Teaching and Learning Resources by Peter Pappas

Your Students Will Never Be Late for Class Again

Like all teachers, I struggled for years with tardy students – “But Mr. Pappas, I had to stop at my locker!” Then I took a lesson from fellow teacher – Tom O’Brien, the art teacher in the classroom next door. Tom had it figured out, and here’s what he taught me.

Stand at the door between classes and greet each individual student by name with a handshake as they walk in the room. It guarantees that every day you’ll have a positive connection with every one of your students. Student having a bad day?  Find our before they act out in class.  When the bell rings, the door closes and you promptly begin class. Students quickly realize if they are late, they don’t get a personal greeting. Try it  – it works!

image credit flickr/Earls37a

Students Can Create Videos to Teach Us “How To”

There’s an emerging genre of internet videos that fall into the category of “how to’s.” Lots of folks are offering up instructional guides for how to do everything imaginable from How to Chill a Coke in 2 Minutes to How to Fold a Towel.

Explaining “how to” requires students to research a subject, evaluate what’s important, and create a guide for someone else to follow. It gives them an opportunity to write for an authentic audience and purpose and use skills that rank very high on Bloom’s taxonomy.

If you want to get your students writing and shooting these videos here’s some suggestions:

1. Get the new Flip Ultra video camera – remarkably easy to use and only $114 at Amazon. Works with Mac or PC. I’ve been using one for a few months and I’m impressed with the sound and image quality and the simplicity of use.

2. Have students take a look at this ingenious “how to” done by Common Craft – no elaborate props or on-screen talent required. The Flip camera won’t be able to shoot as closely as the Common Craft video below, but students can easily recreate the look on a larger scale using the classroom white board and the optional Flip Ultra tripod ($14 at Amazon).

3. Post the video to TeacherTube – a safe alternative to YouTube.

OK – time to make a movie!

Note on editing. The Flip video comes with its own software that works with Mac or PC. Ingeniously, the software resides on the camera and works anytime you plug the Flip USB into a computer.� The Flip video files are created in an AVI format that can be edited on a PC using software like MovieMaker. Mac iMovie won’t accept the Flip video AVI format directly, but you can convert an AVI file to a (iMovie-friendly) m4v file format using free iSquint software. Students can design, shoot and edit the video, then do a voice over. That way they can focus on the visual message separately from the audio message.

8/08 Update: The latest version of Flip video software will allow direct import of files into Mac iMovie!

Using Apple Keynote with TurningPoint Audience Response System

For many years I've used TurningPoint (TP) ARS in my presentations using PC PowerPoint. I'm a convert to Keynote from PowerPoint and I figured out a way to use TP along with Apple Keynote (KN) presentations.  I thought I'd share my work-around with others.

Software and equipment:
I make two presentations – a Keynote talk and a PowerPoint for Mac with TP questions.  Since I usually work with large audiences and move around a lot, I needed a solution that did not force me to stay at my laptop. I run the show on my MacBook using a Keyspan Presentation Pro Remote (PR-Pro3 $79). I have programed the remote to run both shows and serve as an application switcher. I switch between the two programs and the system has worked very well. I now use the graphic power of Keynote and the audience engagement of TurningPoint!

Presentations: Make a KN presentation. Make a PPT question slide show with TP questions.

System PreferencesScreenSnapz002 Laptop settings: Open System preferences / Keyboard and Mouse. Set the mouse tracking to slow. Set secondary button to application switcher. (Note: you will only get these choices is you are using have an Apple wireless mouse and turn it on.

Controls on the Keyspan remote:Prpro3_ext01_r_hi
You will be using three sets of controls. Listed in order starting at the top of the remote.
1. Left and right mouse – Use the left mouse as you normally would – to select. Your MacBook system preferences setting have converted your right mouse to an application switcher.
2. Mouse track button – use to move the mouse
3. Right and left triangles – use to advance either the PPT or Keynote presentation. Also use to navigate between programs when you are in application switcher mode.

Using the remote to make your presentation.
1. Open both the KN and  TP/ PPT presentations in presentation modes. Close all other programs.

2. I'll assume you begin the presentation in KN. Advance the show using the right triangle. When you are ready for your first TP question, press the Keyspan's right mouse. Your open applications will appear as icons over the top of the KN presentation. Use the right / left triangles to navigate to the PPT icon. Press the Keyspan right mouse a second time and PPT will open in presentation mode.

Continue reading “Using Apple Keynote with TurningPoint Audience Response System”

K-12 Walk Throughs Foster Teacher Reflection

Rigor and Relevance Walkthrough
Rigor and Relevance Walkthrough

I recently conducted walk through training (WT) at Hood River County School District in Oregon. I thought the model we used was very effective at engaging teachers and administrators in reflective discussion on instructional practice.

In February, I did half-day presentations on Rigor, Relevance and Literacy to Hood River’s K-5 and 6-12 faculties. In April, I led teams on WTs to give them on opportunity to hone their observational skills. It’s one thing to talk about rigor and relevance in a workshop. It’s another to go into a classroom and try to decide the level of Bloom’s taxonomy being used by the students.

Observers were not in classrooms to evaluate teachers or instructional strategies, but to test their observational skills and have an opportunity to dialogue about their conclusions. We used this simple form to guide our efforts and keep our focus on observation, reflection and discussion. R-R-guide2.pdf  16kb pdf

One day was devoted to K-12 administrative and TOSAs. The next two days were spent with K-12 teacher teams. Each day we began with an orientation session. The team started doing WT’s at an elementary building, then moved to middle and finally, high school. We only visited teachers who had volunteered to host our team. At each building we met periodically to process what we had seen.

The most powerful element of the day, was the K-12 settings of the WTs and the use of K-12 teacher teams. Teachers seldom see other classes in action and it rare that a high school teacher would be given a chance to observe an elementary class or vice versa.  All the participants agreed it was a very valuable experience and they came away with greater respect for the contributions being made all each levels of the program. Most importantly, they became more skillful at assessing the rigor and relevance of a variety of instructional strategies. They were then able to apply those perspectives to their own instructional practice.  The district intends to support teachers in collegial observation and peer reflection.

For an updated guide for how to conduct classroom walkthoughs see my post: Teacher-Led Professional Development: Eleven Reasons Why You Should be Using Classroom Walk Throughs

Teaching American History Grant – “Student as Historian”

This  week I  had the opportunity to work with secondary social studies teachers in Volusia County Florida – a talent group who are participating in a multi-year “Teaching American History Grant.”

The focus of my two-day workshop was the “Student as Historian.”  We practiced strategies that teachers can use to shift their role from teacher as “education dispenser” (gathering, distilling and delivering information); to teacher as “educational architect” who can design classrooms where students do the work of constructing meaning. Lessons were designed to enable students to do the work of historian using a variety of comprehension skills:

Identify details – can you identify key symbols, words, visual elements?
Recognizing context – where is this taking place, time period, who’s involved?
Identify relationships – who are these people, what is their relationship to one another?
Identify opinions – is there a point of view expressed in the source information?
Infer meaning – is there meaning that can be extracted from what’s between the lines?
Make predictions – based on the information, what will happen next?

For demonstration, I assembled a group of documents that students could use to answer essential historic questions. I’ve put the documents and guiding activities online at a temporary web site: Selections from an American History Collection

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