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Monday, November 27, 2017

Life or Debt: Holiday Shopping Update

Awhile back, I shared a post about my Life or Debt unit.  As we approach the holiday season I wanted to share a little update. Last week my students had to "go shopping" for all the fixings for a traditional Thanksgiving meal.  Today, I surprised them with a little Black Friday and Cyber Monday Holiday Shopping. I used the same app that I mentioned previously to create a list of items that people are purchasing this year with the actual costs during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  In class, the students rolled a die to determine how much shopping they would do. The number on the die correlated to the number of times that they had to tap the button on my app and buy something.

The room was buzzing immediately! Students were groaning, exclaiming, consoling each other, and generally had great difficulty containing themselves.  Further accentuating the event, last week was a short "work week" and student pay day today was only averaging $40. As if that wasn't enough, their mortgages were due today!  You can probably imagine that a number of students are in debt following this lesson.

Two basic scenarios played out. First, some students (very few) actually managed to stay debt free.  Most students were forced to borrow from their "$1000 line of credit at the bank".  The others have maxed out their bank credit and now have even more debt on a revolving credit card with an APR of 21%.

There are plenty of things about the game that are just my complete random selections but the idea behind it remains to teach the students how to balance a bank register and feel the impact of both choices we make in life along with things that are completely out of our control. The idea being that this simulation will make the students think twice when the time comes to decide how to spend their paycheck.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Tech Solution: Edpuzzle in the Spotlight

I would like to welcome my colleague Emily Hine as a guest blogger. Emily is a 5th grade teacher at New Century International Elementary School.  I have asked her to share her experience flipping the classroom using Edpuzzle.  Neither of us receives any compensation for endorsing Edpuzzle.  This post is representative of her personal experience.

Looking for a way to incorporate videos into your classroom, and still hold students accountable?  Forgot to print the paper that goes with the video?  No problem, Edpuzzle is an awesome tool if you want to flip the classroom and still hold students accountable.  Edpuzzle  allows you pull videos from other people or include your own videos.  If you are looking into flipping the classroom and want to spend most of your time in small group, or even differentiate your learning with different videos, Edpuzzle  allows you to spend more time in small group then giving a lecture.

Now, if your anything like me, you are not always satisfied with videos from Youtube, so you create your own.  Yes, this does take time, however I was able to video tape myself teaching the lesson on the document camera.  This allowed me to pick exactly the material I wanted to use for the lessons, which way I wanted to teach it, and then students were able to follow along.  One of the best things about Edpuzzle  was that it was all digital.  Remember back in the day, when we use to watch a video and had to do the worksheet that went along with the video, while the teacher graded or caught up on work.  How many of you only paid attention to find the answers, couldn't record them fast enough, or copied off the person next to you because the sheet was due or you were not paying attention.  Edpuzzle , eliminates the worksheet, the video stops where you want to ask a question, and students are prompted to record/respond with their answers into Edpuzzle 

Wow!  If they had this 20 years ago! Even better, the teacher doesn't have to look over every sheet to see if students have the right answers because Edpuzzle  will help you check the answers if it is multiple choice, or allow you to grade all of the open ended responses.  As a teacher, you could easily check who completed which videos, what questions they answered in wrong. There are options for both open ended and multiple choice.

How do I incorporate it, so that I can flip my classroom?  Good question! So many people are talking about flipping the classroom, but what does that look like?  While the district wanted us to add digital into our classrooms, I taught myself how to flip it and do nothing but small group teaching.  My students have a checklist they have to complete by Friday.  The checklist includes small group with me for an hour each week, an Edpuzzle  lesson where they are introduced to new topics, and then they could have any of the following: Ten Marks, independent practice, global scavenger hunt, task cards, Standard Mastery Assessments, games, etc...  This way I am making sure that in small group I am reviewing the previous standard with them, catching little hiccups/ trouble shooting along the way, so the learning gaps are closing by getting so much time with the teacher.  

Skeptical?  I had a variety of different students that really understood math, but when the final test came, even my struggling students blew the test out of the water.  This was my first year, truly flipping the classroom, and the results were worth it.  

Do you have a student that misses class all of the time, and they are so far behind?  This way they can do the lesson at home and they can still get all of the curriculum.  Have students that are more advanced? Pull videos on the next grade level content and allow them to work through lessons at a faster pace.  You can individualize the learning by assigning videos to certain students, or you can assign them to your entire class.  If you teach multiple different classes, you can assign videos to the class that it belongs with.  Going to be absent, or go to a conference?  I have video taped my lesson and the students did not miss any instruction while I was away.  

