Spontaneous Review

My Period 4 US History and Government has a test on Friday, it is based upon their presentations to the class and vocabulary on Civil Rights. Actually all four of my US II classes have a test this Friday.

A couple of students were in front of my room when I came in from hall duty. They were attempting to write on the Interactive WhiteBoard, (IWB),but were having difficulty. Other students attempted to explain what to do, but there was still some difficulty and disbelief in what to do on the part of the students at the IWB. I confirmed and re-explained the student directions on how to write on the board.

I was curious as to their intent, it just happened to be a game of Hangman on the IWB.  They started off and I just watched as the students became excited to play the game.  I made one suggestion after the second game; why not incorporate words from the class review into the game.  They seemed a bit surprised that I did not shut their game down.

They converted the game of Hangman into an animated class review.  Students continued to collaborate during the games, assisting with guessing letters and explaining what some of the words were.  Students used presentation topics, important people and terms for the game.

A few students did not play, but reviewed on their own.   That was fine, they have that freedom of choice to work in the way they are most comfortable with.

Overall the period flew by, most students engaged on the task They needed to focus on.  It was nice to be reminded that we can go off the beaten path and still reach our goal.

Anchor Podcasting App

Anchor, Dundee WaterfrontCreative Commons License dun_deagh via Compfight

A new and FREE podcasting app came across one of my networks and caught my attention, Anchor.  This FREE podcasting app is available for both Apple and Android devices.  I downloaded it right away, but had not tested it out until yesterday, when my daughter and I relaxed at National Grind, a coffee shop in Ellwood City, PA after school.

I was grading student work, essay tests and projects, while she played Cool Math Games, Snail Bob was the specific game.  After awhile we both needed a break and decided to enjoy our beverages, I had a mocha latte, she had a Smore Hot Chocolate.  During our respite from work, she jumoed back into her Edublogs account; she is participating in the Edublogs Student Challenge again this year.  She updated her About Me page, and created an avatar to place on her blog.

I thought this would be the perfect time to try out Anchor, it took seconds to set up the account on my phone, link it to my Twitter account and start recording.  After a couple of miscues with releasing the record button, we recorded the following podcast.

You can even invite others to join your podcast from remote locations, we will try that soon.  I will follow up with another post once we officially try that out.  We ran a quick test later last evening, it is super simple to do.

Want to Podcast, give Anchor a try.  This is an unpaid discussion of the app and in no way endorses the product…all said for legal reasons…

Pittsburgh’s Bomber Mystery

This image was originally posted to Flickr by anyjazz65 at https://www.flickr.com/photos/49024304@N00/360485598

Dateline January 31, 1956

A B-25 Mitchell Bomber crash lands into the Monongahela River somewhere between the Homestead High Level Bridge and the Glenwood Bridge, these bridges are between Kennywood Park and Pittsburgh, PA for those not familiar with the Mon Valley Area.  There were a number of witnesses, thus many differing details to what happened that day.  There was no Internet at that time, social media as you know it did not exist, television was new, I do not believe we had helicopter breaking news stories, this limited access to first hand details for the populace.

The Backstory or How I Heard about the Event:

I have always been a History Buff, even as a child.  I love reading about history and I especially love hearing about history; add LOCAL HISTORY to the mix and I am hooked.  I first heard about this story as a kid in Leo Gigliotti’s barbershop in Duquesne, PA.  I knew him as “Mr. Leo” he was a great friend of my Grandpap.

I was in Mr. Leo’s shop getting a haircut around the anniversary of the bomber crash and several regulars were talking about it.  They mentioned one of their buddies who had assisted in the rescue efforts, he had just been driving by when he saw the bomber crash.  He helped pull crew members out of the river that day; when he showed up late to a family function his family accused him of being out at a bar, due to the peculiarity of his story.  The story hooked me immediately, I listened intently to the men discuss the actual crash details and how the crew was rescued.  Then the discussion turned to the conspiracy theories and my mind raced with images of the threads they weaved together.

I longed to find out more about this event, as I grew older I conducted research at the local library, but information was scarce.  From time to time information would be published in a newspaper, or there would be a brief but tantalizing segment on a local news station.

Stories such as this one piqued my interest with the conflicting details about the event and its aftermath.  I admit, I love to read these stories that are “off the beaten path” they give the mind a chance to wonder.  Due to meeting those gentlemen in Mr. Leo’s Barbershop all those years ago, I keep an open mind about the event.

The more traditional or “official” stories contain the same facts and some even mention the controversies surrounding the plane crash.  The most recent story published in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review can be found here.  The Heinz History Center has information posted on their History Blog, about the crash and the recovery efforts by Marion Hill Associates, a New Brighton based company.

Your assignment is to read the articles about the plane crash that are linked above, there are three articles.  After reading the articles, post a reply with your thoughts about the event, review the “Commenting Guidelines” that are posted on the Class Blog.  I will be posting a reply rubric here shortly.

You can check out the more information on Mr. Leo Gigliotti here.

