critical questions: What did it say? How did it say it? What’s it mean to me? Here I model a Common Core close reading of my visit to a museum exhibit. I’ll dig a little deeper into the three questions with a few more prompts and provide answers as if I were a high school student reflecting on their experience.

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How to Create A PLC with Google+ Hangout

» 19 February 2013 » In Ed Tech, How To, PD, Social Web, Teachers, Web 2.0 » No Comments

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A step-by-step description of how a team of teachers used a G+ Hangout to manage their PLC sessions. It includes details about managing the Hangout, using it to analyze student work, and building meaningful collegial relationships. It’s a very helpful post for anyone looking for practical information on using G+ Hangouts.

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Innovation Challenge – 22 PBL Mind Workouts for Teams

» 09 December 2012 » In Events, How To, Strategies » No Comments

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There’s a great new free iBook that I highly recommend as a source for project based learning and team building activities for middle school students through adults. “Innovation Challenges – Mind Workouts for Teams” is available – free at iTunes.

It tells the story of a great program at Saint Louis University, designed to promote creativity, innovation, and the entrepreneurial mindset through novel challenges. The book is a detailed how to for 22 challenges – team supplies, facilitator supplies, tips, learning outcomes and variations. It’s a treasure trove lavishly illustrated with photos and videos. Challenges run the gamut from STEM to marketing and sustainability. The iBook also details how to replicate the competition at your institution.

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How to Motivate Student Writers

» 16 August 2012 » In Ed Tech, How To, Literacy, Projects, Publishing, Reflection, Strategies, Students » 2 Comments

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A step-by-step guide to student writing that demonstrates the power of student choice, authentic audience and self-reflection. Sixth graders are motivated by writing “Traveling Through the Human Body with ABCs” for a third grade audience. The project demonstrates how to help students master content and develop project management and teamwork skills. The power of publishing enables students to think like writers, to apply their learning strategies and to organize and express their learning. It exemplifies the best of the information revolution – students as creators of content rather than as passive audience.

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Complex City: Student Designed Animated Maps

» 18 December 2011 » In Ed Tech, Events, Guest post, How To, Students, Visualizations » No Comments

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We devised an experiential project, “Complex City” in order to help students think critically about their communities. To help students to become more aware of their surroundings, in order to foster an educated, ethical, and empathetic community. To facilitate opportunities that help students translate experiences, investigations, and ideas into artistic renderings that effectively communicate new knowledge.

In asking them to map an area of San Diego that had significance to them, we wanted them to step back from the familiar aspects of their community and city, and translate those aspects into a visual map. As part of this project, students researched, interviewed, and investigated their city and community in myriad ways. By compiling their work and making collective and idiosyncratic maps of San Diego, they have been challenged to rethink what they understood to be the reality of the built environment around them, as well as to accept the new knowledges that their classmates contribute. They have become more invested in their own community because their new knowledge implicates them as involved citizens. These maps collect particular versions of this place (versions not always visible to others, or in traditional maps) as we see it in the fall/winter of 2011.

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Illuminating the Beauty, Humanity, Intrigue in Mathematics

» 29 November 2011 » In Ed Tech, Events, Guest post, How To, Students » No Comments

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Is our goal to have students performing better on standardized tests or to be prepared for what they are going to encounter in college and life? The ideal would be that they would be prepared for both. So the questions become, what do we want to leave the students with? How are we going to prepare them for the real world? What do we want them to learn about themselves? And how do we do it? To clear the air, I don’t believe that students are taking my calculus class because they need help doubling a recipe or balancing their checkbook. I believe it is because we want to expose students to the poetry of numbers, to have a new outlook on how to solve problems, to be able to think outside of the box, and to see how the unbreakable human spirit has conquered problems that once mystified the greatest of thinkers. Like any great symphony, mathematics represents a pinnacle of human creativity. We teach math to enrich the lives of our students in a way akin to reading poetry or composing music. This is the story of a student-created exhibit showcasing the beauty, humanity and intrigue behind math in history, philosophy and the applied arts.

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Studio H Classroom: Design. Build. Transform. Community

» 20 November 2011 » In Events, How To, Strategies, Students, Teachers » No Comments

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“Studio H: Design. Build. Transform” is a new exhibit that just opened at Portland’s Museum of Contemporary Craft. It offers visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in the design process. Studio H embodies the key elements of project-based learning while inspiring and empowering student as change agents in their community. Studio H is a public high school “design/build” curriculum that sparks rural community development through real-world, built projects. By learning through a design sensibility, applied core subjects, and industry-relevant construction skills, students develop the creative capital, critical thinking, and citizenship necessary for their own success and for the future of their communities.

The MoCC’s Studio H exhibit re-imagines the gallery as a laboratory and teaching space. Visitors get see how students were taught a non-linear design process based on a more authentic learning environment that grows out of a dynamic interplay between research, ideation, development, prototyping and building. The exhibition asks viewers to reflect on how that process can teach the next generation of designers to transform the world for themselves. Artifacts from the studio classroom in rural Bertie County, North Carolina (where Emily Pilloton, and Project H partner Matthew Miller, teach design thinking to high-school students) are on display and illustrate how a socially engaged design process can result in significant and positive solutions.

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