Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cyber Monday Sale at Raki’s Rad Resources

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Cyber Monday sales are generally all about buying Christmas presents for others.  How about buying a present for yourself?  How about saving some money on teaching resources that will free up some of your time so that you can actually enjoy preparing for this holiday season?  Time you can spend baking cookies, going to ornament exchanges, or just spending quality time with your kids.  On Monday & Tuesday – December 1st and 2nd of 2014 – Teachers Pay Teachers is having a site wide sale.  They are offering all buyers 10% off with the Promo Code TPTCYBER.  In addition, I am putting my entire store on sale for 20% off, so there will be some amazing deals in the Raki’s Rad Resources store on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Here are a few of the things you might want to stock up on during this two day sale:First Grade Internet Scavenger Hunts  from Raki's Rad Resources - On Sale Dec 1 and Dec 2 of 2014

All About Me ESL Vocabulary on Sale December 1st and 2nd 2014

 Differentiated Calendar Books from Raki's Rad Resources - On Sale December 1st and 2nd, 2014

Happy Shopping!

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Monday, November 24, 2014

Math Projects For Your Classroom

In addition to running this blog, my RVing with the Rakis blog and homeschooling full time, I also create and sell resources that teachers can use in their classrooms and home schooling parents can use to help out their children.  To be fair, I am not creating nearly as many resources this year as I did in the past 9 years, for 2 reasons.  Reason #1 – I already have over 500 resources available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, so much of what I need for my kiddos I have created already.  Reason #2 – I only have 3 students this year, so I have need of less resources.  However, I am going through resources that I made while I was teaching in a classroom full time and “cleaning them up” with clearer teacher directions, better fonts, etc.  I am also finishing out groupings or “series” that I have started and putting them into bundles so that teachers who are interested in buying multiple items from the same category have the opportunity to save some money.  For the next few weeks, I am going to spotlight some of these bundles here on my blog.

math project bundle

Math is best learned and practiced in relation to real life situations.  For this reason, my students have always worked on at least two different math projects during the course of a school year – often more if time allowed for it.  For the past two years, I kept the same students in a multiage classroom, so I wanted to make sure that they were doing new math projects that helped them work on different skill sets.  A few of my math projects – like the Balanced Checkbook project and the Holiday Shopping Project – can be done by the same student multiple times, but most should only be done once.  Because of this, I created new and different projects, and have now bundled them together into a set of 7 math projects, which is available for less than purchasing each project individually.  The seven math projects available in the set are:

 

 

 

Holiday Shopping (works on addition, subtraction and rounding while building a holiday shopping list)

Holiday Shopping Project

Ice Cream Shop (works on multiplication, division, subtraction and rounding while students split the bill at an ice cream shop)

Ice Cream Shop Project

Be an Architect (works on area and perimeter while students design their dream school)

Be an Architect Project

Balanced Checkbook (works on all 4 operations and rounding while students plan a monthly budget with salary and bill cards)

Balanced Checkbook Project

Party Planning Project (works on doubling, halving, tripling and quartering, as well as all 4 operations and rounding, while students plan recipes and a budget for a party)

Party Planner Project

Field Trip Project (works on elapsed time and all 4 operations while students create a plan for a field trip they would like to take)

Field Trip Math Project

Holiday Recipe Project (works on elapsed time, addition, subtraction and rounding while students create a plan to follow a holiday recipe)

Holiday Recipe Project

I hope one of these projects, or the entire bundle will help your students to practice their math skills with a real life application.  Happy teaching!

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Why Don’t Our Students Remember What We Tell Them?

Why Don’t Students Remember What We Tell Them?  5 Reasons Why and 10 Ways to Help students remember - Suggestions from Raki's Rad Resources

I don’t know why my students don’t remember this, I’ve talked about it a million times!  Have you ever heard another teacher say this?  Have you ever said (or thought) it yourself?  Come on, be honest, I know I have.  So, why is it our students don’t remember the things that we tell them?

