Category Archives: Ed Tech

8 Ways OneNote Makes Lesson-Planning a Breeze

By Guest Blogger Minnia Feng, Microsoft minnia feng

OneNote, which you can download for free, is a teacher’s best friend. Find out how OneNote can help make digital lesson-planning easier, faster, and more effective!

  1. Use any type of content – text, pictures, audio, video, ink, embedded files, printed digital paper.

blog1There’s no limit to the mediums you can use to plan your lesson as OneNote supports learning and planning across multiple modalities, allowing you to add a fun, interactive multimedia dimension and create a more dynamic, effective lesson.

  1. Arrange any content type on the page any way you want, just like paper

blog2Drag and drop with ease—no more formatting hassles. OneNote is a digital version of paper, except it saves everything in one place, allows for more types of content, and no pencils or erasers required!

  1. Use Tags to highlight important points, questions, or create your own custom tag

blog3Instead of rifling through pages, whether paper or digital, find exactly what you need right away and remember what needs to be followed up on with tags.

  1. Collaborate with other teachers in a shared notebook as you build your lesson plans.

blog4Collaboration is a key priority nowadays and the sharing of ideas and experiences results in even better lesson plans– work with other teachers to improve and innovate easily!

  1. Use OneNote to record and embed audio to guide the lesson.

blog5Students learn in different ways — the option of adding audio can help increase focus and add an important personal element to the lesson so students have access to your audio instruction at any time.

  1. Use OneNote drawing tools to add visual elements to your lesson plan.

blog6Draw with touch or pen in OneNote to add your own sketches and diagrams — very helpful for science and math teachers who need to make annotations that may go beyond typing.

  1. Use digital ink to enhance, annotate and be creative with your lesson plans.

blog7Effortlessly make important aspects of your lesson plans stand out with digital ink, giving you the flexibility to write/draw anywhere on your notes or pictures.

  1. Change the digital paper type of OneNote to college-ruled, graph, or a custom page template background.

blog8Different subjects require different backdrops—we’ve got you covered so you can switch easily between and even customize the color and width of the lines/grids.

Want to see OneNote in action for more inspiration? Here are some awesome examples of lesson plans utilizing these tips from our Microsoft Innovative Educators:

  • Food For Life, by Ruby Huang (New Zealand), Science Teacher, Howick College
  • Count of Monte Cristo Mock Trial, by Kelli Etheredge (USA), Director of Teaching & Learning Resources, St. Paul’s Episcopal School
  • Walk in My Shoes, by Lynette Barker (Australia), Teacher Librarian, St. Therese’s Primary School

And for more in-depth interactive guides on how to make the most of OneNote in the classroom, be sure to check out http://www.onenoteforteachers.com.

10 Most Popular Curriki Learning Resources

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki janetpic_preferred_cropped

We’re already a quarter into the new calendar year, so we’d like to kick it off with a collection of our most popular learning resources this school year. As always, these high quality resources are free to use, share and customize, so you definitely should take a look at! Counting down from number 10…

10) Tuck Everlasting Novel Study

This resource provides an excellent 25 day unit on the tucknovel Tuck Everlasting. With an emphasis on questioning, particularly question-answer relationships, the novel study materials guide students to develop critical thinking skills. All materials like question cards, game instructions, graphic organizers, rubrics, templates for character development, vocabulary development, etc., are included in this thorough, comprehensive, highly usable resource.

Tuck Everlasting Novel Study

9) Curriki Geometry Teacher View

mathA Collection of various lesson plans including: Selling Geometry, Designing a Winner, What is your angle, Pythagoras?, TED Talk: House of the Future, The Art of Triangles, How random is my life?

All of the lesson plans provide detailed instructions on how to run the lesson making it a great resource for teachers and instructors.

Curriki Geometry Teacher View

8) Differentiating Between Different Types of Conflict Collection

Lange-MigrantMother02This lesson is part of a larger unit on the Great Depression. In this unit, students will be focusing on determining importance; summarizing; making predictions; recognizing plot structure; and identifying flashbacks, foreshadowing and setting. Wherever possible, mini-lesson texts relate to American life in the 1930s, and all students will be reading literature circle novels set during this time period in American history.

In today’s lesson, students will practice differentiating between different kinds of conflict.

