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Project Based Learning in the Classroom


Prоjесt-bаѕеd lеаrnіng рrоvіdеѕ a mоrе іntuіtіvе wау оf еduсаtіng ѕtudеntѕ thаn traditional rоtе-bаѕеd іnѕtruсtіоn. The tеасhіng ѕtrаtеgу ассlіmаtеѕ іtѕеlf to the ѕtrеngthѕ аnd talents оf ѕtudеntѕ rаthеr thаn pupils adapting tо a rigid educational ѕуѕtеm.

What is Project Based Learning?
Project-based learning (PBL) is a method teachers employ that requires students to integrate and synthesize skills from different subjects to solve complex, real-world problems. It focuses on active learning through for completion of hands-on projects rather than passive absorption of information.

PBL is not a new technique, and it can certainly be argued that this process has been the foundation of all learning since the earliest times. However, in our digital age, the PBL method can be enhanced remarkably when combined with the use of digital portfolios or ePortfolios as they are more commonly called. Students and teachers can now use ePortfolios to collaborate on projects in real-time and develop perceptive skills while obtaining feedback from their classmates and teachers on their work. ePortfolios can be especially useful in group projects as they facilitate student collaboration. PBL through ePortfolios provides distinct advantages for students:
  • Students are encouraged to synthesize knowledge and thing, instead of just memorize;
  • Students аrе gіvеn a high соllаbоrаtіvе tool fоr solving problems;
  • New material саn bе introduced tо students in different wауѕ, including multimedia;
  • Students can bе given continual feedback and assessment
Education has tоо оftеn fосuѕеd оn rоtе memorization rather than actual ѕуnthеѕіѕ оf knowledge with the result that many students cannot сrеаtіvеlу employ informаtіоn bесаuѕе they never learned іt with problem-solving іn mind. Prоjесt-bаѕеd learning provides students with a context fоr the information they learn; it places theory into a real-world context. For example, instead of requiring students to read a book on modern Japan, a teacher may assign a project. Students may have to give a series of presentations on Japanese art, modern political economy, and environmental challenges. These areas combine art, politics/history, and science into one theme.
Such projects also force students to recognize information and distill it into a presentable format. Students can thus develop their reasoning skills and find creative solutions to questions that do not have a clear answer.


Prоjесt-bаѕеd lеаrnіng аlѕо rеԛuіrеѕ thаt students еngаgе іn dіѕсоurѕе аnd іdеа ѕhаrіng with сlаѕѕmаtеѕ. Collaboration bесоmеѕ important іn thе working wоrld, аѕ concepts оftеn nееd several levels of colleague vеrіfісаtіоn аnd іnрut bеfоrе іmрlеmеntаtіоn. Thе same рrоvеѕ truе fоr PBL. Sеvеrаl ѕtudеntѕ wіth delegated tasks wоrkіng іn a grоuр can uѕе their соllесtіvе knоwlеdgе tо produce a mоrе соmрrеhеnѕіvе рrоduсt than оnе соuld alone. Cоnѕtаnt reflection and аdjuѕtmеnt оf іdеаѕ аnd concepts аllоw ѕtudеntѕ tо engage the material аt a dеереr lеvеl; students hеlр оnе another lеаrn. Pоѕѕіbіlіtіеѕ expand furthеr when ѕtudеntѕ uѕе еPоrtfоlіоѕ tо соnnесt аnd work оn рrоjесtѕ. Thеу hаvе mаnу more opportunities to interact thrоugh thе ePortfolio thаn thеу wоuld be by wоrkіng оn thе project durіng оr аftеr school thus реrреtuаtіng the lеаrnіng process.