1.)  They weren’t listening.  Not because they didn’t want to.  Well, maybe some deliberately aren’t listening, but for most kids they aren’t listening because they are distracted by something around them – the tapping of a pencil, the person walking down the hall, the bird outside the window, etc.  Or they got distracted by something in their own brain – what they want to eat for dinner tonight, the fight they had with their sister on the way to school, the cool trick they figured out how to do with their eyes, etc. Think about the last lecture or professional development you went to – how many times did YOU get distracted during the course of the session? 

2.)  They don’t realize what you just said was important.  You’ve talked to the kids for the past 35 minutes.  During the course of that time, you have talked about 3 or 4 different things.  The kids aren’t going to remember everything.  They will remember if you mess up, they will remember you say something completely different than anything you’ve ever said before, they remember surprises.  However, if it’s not a surprise, then it will most likely be moved into that ‘information someone told me, but I doubt I’ll remember that’ file in their brains.

3.)  They don’t understand what you meant.  I must have told my students 20 times last year that we would be building online portfolios at the end of the year.  I said it every time we did a project that I thought they should or could link up to in their portfolios.   In the beginning of the year, I showed students examples of online portfolios from the year before so they would have something to connect to.  Still, at the end of the year when I said it was time to start preparing online portfolios, I got the deer in the headlights look from a few of my students.  They didn’t realize that this was something they actually had to participate in.  All those times, they hadn’t realized what I meant by online portfolios.

4.)  They didn’t hear you.  Have you ever started giving directions to one activity before students have finished cleaning up the previous activity?  You think that they can listen to you and clean up at the same time, but in reality, they aren’t hearing what you’re saying.  Or maybe they are hearing bits and pieces, but most students lack the ability to multitask, unless they are dealing with a topic that is of extreme interest to them.  They can’t put away papers and listen to you.  They can’t walk down the hall and listen to you.  They can’t do anything else while they are listening to you, otherwise, most likely they didn’t hear you.

5.)  It wasn’t important to them.  If what we are saying isn’t perceived by our students as important to them as an individual, then we turn into those adults from the old Peanuts cartoons after about 2 1/2 minutes of speaking.  Tell them the date that their favorite singer will be giving a concert, they’ll remember it forever.  It’s important to them.  Tell them the date that the Declaration of Independence was signed, it’s forgotten before they leave class.  It’s not their fault.  It’s brain science.  We can’t remember everything everyone ever told us, because the important stuff would be all jumbled in with unimportant things and we wouldn’t remember anything.  So, our brain priorities.  Things that we perceive as important are remembered and the rest is pushed to the side.

 

I doubt these five things are “news” to any teacher.  We know these things, but in the rush to get through the day, we forget.  Here are a few tips to help your students hear your, and remember what you said.

1.) Be prepared to repeat yourself about 10 times.  Let’s face it, you’re going to say it a ton of times, so don’t get frustrated by it.  Try making it fun.  Tell students “This is the fourth time I’m telling you this, so it should start sinking into your short term memory soon.”  Challenge students to see if they can find a time when you have repeated yourself.

2.)  Don’t start talking until you have their attention.  Why waste your breath talking when they aren’t looking at you?  You’re going to repeat yourself anyways, we know this.  But, there’s no reason wearing out your vocal cords if they aren’t able to hear you well anyways.  Be patient, wait until you have their attention, and then begin.

3.)  Give them a signal that this is important.  Clap, ring a bell, jump up and down, or simply say “Guys, this is important and I need you to try and remember this.”  Do this BEFORE you say what you need to say.  The more you surprise them, the more they will give you their attention and they more likely they will remember what you are saying.

4.) Let them be the parrots.  Repeat what I just said, it’s important.  Okay, good, now tell your neighbor. Uh huh, and tell the neighbor on the other side of you.  All right, now tell the neighbor behind you.  And can you tell me again?  This technique lets them repeat the important ideas, facts or events 5 times, which means you may only have to repeat it 5 times (hopefully less) for it to really sink into their memories.

