Into My Classroom

Fourth Year Biology Teacher Sharing My Musings With The World

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THEC Workshop Documentary

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I know I’m a little late with this, but I wanted to share the documentary I created at the THEC Non-Fiction Workshop.  I learned so much at that workshop and am excited because now my ThinkShow project is done – in my head anyways.

Enjoy!

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Written by Ashley Erin

August 3, 2011 at 5:00 am

Accessing You Tube in the Classroom (Memphis City Schools)

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If you teach in Memphis City Schools, I’m sure that you are all too familiar with You Tube being blocked in the classroom and seeing this web page.

Not all items on You Tube are bad, but the reality is that there are many items on the site that are not conducive to a positive school climate.  Few people are aware that there is a resource provided by the district where teachers and access and show You Tube videos without consequence, and that resource is Gaggle.

Yes…Gaggle…the email and student learning portal that you may have heard about, but never really took or had the time to see what it is.  To access this resource, all you really need is the website to login and the name of your You Tube video.  Let’s walk through this with a few screenshots.

To log into Gaggle, you will need to enter http://memphis.gaggletn.com/ into the web address bar.  The following screen will appear.

Your login information is the same as your teacher workstation.  You do not have to register or create a new account.  

Once you login, you should see this screen. (Note: Before this screen, another one may appear asking you for an alternative email address in case you forget your password or you may have to approve the “Terms of Use” for the site.)

There are some really cool features listed and I highly encourage you play around to see what is available for you to use in the classroom.  For now, we’ll stick to You Tube.

Under “Applications” scroll down until you find Gaggletube (filtered You Tube) and click on the icon.

I like to type in the specific name of the video along with the You Tube author name for quick results.

All related videos appear and now all you have to do is click and play!  Quite simple isn’t it!  You can even add them to “My Videos” for quick future access.

I love using Gaggletube because it is safe and reliable.  You will never have to worry about it being blocked one day because it is provided  by the district and only teachers can access Gaggletube.

Give it a try and please let me know how it works for you!

Written by Ashley Erin

August 1, 2011 at 5:00 am

Reading strategies and Wikipedia good for the classroom?

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This week I am attending a workshop held by UT Chattanooga titled, “Developing Expert Teachers and Students of Nonfiction:  Print, Visual, and Digital”.  This workshop is funded by the THEC (Tennessee Higher Education Commission).  This post serves as a reflection of my learning as well as sharing what I have learned with anyone that may be reading my blog.  Enjoy!  Please feel free to comment and share.

Last night I was asked to read three articles in regards to reading strategies, difficulties and confusion in reading, and the ever so popular Wikipedia.  These articles were very informative and caused me to reflect on past teaching practices and modify some for next year.

I will begin with the first two articles by Leah Straschewski, “Valuing Confusion and Difficulty” and “Best Practices-Reading Strategies”.  From the first mentioned article, there were two main statements that really stuck with me.  The first is that students should be exposed with reading materials in the ‘expressive’ mode, such as “journals, diaries, and personal letters”.  This reinforces my wanting of students to read James Watson’s The Double Helix.  In this book, James Watson describes how him and Frances Crick came to discover the structure of DNA.  While reading, you begin to realize that they were actually pretty normal students, not overly studious, and just stumbled upon the structure.  I think this will be motivating to students as they see that you may have to make many mistakes before you get to the desired outcome.

Also in the article of “Valuing Confusion and Difficulty”, Straschewski mentions that sometimes we will give students a reading assignment for homework, and then WE (teachers) will summarize the material for them in class the next day.  As my facilitator stated today, you have just taught your students that reading is not important.  We must instead guide students to determine their own thoughts and conclusions.

Straskchewski mentions in “Best Practices-Reading Strategies” that it is important for us not only to give students strategies to use, but to also model and practice them in the classroom.  Students should then reflect on the strategy and how well it worked for them and modify if needed.

The strategy of “Glossing” reading is mentioned in the article as well.  In this strategy, students are to underline or highlight any part of the text they choose.  After doing so, they are to write why they feel their marked section is important by utilizing the margin space.  This may be difficult for us, as students have issued textbooks.  As a solution, you could make copies of the text or article and insert them into a sheet protector and have students mark them that way.  You could also cut the sheet protector in half and place it in the textbook.  Students could also use sticky notes to identify parts of text.

Wikipedia good for the instruction?  Whoa.

I never realized that wikipedia could be useful in the classroom until I read the article “Wikipedia Is Good for You?” by James P. Purdy.  In this article, Purdy mentions that wikis can be used as a source and an example of the writing process.

First let’s address wiki’s being used as a source.  When students are initially given a topic, they may be confused or not quite sure how to start.  Wikipedia entries give a good handle on general information on the topic and is usually in an easy to read format.  In some entries, there is an outline of sub-topics that students may use to guide their research.  Each wikipedia entry also has links to other sources and students can use those to begin their research.

Wikipedia serves as a representation of the writing process because the steps to post an entry are very similar: write, review, publish, peer review, edit, publish.  In the workshop, we mentioned how as teachers, we could find an incorrect entry or even create a false entry and challenge students to identify and correct it.  I am thinking of allowing my students to create a wiki page on a topic and have them edit each others pages (with each page being of a different topic).

I’m so excited to have learning so much from just one day!  I can’t wait to learn even more as the week progresses.  I love learning from other teachers as well.  It helps when you can exchange ideas and collaborate.


Sources:

http://writingspaces.org/sites/default/files/purdy–wikipedia-is-good-for-you.pdf

http://compfaqs.org/BasicWriting/BestPractices-ReadingStrategies

http://compfaqs.org/English585/ValuingConfusionAndDifficulty

Written by Ashley Erin

July 12, 2011 at 11:46 am

Making the Paperless Classroom a Reality

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I read a lot about technology that teachers are using in the classroom in order to have a “paperless classroom”, but truth be told, oftentimes when I read these posts I think that it cannot happen for me.  Earlier this week I read an effective post from the TeachPaperless blog “Example of a Paperless Final Exam“.  In this post, the author simply gives an example of what a paperless exam looks like in her classroom.  This is an effective post because the headline is interesting and makes the reader want to continue.  The post also motivates through example.  Anyone could say how to create a paperless exam, but to post one’s own adds a new level of dimension to the post.  I feel like I’m not at the stage yet for paperless exams, but this post did prompt me to begin thinking about paperless homework assignments.

Our school has adopted Gaggle as an email client for our students.  Gaggle is a safe platform where students can participate in forums, complete and turn in homework, store documents, and more.  Unfortunately I feel that many of the teachers in the district are not using it because there really has not been any training on it.

I would love to fully implement Gaggle into my classroom next year.  To help me plan and test it out, I will ask 10 of my students to volunteer to participate in completing homework online using Gaggle.  This will not add to their current homework, simply replace it.  At this point, I’m not quite sure of everything that Gaggle is capable of, but I should have fun trying to find out!

Written by Ashley Erin

January 22, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Posted in Technology

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