Inside, you will find a detailed lesson plan, a student worksheet, two overhead transparencies for use with the lesson, and exit slips to asses student mastery of today’s objective.

This resource is part of the Great Depression Unit collection.

Differentiating Between Different Types of Conflict Collection

7) Word Search Games & Other Fun English Language Activities

This web site is for people studying English as a Second Language (ESL) or English as a Foreign Language (EFL). There are grammar2quizzes, word games, word puzzles, proverbs, slang expressions, anagrams, a random-sentence generator and other computer assisted language learning activities.

Word Search Games & Other Fun English Language Activities

6) Oracle Academy Java Using Alice

This workshop engages students with little or no aliceprogramming experience to learn basic Java programming concepts. Participants use Carnegie Mellon’s Alice* platform to do something fun – create animated stories, movies and games.

Getting Started with Java Using Alice

5) Teaching Fractions Collection

fractionsThis highly-rated collection of resources includes videos and lessons for teaching fractions.

Teaching Fractions Collection

4) Free High School Science Texts Collection

This 154-page document contains Earth Science course curriculum for grades 9 – 10. The collection has been prepared from resources contributed by teachers and partner educational organizations on Curriki, an online community for creating and sharing open source curricula.

Free High School Science Texts Collection

3) Rob Lucas Developing Biology

biologyThis collection contains a wide variety of activities, labs, slide shows and worksheets on the topics of Cells, Cellular Transport, DNA, Photosynthesis & Respiration, Mitosis & Meiosis, Genetics, Evolution, and Classification. Much of the material is suitable for both middle school and high school students, although some of the pieces (such as the Photosynthesis PowerPoint presentation) have complex material better suited for more advanced biology classes.

Rob Lucas Developing Biology

2) Khan Academy Science – Physics

This collection contains about 100 videos, physicscovering all topics in a complete high school or college course in Physics. Many of the videos demonstrate solutions to sample problems. This is excellent primary material for long distance learning, or rich supplementary material for any physics course.

Khan Academy Science – Physics

1) Rob Lucas Grammar Collection

grammarAlways in our top 10 resources, this grammar collection is an extremely rich resource offering a complete unit on teaching grammar in a fun way. The content is correct, thorough and appropriate. Inclusion of a version of Mad Libs and a collaborative group project/presentation offers as much creativity for teaching grammar as possible. A humorous poem in worksheet form makes the lesson engaging and interesting. A scoring guide for the presentation makes the unit meaningful and understandable to students. The unit uses many various strategies to enhance the content.

Rob Lucas Grammar Collection

If you have a favorite Curriki resouce, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you

 

 

 

 

 

10 Time-Saving (and Free) Math Worksheets for Grades 6-8

wroksheet multiplying-decimals-worksheet-horizontal

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

As teachers, we never have enough time for everything we need to accomplish in janetpic_preferred_croppeda day, whether it be lesson planning or grading. Here’s a secret you can share with other teachers: Curriki offers more than 59,000 free, high quality resources that you can download, customize and share.

Why not take a short cut and try out a few of these classroom-tested math worksheets? Here are just a few of the many worksheets available for middle school math students.

(Similarly, you can use the Curriki Advanced Search feature to find games, videos, webquests, lesson plans and much more on any subject and any grade level.)

If you know a math teacher (or interested parent or student), please share this with them!

  1. Solve the questions about Probability Problems in this worksheet.
  2. Math worksheet on Supplementary Angles.
  3. Exponents Worksheet Generator – customizable and printable! math
  4. Multiplying Decimals Worksheet – customizable and printable!
  5. Pythagorean Theorem discovery worksheet.
  6. Worksheet on Factoring Quadratic equations and difference of squares.
  7. Use this worksheet for practice with Volume Formulas.
  8. This Characteristics of Quadratics worksheet gives practice problems for finding the vertex and the y-intercept of a quadratic function.
  9. Worksheet: Converting Fractions to Decimals to Percents help students remember how to convert a fraction into a decimal and then into a percent.
  10. Calculator Lesson Homework Worksheet. math-80x80

Increasing Student Engagement in the History Classroom

history

By Curriki Guest Blogger Amy Scheuer

Amy Scheuer, Social Studies Content Curator, Curriki

Amy Scheuer, Social Studies Content Curator, Curriki

Teachers are often faced with the challenge of making teaching and learning history more engaging. Here are some techniques to increase engagement in the history classroom, paired with resource suggestions from a newly curated American History collection on Curriki that is comprised of materials spanning from colonial America to the modern era!