5.) Activate their other senses.  In addition to hearing it, and repeating it, use hand signals, songs, movements, smells, tastes, anything you can to help them remember.  Write important information on the board – big and colorful when you first introduce, and then smaller, on a calendar, organizer, or bulletin board for future reference. 

6.) Make connections.  Start out lessons by reviewing a bit from the day before and point out the connections that are being made with today’s lessons.  Write them the board, have students repeat them.  This will help students connect what they are learning to background knowledge you know they have experienced.  Also, help students connect what they are learning to other important things in THEIR life.  I wrote an entire blog post on this awhile back called My Background Knowledge is NOT the Same as my Students, with some specific examples on how to do this in your classroom.

7.) Make it important to THEM.  In addition to connecting learning to a student’s likes and dislikes, we can make learning important to students by connecting them to rewards in class.  Reward students publically – with stickers or points towards table competitions – for being able to remember big ideas, key events or details of a story, lecture, movie, mini lesson, etc.  At the end of class, have students work in pairs or groups of 3 to create a list of the most important ideas from a lecture, video, mini lesson or story.  The group with the longest list, or most inclusive list, can win a prize or a point for their team.

8.) Listen to what students DO remember.  Students don’t have to memorize the textbook, and expecting them to is only going to frustrate you, and them.  Research shows that they will remember more if they understand the big ideas first and then build the details in.  For example, my 2nd grader has been told over and over that the religion of Russia (the country he is studying for his Year Long Country Study Project) is Russian Orthodox.  We looked at churches, talked about their beliefs and traditions, etc. etc.  He cannot remember the word orthodox to save his life, and even struggles to remember the word Christian.  However, he can tell you that most people in Russia believe in Jesus and the stories of the Bible, not in the Prophet Mohammed and the stories of Koran, like people in Morocco (where we lived for the last 3 years).  This shows me he remembers the big ideas, but just hasn’t memorized the details – the vocabulary – quite yet.

9.) Make sure students understand what you mean. Blah blah blah blah blah, Do you understand?  Student nods, because they want to understand – not because they do – and we move on.  Take time to check and make sure that students actually understand before moving on.  Students won’t remember what they don’t understand, or they will remember a misunderstanding of the topic, which will be twice as hard to “unteach” later on.

10.) Prioritize.  Students aren’t going to remember everything you say.  Some will remember A, C and E.  Others will remember D, G and Z.  Still others will only remember F.  A lot of what students remember will have to do with what connects to their background knowledge or what is interesting to them – both of which will be different for every child and will be out of your control.  This is okay, and normal.  However, in each lesson, lecture, movie, etc.  there will be one or two key things that EVERY STUDENT should remember.  Pull those things out.  Write them on the board, have students repeat them, play with them, talk about them, etc. etc. etc.  Reward the remembering of these one or two things, and take joy in anything beyond this that individual students remember.

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Friday, November 21, 2014

Recording Real Time Thinking with iPad apps

One of the most powerful things about using an iPad in the classroom is the ability of that iPad to record real time thinking and observations by students. I have written extensively in the past about the importance of using the iPad’s camera and other recording mechanisms.  For some key ideas, check out my blog posts – 10 Ways to Use Your iPad’s Camera in the Classroom  and Making Movies on the iPad: 4 Apps to Try.  Most of the time when I advocate using your iPad as a recording mechanism, it is to create well planned out movies that require brainstorming, drafting a script, creating, revising, and editing before publishing – like those planned using my Student Tutorial Video Planning Sheet.  However, there are times when you just want to do a quick check of where students are on a topic without actually sitting with each individual student.  Or you want to record a snapshot of where they are to share with parents or administrators, or to document learning or lack thereof for an RTI meeting.  The following iPad apps allow you to do just that.

iPad apps that can be used to record real time thinking.  Ideas from Raki's Rad Resources.

