Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Research Ideas for Evans' Classes

Feel free to watch the video above for ideas on how to do research.  If you have questions or need help, feel free to contact me at  Other than that, don't forget about these two webpages for important information on MLA papers:  here and here .

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

PD for $Free.99 in 5 minutes - Session 1

In the event you haven't discovered Google Forms yet, let me take this opportunity to provide some advice.  Please use it; I don't see any grade levels where this isn't applicable.  Basically, any questionnaire, survey, composition can be done digitally on any device.   What's the best part?  It can be used to consolidate your responses.  Want to survey students at the beginning of the year?  I'd do it this way and eliminate that massive stack of papers from your desk.  See the video for ideas and feel free to hit me up with questions.

If you can't view YouTube when you are accessing this, try clicking here.  Or if you have a Mustang PS login, click here.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Help reluctant readers with Flipboard

Students not enjoying reading is not a new thing.  This epidemic has been going on for quite some time.  From recent shifts in standards and conversations with students and teachers, I have noticed that students who may not like to read are typically tying that to fiction.  Whereas, when it is a shorter informational text, they are much more interested.

Flipboard is an app on Apple OS devices and the Android app store.  If your school has a bring your own device policy (BYOD) I think this is a great way to help reinstitute a love for reading with students.  Another selling point to students might be that it allows you to consolidate all of your social media accounts into one place (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram).  It places posts, regardless of the platform, into a more aesthetically pleasing view.  Let's be honest, we like pictures.  Below is a walkthrough guide providing some examples as to how you might teach students to use this app.
Search for content or organizations you know provide safe, reliable content for students to read.  Notice in the search bar I entered, "sports illustrated for kids".  While this is a magazine for students and it did provide a reliable result, it also provided unreliable results.  So this is just a word of caution to make sure you are encouraging proper digital citizenship.  Click here for a great post on Flipboard and some more ideas for reliable searches:  discover kids, nat geo kids, how stuff works, the why files, tween tribune, san diego zoo, wonderopolis, science friday, science news for kids, and 
After verifying the content is something they are interested in, students can then subscribe to the feed.  It will now be part of what they see every time they open the app.

Teachers also have the ability to build magazines for students.  Students can then access what the teachers cautiously selects.  This can be be used not only to help reluctant readers, but also with assignments.  You want them to read three pieces of informational text before working on an assignment?  Please those into a magazine and then tell them to search for key words.  Here is how:
Select a feed or blog you are already subscribed to.  You could also use the search bar to look for articles based on a specific search query.  
Basically, you build it catered to their needs and interests.  Afterward, give them key search terms you used when naming the magazine.  I used "Atchley" in a previous magazine I built so I entered that in the search bar and my magazine popped up.
This is an example of a magazine I built for a reluctant reader who might be a boy interested in sports.  It is centered around athletes and local interests.  

I hope this was useful.  There are dozens of other ways one can use this app.  I see a very strong application with reluctant readers.  If you try it I would appreciate some feedback!  


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Teaching Summarization

I'll start by saying none of these ideas are mine, I'm just a good thief.  I'm becoming increasingly aware that summarization is important and teachers need more resources.  I think a good idea to try before ever having a student summarize on their own, would be to teach it through group work.  For example, you might have students read a passage of informational text or chapter from a novel together.  After that, they would have conversations based on questions you provide that sequentially walks them through the passage or chapter.  After creating discussion (which targets the speaking and listening domain), students would then write a group summary of the selection.  I'd advise to always make the parameters loose before really holding them to strict standards.  For example, allowing them to write in fragments might help you get some decent student products.  Get them to write first, then teach them how to fix it.   Give them a number that tells them how many words need to be in the summary.  You might tell them you want a 17 word summary of the chapter or text.  Condense or expand that number based on the needs of your students.

After working on this strategy in groups, students can then do a similar activity in pairs before working alone.  Place chairs back-to-back so students can't see each other.  One student reads and one responds.  The student who read the text asks the student who is listening questions after each paragraph.  The student who read records what the other student says.  At the end, they work together to compose a summary that encompasses the entire text.

Other simple ideas are to give them an article without a headline.  Think about it - headlines are simple summaries of articles.  Let them write headlines.  Another excellent example of a summary are window quotes from articles.  When reading articles, I often read that first.  Click here for an example of the type of text I would use to teach this strategy.  Also, click here for my thoughts on how to pull informational text resources that pair with your lessons.  This would also help you when assessing.  In a very quick and simple way you would know if a student understood what he or she read.  You thoughts or strategies for teaching students to write summaries are welcomed and appreciated.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Appy Hour

I love iPads, phones, and other devices being used in the classroom.  For that reason, I have put together a list for students and teachers that I update as I find more apps I like.  While there are several others I like that aren't listed, you can find my go-to apps by clicking here.  Feel free to comment with other apps you use that could be productive for parents and teachers.

Twitter for educators, students, and professional development

Are you using Twitter?  I have become very interested in it over the past few months.  If you would like to follow me, check out @JonnyCurriculum.  That being said, while I do follow people back, I really use Twitter as a resource.  By following tags instead of people, I can mold Twitter to be an amazing resource catered to my specific needs.

When looking for educational tags to follow, you might start by checking here.  Jerry has compiled a very long list of tags to check out.  Another idea might be participating in Twitter chats.  These are an amazing way to connect with like-minded educators.  Even if you don't participate, you can still watch the chat when it is and isn't active.  See Jerry's chat schedule page here.

If you are using an iPhone, I have found the HootSuite app to be my favorite.  I have made a walkthrough for people to follow on how to get things set up.  You can access that here.  However, I find it best and most efficient to do all of this from my computer.  I like the TweetDeck app on my MacBook, but it can also be used through the Google Chrome web store.  Check out my walkthrough for that here.  

For some basic explanations of what Twitter really is, some of the terms, and more resources (like how it can be tied to Bloom's and how you can connect with other Oklahoma educators) check out my notes from a previous PD presentation here.

Informational text paired with your lessons

One of the areas of Common Core I see taking up teacher's time the most is finding informational text that pairs with what you are currently studying.  EBSCOhost provides a free and simple way to make this happen.  Please note that on the link that will be shared below, I have made two errors. One, the walkthrough goes in reverse order.  Two, instead of a normal search, make sure you are doing an advanced search.  When searching for resources, I typically like to add "Scholastic" in one of the boxes since they provide such wonderful resources for education, but this doesn't always work perfectly.  Using this resource will allow you to also target Lexile levels, ensuring the content is more appropriate for your students.  I hope this is helpful for you, let me know if you need anything.  See the walkthrough here.