 

 

#12DaysofSketchnoting Day 3: Communication/Creative Communicator

So for today’s portion of #12DaysofSketchnoting we have to describe Communication/Creative Communicators. This boggled my mind at first, but that happens at times, especially in the AM now that I drink half-caf coffee.

As a history teacher the first thing that popped into my head was President Reagan, due to his nickname “The Great Communicator.” Bizarre…yes, but par for what goes on inside my mind. Should I try and draw him, or an unfinished movie poster title such as “Bedtime for Bon…” with a partially drawn monkey. My drawing ability is not good enough to draw President Reagan and I was not sure if anyone would get the movie reference. The ideas were non-starters.

I had to do a hard reset and rethink how I could approach today’s topic. I decided to incorporate a blog post to explain my Sketchnote; it would be better explained in that context, than as a standalone image.

On to my Sketchnote:

I believe I can communicate well, for as non-linear as I think. I do lecture more than I should, but I try to make my classroom more of a discussion setting. While doing this, I try and relate issues to local/personal experiences, I have been known to be melodramatic, use various accents, and even act out and model situations. If nothing else, students can recall my bizarre actions, some can even recall the points I was trying to make.

Since communication is a two-way street, listening is a major component of communication. Actually, not just listening, but giving students a legitimate voice in their own educational experience. Listen to them, but put what they say to use, give them a sense of…on second thought, not even a sense, but actual ownership of their experience in your classroom.

The Sketchnote below is the mishmash of visuals bouncing around in my head as I thought about and typed this today.

#SatChat: Time to Adjust my Listening Skills

Ah, two Saturday’s ago I was awake and in learning mode rather early so I jumped into a Twitter #satchat, a fantastic learning and networking opportunity each and every Saturday.   The topic was based upon student listening skills and how we teach those skills.

I had to admit that I do not formally teach those skills in my class, I emphasize them throughout lessons, but do not actually  formally assess student listening.  As I thought more about the topic, I also realize that I need to improve upon my listening skills, in class and real world.

Often, especially in the classroom, I am multitasking as students are asking questions.  This prevents me from giving my full attention to the student which is not only impolite, but it may cause miscommunication between those involved in the conversation.  I am making a concerted effort to address this ASAP.  Modeling skills we want students to use in our classroom is key, if we cannot meet the expectations we ask of our students, WHY should they.

Some other take aways I will implement in my classes are exit questions and peer to peer review time either at end or very beginning of my classes.  This will allow students to reflect with a classmate and practice listening skills while reviewing course content.  To keep this from being a full fledged chat and gossip session, I will have to float about the room and engage the students, which IS MY JOB.  A quick student reply/summary of their peer to peer would allow for students to earn points for their efforts and hopefully give me insight to content with which they are comfortable or need further assistance.

I will post further as this endeavor moves forward.

In the meantime, if you get the chance and are awake by 7:30 AM on a Saturday, check out #Satchat.

Sketchnoting: An old dog learns new tricks…again…

Last night I sat in on a PAECT members only webinar about Sketchnoting, or visual notetaking with Sylvia Duckworth.  I have read about this concept before and encouraged a number of my students to work with the concept over the last several years.  I never practiced it due to a very basic level of drawing ability, my wheelhouse is writing.

A free refresher on the topic was too good to pass up, especially when presented by someone as well respected on the topic as Sylvia is.  I was hoping to pick up some new ideas to pass on to my students, which I did.  That being said I also gained a better understanding of of the overall concept.  This came about by actually practicing or trying out the various strategies as Sylvia explained them.  After the hour and a half webinar I can safely say that I am still far from a Skectchnoting expert.  I can say, however that I am much more comfortable explaining the concept to others.

I also see how Sketchnoting can help me when the need arises to study.  Going back to review my notes and sketching out a re-writing would benefit me the most out of the strategies discussed.  I hope to have a Sketchnote to embed in this post shortly.

Here is a short video overview of the Sketchnoting concept.

This is my Sketchnote Review of the webinar.

Digital Breakout.edu: My first attempt

At this past February’s PETE and C  in Hershey, PA, I learned more about a concept called Breakout.edu.  The premise is that students or adults solves a series of puzzles and/or problems to achieve a predetermined learning goal.  Breakout.edu allows for critical thinking,  collaboration, and creativity.

These lessons can be either digital in nature or actual physical lock and puzzle boxes.  There is a growing and strong support network for teachers online, with numerous resources, but that is a topic for another blog post.

I chose to work with a digital breakout to start, it is free and I have access to all of the necessary online resources.

This post is currently under construction.

EverFi Experiment

Recently I encountered the opportunity to try out EverFi, a free website/program that offer courses in Digital Citizenship and STEAM Activities.  Digital Citizenship fits nicely into my curriculum, so I am giving it a try.

I started out the pilot project today with several of my classes; our school’s Winter Semi-Formal is tonight and many students had early releases to prep for the dance.  I thought it best to work with start with small groups and see how things work.

Overall it was a fairly painless experience, I will post a bit later on how to set up classes and how to sign up students for the lessons.