Engаgіng ѕtudеnt іntеrеѕt іѕ perhaps thе mоѕt соmреllіng аrgumеnt for thе іmрlеmеntаtіоn оf рrоjесt-bаѕеd lеаrnіng. Lесturеѕ often lеаvе ѕtudеntѕ bоrеd and wіthоut a dеереr undеrѕtаndіng of thе material. In a PBL setting, teachers оftеn gіvе ѕtudеntѕ оnlу a bаѕіс іntrоduсtіоn tо the mаtеrіаl. In thіѕ scenario, ѕtudеntѕ аrе rеԛuіrеd tо mаkе thе trаnѕіtіоn from teacher-directed іnѕtruсtіоn tо ѕеlf-dіrесtеd lеаrnіng. The goal is fоr thе ѕtudеntѕ to іmmеrѕе thеmѕеlvеѕ іn thе lеаrnіng process to thе роіnt thаt іt does nоt fееl tеdіоuѕ or like wоrk. Thе рrоjесt becomes mоrе lіkе рlау fоr thеm. Studеntѕ who lіkе ѕсhооl and learning wіll hаvе a grеаtеr сrаvіng for knоwlеdgе, and that process will transfer to a higher rаtе оf learning. Thе thеоrу bеhіnd project-based lеаrnіng іѕ thаt fоrсеd feeding оf іnfоrmаtіоn dоеѕ nоt уіеld орtіmаl rеѕultѕ. Lеаrnіng ѕhоuld bе an organic рrосеѕѕ thаt gіvеѕ students the opportunity tо dіѕсоvеr knоwlеdgе for thеmѕеlvеѕ. Thе fіrѕt step іn thе рrосеѕѕ is for students tо bе engaged. They wіll simply реrfоrm at a hіghеr lеvеl іf they аrе trulу іntеrеѕtеd іn what thеу are dоіng.
Project-based learning provides a more intuitive way of educating students than traditional rote-based instruction. The teaching strategy acclimates itself to the strengths and talents of students rather than pupils adapting to a rigid educational system. Combining this teaching method with a shared assessment tool, such as an ePortfolio, can provide for a significantly enriched school experience for many students.

Prоjесt-bаѕеd lеаrnіng рrоvіdеѕ a mоrе іntuіtіvе wау оf еduсаtіng ѕtudеntѕ thаn traditional rоtе-bаѕеd іnѕtruсtіоn. The tеасhіng ѕtrаtеgу ассlіmаtеѕ іtѕеlf to the ѕtrеngthѕ аnd talents оf ѕtudеntѕ rаthеr thаn pupils adapting tо a rigid educational ѕуѕtеm.

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Teacher Organization Technology Tools to Drown Out Distractions


Let's get organized! I've found 3 awesome Chrome Extensions and 3 awesome iPad Apps to share with you today. Do you have others that you love that you think teachers should know about? Leave them in the comments for us!
*Disclaimer- the links to the iTunes apps are affiliate links. This means that, at no extra cost to you, if you click through and download the app I receive a small commission. The opinions are not paid though, they are my own :-)
chrome-extensions-and-ipad-apps-helping-teachers-get-and-stay-organized-graphic-1

Chrome Extensions to Help you Get, and Stay, Organized

  1. Stay Focused- if you're crunched for time but easily distracted by email and social media then this is the extension for you. With Stay Focused you can temporarily block your own access to websites. This is serious though, you cannot get to them no matter what while the time is ticking down. Even if you really need that picture of you off of Facebook in order to finish your project- you can't get it until the time is up! This extension works perfectly as designed but is super frustrating, for good reason.
stay-focused-chrome-extension-organize-teachers
 2. Todoist- I am a big fan of paper planners, but they do make it so easy to just draw an arrow from one unfinished task onto the next day. Todoist is a task list manager for the Chrome browser. What I like so much about it is that it emails you every day letting you know what you didn't accomplish. It is a quick, but effective, reminder to wake up with. Adding events and to dos is really simple. Definitely check this one out. todoist-teacher-organization-chrome-extension
 3. Live Start Page- Ahhhhh my favorite Chrome extension of all time. The Live Start Page takes over a new tab when you open one and has some great motivational stuff to help get you through your day. I chose a paradise beach scene for myself, but there were zillions to choose between. The things that are displayed are very customizable. Now every time I open a new tab I stop and watch it for a moment before going to my next task. I know this post is about liming distractions, but this one is purposeful. Without the right mindset, that task you were doing would not be nearly as enjoyable :-)
  live-start-page-chrome-extension-organize-teachers

iTunes Apps to Help you Get, and Stay, Organized

ipad-apps-for-organized-teachers
 1. Pocket- I am obsessed with this iPad app. Store all of the essentials. Links to websites you want to access again, articles, videos, etc. are so easy to save and get back to when you're ready. You can save them directly from the apps you're in, too! My favorite part is that things you save on one device are there and waiting on every device. No more sending links to yourself through iMessage or email. 400x400bb1
 2. Seesaw- If you're not using Seesaw yet, you will definitely want to check this out. This is the description on the app; "Seesaw is a student-driven digital portfolio that empowers students of any age to independently document what they are learning at school and share it with their teachers, parents, classmates, and even the world." This is a really fancy way of saying that is stores all of your students files so that you can access them to review later. It is awesomesauce. 400x400bb2  
 3. Toodledo- I know that the iPad comes with a built in task manager, but this one is so much better. Toodledo tracks your habits and helps you out by making outlines and lists. It even works with Apple Watch if you have it.
  400x400bb
 So there you have it. 6 productivity and organization tools to help you be your best teacher self possible! Did I leave anything out?
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Technology Tools for Fun and Easy ELA Test Prep