1.) Evernote – This amazing app allows students to have their own individualized notebook (within a teacher’s log in) – great for one or two iPads per classroom.  Within the notebook, students have notes where they can write up what they have worked on, add a picture of what they have worked on, or they can record themselves speaking.  This works great for taking a picture of a creation students have made, documenting a writing center, or recording running records.  The best part about Evernote – for me – is that there is also an application for your computer and the computer and iPad app sync, giving me access on my computer to everything students do in Evernote on the iPad.  I can then share those notes with parents, resource teachers, administrators, etc. through a simple e-mail with no need to download information off of an iPad.

iPad apps that can be used to record real time thinking.  Ideas from Raki's Rad Resources. 2.)  ScreenChomp – This program is meant to be used to create movies for other students.  In fact, it is one of the options I include in my Tutorial Video Planning Sheet.  However, unless you have a 1 to 1 iPad program, this is NOT  great option for creating the type of videos where you have to plan, do a little, save, and come back to it the next day, because Screen Chomp only offers one screen and erases everything you do unless you go ahead and create a video with it.  While this rules it out for use in one context, it makes it perfect for use on projects where you don’t want to see a lot of planning.  For example, if you want to do a spot check on where students are with a specific topic, you might ask them to do a quick 1 minute “fly through” video, where they don’t plan, but just write and talk to explain what they know about the topic.  This is a great check for understanding tool with math concepts and new vocabulary.

iPad apps that can be used to record real time thinking.  Ideas from Raki's Rad Resources.

3.)  Educreations -  This program is also meant to be used to create movies for other students.  It is a step better for this process than Screen Chomp because it offers you the opportunity to use multiple pages where you plan out a presentation.  However, you are only allowed to have one presentation going at a time (at least with the free version), so again this is hard to use for long term creation projects if you have 20 kids sharing 1 or 2 iPads. It’s also impossible to edit your recordings after you have started them.  While this makes it challenging to create full on Tutorial Videos or larger projects, it is a great way to work on idea mapping or vocabulary words.  You can easily start out a draft with one concept word or vocabulary word on each slide, have students rotate through the iPad as a center, having each group add to one slide, recording their thinking as they go.  In the end you have a full length collaborative video.  You could also let individual students create their own quick “fly through” videos on any variety of topics or concepts, including working through an assigned math problem, discussing a book they read or describing a creation they made (You CAN import pictures into Educreations very easily.)

iPad apps that can be used to record real time thinking.  Ideas from Raki's Rad Resources.

4.)  Kids Doodle – If you’re not looking for sound, but want to check on penmanship, letter formations, spelling, etc., try out Kids Doodle.  Ask students to practice writing sight words or spelling words, to copy a sentence from the board or to simply draw a picture of a certain topic.  While the students are working, this app automatically creates a video of what is going on on the screen.  These videos can be exported to your video roll and shared via e-mail.  This is a also a great way to watch the thinking that is going on during a math problem, to see who is erasing 20 times and to get a bit of a sneak peek into individual thought patterns.

iPad apps that can be used to record real time thinking.  Ideas from Raki's Rad Resources.

5.) Puppet Pals – You know those creative play moments that you wish you had on video tape to show parents?  Puppet Pals brings those moments out and lets you record them.  This app gives you a variety of backgrounds and characters to choose from (a few in the free version, many more in the paid version).  Once they choose their background, students create their own puppet show, while recording the movements of their puppets, as well as what they are saying.  I love using this app for planned out shows – retelling of stories, publishing of fiction writing, etc. etc.  However, it is also great for spur of the moment shows.  Ask students to create their own show with no planning.  The resulting videos will show you what kind of imaginative thinkers and writers you have in your class.  These videos can be saved to your video roll and then shared via e-mail or YouTube.

 

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Monday, November 17, 2014

Memorizing Math Facts is as Important as Knowing Letter Sounds

Memorizing math facts is as important as memorizing letter sounds.  Students cannot build a mathematical understanding without memorizing math facts.  Raki's Rad Resources

Imagine if a child never memorized their letter sounds, but instead had to reference a chart or use a memorization device for each sound of reading a word.  If you have ever read with a beginning reader, you know how slow the process is.  In fact, for most new readers, you spend so much time focused on sounding out those basic words, you never get to reading comprehension.  Similarly, if students never memorize their basic math facts, when they get to complex concepts like percentages, fractions, long division, Algebra and beyond, they never understand the actual concept of what is going on because they have to go back and figure out the basic “letter sounds” of math – math facts.