1. Treat history as the opportunity to tell a greater story and convey a narrative, rather than the relaying of disjointed names, dates, and events. The use of media can be a great mechanism for accomplishing this goal, and the CrashCourse video collection provides an entertaining and educational method of exploring major topics in history. The videos sequentially focus on issues, events, or developments, considering causes, effects, and key players in relation to the greater American History narrative.

2. Allow students to become a part of the historical narrative by carrying out simulations, role-playing activities, and enacting historically accurate discussions or debates. The EDSITEment collection includes extremely detailed American History lessons, ranging from the colonial period to modern America.   Every lesson has a unique makeup, possibly including activities, primary source analysis, simulations, and discussion/debate topics, providing endless opportunities for students to jump into an historical time period for in depth exploration.

3. Utilize art and imagery to appeal to visual learners in your classroom and provide students with a snapshot of the past. The National Archives provides an excellent place for teachers to search for primary sources. Teachers can access thousands of images, photos, speeches, letters, and other primary sources, and can then build interactive activities while learning how to best utilize historical documents in the classroom!

4. Incorporate music to help students understand the cultural context of a certain time period. Throughout history, many musicians have composed songs that reflect conflicts, changing attitudes, or cultural developments around the world, and students can engage in historical analysis by listening to these songs and interpreting the lyrics. This comprehensive list of songs at Curriki can be used as a great guide for incorporating music into the classroom.

5. Differentiate instruction between teacher-facing, student-facing, group, and individual activities. The Digital History collection is a gold mine for teachers, as it allows one to search by era, topic, resource, or reference, with the ability to make use of the full textbook, online exhibitions, learning modules, and primary sources. Digital History is a great tool to aid teachers in planning creative lessons such as jigsaws, problem-based learning projects, webquests, visual or audio activities, or engaging lectures.

6. Leave ample time in the curriculum to delve into modern topics, allowing students to contemplate the varying and continually changing perspectives surrounding political, economic, religious, and cultural trends and occurrences of the era. This content is often particularly relevant and interesting to students, and can be a great opportunity for oral history or experiential projects, as students are able to ask parents, grandparents, and community members about their experiences living through a particular event or time period. The United States History: 1945 – Present curriculum guide provides a great outline of important topics of the last half-century in American History, and is segmented into units by decade, each with sample lessons.

For more lessons and supplemental materials be sure to visit Curriki and explore an entire collection of 11 American History units here!

Amy is a graduate of Vanderbilt’s Peabody School of Education and taught History and Psychology at the high school level before joining up with Curriki to promote educational access at the global level.

 

Computers or Cursive? – What would You do?

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

In 2012 I wrote this:janetpic_preferred_cropped

“Cursive versus typing?  

Is cursive writing part of a 21st century skill set? With touch screens, cell phones and tablets, the future of cursive writing seems uncertain. So we used the polling game Wayin to ask our community:  “Should schools still teach cursive writing?” The votes were overwhelmingly in favor of continuing cursive, yet the opponents were much more vocal. While not a statistically valid poll, 83 percent said “Yes,” we should continue with cursive, while 17 percent answered “No.” “

Yes, cursive writing is “warm”, yet, many of those of us who are a bit older know that we can’t even ourselves read much of our own cursive writing. Pity the person we write to! To communicate warmth we now have other technology, like this :-) .

cursive

And in 2013, I wrote this:

“An article in Mashable asks the question: Has technology killed cursive writing? Is penmanship still important in an age where we can efficeintly tap everything out on a keyboard? According to the article, the nation’s Common Core State Standards took out the requirement for cursive instruction in K through 12 schools. However, it’s up to each individual state to decide whether cursive is important enough to teach its own students. Recently, North Carolina legislators approved a bill to require its students to learn cursive in elementary school, the Winston-Salem Journal reported. North Carolina joins states like California, Massachusetts and Georgia, which have already added a cursive writing requirement.”

But what if we reframe the question. Life, and school days, require tradeoffs. Suppose we pose it as:

Should the time that would otherwise be spent on learning cursive handwriting, be spent instead on an introduction to the underlying technology of computers and how to program them?