Preparing students for their standardized state tests doesn't have to be terribly boring and use a whole tree worth of paper. Over the years helping 5th grade students prepare for their science state test in North Carolina, I have come across some amazing online resources for ELA that I want to share with you. I chose the best 3 because I know your time is limited and you need to work on other test taking skills and subjects with your classes.
  1. Prepdog has common core quizzes for grades K-8. You can have students take a test in a specific standard for ELA, or let them choose what they practice. One of my favorite things about using Prepdog is that it requires students to choose their answer by selecting it from a drop down menu. This is an important skill to practice if your students have to take their standardized tests on the computer. 
  2. Pearsonlongman is another great technology tool for test prep. The reading tests have passages for students to read and then multiple choice comprehension questions to answer. This site has students click on a radio button to select their answer. The reading passages and questions are separated so students also have to navigate the page to find which questions and passages go together. Great practice!
  3. Lumos Learning is my third recommendation. There is a sample question for each of the common core standards and topics. So, for 5th grade there are 41 sample questions! Students select an answer choice and then check to see whether or not it is correct. There is even an answer explanation if they were wrong.
Bonus resource if you need to practice with bubble sheets but want the questions to be online. Testprepreview has you covered. While I shared these resources for 5th graders, each of these sites has options for the other elementary grades, too. What are some of your favorite websites for test prep? -Brittany
 
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Technology Tools for Foolproof Sub Plans


Sub plans are all about the routines in the classroom

If you want your students to have a "normal" day then the goal is to give the substitute teacher everything he/she needs to maintain the classroom routines.

Provide the sub with a quick video tutorial of the tech in your classroom

When I taught technology, this meant giving a tutorial for all of the technology tools in my classroom. It really helps when you can use the same sub every time, but having a tutorial in place will save you time when someone new comes in to sub. My tutorial wasn't anything fancy, just a video recording I made of how to turn on the projector, document camera, laptop, and student computers as well as where things were stored if needed. I put this on a flash drive that I left in the sub folder along with a card that had a substitute teacher computer login. I wish I could share the video with you but it had very school-specific details. By the way I just recorded the video with my iPhone and then transferred it to my laptop with the dropbox app. You could also use the google drive app if you have it.

Create a screencast for student directions

This is my favorite tip. Even though it takes time to make a screencast of the assignment directions, they are incredibly helpful to students. You can find an example screencast that I made for my student's typing unit here. Having a video really holds students accountable for completing the assignment. They can watch it as many times as needed. Absent students can watch it when they come back without you having to take the time to work with them one on one. Videos are also amazing for students with special needs because they can watch the video with the resource teacher or with their parents at home while working through an assignment. I use the software Screencast-o-matic and love it, but there are several options out there. I don't usually even edit my videos. If I mess up, I just correct myself and keep going.

Keep the classroom routines the same

If your students are accustomed to doing a certain thing when they enter the classroom (mine do 10 minutes of typing) then don't change that just because there is a substitute teacher. Your students need the consistency and your sub will appreciate that your students know how to get started on their own. That goes for the early finishers, too. In my tech lab the procedures are always the same. 10 minutes of typing, the lesson itself, and early finisher activities. As long as I tell my students which lesson to find on our class website, they can basically work without me. I'm just facilitating their learning and there in case they have any questions. Working this way changed my whole way of teaching.

Give the sub a feedback form so you can adjust if needed

I'm a huge fan of feedback because it makes me better. The stuff I shared with you in this post only came to be because of helpful feedback I received from substitute teachers. I let them know in my notes that I want to know what would have been helpful and ask if they feel like they had a successful day.

Plan A and plan B

For last minute subs (or a TA pulled from a classroom) I always provide a non-tech option. I love a good read aloud book and built a classroom library of tech themed books for early finishers or days when the wifi wasn't working. The sub can decide to read to the class or just have the students pair up and read together. What do you do for sub plans that include technology? I would love to hear other perspectives. Please share this post with your teacher friends so that they can try some new technology tools, too! If you loved this post, be sure to subscribe by email so that our blog posts are delivered directly to your inbox.
 