This is why memorizing and truly understanding math facts is so important.  Without first a good understanding of how numbers come together and second a solid memorization of facts, children will never be able to efficiently work through complex math problems.

Before students memorize facts, they need time to play around with number combinations in manipulative form.  They need to see that 7 green dots and 3 red dots make 10 in enough different ways that they “get” the idea of addition.  They need to see that 4 groups of 5 dots makes 20 in enough different ways that they “get the idea of multiplication.  This manipulation is important, but it should only be the first short step to math facts.  This is the equivalent in reading of learning that all letters make sounds and that sounds can blend together to make words.

Once students have this basic understanding, they need to start the process of memorizing math facts.  Students can memorize math facts through plenty of different types of games, through flash cards, through reciting the facts, through using fact families, or simply by drilling themselves over and over.  There’s no big trick to memorizing.  Each student will learn to memorize in a bit of a different way, but overall the most important part of memorization is practice.  Students need to practice math facts over and over – a minimum of 10 minutes a day, EVERY DAY.  This is something I always stressed to parents and students, if you practice, you memorize – except in cases of specific disabilities.  You know how you use a reading log to track daily reading – consider keeping a math fact log as well, it can be a big help.

One thing that I found as a great way to keep students practicing was to have regular “accountability quizzes” where students could show me – and themselves – that practicing helped.  These fast fact quizzes – which I have in 8 different levels – give students a way to see their growth happen.  If they are practicing, they will move through the levels.  If they are not, they will stay stuck on the same level for weeks at a time.  Eventually, they get sick of seeing their friends move on and they will begin to practice.  Once they do, they start moving through the levels too and are proud of their achievements.  I always have rewards for those who are moving up levels, generally the chance to add a new symbol to the class bar graph, or a sticker for their reward chart.

You can find these accountability quizzes at my Teachers Pay Teachers store:

Memorizing math facts is as important as memorizing letter sounds.  Students cannot build a mathematical understanding without memorizing math facts.  Raki's Rad Resources    Memorizing math facts is as important as memorizing letter sounds.  Students cannot build a mathematical understanding without memorizing math facts.  Raki's Rad Resources

 

Memorizing math facts is as important as memorizing letter sounds.  Students cannot build a mathematical understanding without memorizing math facts.  Raki's Rad Resources     Memorizing math facts is as important as memorizing letter sounds.  Students cannot build a mathematical understanding without memorizing math facts.  Raki's Rad Resources

 

Memorizing math facts is as important as memorizing letter sounds.  Students cannot build a mathematical understanding without memorizing math facts.  Raki's Rad Resources   Memorizing math facts is as important as memorizing letter sounds.  Students cannot build a mathematical understanding without memorizing math facts.  Raki's Rad Resources

 

Memorizing math facts is as important as memorizing letter sounds.  Students cannot build a mathematical understanding without memorizing math facts.  Raki's Rad Resources     Memorizing math facts is as important as memorizing letter sounds.  Students cannot build a mathematical understanding without memorizing math facts.  Raki's Rad Resources

 

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Sunday, November 16, 2014

20 Ways to Use Playdough in the Classroom

20 ways to use playdough to increase learning in the classroom - from Raki's Rad Resources

Playdough can be one of the most useful tools in the classroom, but it is often overlooked.  Playdough is cheap to buy and easy to make, and brings out creativity and learning  Here are 20 different ways to use playdough in the classroom:

1.) Letter imprints – Know those letter magnets?  Press them into a ball of clay and you get amazing letter imprints which can be used for a letter recognition center.

20 ways to use playdough to increase learning in the classroom - from Raki's Rad Resources

2.) Counting balls – How many small balls can you make?  Can you count them?  Can you put them into groups of 10 so we can count by tens?

