Web Resources to Enhance Engagement - Critical Thinking Challenges

Critical thinking - Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources. Students will:
  • Identify and define authentic problems and significant questions for investigation.
  • Plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project.
  • Collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions.
  • Use multiple processes and diverse perspectives to explore alternative solutions.

A Google a Day - A Google A Day was an online puzzle game from Google which invites the player to solve a lateral thinking puzzle by using Google to find the answer. A new puzzle was added every day. The questions may be any of the following categories: Sport, Science, Pop Culture, History, Arts and Literature, or Geography.

Digital Breakout EDU
- Library of digital challenges and problem solving activities designed to engage students in content connected to the 4 Cs of collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity.

Google CS First 
- Students create computer science projects around different themes such as Sports, Art, and Fashion. Each theme contains 8 lessons of 60-90 minutes that can be tailored to fit your schedule.

Goose Chase
 - Blend together the tried-and-true fun of scavenger hunts with mobile technology and create a learning experience like no other.

TED-ED Riddles
 - Use engaging videos riddles to create customized lessons. You can use, tweak, or completely redo any lesson featured on TED-Ed, or create lessons from scratch.

How do you engage students in critical thinking? What resources do you use?

Awesome Updates to Pear Deck Add-on for Formative Assessment

Pear Deck recently announced a new update to their Google Slides Add-on. I've just begun to explore this but I wanted to share 3 quick sample self-paced lessons to demo the new options from a student perspective. The first 2 just use the unedited template slides from the Add-on, the third is an actual exit slip or reflection connected to the first two. We made these to demo all of the new slide templates, of course, a teacher would not need to use all of the slide templates in their own presentations at the same time like we did to model this. 

Take a look and let us know what you think? Feel free to share with your PLN if you think they might be interested, the more feedback the better?

  1. Pear Deck Sample 1 – Use to Start a Class or Lesson – Go to joinpd.com and use the code fdldh (Fragrant Drums Lift Determined Highlighters)
  2. Pear Deck Sample 2 – Use During a Class or Lesson - Go to joinpd.com and use the code baimg (Broke Avocados Inspect Misty Grapes)
  3. Pear Deck Sample 3 – Use to Start a Class or Lesson - Go to joinpd.com and use the code rjygi (Red Jacks Yield Green Incentives)

Collaborative Video HyperDocs

Why Use YouTube in the Classroom?
Teachers who use instructional video report that their students retain more information, understand concepts more rapidly and are more enthusiastic about what they are learning. With video as one component in a thoughtful lesson plan, students often make new connections between curriculum topics, and discover links between these topics and the world outside the classroom. - NTTI
When available, YouTube is an incredible learning resource for teachers and students. I use video in many of our AP Environmental Science Activites. When used well, I believe: 

  • Videos connect students to people and places outside of our classroom.
  • Videos help students connect concepts from our textbook. They often serve as great examples of key vocabulary in the real world. 
  • Videos make great hooks for lessons and activities. They are often great discussion starters. 
  • Videos can be inspirational and motivational for students and teachers. 
  • Videos support learner-centered activities. Students don't need to wait for me to tell them something. 
  • Videos can be used to support differentiated learning. Let students have some choice of which videos they will use to engage in the learning experience. 
  • Videos can lead to exploration of additional key concepts. Who hasn't fallen down the YouTube Rabbit Hole?

I frequently embed videos and video links in my HyperDocs, but recently I decided to do something a little different. I've created two HyperDocs that focus on students collaboratively exploring a set of videos connected to a particular theme. Students watch each video, discuss, and collaborate on a shared slide deck. 
We've only completed the Water Resources Activity, but I believe it was a positive experience for my students. While many of them initially wanted to divide and conquer, most felt it was a better experience when they each watched a video (small group or individually) and then discussed and recapped what they learned before moving to the next video. I am looking forward to engaging in the Sustainable Agriculture Activity next. 

Take a look and let me know what you think?

"Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can - there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did." Sarah Caldwell

2018 Book Recommendations for Innovative Educators

Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.” – Thomas Henry Huxley

The best educators are not content to do the same old thing year after year. Innovative educators push their thinking by engaging in social media, exploring blogs, attending conferences, and exploring the newest generation of educational books. These resources connect educators to the incredible books my PLN explores to learn and grow as educators. We will do our best to update these resources as new books are recommended.

We've created a site to organize and share some great books connected to teaching and learning. The site connects teachers to recommended books in the categories below. We placed each recommended book in 1 category, but we realize that many of the books stretch across multiple categories.

  • EdTech - Popular books connected to best practices in instructional technology.
  • G Suite - Popular books connected to Google for Education.
  • Innovation - Popular books exploring innovative teaching practices.
  • Inquiry - Popular books connected to inquiry in the classroom.
  • Leadership - Popular books connected to educational leadership.
  • Spaces - Popular books connected to classroom design and Makerspaces.
  • More - Popular books connected to everything else in education.

If you have a favorite educational book that we've missed, please consider adding it to this Padlet or in the comments below.

Wicked EdTech Top 5 Posts from 2017 - The More You Share The More You Learn

"I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious."
Albert Einstein

Happy 2018

2017 was an awesome year for me as an educator and a learner. I hope everyone is looking forward to another year of growth as teachers and learners, I know I am!

Tis the season for everyone who anyone to share their top posts of 2017. (Not sure I fully qualify for this, but I'm going to follow the trend anyway.)

I've organized my top posts, not by the number of hits, but instead by their impact on me as a teacher and learner. I created this blog to share my learning experiences.

These are the top 5 posts that impacted me the most as a leaner in 2017.

This is one of those posts that caught someone's interest on Twitter and led to a rather lengthy debate about the validity of the Growth Mindset. The discussion kept me on my toes and forced me to explore more about the Growth Mindset than I ever have in the past. 

The Power of Collaboration - Google + HyperDocs Community
I've been using HyperDocs for more than a year with my students, This post connected me to many incredible educators who are sharing their HyperDocs with the world. I continue to be inspired and motivated by the incredible educators in the HyperDoc communities. 

The ISTE Standards and the 4 Cs of Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Creativity.
I've long been a fan of connecting the 4 Cs to our classroom activities. I enjoyed exploring and refining the collection of digital resources, but the best part of creating this post was the time I spent reflecting on how I use the resources with students. 

What is Your One Small Thing - Join the Movement
Such a simple concept with so much power. We've used this concept with staff and students this year. Whenever I need a few moments of inspiration, I can quickly find it using the hashtag on Twitter. 

25 Innovative Educators to Follow on Twitter
This post ate up more time than I ever thought it would. I started with the idea of sharing 5 educators who have impacted me as an educator and ended at 25. Even this was not enough and I left many incredible educators off of this list. When I shared this post with my PLN, several educators were very critical of this list for a variety of reasons. I struggled a bit with the criticism, but in the end, I think this post helped me reflect on the power of a PLN. 

Honorable Mention - This post was the most popular with my PLN.

Have some time and want to dive deeper into my 2017 journey as an educator? Click on the 2017 archive on the right of the screen to explore 2017. There are some great posts and some that just didn't hit the mark with me or my PLN. Hopefully, there is something that can help you grow as a learner?

Thanks everyone for an incredible 2017! Hoping for an even better 2018!

If you have a moment, I would love for you to share any of my posts in 2017 that had an impact on you?

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