Teaching and Learning Resources by Peter Pappas

Motivate Students with FlipNLearn

I’m proud to serve as the educational advisor to FlipNLearn –  the innovate foldable that students design, print and share.  FlipNLearn uses a special pre-formatted paper and FREE design software to make it easy for students in grades 3 through  high school to design, print, share and learn. FlipNLearn enables students to think like designers, to apply their learning strategies and to organize and express their learning. It exemplifies the best of the information revolution –students as creators of content rather than as a passive audience.

FlipNLearn uses research-based CCSS learning strategies that produce results. FlipNLearn helps students master course content while developing project management and teamwork skills. Students are motivated by producing tangible evidence of their learning. Creating and sharing a FlipNLearn promotes peer discussion of both content and design decisions. It serves as an authentic assessment when shared with the wider audience of friends and family.

Visit FlipNLearn to find out more. 

One to One Computing Goes Global – “Give 1, Get 1”

Xo It turns out that the revolutionary XO, the much-touted “$100 laptop,” costs nearly $200. But for a limited time you can donate one to a third world child and get one free for yourself. Plus T-Mobile is offering donors one year of complimentary HotSpot access good for the XO laptop, and any other WiFi enabled device.  The program is called “Give 1, Get 1,” you pay $400 and One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) donates a laptop to a deserving child.  By Christmas, you get an XO laptop plus an $200 tax deduction.

OLPC states that the goal is:

One learning child. One connected child. One laptop at a time.
The mission of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is to empower the children of developing countries to learn by providing one connected laptop to every school-age child. In order to accomplish our goal, we need people who believe in what we’re doing and want to help make education for the world’s children a priority, not a privilege. Between November 12 and November 26, OLPC is offering a Give One Get One program in the United States and Canada. During this time, you can donate the revolutionary XO laptop to a child in a developing nation, and also receive one for the child in your life in recognition of your contribution. More

David Pogue of the New York Times gives the XO a great review and writes, “it’s a  laptop that’s tough and simple enough for hot, humid, dusty locales; cool enough to keep young minds engaged, both at school and at home; and open, flexible and collaborative enough to support a million different teaching and learning styles.” More plus a video demo 

Better hurry, the program ends November 26 and OLPC says that this is the only time these laptops will be available to the general public.

Rigor, Relevance and Technology

New technologies have put students in charge of the information they access, store, analyze and share.  To paraphrase David Warlick, “Literacy in the 21st century will mean the ability to find information, decode it, critically evaluate it, organize it into personal digital libraries and find meaningful ways to share it with others.”

Next week, I’ll be returning to Pottsgrove School District outside of Philadelphia to work with high school science, social studies and special education teachers on strategies for utilizing technology to incorporate more rigor and relevance into their classrooms. I’ll be joined by the Chris Shaffer, the principal of Pottsgrove High School. Together we’ll demonstrate strategies and technology resources and then give teachers time to work on integrating the strategies into upcoming lessons. Later in the school year we plan to reconvene the group to assess the impact on classroom instruction and student engagement.

Chris will be sharing a variety of websites that provide teachers and students with Web 2.0 tools to transform the learning environment. They include: www.Del.icio.us.com, www.Nettrekker.com, www.Unitedstreaming.com, www.Fantasycongress.com, www.Moodle.comI believe that rigor and relevance improves when students have an opportunity to read, think, write and publish for an authentic audience and purpose. I’ll be showing the Pottsgrove audience three approaches that give students a chance to share their learning with others.

Judy Kinz, a very innovative technology specialist, has developed “Virtual Books,” a clever PowerPoint template that simulates the turning pages of a book. I used it to make demo PowerPoints for the Pottsgrove social studies and science teachers. Here’s a sample. Don’t focus on the content – it’s the look of the template that’s the point. homefront-virtual-book (1.9MB PPT)  In partnership with a paper engineer, I’ll soon be launching FlipNLearn, an innovative learning foldable that student design and print on school printers using specialty paper. Presentation notes: Pottsgrove-10-08-07 (1 MB PDF)

350 Participants + Live Blog + Audience Responses System = Engaging Workshop

Ode07 Click Photo to enlarge. Showing collection of live audience response data.