3.) Letter formation- Roll the playdough into the shape of alphabet letters, or numbers.  Or give students a coloring sheet in a page protector and see if they can fill in the letter.  Students can also practice writing words or their name.

20 ways to use playdough to increase learning in the classroom - from Raki's Rad Resources

4.) Shadow sculptures – Create a sculpture.  Place it on a sheet of white paper.  Shine a flashlight onto the sculpture.  Use a pencil to draw around the outside of the shadow.

5.) Create collaborative sculptures – Working together can be one of the most important skills we teach.  Give students a topic or a shape and ask them to create that together.

6.) Sculpt beginning, middle and end of a story – After reading or listening to a story, ask students to create a sculpture of the beginning, the middle and the end of the story.20 ways to use playdough to increase learning in the classroom - from Raki's Rad Resources

7.) Have playdough olympics – Perfect for indoor recess.  Have students try to roll playdough balls into small containers or having stacking contests with small balls of playdough.  Have a committee create medals out of playdough.

8.) Measuring snakes – Have students create snakes of different lengths and practice using a ruler to measure how long each snake is.

20 ways to use playdough to increase learning in the classroom - from Raki's Rad Resources

9.) Work on forces – There’s nothing easier to push and pull than playdough.  Work on pushing and pulling with your hands and other items, blocks, marbles, strings, etc.

10.) Create maps – Work on landforms by creating mountains, rivers, lakes and plateaus onto a real or fake country.

11.) Create a scene from a book – After reading a story, have kids sculpt out what they have seen.  This helps them work on setting, as well as visualizing the plot.

12.) Three dimensional shapes – Get a real feel for the faces of three dimensional shapes by creating the faces with playdough.  This kinesthetic strategy will cement in the minds of students the properties of 3-d shapes.

20 ways to use playdough to increase learning in the classroom - from Raki's Rad Resources

13.) Imaginary play – Playdough can be turned into any variety of prop or costumes for imaginary play, from a superhero watch to a magic wand to the pizza we are going to eat for dinner.  The only limits are your students’ imaginations.

14.) Snakes & Donuts – This economics game allows students to explore trading, price, and supply and demand while creating snakes and donuts out of playdough.  Find the specifics of this game in this old blog post.

20 ways to use playdough to increase learning in the classroom - from Raki's Rad Resources

15.)Imprint fossils – Pressing leaves or bones into a piece of playdough is a great way to create a mock up of an imprint fossil. 

16.)  Create number sentences – Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division can all be practiced simply by making balls of playdough and labeling them correctly.

20 ways to use playdough to increase learning in the classroom - from Raki's Rad Resources

17.) Add fractions & mixed numbers – Work on fractions by having students practice creating “wholes” that are the same size and using plastic butter knives to cut the wholes into fractions.  This provides a clear visualization of what is going on when we add fractions.

18.) Visualizing fractions – Take those counting balls and create a fraction of a set or a fraction of a number easily.  Use different colors to make it pop out for students.

20 ways to use playdough to increase learning in the classroom - from Raki's Rad Resources

19.)  Create an animated video – Use an app like Stop Motion Studio, which allows students to use single frame pictures to create an animated videos.  They can use playdough to set the scene and take a picture every time something changes.  At the end, they put their pictures into the app and get a video of the movie.

20.) Create a sculpture of the main character before you begin to write your story.  - While creating the character, students should think about their character and what will happen to it in the story they write.

20 ways to use playdough to increase learning in the classroom - from Raki's Rad Resources

How do you use playdough in your classroom?

