State Testing

starhead

As many of you know, State Testing is a very busy and stressful time for many teachers, parents, administration, and students!  My school district is about one week away from the beginning of our testing window, but I know many of you are already testing – Good Luck!  Throughout the entire school year we have been preparing our kids for these few days of testing, and it will “show what our kids know!”  I agree and disagree with that statement.  I do believe testing is important and beneficial to students and teachers, but it shouldn’t be the “end all – be all!”  I know during this week ahead, I will be spiral reviewing almost everything we have learned/taught this year and the students will try to refresh their memories or hopefully some will get that “light bulb moment” as we review key concepts.  I try to be as positive as I can be and encourage them along the way.  In the past couple years I have incorporated a couple songs and videos to get them motivated to do the best on the test.  Here are a couple things I have done with my class/school, please feel free to show and share with your friends and students!

CST Song & Video

Our school also uses an instrumental version of Taio Cruz’s song “Dynamite” and I have created new lyrics for our state test to encourage the kids to do their best on the test!

Here are the lyrics – Dynamite – CST Lyrics

It’s time to rock the test and show what we know!!  Good luck everyone!  I would love to hear about how you get your students ready for state testing or any motivational tactics you use.  I look forward to your comments!

When Did “Fail” Become a Four-Letter Word?

This is my opinion and a little stray from my normal technology blogs!  You may disagree, but I think most teachers will agree!  I wish more parents of students would read this and think about it!  Here we go…

I think most of my teacher friends and parents out there have seen our education system change a bunch since we were a student in the classroom.  We didn’t have all this technology at our figure tips and the world wasn’t so ever-changing or fast!

When I ask my students to “try” something new, they say “But, I have never done this before!  What if I get it wrong?” or they are “Scared” to even try it because they may fail or do it wrong.  This is what our education system has created lately – a student who must have multiple choices (A, B, C, or D)!  If an open-ended question or scenario is given with little details, they are stumped or tell themselves “This is too hard!”  Many won’t even try – unless they are bribed or rewarded with something.  Whatever happened to getting the right answer(s) or working hard or learning from your failures?  We have really thwarted creativity and critical thinking skills…and we wonder why our country is falling behind other countries in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) areas.  In my opinion, this is one of the main reasons why other cultures and countries have passed us by.

Also, I feel that some students learn at an early age that “Failing” is bad.  I am not really talking about their report card, but more about learning from your failures.  We need to change this is our classrooms and teach our students or children that:

85622265231335724423

Failing is the First Attempt In Learning! 

I try to tell my students about Thomas Edison – the inventor of the light bulb.  I ask them what he did and a few students say he was an inventor of the light bulb, and I ask them if he got it right the first time?  The majority of my students know he didn’t, and then I ask how many times he did his experiment (great Scientific Method introduction)?  I will get the answers 10, 100, 500, etc.  Do you know the answer?

He failed about 111,000+ times before he got it right!!!  How many of us would keep trying like that and learn the power of perseverance?  I know I wouldn’t have went that far, but I know that I can use the power of technology, experts, friends, etc. to help me learn anything.  We need to teach our students and kids how to fail and steer them in the right direction – knowing how and where to find the answer is the key!  I think that was my “real life” lesson I took from college, along with starting something and finishing it.

I really hope parents and teachers let their kids know that we learn from our failures.  We can’t tell our kids, “No that’s wrong!” or “Let me do that for you.”  If we continue enabling them, they will never be able to think for themselves and expect to have everything laid out for them – life isn’t always an A, B, C, or D test, sometimes “Life Happens” and we need to adapt and learn on our own.

Let me step of my soapbox…

I have wanted to type this for a while, but I just hadn’t felt the need to until my wife showed me the image above about what “Fail” really means!  Thanks wife!

Gamestar Mechanic

title

Gamestar Mechanic is simply a site for students to play, design, and share games.

This site is mainly geared toward 4th – 9th grade, but can be used for younger and older students!  You can register and start your students playing and designing their own games for FREE – or upgrade for $2 a student to full version.  My plan is to use this as an after school club or activity.  I registered and signed up tonight – Then, I started playing the games and was hooked!

The concept of this site is pretty simple – students will learn how to design and create video games.  Designing games builds:

  • Systems Thinking,
  • 21st Century Skills,
  • Creative Problem Solving,
  • Art and Aesthetics,
  • Writing and Storytelling,
  • and creates a motivation for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) learning.

This is from the “Getting Started with Gamestar Mechanic” PDF –

What Skills are Learned in Gamestar Mechanic?

Systems-Thinking: Students design and analyze dynamic systems, a characteristic activity in both the media and in science today.

Interdisciplinary Thinking: Students solve problems that require them to seek out and synthesize knowledge from different domains.They become intelligent and resourceful as they learn how to find and use information in meaningful ways.

User-Centered Design: Students act as socio-technical engineers, thinking about how people interact with systems and how systems shape both competitive and collaborative social interaction.-

Specialist Language: Students learn to use complex technical linguistic and symbolic elements from a variety of domains, at a variety of different levels, for a variety of different purposes.

Meta-Level Reflection: Students learn to explicate and defend their ideas, describe issues and interactions at a meta-level, create and test hypotheses, and reflect on the impact of their solutions on others.

Check out this very cool and fun way to have students learn the basics of video game design and computer programming – I mean what student doesn’t like or play video games?

Mr. Ross – “No Bullying” Railway Elementary 2012-2013

Video

Thanks to St. Brigid Catholic School in Ottawa, Canada for inspiring us to make this video!

Anti-Bullying song based on Psy’s “Gangnam Style”

My class made this video over the span of the week, mostly during recess and lunch. As you can see, they really enjoyed it! My kids love making videos.

K12 Reader

K12 Reader

K12 – Reader

Reading Instruction Resources for Teachers and Parents

This isn’t really a web tool, but more of a FREE resource for English – Language Arts supplementals.  We can never have enough materials to use for homework, classwork, independent practice, tutoring, enrichment, etc.

This site is divided into a few sections:

  • Reading Instruction
  • Spelling
  • Sight Words
  • Grammar
  • Phonics
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Teaching Tools
  • Writing Prompts
  • Themed Worksheets
  • Graphic Helpers
  • Games and Activities
  • Book Lists

I am so happy to have stumbled onto this page last week.  Enjoy this new resource and let me know what you think of it!  Feel free to share this with your friends and parents.

Oswego City School District – Interactive Web Games

Print

This week’s Web Tool is Oswego City School District (New York) Interactive Web Games.  They have a bunch of Math Web Tools and Games to work on basic skills and more.  Here are a list of games/skills on there:

  • Addition and Subtraction of Smaller Numbers
  • Addition and Subtraction of Larger Numbers
  • Degrees of an Angle
  • Telling Time
  • Plotting Cordinates
  • Estimation
  • Number Sense
  • Fractions
  • Even/Odd Numbers
  • Basic Facts Practice
  • Percentages
  • Mathematical Reasoning
  • Sequence
  • Skip Counting

Another section there is the area to create/design your own games.  You can use the templates for any subject area.  This is great to generate reviews or have your students create their own interactive reviews.

The games were created by Mark Cogan and Primarygames.co.uk or Interactive Resources.