Monday, April 29, 2013

Integrating Art into Your CCSS Lessons

This past week one of our LinkedIn followers asked about integrating art into the Common Core.  In my classroom, most of our reading and social studies units allow students the opportunity to engage in some form of artistic expression.  Examples include using hand-drawn images to enhance their podcasts (Garageband) and slideshows (Voicethread, Little Bird Tales, and others).  They simply scan or take a picture of their work and upload it into the project.

Sometimes, we like to use computer-generated art.  For this, my students use Sumopaint and PyskoPaint.  In addition to free drawing, these sites allow users to edit photos so they look like uniquely hand-done paintings.  The students really enjoy using them, but must be allowed the time to play around.  Both are free!

Speaking of art sites, we thank Christy Vance for putting together this cool Symbaloo page on Art Links for Kids.  Lots here to look at, the stop motion animation tile has caught my eye!  

Another form of art, of course, is the performing arts.  The CCSS in Reading allows many opportunities for students to create and perform skits.  Skits can explain or summarize plot lines, illustrate the relationship between characters, or create connections between stories.  Also a great way to bring alive events students read about in non-fiction works.

Do you have a suggestion of how to use art to meet CCSS?  Let us and our readers know!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Three easy to understand presentation rubrics from

My school is gaining some momentum to better integrate/implement Common Core standards, starting in the fall. The Common Core standards emphasize speaking skills. Here are the relevant 3-5th grade standards, for instance:
  • presents ideas in an order that makes sense (CC 3-5.SL.4)
  • speaks appropriately for the situation,using formal English when appropriate (CC 3-5.SL.6)
  • uses well-produced audio/visual aids or media to add to main ideas and themes (CC 3-5.SL.5)
Clearly, we need to get our arms around appropriate and effective ways to evaluate student presentation skills (also note the tech component of SL.5).

 I recently found some excellent rubrics from the Buck Institute (   In my opinion, BIE is THE leader in the Project Based Learning space (another area we want to address in more depth next year...), and they did not disappoint me with these presentation rubrics. One focus is on the 4 C's of 21st century skills: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity. BIE is going to have a book out on teaching to the 4C's soon, it appears (no, I get no compensation for writing that).

Here is BIE's 'how to' blog page.. It includes direct links to their rubrics, except for the K-2 rubric, which goes directly to BIE's website. And some worthwhile 'how to' info can be found there as well.

The rubrics concentrate on the presentation effectiveness (voice, eye contact, posture, audience engagement, etc.) , and do NOT cover content knowledge (aka students 'show what they know'). You'll need to add the appropriate components to the rubric to provide a complete presentation assessment. The rubrics DO include references to the standards for speaking, as in the examples for 3-5 above. I think they've done a good job - take a minute to look at the appropriate rubric for your students. I was impressed. What do you think? Do you have anything better? Please share!

Do feed back your thoughts on these rubrics, or others you like, for assessing presentations!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Symbaloo for Classroom Curation

One of the challenges of having online tech tools for your students is finding a way to manage them.  Do you use a tool that bookmarks them in one place, giving students easy access?  I’ve tried a number of curation tools, and always come back to Symbaloo. 

Symbaloo allows you to set up a “web mix” of tiles, each tile linking to your favorite websites.  You can colorize the tiles, add short titles, and even a small image.  You can then post the link on your class’s web page for all to access. 

Here’s what my student web-mix looks like…

I colored the tiles to separate school sites and productivity sites from informational ones.  I also keep them in alphabetical order (for my own sake).  Try to add an image that shows the name of the site, and use the title option to identify the site’s function.  Use a Google Doc (with a tile on this page) to house all the whole-class user names and passwords for the sites.

Encourage students to created their own too as a means of getting organized on the Internet.  Symbaloo is free and very easy to set up!

Other online curation tools to consider:
Pinterest - more visual, can use boards to divide tools
Pearltrees - similar to a mind-map, allows users to group like tools together - create your own magazine-like collection of sites
Diigo - great for both collecting and sharing online resources.

Do you used others?  Please comment and share what you like to use!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Earth Day Resource

For those of you looking for Earth Day resources, here is a repost with great information!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Digital Public Library of America is Now Online!

The Digital Public Library of America contains a wealth of information you and your students can access for research, projects, and collaborative activities.

Searches can be done by exhibition, geographic location or by year.  You are linked to partner library collections all over the nation.  Worth a few minutes to get in and look around.  Consider curating this for your students to readily access.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Hello Slide! Alternative to boring slide shows - full review

**2/3/14 Sadly, it no longer appears that Hello Slide is a functional web site. I (and others) have not been able to access it over the last two months, or more. GT ** 

Here's some additional detail about how to use HelloSlide, which was also mentioned in yesterday's post about Slideshow Creation Sites.