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10 Attention Grabbers To Try when using Tech


10 Attention Grabbers

When our students are using devices it can be really challenging to get their attention. Sometimes they have headphones on, sometimes they are just really engaged in the lesson. These 10 attention grabbers are something to try with your students. Some will stick with your group and you can add them to your regular rotation of classroom management strategies. These attention grabbers are split up into 2 categories

Call and Response

The teacher says a phrase and the children respond to it with a specific response (usually also requires a physical response from students like putting their hands up, etc.)
  1. Hands Up - Buttercup (students raise their hands from their devices and look at the teacher)
  2. Mac - Cheese, Children - Freeze (this one is two parts to give students a moment to prepare to stop)
  3. Hands on Top - That means stop (hands on head)
  4. Floppy - Disk (fun tech themed one)
  5. Light Show - Time to go (teacher flashes lights and then says the phrase. This one is great for when they are wearing headphones)
  6. Waterfall - Shhhhhh
  7. Class Class - yes yes
  8. Kiki - Do you love me?
  9. TECH-NOLOGY
  10. Hocus Pocus - Everybody focus
  11. www dot - zip it dot com

Teacher Phrases

This set of attention grabbers doesn't require a verbal student response, but rather a physical one.
 6. Clap it and Lap it (to get your students to remove their hands from the keyboard)
 7. Flip the Flap (for use with iPad covers, "Close the lid" would work well for laptops)
 8. T-Rex Arms (again, to get your students to remove their hands from the keyboard)
 9. Horn signal
 10. Chime or music with specific patterns or songs for different effects
11. Dead mouse (students flip mouse upside down)


 Give these a try and let me know how they go for you. Do you have another suggestion? Leave it in the comments so we can all learn from each other. This list was compiled by dozens of Tech Teachers and Media Specialists in the Facebook Group Technology Teacher Tribe.  Request to join today!


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Easy Parent Communication with the Technology Tool Edmodo


It can be really challenging to engage parents in their child's classroom activities. Blended learning adds to this challenge when students aren't bringing home as many papers. Edmodo is a technology tool that helps to solve this problem.
  Easy parent communication with the technology tool Edmodo FB

What is Edmodo?

If you haven't come across Edmodo yet, it is a learning management system. That means teachers load content into the system to share with students through assignments. Students access their assignments, work on them, and then turn them in through the system. Teachers then grade the assignments and give students feedback. It is all done digitally, paperless.

How do Parents fit into Edmodo?

A teacher invites students into their Edmodo "class" through a Class Code. Teachers can also make a Parent Code but it is a little different than a Class Code. With the Parent Code, a parent uses the code to make their account and then can add all of their children under their account. They only need one code and then they are in (but students need a Class Code for each class they join).

How can Teachers communicate with Parents through Edmodo?

Once parents have their accounts, there are several ways to communicate. I'm going to highlight three.
  1. Weekly Newsletter to Parents. Parents, don't read this next sentence. Teachers, the parents can't send you messages (yay), but you can send a note out directed to them! You can post a note with an attached newsletter for parents and students to see. A weekly message that included updates and achievements is a great way to help Parents feel like they are informed.
  2. Direct communication. You can send a note with only one student chosen, which means their parents will be able to access it. This can also be great if the student has a tutor or someone else they work on homework with. Consider giving this other person a Parent Code too.
  3. Calendar. You can add events, key dates, activities, and assignment due dates to the calendar so that parents can see what is planned for the month. Note to parents
What other parent communication tools have you tried or heard of that are digital? Thanks for reading! -Brittany
  Easy parent communication with the technology tool Edmodo
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5 Technology Tools to Try for Back to School