This week I’m heading to Portland Oregon on behalf of the Oregon Department of Education (ODE). Over 350 educators from around the state are gathering at the Oregon Convention Center for a day-long session that will focus on rigor, relevance, reflection and 21st century literacy. The participants include teacher / administrator teams from middle and high schools from around the state as well as higher education, pre-service teachers and others. I want to offer participants a rigorous and relevant session that engages their thinking and provides them with practical ideas. I’ve tried to design a workshop that uses technology, content and structure to model the evolving nature of collaboration and creativity in the 21st century.

During the morning session I’ll guide the group through a consideration of rigor and relevance with a focus on what it can actually look like in the classroom. I’ll model a selection of practical strategies that they can use to build student skills in defining, summarizing and comparing. Teachers always like to leave with some practical ideas.

Next I’ll turn to 21st century literacy, with a focus on how the information world our students are raised in differs from our experience. We’ll consider how digital technologies are creating new opportunities for research, innovation, and collaboration. I’ll share some exciting opportunities in digital publishing that allow student to design and write for an authentic audience.

In the afternoon I’ll be joined by educators from two Oregon high schools who will share their success in managing education plans, profiles and student portfolios. The session will close with team time devoted to processing and reflection.

I felt it was important to model what we preach so I’m using two technologies to engage audience reflection and participation. All participants will have audience response units provided by TurningTechnologies. I’ll use them in to create a large-scale Socratic seminar that will gather audience opinion and search out area of consensus and disagreement.

Since large group discussion will be rather limited, I’ve also created a workshop blog that features reflective questions tied to the major themes in the workshop. It’s been up a week and already it’s drawing some thoughtful comments and suggestions for our agenda. Both the blog and the audience response system will serve as workshop evaluation tools. We’ll also use them to gather input for ODE and next steps for future conferences. You can visit the workshop blog for a detailed look at the program and presenters. I’ve uploaded my presentation with TurningPoint audience response data. (3.5MB pdf) Here’s the presentations by Rex Putnam High School and Colton School District (363kb pdf)

Writing the Book on Test Prep

I don’t think the answer to improving student achievement is by narrowing the curriculum to devote more time to test prep. As I said in a prior posting.. “as if being a struggling learner is not punishment enough, increasing numbers are pulled out of classes that offer hands-on learning and outlets for their creativity. What awaits them is likely “drill and kill’ that doesn’t sound like much fun for students or their teachers.” More

I’m pleased to have just concluded a project that turns test prep on its head. In this case, eighth grade students designed and published their own guide to passing the eighth grade NYS English Language Arts exam. I was joined on the project by Pat Martin. We worked with the nearby Albion Middle School. Ten sections of students spent about 6 weeks reviewing various literacy and test taking strategies with their teachers. As they did, they generated their own guide to the strategies they felt worked best. Thus learning strategies find audience and propose. Students had the opportunity to reflect on strategies and rework them for a peer audience of “seventh graders.” And don’t kids love to give each other advice!

A team of student editors from each class worked to do the final edits with the three teachers who supervised the project. Each class designed its own 100-page book using Lulu.com’s web-based, print-on-demand publishing technology.  The publication cost was about $6 per book. (color covers and interior b/w pages.) Ten editions of the guide were published and a finished book for each student author arrived about a week before the exam.  This gave students time to take pride in their accomplishments and refocus their thinking to the task of the taking the exam.

The state test is given in mid January, but it will be months before we see the final results. As Albion’s superintendent said to me – this project isn’t just about higher test scores. It’s about giving the students and their teachers a chance to see themselves as innovative creators of content, not just a passive audience. Already there is talk about starting a new test taking guide written by the seventh graders.

For more on student publishing see our website Read > Think > Write > Publish. Check my blog entries under the Commentary heading for more on students and 21st century literacy skills.

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