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Friday, November 14, 2014

Making Math Tutorial Videos

Student created math tutorial videos help you know if the student truly knows what they think they know.  Blog post from Raki's Rad Resources

One of the best ways to know if a student REALLY understands a math concept is to ask them to teach the concept to someone else.  However, letting each student teach the class can be extremely time consuming.  A good alternative is to let students create math tutorial videos, which can be viewed by students at home or during a math center.  My students create their videos with these steps:

1.  Plan out key vocabulary and phrases that will be needed for the video.

2.  Create the video in your chosen app or website.

3.  Record the video.

4.  Edit the video.

5.  Students evaluate themselves on their own rubric.

6.  Teacher evaluates student with the teacher rubric and conferences with students on their work.

We use my Tutorial Video Planning Sheets in this process:

Video planning sheet from Raki's Rad Resources

This week, my children created these videos about the topics they have been learning about for the past 10 weeks.  They do their home school work in English, French and Arabic, so they created three different videos.

2nd Grade English

Student created math tutorial videos help you know if the student truly knows what they think they know.  Blog post from Raki's Rad Resources

2nd Grade French

Student created math tutorial videos help you know if the student truly knows what they think they know.  Blog post from Raki's Rad Resources

2nd Grade Arabic

 Student created math tutorial videos help you know if the student truly knows what they think they know.  Blog post from Raki's Rad Resources

5th Grade English

Student created math tutorial videos help you know if the student truly knows what they think they know.  Blog post from Raki's Rad Resources

5th Grade French

 Student created math tutorial videos help you know if the student truly knows what they think they know.  Blog post from Raki's Rad Resources

5th Grade Arabic

Student created math tutorial videos help you know if the student truly knows what they think they know.  Blog post from Raki's Rad Resources

Before the kids are allowed to publish their videos, they are required to conference with me, which gives me a great way to handle any misconceptions that might be happening in their mathematical knowledge.  It also teaches students the importance of revising and editing work before publishing – which is a skill that should be done in all subjects NOT ONLY IN WRITING.  These videos may not replace tests entirely, but they give me a very clear picture as to where my students stand in regards to mathematical thinking.

For some ideas on programs and apps to use to make videos, check out these two old blog posts:

Online Video Creation Sites

Making Movies on an iPad

 

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

TESOL Teaching Tip #54 - Alternatives to Presenting in Front of the Class

As a teacher at an International School, many of my students were English Language Learners. Even my native English speakers were living in a non-English speaking country. Due to my unique teaching position, I have had some readers ask for tips on teaching English Language Learners. Here is this week’s Tuesday TESOL Teaching Tip:


TESOL Teaching Tip #54 - Give students alternatives to presenting in front of the class. Presenting can make ESL or ELL students nervous and prohibit language ability. Find four alternatives and more at my blog post on Raki's Rad Resources.

TESOL Teaching Tip #54 - Give students alternatives to presenting in front of the class.
Imagine standing in front of a room of people who speak perfect Mandarin Chinese and speaking in the broken Mandarin you had been learning for about a year, giving a speech in Mandarin on which you would be graded.  Your palms sweat, your heart races and all the words you do know in Mandarin go racing out of your head from the adrenalin of the moment.  You open your mouth to speak and the words that do come out, jumble up as you try to hurry up and be done with it. 
This is the experience our ESL or ELL students experience when we ask them to present a project or research paper to the class.  The resulting presentations rarely reflect the students’ true language ability or knowledge on the subject.  However, we tend to give them a grade on the presentation just the same.
As a teacher who has always used as many project-based learning experiences as I can, I believe in presenting the completed project.  By presenting the project, students learn to work for an audience, take more pride in their work and are more motivated to create quality work.  I have included presentations as a part of all of the projects before:
Earth's Material Glog Project - a perfect opportunity to allow students to present information to their peers.  from Raki's Rad Resources    Biography Project - a perfect opportunity to allow students to present information to their peers.  from Raki's Rad Resources

Rock Project - a perfect opportunity to allow students to present information to their peers.  from Raki's Rad Resources     Amazing Americans Technology Project - a perfect opportunity to allow students to present information to their peers.  from Raki's Rad Resources

