Showing posts from January, 2018

Planning with the New California Framework

I love our history department and I love how committed my colleagues are to creating engaging lessons for our students. Recently, I've been working with my department on how best to approach the three massive documents California Social Science teachers are supposed to incorporate in their classrooms.  This slide deck reviews how I approach the new California Framework and the existing California State Standards.  What I have found most useful are these planning sheets ( Grade 8 , Grade 10 ) I use when working through what I've used in the past and comparing it to what the Framework asks teachers to now focus on.  I plan to create another deck with resources on how to mix the framework, content standards, and the CCSS Literacy Standards but for now feel free to check out this deck ! It works kind of like a Hyperdoc so feel free to click the links and engage in the activities.

Going "Gradeless": Planning for Second Semester

In summer, using reflective standards based grading was amazing . Students were engaged and learning, they felt confident about what they had learned and what they needed to learn next, and I felt like I had hit a high point in my teaching. The first step to effective reflections is ensuring students understand the goals they are working towards. Here are their learning goals for our unit on World War I.  Then I took that experience and tried to make it work for the regular school year. I thought about how the regular school year gave me more time so students could go into more depth and so there was a lot of time between reflections (in summer school students reflected every day.) This caused problems for me, it felt like every time we stopped to reflect I had to teach the process over again to more and more students. I realized that summer had been so successful because of the culture of reflection I had developed, I needed that culture to become a part of every day in my clas

Why I Use Technology In My Classroom

There are a lot of arguments to be made about pedagogy and edtech. We could have a long discussion about the SAMR model. We could talk about the many reasons why technology could never replace teachers. We could talk about how much time students already spend in front of screens. But today, I just want to talk about why it is so important to find ways to incorporate technology in our classrooms because if we really want students to be college and career ready we have to embrace the fact that their experience is one we cannot truly predict. My own experience with technology:  Yes, it is true that I barely remember life pre-personal computer in my home. In middle school,  I was able to recreate the sound of our dial-up internet perfectly. By high school, I thought I was the queen of the AIM Away Message. In college, I had a LiveJournal and my college actively campaigned to be added to this new social networking thing called "Facebook." But in school, I only took two cla

World History Lessons: Maps that Explain World War II

Today I want to share a lesson I made based on this Vox Article . I think maps in the history classroom are incredibly important tools for helping students understand the world. They can tell stories in unique and engaging ways and far too often map work if simply coloring, labeling, and memorizing. What I love about that Vox list, is that the maps tell stories that are much more rich and engaging than "here is where things are." I decided to make an introduction to World War II where students explore some of the maps from that article prior to diving into any of our World War II content. I took 14 of the maps from that article and created a Google Slides deck from them. I will either have students explore the maps on their devices using this link ( ) or print the maps and do a gallery walk. I created this worksheet to go along with it and plan to host a discussion with the class, reviewing their answers to the reflective questions when t

EdTech Tutorial: How to Use Adobe Spark Video

Recently I wrote about some of my favorite tech tools you can use in class to get students sharing what they've learned . By far my favorite for ease of use is Adobe Spark Video . While it does not have the most features and it is not the most complex video creator out there, it works incredibly well for creating videos in the classroom. Adobe Spark is fairly user friendly, below I have created a step by step tutorial for those who have never used it before. Scroll down even further and you can watch a completed adobe spark video. And here is what an Adobe Slide Video looks like in action using the same content as you see above! Adobe Spark is easy to use and even has an App for iPad and iPhone. I especially love that you don't have to download the video, students can turn in the shareable link making the process of grading and sharing the videos much easier overall.  Have you used Adobe Spark Video in class? What do your students use it for? Share in t

Book Review: Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding Jay McTighe & Grant Wiggins

I love the new C3 Framework from the NCSS . I think building a history class around 1. Developing questions and planning inquiries; 2 Applying disciplinary concepts and tools; 3 Evaluating sources and using evidence; and 4 Communicating conclusions and taking informed action is a fantastic way to make the learning real and engaging for students. Each step in the C3 Framework  provides meaningful opportunities for students that are applicable outside of the history classroom. What I am not a fan of is how California took the idea of questioning and inquiry and created questions for their framework that were anything BUT compelling or engaging. So when working with the new framework for California , I needed more help and guidance on how to develop questions for the inquiry process. Leave it to the awesomeness of Twitter to give me guidance: Have you looked at this book? It simplified the compelling question process for me. #casocstudies

One Little Word 2018: Engage

I decided to do One Little Word this year because I like the idea of setting a direction or intention that is simple and easy to remember. When thinking of what I wanted the word to encompass, I wanted it to be something that applied not only to my classroom and my professional development but also to my personal life. It didn't take long to come up with the word: Engage .  For my classroom: I want my class to be meaningful and engaging for students. I want the rigor to be compelling, intense, and interesting. I want students to never look at the time. I want students to leave my classroom excited to come back next time. I want learning to be fun, engaging, and rigorous. If I can focus on engaging my students, I will get closer and closer to these goals every day. For my own professional growth: I don't want to be passive in my growth as a teacher. I want to seek opportunities and see them through. I want to meet others and build my PLN by stepping out of my comfo