Charlotte's Web ThingLink

Friday, February 17, 2017

Touch Typing, an Important Life and Test-Taking Skill

Earlier this year, USD purchased Typing Agent for all 2nd through 6th grade students to encourage good keyboarding habits and to build keyboarding skills. With SBAC testing on the horizon, this might be a good time to think about incorporating it into your weekly routine.
Here is a quick-start guide to getting Typing Agent up and running in your class. With your class automatically populated into your class, and your students signing in through your school’s Symbaloo page, it is easy to get started.

Remember, technique is the most important thing for students to learn when beginning to type. Students should sit straight with their feet on the ground. Teach students to use the raised nub on the f and j to position their curved fingers correctly on the home row. Then, give them the opportunity to practice.  For best results, students should practice 2-4x/week for 15 minutes each session.

While typing is important, keep in mind there are other skills your students will need for the SBAC as well.

Make sure your students know how to:
  • copy and paste
  • highlight
  • underline
  • center
  • tab
  • drag and drop
  • strikethrough
And, where the punctuation marks are.

Using poetry might be a good way to incorporate some of these skills along with fonts and other text features.
Teaching keyboarding is not only a test-taking skill, but a life skill. We are happy to help you and your class get started with Typing Agent. Please let either your site tech, Gena, or Mary Fran know if you would like help.

While practicing SBAC, take time to explore these skills, also critical in some SBAC tasks:
  • draw tools (i.e., line graph, plotting, drawing connecting lines between answers)
  • embedded tools (protractor, ruler)
  • digital notepad/scratch paper

Perri Sweet, teacher at Dartmouth, reports that she has, "...had success using these (computer keyboard covers) while we work on keyboarding. This year we cut them to be a little lower so kids could see screens better) to block their view of keys. At first, they balked and peeked and complained. Now, they're pros. If kids were trained to not look at keyboard early on, it would be so much easier for them to improve speed later on. "

Typing is not only an important test-taking skill, it is a life-skill. For help getting started, contact your site tech, Gena, or Mary Fran. We are all here and happy to help.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Engaged Classroom with Rap by guest blogger, Nupur Sethi

Teachers and students have jumped into using Flocabulary since it was rolled out just a few weeks ago. In Nupur Sethi’s 5th grade class at Lietz, students have embraced creating their own raps. Nupur wrote her own rap to share the excitement in her class.

Engaged Classroom Rap

A subject full of facts and a story from the WAY past
Can Social Studies lesson be fun? I asked

They say you find what you seek
I knew that there was more engaging way to teach
When I heard about Flocabulary I couldn’t wait to peek!

Creating something that does not exist
Something that is unseen
Flocabulary helped my students create
That transformed my boring lesson routine!

Have you wondered  what gives us the most satisfaction
An opportunity to create and use our imagination
Kids read the historical facts, use the given key terms to create a rhyme
The artist  in each student was ready to shine
It was fun, relevant and engaging
The problem was how to disengage
As kids craved for more time!

A learning portal full of  facts and cultivating imagination
Flocabulary helped my student feel accomplished of their OWN creation
I can tell my Colonial America lesson will go down history!
by Nupur Sethi

Creating this rap was fun, but the real fun for me is in watching the excitement of my students as they create and perform the raps they’ve created. Here is an example of one of my students performing his Flocabulary- Rap Song.

Bringing this kind of engagement to your class is as easy as it can be!
  1. Teachers, to get started click here to sign in with Google
  2. Once you have signed in, you can create multiple classes under My Classes. For example,  I decided to use Flocabulary for my reading group and homeroom.
  3. Paste this link and the Flocabulary class code in your Google Classroom for your students to join your class Students will enter the class code and select - New to Flocabulary. They will sign in with their  Google ID and that’s it!

Students only need one Flocabulary account, but they can still be in multiple classes. Next time they go to Flocabulary, they can sign in from your school’s Symbaloo page, and click the symbol.
Creating an assignment is as easy as creating your class. Type in the search field what lesson you are looking. For example, I looked for Colonial America lesson. A fun rap video teaches kids about the topic.  

With every lesson, you may choose what you want to assign to your class. In addition, you also get handouts/graphic organizers, lesson plans in pdf form for you to print. The BEST part is- it scores all the student  work for you! You can get a summary of how your class has done, it gives the result in percent
(individually, too).

My students’ favorite Flocabulary feature is Lyric Lab - You can use this as a ‘Finale Presentation’ or like a musical exit ticket :-)  Kids use their Chromebook to type their lyrics in the Lyric Lab section. I would recommend they type it in the Google Doc first to save it. Students are given a certain number of Key vocabulary Terms to use in their rap. When the rap is written, your student can cut and paste it into the Your Rhyme section of  Lyric Lab.  They can choose a variety of Beats to play in the background which is just a drop down play button. Students sing the rap while the background beat is playing. No additional resources needed! Just their Chromebook, Flocabulary, and their imagination!

Flocabulary is the most simple to use, fun, engaging, and

efficient teaching resource to teach a variety of subjects- Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, Vocabulary, Life Skills, Current Events, Math ( K-12). I hope you give it a try soon!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Sketchnoting in 4 Simple Steps

From The Doodle Revolution, Chapter 1
Sketchnoting, or visual note taking, is a hot trend in education right now! Do a Twitter search for #sketchnote and you'll find people around the world proudly sharing their creations. The thing I love about it is that there is no wrong way to sketchnote. As I work with more and more students, introducing this new kind of note taking, I'm finding that even the ones that don't rate themselves as good artists, still find something fun and interesting about the process.

Sunni Brown, author of The Doodle Revolution, redefines doodle as "spontaneous marks to help yourself think." In her book she writes about how doodling accommodates every learning style and has the ability to transform our thinking. Visual language is native to all of us. If we provide students with opportunities to practice with fluency, we're honing a skill that promotes creativity, problem solving and innovation.

In less than a year of sketchnoting I definitely don't call myself an artist. Nonetheless, as my visual library continues to grow, when I listen to speakers, I focus more intently and find myself making quicker connections in understanding the bigger, sketchnote-worthy ideas.

If you want to sketchnote with your students, I like to follow the advice of Doug Neill, from the Verbal to Visual YouTube channel: How to Structure a Sketchnoting Practice Session.

  1. Warm-up: Give students at least 2 minutes of stress free doodling. They should only draw or scribble anything that they would consider simple or easy, like shapes, lines, stick figures, or images that they have drawn before. 
  2.  Practice: Lead students in a practice drawing session. I recommend having students fold their paper in 4 while guiding them in practicing fonts, icons, emotions, and people. Another option would be to give students 10-15 minutes to explore drawing videos, or books (like those Ed Emberley books I collected when I was a kid!) 
  3. Apply: With the brain already in a creative mode, they are now ready to apply their skills to a reading, video, podcast, or lecture. If you want to start simple, have them read a passage, then select and sketch an important quote. You will be amazed by the synthesis of ideas drawn on each page. 
  4. Reflect: Have students share their work and reflect on the process. 
*Here's a great tip: If students are using paper and you are looking for a way to digitize their sketchnotes, try using Seesaw to have them take a picture of their work. The magic happens when you ask them to explain and record their thinking. 

You can find my Sketchnoting with Students presentation at: Feel free to modify and use the slides in any way! Happy Sketchnoting!