Cursive handwriting was originally in the curriculum to prepare students for a world that had no typewriters, and later, had typewriters, but no computers, or mobile devices. Today, the vast majority of students in the world have access to these. The value of touch typing on a computer is  much greater than the value of good cursive handwriting today.

We may bemoan the loss of horses and buggies as a dominant form of transportation, but the world changes around us whether we are ready or not. Most of the people at the time of that transition were glad to be free of the horse’s waste products on city streets.

IH_Img26.png6Image from code.org

There is so much practical value in learning how to use computers and mobile devices – and in using computers and mobile devices for learning – that a modern life is almost unthinkable for most people without these tools. Learning to program a computer or device is a skill in very high demand, and should continue to be, into the foreseeable future.

According to this article at Business2community, jobs in Information Technology (IT) are growing at twice the national average rate of job growth. But very few students study computer science, even at the college and university level. Only 2% of STEM (Science, TEchnology and Mathematics) students get degrees in computer science.

But a full  60% of the available STEM jobs are in the IT field! By 2020 the gap will have grown to over 3 jobs per graduating computer science nerd (we use the nerd word with a positive connotation). These are well paid jobs with higher than average salaries.

So it would be very valuable for students, and for society, to provide them with exposure to the inner workings of computers, including programming, during the K-12 years.

That’s the tradeoff. Don’t say both, you have to choose. If posed as handwriting or computer technology/programming, which one should be more prominent in K-12 education?

We’d love to hear your thoughts, please comment.

Do I HAVE to Read a Book?

A young boy sits sad and lonely

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Why aren’t kids reading more today? Are they too busy with their electronic gadgets and games? National Reading Day (Friday, January 23) is an annual event which encourages reading by younger children and is celebrated in thousands of schools all around the United States.

Brenda St. John Brown, author of Swimming to Tokyo,  writes engaging stories that she hopes will inspire young adults to read! She recently wrote a great post with some practical tips and advice on getting reluctant readers to read. Definitely worth checking out!

Here are some ideas to encourage reading (we’ve included books for all age groups here):

  • Great book suggestions for all ages, interests, and genders from StorySnoops
StorySnoops allows you to search by age, gender and interests.

StorySnoops allows you to search by age, gender and interests.

Good Reads 2015

Good Reads 2015

So many books, so little time! If you have a book suggestion, please share it with our community.

Curriki’s Most Popular Teaching Resources in 2014

favorites

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki janetpic_preferred_cropped

Here is a list of the most popular Curriki resources and collections in 2014. A few of these keep popping up on our top lists (timeless appeal), so it’s worth a quick read. (If you do, your job will be much easier and you’ll save hours on prep and research!)

Drum roll, please…

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Most downloaded resource in 2014: The Art of Triangles TE and SE from Curriki Geometry

Most Popular collection: English 10 Full Course Contributed by Sarah Lornston

Hottest eTextbook: Mathematics etextbook by Free High School Science Texts

 

Top STEM Resources

Top STEM resource: Math Simulations Collection

Best Science Video Collection: AP Chemistry Video Collection

Top Computer Science Resource: Oracle Academy’s Getting Started with Java Using Alice

Special Collection Selection: One Million Lights Solar Energy Curriculum- High School

Most Interactive Resources for AHA Moments: The Concord Consortium Interactives

Top Science Resource: Open Source CA Textbook – Earth Science Grades 9-10

Top Mathematics Resource: Curriki Geometry Project Based Learning

 

Top English Language Arts and Social Sciences Resources

Top Social Studies Resource: High School American History Curated Collections

Top English Language Arts Game: Word Search Games and other Fun English Language Activities

Top Literature Study Unit: Tuck Everlasting Novel Study contributed by Holly Mercado and consistently ranked in our Top 10 resources!

 

TOP Health, Art and World Languages Resources

Top Health Resource: Fitness for Life contributed by Kathy Furka

Top Art resource: New Media for Social Commentary contributed by Adam Kenner

Top World Languages Resource: Spanish Verbs with Spelling Changes Worksheet

Bonus

Newest Collection: Our Lives, Our Words: Improving Student Writing through Digital Photography – First Grade Projects

This is a handy list that everyone can benefit from – teachers, students, parents, educators, or anyone who’s interested in learning. Please pass this on to your friends and colleagues.  Thank you!