Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Making Thinking Visible: The Power of Voice

This past summer I had the privilege of sharing a three minute showcase with my Global ADE colleagues on Making Thinking Visible: The Power of Voice.  Here is a copy of that presentation.

Making Thinking Visible: The Power of Voice from Karen Lirenman on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Addition Task Cards

I have been busy creating more task cards, this time for addition. Please feel free to download any or all that are of interest to you.  You can find them here

The Hand Math Symbolic Level Blackline Master

Friday, September 5, 2014

Number and Number Set Task Cards

For the upcoming school year I have created some number task cards.  Most are open ended and can be modified to meet my students' individual needs.  My students have choice as to which job to do as long as they are working on our overall class learning intention at the time.  Of course some jobs are limited by equipment and so we find ways to make that work too.  I am also open to their ideas, and I utilize opportunities for real world math as often as I can.  If you would like to download some or all of these task cards you can find them here.

I included this page as well. I find different students like to choose different apps to add their voice to their work.  In my classroom this is really important as it helps make their thinking visible.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Nine Pattern Math Task Cards

Now that I've gotten the hang of creating activity task cards (a huge thank you to my good friend Kristen Wideen),  I've been working on a few that I hope to use with my grade one students this year.  Many of these tasks are not new for me, but the use of these task cards are.  If you think these will be of benefit for you and your students please feel free to download them.   You can find them all here .

Also these task cards can also be modified up for slightly older students but turning them into growing (or shrinking) patterns instead of repeating ones.

Keep checking back. I have created more pattern math task cards since this post was published.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Animal Research Task Cards

I have created some animal research task cards as part of my iTunes U course entitled  Animal Research in a Primary Classroom.  If you are interested in using them with your students feel free to download them here. If you are curious about the course, which is not yet searchable in the iTunes store,  contact me directly for more information.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

My Struggles with "Bump It Up Walls" and "Rubric" Assessment.

I'm a big advocate for personalized learning.  Huge actually which is why I am constantly looking for ways to put students in control of their learning.  When I talk about personalized learning  I don't just mean in the way my students learn but also in the way I assess my students learning.   Yes, they have required "skills" or "content" that they are expect to learn in the year that I have them but how I assess each student is personalized too.  This leads to two common assessment tools that I struggle with "bump it up walls" and "rubric" assessment.

I've had many conversations about "bump it up walls".  To be clear to me a "bump it up" wall is a collection of work samples that show forward progression. Take for example with grade one writing - the first sample may be a simple drawing, the second a drawing with some initial consonant sounds, the third the addition of  more words to accompany the drawing, the next  some sentences, followed by  more detailed sentences, paragraphs etc.  You get the idea - writing samples along a continuum that help a child see where they can go next with their writing.  It's a great way for children to identify where they are writing and where they can head to next. I get that and I love that about "bump it up" walls. Where I struggle with these walls is that I often wonder if they limit  student progress to the way that the wall demonstrates.  As much as we'd all like learning how to write to be a sequential skill is it really?  Does this sequential "bump it up" wall hinder the child from adding more detail, or building stronger character development, or adding voice to his or her writing?  While these items can be part of a "bump it up wall" where would they fit in?  Most things we learn at school are not linear in nature but by creating a "bump it up wall" we are making the learning linear. As much as they help some students are "bump it up" walls hindering others?

The other thing I struggle with is "rubric" assessment.  In fact they drive me crazy!  Now to be clear, I highly value the various criteria that are within a rubric but I struggle with the box format of one. Far too often when I am looking at students work it falls into more than one box.  What I much prefer is a specific list of criteria and I highlight each criterion individually, outside of the box.  If I need a four point rating scale then I rate each separate criterion on its own and so each student sees exactly where they are successful and where they need a bit more help. Like with bump it up walls students gain skills a different rates and it drives me crazy when we assume they will gain specific skills in a specific order. To me that's what the neat  box format rubric tries to show.

What common assessment tools are you struggling with?

Adventures in the Silicon Valley

In my last blog post I wrote a summary of what took place at the Google Teacher Academy (GTA) in Mountain View California.  While the main purpose of this trip to California was to attend GTA, I had an equally great time running around and connecting with many other tech companies in the Silicon Valley.

If you've read this blog for any period of time you know that I often go out of my way to meet people I've connected with on line in face to face opportunities.  That still stands true today.  So when I knew I would be heading to the Silicon Valley for GTA I knew I had to make appointments to meet some app developers in person.

I was fortunate to spend face to face time with the great people from Kodable, EdPuzzle, Duck Duck Moose, Tangible Play, Tynker, Play-i, Remind, and Motion Math.  What I loved best is that each company I met with valued my opinion as an educator and truly wanted to make their products better for teachers and students.  I loved the questions I was asked and the product samples I was shown.  I had no issues saying what was on my mind positive or not so positive because I strongly believe if I want products that will work well for MY students (and of course yours too), then I need to speak up.

For a couple of the companies I loved being a part of their app development process too.  In one instance I was being shown an app in development. I had a few questions and comments to add.  One of my comments sparked some interest and  I was immediately pulled into a brainstorming session  on their giant white board. What a total high! In fact my input directly changed a small part of the app. How cool is that!

I loved the spaces they all work in too.  It makes me believe even more strongly about having flexible learning spaces for my students. I saw a ton of team work as well which again holds well for the way my students learn.  I have no issue with them working together - isn't twenty five teachers better than one?

The one thing I did notice is that ed tech is a young person industry. In most, if not all of my visits , I was the oldest person in the room. Thankfully even though I am older than most in the ed tech industry my enthusiasm for learning and for life helped me at the very least be on par with their youthful energy.

If you aren't familiar with any of the above mentioned products and you're looking to learn a little bit more, please don't hesitate to ask.  They are all great people doing great things for students.

Now I need to figure out how I can get back there.  It was so great being involved.

Oh and if you're wondering I did visit the Apple campus too and even managed to bring home some souvenirs. :-)