Technology makes my teaching life so much easier. Over the years I've discovered 5 tools I can't live without and today I am sharing them with you. This post is a round up of 5 fabulous tutorials for how to use each of the apps.
  1. Padlet- "Padlet allows anyone to create a “Wall” without creating an account. Posting is very user-friendly, and your students should be able to use this tool independently."
Technology makes my teaching life so much easier. Over the years I've discovered 5 tools I can't live without and today I am sharing them with you. This post is a round up of 5 fabulous tutorials for how to use each of the apps. 
Technology makes my teaching life so much easier. Over the years I've discovered 5 tools I can't live without and today I am sharing them with you. This post is a round up of 5 fabulous tutorials for how to use each of the apps.  
2. Chirbit- "When I found out about this app, my jaw dropped. It is the answer to so much classroom frustration that surrounds giving directions and collecting data. The best part is that it is so easy to use and will transform your station rotation time. " Technology makes my teaching life so much easier. Over the years I've discovered 5 tools I can't live without and today I am sharing them with you. This post is a round up of 5 fabulous tutorials for how to use each of the apps. 
3. Remind- "Last year, I downloaded this app (which you may or may not have heard about) called Remind 101. Seriously, amazing. I immediately downloaded, and created a space for parents to sign up at our Sneak-a-Peek, and what's better than me loving it? Parents loving it!" Technology makes my teaching life so much easier. Over the years I've discovered 5 tools I can't live without and today I am sharing them with you. This post is a round up of 5 fabulous tutorials for how to use each of the apps. 
 4. Amazon Echo- "Learn some engaging ways for using the Amazon Echo Dot and Alexa in the classroom to infuse technology into morning meeting, math, reading, writing, spelling, and more! Students will love using the Amazon Echo Dot’s voice control to ask questions and get answers, but there are a ton of other ways to integrate the Echo Dot into the curriculum too." Technology makes my teaching life so much easier. Over the years I've discovered 5 tools I can't live without and today I am sharing them with you. This post is a round up of 5 fabulous tutorials for how to use each of the apps. 
 5. ClassKick- " I like Classkick because teachers can create the lessons, students work during real time and they can receive instant feedback as they work. Students can even request help from the teacher or from other students while working on the assignment. Classkick is an excellent resource for students who are too shy to ask for help." Technology makes my teaching life so much easier. Over the years I've discovered 5 tools I can't live without and today I am sharing them with you. This post is a round up of 5 fabulous tutorials for how to use each of the apps. 
 So there you have 5 new Technology Tools to try this school year. They will help you get, and stay, organized as well as engage your students and their parents. What technology tools have you discovered that you now can't live without? Please share this post with your teacher friends and also follow our Facebook Page to stay updated.
 
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How to find Grant Funding for Classroom Technology


We all know that it can be difficult to find grant funding for classroom technology, but there are some ways by which you can collect as much money for your classroom technology as you need.
How to find grant funding for classroom technology

Devices are expensive! Most schools don’t have the budget to get multiple devices at a time even though we all know the benefits coming from the individualized education that technology can provide.

We all know that it can be difficult to find grant funding for classroom technology, but there are some ways by which you can collect as much money for your classroom technology as you need.

Some ways to get a Technical grant:
Technical grants or educational funds can be government-based and subsidized to help particular instruction laws, or secretly financed by non-benefits NGOs or business substances, similar to those that some tech companies support. This type of grant is usually offered to school administrators and happens automatically.

The way grants are organized, the amounts accessible, the particular due dates, the time it takes to be awarded after application, and the quantity of individuals on grant application audit advisory groups fluctuate greatly, which is the reason it's vital to investigate a wide range of sources and to apply to numerous organizations.

The main drawbacks of depending on grants are:
·       The application procedure can be tedious – and there are no promises it will pay off.
·       They are usually a one-time installment. Once the cash's gone, you need to apply for more grants (or just constantly be applying to new grant sources).

Any school that might want to make utilization of these Grants for continuous tech projects ought to likely consider employing a full-time grant writer, which is obviously its own cost. In any case, the quantity of grants accessible to schools and the measure of the time it takes to inquire about and apply for them could mean the interest in a grant writer pays for itself before long.

A large number of school regions have been successful with this. However, it's unquestionably trickier than the others. You require the participation of nearby government officials initially, and after that the help of neighborhood residents too. While few individuals cheerfully welcome higher charges, the instruction is one of those issues numerous subjects concur is a decent venture however maybe not the same number of as should.

These funding choices can enable schools to get around a portion of the planning challenges they face and give the students access to technology.

This list of grant opportunities is worth checking out:
·       Lowes Hardware Grants
·       Bright Ideas Grants
·       Dollar General
·       Target Field Trip Grants
·       Donorschoose.org
·       Voya Grants
·       Avid NC Grant Info
·       eSchool News
·       NCSLMA for NC Media Specialists
·       State Library of NC
·       GrantsAlert.com
·       Edutopia
·       GrantsWrangler
·       Grantsforteachers.net
·       Mackin Grant Channel

Opportunity to have your Donor's Choose Projects Funded:

*All proceeds from Zazzle sales will go to funding Donor's Choose projects.

https://www.zazzle.com/brittany_washburn/products

Click on a picture below to go to the page on Zazzle. These are just some of the design options available and Zazzle makes it easy to customize your style.



I will be funding projects that aim to add more technology devices to classrooms. 

We all know that it can be difficult to find grant funding for classroom technology, but there are some ways by which you can collect as much money for your classroom technology as you need.

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