I've started a project with my 7th graders to summarize their learning about the Middle Ages. We're using HelloSlide, which is a very fun and easy to use web-based tool.  The version I used was free, and includes enough capability for my needs.

The premise is simple: add a pdf of the slides to be shown, type in the information to be 'read', determine if the presentation is to be public or private, and you're done. Upon playback, the slides will flip, and the computer will 'read back' what you've typed in.

This is another method for students to 'go deep' and show what they know - structure an assignment so students develop a set of slides that provides some detail (not a lot - slides should be very sparse on word count), and then use the voice feature for students for a detailed 'presentation' about what students know.
This will require students to really work on the phrasing, sentence structure, statement of facts, opinions, etc.

HelloSlide supports several common core reading and writing standards. Take a look here for the ELA Writing anchor standards. Upon review, I was somewhat shocked how this relatively simple tool supports so many of them.  Learning in other areas, such as Social Studies and Science, would also benefit from the use of a tool like HelloSlide. To me, a very simple tool, with a low 'barrier' to entry (e.g., easy to train students to use), and with a very significant outcome for students - a rich, well, designed presentation with deep written information. Kids will find it cool to have the computer speak their words, so that's a nice hook too.

I'd love to hear your feedback about HelloSlide!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Student-tested Slideshow Creation Tools

Time to update this post with some great new tools! 

Slideshows are an easy way for students to share what they’ve learned.  Whether they are illustrating the theme of a novel, comparing characters, or sharing metaphors from poetry, slideshows allow students to tap into their creativity and allow for a wider audience. 

As with all presentations, slideshows should support a story that is being told.  Students should know whether the slideshow is meant to enhance their presentation, or be the presentation (provide information).  Either way they should adhere to some basic rules - make sure the images are appropriate, engages the viewer, and supports the content.  Text should be kept to a minimum and easy to read.  Don’t allow students to read from the slides (indicates too much text).

Many of the web-based applications have simplified the process by making copyright friendly images and music available to use.  Some slideshows allow for recorded narration, others allow text.  Many have built-in backgrounds and transitions.  Best news – all the ones below are free; and are available online or iOS!  Here are some our students (and I) have used and enjoy:

Animoto: Upload your photos and videos; then add their background and music.  Very easy to use. Free version is limited, the $30/year plan is worth it. 

Canva: This graphic design tool can make student presentations look truly professional. Templates are available to get them started, or go with a blank canvas. There are plenty of backgrounds, images, icons and text options to use, or upload your own images. Work can be saved online, or shared as a PDF or JPEG.  The Design School offers tutorials in design and creation.

: Students can add their images and record their voices to tell their story.  The audience can add comments too. See our previous post.  

Prezi: Students love Prezi.  Can add images, video, text, shapes and the zoom feature allows students to focus on what’s important.   

CC Connection: By meeting the Speaking and Listening standards of Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas, students can also meet the Reading standards of analysis, delineation and evaluation.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Teacher Toolkit to Promote Literacy

Just discovered Learning Unlimited, a site devoted to promoting literacy and providing literacy resources.  Their Teacher Toolkit is loaded with templates and tools for teachers and other professionals to use, both in the classroom and as professional development.  All are free to use, download and share. 

Teachers will find resources for literature circles, phonics, writing workshop, content-area reading and much more.  I looked into the informational text section and found ideas for vocabulary, summarizing and book lists.  You will see references to the CCSS throughout the toolkit.

Once you finish looking through the Toolkit, take in the rest of Learning Unlimited’s site, lots of great information.   Make sure to download the Common Core Toolkit, which includes links to sites, videos, lessons, assessments and more.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Share My Lesson - Math and ELA Lessons Linked to CCSS

Share my Lesson is a site with a collection of high quality teaching resources, including lessons, all free to access and use.  The really neat thing about this site is that it has a Common Core State Standards Information Center.  Not only can you find more information on how to implement the CCSS, you can find lessons linked directly to the standards by subject and grade level.  Let’s say you're an 8th grade writing teacher and looking for a lesson to support the informative/explanatory standard W.8.2.  You’ll find over a dozen lessons to consider.  

Same with math.  Second grade teachers looking for lessons to meet 2.G.1 (Recognize and draw shapes…) will find a number of lessons to look at. 

Log in is required, but it is free.  This allows you to curate your lessons.  The CCSS math lessons are available for grades K – 8; the ELA are currently grades 6 – 12.  Share My Lesson was developed by the American Federation of Teachers and TES Connect.