If you don't have the time to video tape lessons, no worry.  You can pull videos from Youtube, or even  Edpuzzle  that already have the questions embedded into them, so all you have to do is assign it.  Even with my compulsive need to do everything, I did pull some Bill Nye videos as part of their science centers, so that I could pull small group and do remediation.  

-- Emily Hine, 5th grade teacher

Do you use Edpuzzle?  We'd love to hear about your experiences. Have another tool you like to use for flipping your classroom? Please do share! Leave a note in the comments below.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Writing is my Jam

Calling all creative writers!  Summertime is a great time for getting your jam on.  How about an online summer writing camp to get your creative juices going?  I'm tapping into Boomwriter this summer to offer a fun alternative to traditional summer camps.  So many times families have to choose between sending kids to summer camp or traveling together.  Well, with an online camp you can do both!

I'm looking for 10 -15 students who have just completed 3rd-5th grade to work together on a creative writing project.  I will provide the storystarter and everyone will write their own version of the next chapter.  I will provide guidance, feedback, and suggestions for revision.  Students will revise and then they will read each other's chapters.  Everyone will vote on their favorite version and the next day they will all pick up where that writer left off to start the process again.  By the end of the week, we will have a completed story which will be published and shipped to each young author.

This is a brand new type of summer camp for me and I am thrilled to be able to take advantage of technology in this way to work with budding authors across the globe.

If you are interested in learning more or you are ready to register a student for camp, just follow the link to the Writing is my Jam summer camp registration.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Life or Debt

Finally, it is here!  Some of my colleagues have been after me to write up the details of a simulation that I created last year for teaching financial literacy.  Well, now that I have successfully defended my dissertation (yes - I am now Dr. Kaiser 😎), I finally had time to sit down and put it all together.

I will give you a brief overview and then you can go grab the PDF from my website.

The challenge is for students to end the school year "debt-free".  

As the teacher, you are going to make this a difficult task - just like IRL (in real life).

There are 2 main costs for starting up this simulation.
1. Journals for every student.  These can be composition notebooks, spirals, 3 ring binders, or just some paper in a folder.  

2. Purchase the pro version of the Random Name Selector app.  
Note: I do not receive anything for promoting this app.  Other apps may work but this is the one I used and I thought it was well worth the upgrade fee.

I like to start the simulation during the first week of school.  I try to choose certain days of the week and stick to it.  For example: Friday is pay day.  Monday is a life event.  The 3rd Friday of the month is when mortgage and transportation costs are due.  In the pictures you can see students tracking their income and expenses.

If you are interested in learning more and want to download this FREE unit, all you have to do is head over to my website.  Scroll down the page and locate the "Life or Debt" simulation.  If you decide to give it a try, I would really love some feedback.  

Do you have questions you want answered? Please feel free to ask them in the comments.

Looking for more implementation tips after download the unit?  Feel free to contact me directly using the contact form on my website.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday Math Meet-ups

Have your students taken a benchmark test recently?  Do you have a limited time to review the questions with them before turning in the "secure test materials"? Would you like a different way to review that involves the students as leaders and lets you, "the teacher",  take a backseat? I've got just the thing... Math Meet-ups.  The idea isn't new. It's really the same as stations, centers, rotations, task cards, etc.  The big difference is that a student is in charge of each question and does the models their solution for their peers.
WARNING: This took A LOT more preparation than I originally anticipated. BUT... it was really worth it.

First, I created a short video, in Adobe Spark, that all 5 teachers played for the students in order to explain the process. Second, I created a Powerpoint slideshow with timings to manage the rotations from question to question. (3 minutes per question and 30 second transitions).
Step 3 involved assigning the student leaders to a question that they had correct on the assessment.
Step 4 required assigning each student to the questions that they missed in an order that ensured no more than 5 students were assigned to any one question at a time.  This was by far the trickiest part of the planning!
Step 5 was the creation of a record keeping sheet personalized for each student to write down the notes as each question was modeled.

None of what we did was very fancy.  We put up some posters on the classroom doors so that students would know which questions were being modeled in which rooms.  Each student leader had the question number displayed for students to know where to go, as well.  Student leaders used a dry erase board and shared their strategies. The other students asked questions and reviewed their own work to see where they went wrong.

At first, things were chaotic. After a couple of rotations, the students knew what they were doing and everything was smooth sailing after that.
Once we finished, the teachers each debriefed in their classrooms and the students overwhelmingly agreed that they preferred the Monday Math Meet-up to a traditional teacher led review.  They also gave us helpful feedback to improve for next time. For example the transition time should probably be a little longer to give students who are switching classrooms time to get to their next question.

All in all, this strategy worked out pretty well and we will probably try it again in the future.