Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Thoughts On Blended Learning

What I have shared here are my thoughts and ideas about blended learning, but I'm still learning, and as I learn I know my ideas will change...that is the beauty of learning!! Please feel free to share your ideas/comments on this topic!!

Last Sunday the #OklaEd chat focused on "Blended Learning" a topic I’m not too familiar with, in fact I had to google the definition before the chat began, and lucky for me our moderator, Drew Robinson @FatCatArtist, shared this video giving a great explanation of blended learning: Blended Learning and Technology Integration .  

My take away from the chat and online reading:

Blended Learning is a methodology that relies on tech integration, but it takes it a step further. The integration of technology can be as simple as using a YouTube video to share a topic with students, or directing students to use iPads in their research.  Blended learning however takes the teacher from center stage, changing the teacher role from instructor to facilitator. (If you ask me that’s how it should always be, but that’s a conversation for another day.)  Blended learning often gives students  choice in how will they share information, when they will share, and incorporates authentic peer virtual communication and collaboration. The flipped classroom is one example of blended learning, but there are other models as well.  The model that I prefer is the rotation model, but I’m sure that’s mostly because rotations/centers/station, whatever you want to call them, make sense to my early-childhood brain. I know there is much more to blended learning and I will continue for learn, but this is a start. For more information I suggest reading Blended Learning Definitions  

The question I have for myself and anyone else who has an opinion is...How do we lay the foundation for blended learning in the elementary and early childhood classroom?

My thoughts include giving students choice, instilling in them a growth mindset, providing opportunities for collaboration, exploration, and the opportunity to share. These opportunities don’t have to all be tech based. We are laying the foundation for future blended learning, and just as you must speak before you write, perhaps you must learn to collaborate in the real world before you effectively collaborate in the virtual world. That being said, the meaningful use of technology should not be excluded. Students can work together to create stories using Book Creator, videos using Shadow Puppet, or other online tools for creating and sharing.  Programs like Class Dojo and See Saw are great options for allowing students to share their learning and ideas with an authentic audience.  If we want our student to be prepared to use technology as an effective tool for collaboration, creating, and learning we must provide meaningful opportunities for blended learning from the start!



Monday, August 8, 2016

What is STEAM?

What exactly is STEAM anyway...and how can it change the way I teach and children learn?  The following explanation is from The Education Closet.

STEAM with Integrity (from The Education Closet)

The pathway to STEAM is exciting, but can also be dangerous without an understanding of what STEAM truly means in both its intention and its implementation.  Like its STEM predecessor, STEAM can stop short of its best manifestation without several core components:
  • STEAM is an integrated approach to learning which requires an intentional connection between standards, assessments and lesson design/implementation
  • True STEAM experiences involve two or more standards from Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and the Arts to be taught AND assessed in and through each other
  • Inquiry, collaboration, and an emphasis on process-based learning are at the heart of the STEAM approach
  • Utilizing and leveraging the integrity of the arts themselves is essential to an authentic STEAM initiative
For further explanation and an abundance of great resources you should visit The Education Closet website!

So, now that I have an idea of what STEAM is, how do I get started?
Sometimes we make things harder than they need to be.  Yes, creating STEAM lessons will take time, collaboration, and planning; but you don’t have to be a scientist, engineer, or math genius to STEAM up your classroom.  You just have to be willing to embrace a growth-mindset, jump in, make mistakes, look for connections among content area, and approach teaching and learning with a sense of curiosity and a willingness to stop and investigate along the way.

Now I’m no STEAM guru, but my reading on this topic has lead me to believe there are STEAM activities, and then there are STEAM classrooms. You can go on Pinterest and find any number of STEAM activities...so cool!!  The temptation may be to choose a few experiments or activities to do occasionally, but I think by doing this we may be missing the point of STEAM.  The STEAM initiative calls for us to help children make connections, not in isolation, but every day in all they do. To truly embrace STEAM we need to integrate math, science, reading, etc. so that students can see that no one subject truly exists outside of another. All things are connected and we need to help our students see that!!

I have shared and will continue to share lesson ideas, but I’m still learning and I will make mistakes! Some of my ideas may be great and others may end in complete disaster, but that’s part of the process!!
How do you STEAM up your classroom? Share your ideas in the comments!
STEAM in Early Childhood (List of STEAM resources/info)

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Resources for Early Childhood (NAEYC)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Lessons...from the Three Little Pigs

In a previous post I shared a few lesson ideas to go along with the story Wolf. I like to continue the study by bringing in books like The True Story of The Three Little Pigs, The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig, The Three Little Pigs, The Three Little Javleinas...there are so many great versions of this classic story!!

Social Studies:
  • Getting along with others and taking time to see things from another person (Pig or Wolfe's) perspective.
  • Map Skills make a map of the 3 Little Pigs town, add streets, schools, grocery store...Incorporate Technology by setting up a model of the town and programming Sphero or another robotics ball to navigate the town.  
  • Create a new story about the 3 Little Pigs living in a different time or place.
  • Build/create a house for the pigs (Check out these great Ideas on Pinterest)
  • Study wolves and or pigs.
      Incorporate Technology by using a tool like Popplet for story mapping,
      character analysis...
  • Character 
  • Setting
  • Genre
  • Compare and Contrast
  • Write your own version of the story. Incorporate Technology by creating a digital book using something like Book Creator.
  • Share a puppet show, create puppets, backdrop...(great way to include Math and Art)
  • Graph Your Favorite Story, favorite character...
  • Create Related Story Problems and Have students Illustrate (great way to incorporate Art!) Problems could include: Money (pigs buying materials), Measurement (area, perimeter of the house), simple addition and subtraction (as houses are built and blown down)...
Students worked together to solve and illustrate math problem!

  • Build homes with linking cubes. This activity offers opportunities for understanding number and math concepts at many levels. Take a look at this post...Introducing Cube Connectors.
So many ways to make this a great study!! What would you add??