Virtual Desert Project - a perfect opportunity to allow students to present information to their peers.  from Raki's Rad Resources     African Folktale Connected Glog Project - a perfect opportunity to allow students to present information to their peers.  from Raki's Rad Resources     
However, I don’t think that the only way to present projects is by standing in front of the class shaking while your classmates watch on – often bored and not paying attention.  Instead of standing in front of class presenting, I often use one of these alternative techniques:

Four alternatives to presenting in front of class - great for esl students - ideas from Raki's Rad Resources
Four alternatives to presenting in front of class - great for esl students - ideas from Raki's Rad Resources1.)  Museum Day:  Each student sets up their materials in a display around the room and stays at their display to present.  Invite in another class (or two) and ask them to wander around the materials, with no more than 2 or 3 people stopping at each display at one time.  When they get to a display, the person who created the project will present to the few people who stop.  Museum guests can wander at will, or can change displays at the ring of a bell.  Either way, museum presenters will present their project multiple times, giving students a chance to explain their project and use their language skills multiple times in one lesson, while providing them with a low stress way to present.

Four alternatives to presenting in front of class - great for esl students - ideas from Raki's Rad Resources 2.)  Pair and Share:  Split your class into pairs.  In each pair, students will take turns presenting their project to their partner.  Students get the one on one experience of teaching and learning, including the option of asking detailed questions.  You may choose to have students break into a different set of pairs and repeat the process.  In fact you could do as many pairings as you have time for.



Four alternatives to presenting in front of class - great for esl students - ideas from Raki's Rad Resources 3.)  Parent Presentations:  Set up your room similar to the set up for museum day, but invite adults to come and visit – parents, administrators, teachers with a prep period.  When parents come in, students have a chance to present to their own parent in their home language, and then turn and present to an administrator or teacher in English, giving them even more practice with their language skills.



Four alternatives to presenting in front of class - great for esl students - ideas from Raki's Rad Resources 4.)  Small Group Presentations:  If it is very important that all the kids in your class hear all of the presentations, then try doing small group rotations. Break your class into 4 groups.  Have one group stay stable while the other 3 groups move around and listen to presentations from the group who stable.  Once everyone has seen these presentations, switch and make another group stable.  Continue until all students who listened to all presentations.  Management tip -If you are going to have students listen to all presentations, you may want to have them use a graphic organizer to keep track of what they learned from each presentation and keep them engaged.

If students do need to present to the entire class, I often give them the options to work with a partner or group (strength in numbers!) or to create a video and play the video for the class.  All of these strategies are also helpful to students who have stage fright or anxiety about standing in front of a large group of people.
Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Friday, November 7, 2014

It’s My Birthday, but the Present is For You!!!

It’s my birthday weekend and I’m super excited because my husband came home with a great present for me – my own iPad mini!  After teaching with an iPad for 2 years, I have been a bit at a loss not to have one of my own this school year.  Since I in such a good mood, I decided to continue the birthday tradition that we have had for the past 3 years here at Raki’s Rad Resources.  I will be providing all of my followers with one present from my store.  Last year when I did this giveaway, there were 440 items in my Teachers Pay Teachers store to choose from.  This year there are 582 items in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.! (It’s been a busy year!)

Birthday giveaway at Raki's Rad Resources

So, here is what you have to do in order to get your present:

1.)  Leave me a comment on THIS BLOG POST (not FB or TPT please) with your name and the e-mail address where you’d like me to send your present.

2.)  Tell me the name of the resource from my Teachers Pay Teachers store that you would like to receive.  Everything is up for grabs – EXCEPT .zip folder bundles, as these jam up my e-mail service.  If you can leave a link to the resource, that is even better and avoids confusion.  One resource per person please.

3.)  Sign up for my monthly newsletter to receive information about newly released resources and upcoming giveaways.

4.)  Sit tight and check your e-mail on Monday, November 10, 2014.  We have a busy weekend planned, so I will most likely not get resources sent out until Monday morning around 7 a.m. EST.  When I start sending resources, I will stop accepting new requests, so please have your requests in by Monday at 7 a.m. 

5.)  Feel free to share this opportunity with your friends, colleagues and social media followers.

 

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources